Virtual Cities and an Awakening in Second Life

Third Eye Gallery: Michel Bechir

The Third Eye, curated by Jaz (Jessamine2108), is a new open-air gallery space that opened on July 11th, 2020. Located on a sky platform, the gallery is described as “a place that is designed to showcase art, particles, inspire stories, and offer a quiet place to relax and rejuvenate. It is the culmination of my many dreams – to create a place that nurtures and helps the growth of all types of creative endeavours – be it words, pictures, or particles.”

For the opening exhibition, the gallery features a selection of art by Jaz, entitled Awakening, coupled with Virtual Cities, a selection of pieces by Michel Bechir.

It is only right that I open the gallery with Michiel as the guest artist, as he was the one who introduced me to SL photography.

– Jaz (Jessamine2108)

Third Eye Gallery: Michel Bechir

For Virtual Cities, Michel presents some 18 pieces focused on urban living within Second Life. It’s a rich mix of images spread across Michel’s time as a Second Life photographer, starting in 2009 and extending to the present day. Within them, he captures the many different ways in which cities and living spaces can be represented in-world, from shining cities with gleaming skyscrapers to cities in decay, from Mediterranean waterfronts to the cramped confines of the favela, and from cobble streets to paved sidewalks.

Not only are the pieces here attractive for their breadth of representation of urban spaces, they also hold the eye because of the richness of style and finish they each have.

Third Eye Gallery: Jaz (Jessamine2108)

Sitting across the landing point from Virtual Cities, Jaz offers 21 pieces that see states are something of a departure for her.

The series “Awakening” is about my changing perception of SL – to the possibilities that it offers and to be able to see beyond the surface. I am stepping out of my comfort zone to communicate using the creations of designers rather than use landscapes and avatars. I would like to thank the mesh creators Harry Cover and Karthikeyan Engineer with their quirky and cool creations that helped me grow as an artist.

– Jaz (Jessamine2108)

This is an intriguing and engaging collection of images, rich with colour, each one perfectly framed to draw the eye into it. There are four pieces within this collection that might be called “traditional” landscapes – or at least focus on subjects Jaz has more familiarly covered. However, this doesn’t put them at odds with the rest of the pieces on display, rather it grounds them as a further expression of her art and growth.

Third Eye Gallery: Jaz (Jessamine2108)

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Kody Meyers at Raging Graphix in Second Life

Raging Graphix Gallery: Kody Meyers

Kody Meyers is a Second Life photographer who genuinelyneeds no introduction; his landscape and avatar studies are among the most recognisable at exhibitions across the grid. Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to witness them on display, and just such an opportunity to do so can be found at Raging Bellls Raging Graphix Gallery.

Having opened in July 11th, the exhibition will run through the next 4 weeks, and presents some 20 pieces of Kody’s work which fully and richly demonstrate the broad approach he takes to his art.

Each picture depicts a story or is a reminder of an experience one can reflect upon when admiring it. As a perfectionist, I take the time necessary to capture the picture, experimenting with different angles, framings and windlights, until the perfect shot is created — the one that comes alive.

– Kody Meyers describing his work

Raging Graphix Gallery: Kody Meyers

The stories are brought to life not just through Kody’s technical approach to his work, but also through his eye for post-processing. In this, as he notes, he uses a variety of programmes and approaches that allow him to fully tell the story he finds within each image.

To try to describe the pictures in the selection offered in this exhibition would be a waste; each is a genuine work of art that deserves to be seen first-hand, and its story properly allowed to unfold as one witnesses both the complete picture and all of the many details Kody has captured within it and that stand as chapters – or at least lines – within the story.

So rather than me attempt to offer descriptions, do take the time to go as see for yourself – particularly if by some chance you’ve not previously seen Kody’s work. You won’t be disappointed.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Kody Meyers

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Enjoying Cica’s Summertime in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

For July, Cica Ghost has offered her latest installation for people to enjoy. Summertime is a reminder that summer days can be, for all of us, “the best of what might be”, as her quote from Charles Bowden, the late American journalist, essayist and author, reminds us. It’s also a reminder that despite all the shadows cast by the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, happier, brighter, days will come along.

This is another quirky, light and fun installation with more to see than might initially meet the eye. At its core, it offers what might be a giant’s overgrown yard garden. Much of the ground forms a tiled surface that undulates slight, giving the impression of an aged, uneven terrace. Set upon this, and the grass beyond it, lay a series of planters of assorted shapes and sizes, from which sprout a variety of plants.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

Tall willow-like trees watch over this landscape, whilst scattered flowers and grass grow free of the pots and planters – perhaps grazing for the cows that are also present here.

Standing or sitting alone or in pairs or small groups, the cattle are curious souls, their large eyes constantly roving over the land around them, seeing all that goes on. The set to the brows of some suggest they might not entirely welcome avatars traipsing over their grass and flowers, while others look more interested in one another than in any visitors passing by. All of them offer opportunities for photos to be taken in their company, that can be hard to ignore.  Nor are the only occupants of this land; representative of Cica’s cats and crows are also waiting to be found, while a unique coop provides a stacked home for snow-white chickens.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

There’s more to see throughout the setting, as well. Some of the planters have the distinct look of houses or buildings about them – with one even the home of a little cinema – while others have the feel of being little hideaways. As with all of Cica’s installations, there are multiple places to sit, although one or two might require a little careful seeking – so be sure to carefully mouse-over planters and plants as well as simply looking for the chairs and garden benches. And if you’re not in the mood to walk, hop on to one of the seed carriers that are fluttering around the landscape and be scooted around.

A heart-lifting setting caught in the light of a late afternoon Sun, Summertime is another delightful visit, while those so taken by them, can obtain Cica’s cows from  the little store in the north-west corner of the region.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

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Resolution’s art in Second Life

Resolution Exhibition, July 10th-12th

Running from Friday, July 10th through Sunday July 12th is the Kultivate Dene Gallery’s latest exhibition, Resolution. This is a special 3-day event curated by Tempest Rosca-Huntsman, and forms Dene Gallery’s first exhibition as a part of the Kultivate family.

Some 30 artists are taking part in the event, as follows: Beuanna Banana, Brian2 Werefox, ByrneDarkly Cazalet, CalebBryant Resident, Giselle Chauveau, Inara Pey, Ivyana Szondi, Johannes Huntsman, Kacey Macbeth, Kalina Sands, Ladycharis, Lam Erin, LawrenceD, Morgaine Blackrain, Myra Wildmist, Nugget Ichibara, Paradox Mercury, PinkRayne, Reya Darkstone, Rockcail Resident, Roman Godde, serenaelia, sirspanking, Skip Staheli, Skye Fairywren, Sugarfairy88 Resident, Tempest Rosca, TrishaSrose, Whata Conundrum, & Wicca Merlin.

Resolution Exhibition: PinRrayne

The event will feature live entertainment across the three days, with the schedule lining up as follows (all times SLT):

  • Friday, July 10, 2020:
    • 15:00-16:00: Samuel James.
    • 16:00-17:00: Abby Jaidov.
    • 17:00-18:00: Mavenn.
  • Saturday, July 11, 2020:
    • 14:00-15:00: Wolfie Starfire.
    • 15:00-16:00: Jesie Janick.
  • Sunday, July 12, 2020:
    • 11:00-Noon: Max Kleene.
    • Noon-13:00: DimiVan Ludwig.
    • 13:00-14:00: Samm Qendra.
Resolution Exhibition: Giselle Chauveau

About Dene Gallery and Kultivate

Dene Gallery is located in Rosehaven. The gallery is curated by Tempest Rosca-Huntsman and highlights one artist each month. As a part of the Kultivate brand, it joins the Windlight Art Gallery, The Edge Gallery, Kultivate Loft Gallery, Kultivate Signature Gallery, & Kultivate Select Gallery. To mark Dene Gallery’s joining the Kultivate family, Resolution is being held at Kultivate’s home region of Water Haven.

Kultivate’s goal is to promote and support the cultural aspects of Second Life. Kultivate is also the official sponsor and media partner of Team Diabetes of Second Life, an official and authorized team of The American Diabetes Association. Learn more by visiting their website.

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Journeying through mineral fractals in Second Life

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

Gem Preiz, the master of the fractal image, is once again back with a new exhibition of pieces that opened on July 7th.

For those familiar with his work, Journey to the Centre of a Fractal Earth sees him return to familiar territory after his trip into the world of scale city design with Skyscrapers (see: Gem’s Skyscrapers in Second Life) as he presents some 16 fractal images linked by the theme of mineralogy, whilst also touching on some broader themes common to his art.

The core of the exhibit is an exploration of mineral formations, carried out through a hypothetical journey to the centre of the Earth, that we might see them in their natural environs.

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

Our Universe, whose laws of thermodynamics teach us that its disorder is constantly increasing, nevertheless conceals in some places such extreme conditions that matter is organised in a perfectly ordered way. At the scale of our vision, the optimal arrangement of the atoms produces crystals with flawless geometry and colours entirely determined by the composition and structure of the mineral.

There are a few hundred mineral species on Earth (a few thousand if we include those that the microscope only can reveal), born of the fantastic pressures suffered by the rock in the Earth’s crust, the sudden cooling of volcanic material, or the accumulation of sediments crushed by their own weight. While tectonic movements and volcanoes lava have brought to Man many of these natural treasures (quartz, gypsum, sulphur, obsidian …), many of them were discovered in the depths of the planet only through industrial research or scientific exploration. 

– Gem Preiz, introducing Journey to the Centre of a Fractal Earth

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

This journey is carried out through the visit of sixteen large rooms, one after the previous, topped and tailed by tunnel-like walks from and to the “surface”. Within each room is displayed one of Gem’s marvellous, multi-panel, high-resolution fractal images generated in the form of a mineral, or rock laced with mineral striate. In an of themselves, they are stunning pieces, their form echoed in the walls and floors of each room, which may also utilise particle effects  an Delain Canucci.

Whilst intended to be representative of mineral deposits ” at the bottom of the most obscure caves and in the most secret veins,” some of these pieces equally have an other-worldly feel to them that brings to mind objects that might be found in deep space. for example, a gold-and-grey comet that catches the light of a star, the outgassing of volatiles forming a bright halo around it. Others suggest not so much crystalline minerals lying deep underground, but fabulous coral formations sitting on the deep ocean floor. Thus, Journey weaves into itself, intentionally or otherwise, those mentioned broader themes that captivate Gem’s thinking, and so often influence his art.

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

My only slight reservation is with Journey’s general presentation. On the one hand, I could see how travelling through the rooms is intended to reflects on the idea of the great depths and pressures at which minerals can be found / are formed (and of course gives a physical link to the title of Jules Verne’s famous novel used in the installation’s title). But on the other, in travelling through so many rooms of near identical presentation, I couldn’t help but wonder if an alternative, more compact means of delivery couldn’t achieve the same result?

That niggle aside however, for those drawn to fractal art Journey is well worth a visit simply because the framed images are genuinely captivating and elegantly beautiful.

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Contemplating artificiality and the eternal feminine

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Caly Applewhyte – Ex Machina

Officially opening on Monday, July 6th at noon SLT at Dido Haas’ Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is an evocative, provocative and challenging exhibition entitled Ex Machina, created by Caly Applewhyte.

While her work embraces Second Life landscape images, Caly is perhaps primarily an artist focused on avatar studies, producing pieces that offer stories, and that can be both produced out of an underlying theme and / or nuanced in their content and message. It is in this latter area that the pieces presented within Ex Machina fall.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Caly Applewhyte – Ex Machina

As individual images, each of the twelve large format pieces stands on its own in terms of narrative. While each has an obvious transhumanist / robotic element to it (the artificial enhancement of the body in the case of the former, the outright replacement of the body in the case of the latter), this is not necessarily the focus for the individual narrative; rather, this comes from the overall framing: the very human tilt of the head, the position of the hand (human or artificial), the cast of a look, etc., all of which serves to offer a story in and of itself.

However, when taken as a whole, it is evident that the transhumanist / robotic element evident in each piece does have a significant role to play in the exhibition’s core meaning. They reside alongside and reflect deeper themes of identity (and/or loss thereof), subjugation, and the psychological / philosophical / religious archetype of the eternal feminine, particularly as it relates to the idea (or myth, as Caly rightly references it) of the idealised female form, something that in turn encapsulates a touch Freud – and perhaps a darker warning.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Caly Applewhyte – Ex Machina

The first of these ideals  – artificiality, transhumanism, robotics – are evident from the outset, as noted. Within them, we might choose to see questions as to humanity’s future; are we really simply the sum of our frequently all-too-frail parts? Or might our growing ability to manipulate technology, replicate our capabilities robotically and our evolving ability to create artificial intelligence one day lead to us completely transferring the human condition from that of flesh and bone to something we might see as more perfect, in whole or in part?

Such questions inevitably lead to the core focus of Ex Machina: questions of identity, subjugation and the idealised woman and what they may mean in a coming age.

For how better could the archetype of female beauty, grace, purity, and compliancy be expressed than through the creation of the flawless, artificial woman? And much easier might it be to relate to the potential widespread use of AI units than be giving them the idealised female face and form? After all, it is the female who is literally the mother of life, and the female ideal most often used to present the good and the positive.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Caly Applewhyte – Ex Machina

But – and here’s the rub that Caly expressly raises – the entire idea of the eternal feminine whether rooted in the philosophical, psychological religious, is a male construct, one that has – intentionally or otherwise – constrained women. As humans, we are by nature flawed, just as all men are flawed in one way or another – though looks, abilities, disabilities, etc. However, for women, these flaws so often leave us wanting in the eyes of the (male) beholder, as Caly notes:

This paradigmatic myth, which generates high expectations that will always be disappointing, and moreover tries to trap women in an impossible ideal image, denying their individuality. Real women are thus always perceived as burdens, unfinished business.

Thus, in embodying the feminine in the perfection of the artificial, is there not a risk of further constraining / denying female individuality and value? To put it another way: in giving machines a female appearance, we may well establish a sense of connection to them in their role as servitors and assistants; but might not this also risk a further degradation of the place women have in society – perhaps even increasing things like the Madonna-whore complex (again, it is no coincidence the pieces in Ex Machina have a certain erotic edge to them)?

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Caly Applewhyte – Ex Machina

Complex, nuanced and challenging, Ex Machina is an exhibition intended to get the grey matter working, and it is well worth allowing it to do so, and in taking the time to to peel aside its layered meaning.

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