Selfies and an exhibition in Second Life

Club LA and Gallery: Burke Bode

Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist) has a new ground-level location, which is still partially under construction. To celebrate the move, the gallery is hosting two exhibitions; the first, Selfies: Some of My Faces, by Burke Bode, has been open since July; the second, An Exhibition by Twain Orfan, opens on Sunday, August 20th.

“Pablo Picasso said ‘Everything you can imagine is real,'” Burke says of his exhibition. “He is right. Living in a world that is completely created from scratch just by the imagination of its residents you experience this. A place where you can invent yourself new every day and for a creative person a place where you MUST create yourself new every single day. [I’m] changing my look constantly as shape shifter. Some of my shapes last for a day, for one picture; and some stay.”

Club LA and Gallery: Burke Bode

He reflects this beautifully with an exhibition of images illustrating many of his various looks. These are presented in an enclosed space within the gallery, the images laid out to present something of a maze visitors walk through. Semi-translucent, the images resemble layers visible one through another so that as you walk through them, each appears to be peeled away, revealing the next, which is in turn peeled back at the next turn, and so on.

It’s both an artistic approach to presenting change and the possibilities to reinvent within the digital medium, and an intriguing means of commenting on the nature of identity and how we present ourselves in the physical world. While we may not be able to change our looks here, we do “change” according to circumstance, situation and those around us: the person we are with a lover is not the same as the person we are with a child; the person we present to colleagues at work is not the same as the one we share with our closest friends, and so on. Thus, Selfies might be seen as a reflection of this.

Club LA and Gallery: Twain Orfan

Twain Orfan his been active in Second Life for over eight years, but only immersed himself in the world of SL photography in 2016. “I enjoy taking photo [the] art of items that are often overlooked when photographers visit various sims,” he says of his work. “Finding pure art in objects such as a chair, a table, a flower-pot, or, perhaps a bicycle. From time to time I also try my hand at Landscapes, or an occasional shot involving my own avatar.”

An Exhibition reflects all of this with a collection of 18 images taken from around second life, all of which also demonstrate Twain’s interest in, and experiment with, angle, light and shadow. What is particularly fascinating with the images is the fact they are all raw: Twain resists the use of GIMP or Photoshop for post-processing, relying instead purely on the viewer and Windlight for his pictures. The result is a fascinating collection of pieces which are individual and collectively eye-catching, offering unique windows into our virtual lives.

Club LA and Gallery: Twain Orfan

Both Selfies: Some of My Faces and An Exhibition make for an engaging visit, with the latter officially opening at 12:00 noon on Sunday, August 20th, with music by Marain Dufaux.

The new gallery space itself offers more room for exhibitions, and includes a landscaped garden visitors can enjoy and an information centre / studio space. Teleport disks are provided to assist visitors in getting around – although in truth, everything at ground level is within easy walking distance of the landing point.

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Art in the wild in Second Life

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle – click any image for full size

In May 2017, Caitlyn and I visited Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle, designed by Hepburn (Hepburn30) and Pross (Prosperine2) for region holder Aly (Alysheea). The region is a home for Aly to display her 2D and 3D art –  and also provide visitors with a place to explore. As such, it presents an interesting mix of place to visit and explore, and gallery to appreciate the art on exhibition.

The gallery space is located in the south-west corner of the region, and is formed by three tiki huts located around a small lake surrounded by sandy banks. Aly’s art, which is an intriguing mix of “traditional” photography, abstract images based on photos, and images which appear to have been captured in-world. These are displayed alongside and around 3D sculptures and mobiles.

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle

Across the water, elephants graze on the long grass growing around a tall watchtower. Of African origin, the elephants are perhaps a little at odds with the rest of the setting, which – for myself at least – has a far more Asian look and feel to it than it does African. Nevertheless, the offer plenty of opportunities for photos and are quite magnificent.

Beyond this, the region is a mix of tropical rain forest and rugged uplands, and offers much that requires careful exploration.  The rain forest has a number of trails running through it, one of which leads to a wooden summer-house offering a place for couples to enjoy a cuddle or two alongside a series of waterfalls. Another of the paths leads to steps cut into the side of the plateau which rises from the north and east sides of the region. This is an area requiring careful exploration, as not everything to be found here is necessarily above ground: there are caverns awaiting discovery. For those who prefer staying out of tunnels and caves, there are platforms along the side of the cliffs offering seating areas, while others provide ways to explore some of the lower-lying rocks.

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle

Throughout the entire region are many Asian influences: a statue of Buddha, ruins which wouldn’t go amiss in the jungles of Burma, Tai Chai exercise areas, and more. These are mixed with places to sit and cuddle in camp sites and elsewhere, and which include a platform beneath a hot air balloon. For the observant – again – a hidden opportunity to play the Moonphase Piano.

As noted, this is an intriguing region. The art exhibition is modest, but well worth a visit, while the rest of the region offers a chance for exploration and photography – and has over the months been captivate by talents far greater than my own.  That said, and being honest, I do have one or two quibbles with some parts of the build – the plateau and rugged areas are a trifle ragged in places, and could perhaps benefit from some gentle clean-up and tidying. But again, this doesn’t detract from photographic opportunities, either under the default windlight or similar soft lighting.

Aly's Fine Art Gallery and Jungle; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Aly’s Fine Art Gallery and Jungle

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A Split Screen double in Second Life

EveryWhere and NoWhere – JadeYu Fhang

EveryWhere and NoWhere, by JadeYu, forms a ground level installation, and is the more extensive of the two. It offers a complex environment of scenes and platforms, forming a unique world of geometric shapes and inhabited by strange, female forms.

In the first – which acts as the landing point – the figures are enmeshed in a delicate framework somewhat resembling a bird’s nest. Ladders rise from the platform at various angles, each offering a number of poses for visitors. Beyond this lie processions of doorway-like boxes march and undulate through the sky, or rise vertically upwards, apparently tended by beings with dragonfly like wings as streams of light pulse and roll around them. Two structures sit within the rising tower of squares, each a miniature tableau in its own right.

EveryWhere and NoWhere – JadeYu Fhang

Other platforms float close by, occupied by more beings, while the ground below flows in curlicues, some of which rise to surround two central figures. Further away, on two sides of the region, the land rises, patterned geometry tattooing its surface. More shapes, almost origami-like in form, hover delicate in the sky over the slopes of the landscape.

An intricate landscape, the setting is a reflection of its title. Fascinating, complex, with a range of facets and potential interpretations,  EveryWhere and NoWhere should be visited with local sounds enabled in order to hear the accompanying sound scape. This, with its metronomic chimes and plaintive voice, gives the entire space added depth.

Games We Play – Krystali Rabeni

The Games We Play offers visitors a games of chess of a most unusual kind. Far from being the traditional chequered board, this playing surface is uneven, individual squares set at different levels relative to their neighbours – and then extend up the walls surround the space before closing overhead. Pieces in gold and silver are ranged across the horizontal area of play, and occupy the some of the wall spaces as well.

The pieces themselves further reveal the unusual nature of this game – or games: the gold pieces comprise more than the normal single queen or pair of knights, for example. Meanwhile, winged pawns fly overhead, imbued with a power not to be found in a normal game of chess. It’s a complex setting the nature of the game suggesting that – like life – there is more to this game than meets the eye.

Games We Play – Krystali Rabeni

Neither artist offers an explanation for their respective works, preferring to leave interpretations to visitors. However, each piece offers enough clues – including their titles, for opinions, ideas and narratives to be formed. As such, both offer an intriguing and interesting visit, and will remain in place until the end of September 2017.

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Cica’s Future in Second Life

Cica Ghost – Future

“It’s all prims except the dragon and the birds,” Cica Ghost says of her newest installation, which opened on Sunday, August 6th. Given that the majority might be seen as “retro” in using prims, the title – Future – might seem a little odd. But there is more to this build than may at first appear to be the case.

The core of the build is a series of windowed, concrete-like towers rising from a huge metal base. These are connected by metal “wires” which runs up out of the base, from walls and rooftops – and even support a number of these blocks as they stand above the base platform. Resistor-like elements in them suggest the wires might be some kind of electrical circuit.

Cica Ghost – Future

More of the wires arc over the build, and spheres slowly ride some of these, just as some of the “resistors” run back and forth along some of the horizontal segments. The idea that these wires conduct electrical current is further heightened by the way they appear to be insulated where they join with the tower structures, and by flickering lightning-like arcs zapping between some of the roof-top “resistors”.

It’s a strange, industrial landscape, largely grey in nature, set under a grey sky and surrounded by grey water where, rather incongruously, the mesh dragon raises its head, Nessie-like. A checker board landscape also rises hump-backed from the waters in places, and offers a dry path from the landing point to the installation, as well as places from which more of the wires rise into the sky. But what does it all mean?

Cica Ghost – Future

That’s the open question, and I’d venture to suggest that the answer lies in the quote Cica gives for the installation: If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all. It comes from Paper Towns by John Green, and on one level it sits as an invitation for use to imagine for ourselves what Future might represent.  But there is also more to it, particularly when considered along with the other essential element of the installation: the audio stream.

Featuring much of the extended soundtrack from Blade Runner, the audio is something which must be listened to when touring the installation. Cica selected the sound track because she likes it, rather than it having a specific relationship with the build, or meaning within it. However, it naturally completes the build, adding a further sense of depth to it, and presence within it.

Cica Ghost – Future

What is interesting here – to me at least – is that Green’s quote from Paper Towns is essentially about identity and discovery; Blade Runner is strongly focused on the same issues – identity and discovery (the Replicants and who / what they are and have been / might be). Thus, when combined, they offer us even more of an invitation to examine, explore and consider Future and what it might mean to us.

Cica has a gift for making whimsical, evocative and thought-provoking installations. Future definitely sits within the latter category, and could well have you visiting and pondering for longer than you might have expected!

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  • Future (Seth Island, rated Moderate)