A Daughter of Gears and a Rabbicorn in Second Life

Bryn Oh: Standby

Currently open – for a while longer at least – within her home region of Immersiva, is Bryn Oh’s three-part tale of a mechanical girl and a rabbicorn (part rabbit, part unicorn, all mechanical). It’s a complex, multi-faceted story rich in detail and themes that requires time – and not a little patience – to be witnessed and followed in full.

The three parts of the story stand as individual installations that should be visited in order. One sits at the ground level of the region, the remaining two up in the sky. They commence with The Daughter of Gears, and then progress through The Rabbicorn Story and conclude with Standby. Within them, they enfold matters of love, lost, fear, life, death, longing, companionship, human nature, feature of technology / progress, and sacrifice, as well as demonstrating how all of Bryn’s pieces share a relationship with one another, being set within the same universe – or perhaps “Ohverse” might be a better term.

Bryn Oh: The Daughter of Gears

The three installations between them also have a long history, as Bryn points out in discussing their origins.

Daughter of Gears story was originally created years ago when I was commissioned by a company called Rezzable to make something for an existing region called Black Swan … The second and third parts were hosted by IBM when they were actively within Second Life.

Originally when the stories were created in prims they each were close to 20,000 prims for a grand total of around 60k. Far more than a sim can hold. But yay! for mesh which has allowed me to reduce the footprint down to 19683.

Bryn, commenting on The Daughter of Gears and The Rabbicorn Story

Bryn Oh: Standby

Bryn covers the unfolding story at length through her blog, so I’ll restrict myself to just outlining things here. All three installations are framed around a series of three poems, the stanzas of which are spread through each of the installations and presented in such a way we can only visit them in the correct order.

For The Daughters of Gears, this involves climbing a high tower to uncover a story that might be said to have, as a seed, within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus – although the two are very different in content. Here, a mother faces the death of her one daughter by building a mechanical body into which she can transfer her child’s soul. Unfortunately, the locals, scared by what she has done and regarding her work as an abomination, come to her high tower to put a stop to things. Ultimately, they fail – but at the cost of the mother’s life, leaving the Daughter of Gears alone.

Bryn Oh: The Rabbicorn Story

The story is told by climbing the tower itself – individual stanzas set on different levels. Now, to be honest, climbing the tower isn’t easy – to the extent that some might find it frustrating  – it is easy to mis-step / jump and find yourself back at the bottom of the tower (and I’d recommend using Mouselook in places, as the camera angles can be tight); however the scenes the climb reveal are more than worth the effort.

In The Rabbicorn Story, we follow the tale of a mechanical rabbicorn, it’s relationship with the boy form whom it is built, and what happens when others come to covet the uniqueness of a mechanical intelligence and how it might be used – for good or ill. The initial part of the story might be said to have a seed in a modern-day “classic”, this one Peter. Paul and Mary’s Puff The Magic Dragon (notably the lyrics dealing with dragons (or in this case Rabbicorns) living forever, but no so little boys). Forced on the run from, but tracked by, the scientists that covet it, the Rabbicorn eventually finds its way to the tower of The Daughter of Gears, and in the third part of the tale, Standby, we follow the attempts by the two of them to find a new home together, little realising they are being tracked.

Bryn Oh: The Rabbicorn Story

These latter two parts of the tale are navigated by teleport rather than climbing – although for obvious reasons, a section of The Daughter of Gears’ tower does appear. There is also something of a Transhumanist / The Matrix-like reference in The Rabbicorn Story, as revealed in Bryn’s notes on the installation: the merging of human consciousness with machines to make the latter operable.

It is also within The Rabbicorn Story and Standby that we particularly see how this tale is interwoven with other aspects of Bryn’s universe. This is most clearly seen by the the Rabbicorn being created within the same facility as featured in 26 Tines, while in searching for a place to live, The Daughter of Gears and the Rabbicorn come across Lady Carmagnolle, still standing alone on her broken stage (you can read more about Lady Carmagnolle and 26 Tines in A Lady and 26 Tines in Second Life).


Bryn oh: The Daughter of Gears and the Rabbicorn

Richly visual, deeply set in terms of themes and interpretation, these three installations offer an expressive visit in which it is possible to become thoroughly enmeshed within the unfolding tale. The outcome may not be what might be entirely expected – but again, it follows a tradition within storytelling and myth building.

Standby also has a link with another exhibition of Bryn’s art in Second Life, and I’ll be offering a few notes on that in an upcoming piece.

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A union of Art and Fashion in Second Life

Art and Fashion Union: Sisi Biedermann

Have you ever imagined a painting come to life? When the image from the canvas expands the frames and steps towards you? When do paints and brush movements turn into folds of fabric falling over a figure?

So reads the invitation sent to artists requesting they participate in Art and Fashion Union, and ensemble exhibition of art that opened on January 19th, 2020 at the Dragon Sanctuary Gallery. It was an intriguing invitation: to offer three pieces of art for display, with creators / models invited to use the art as inspiration to produce new fashion pieces that are to be featured in a special fashion show to take place on the last Sunday of January.

Art and Fashion Union: Alpha Auer

I didn’t have the confidence in my work to participate, but I’m pleased to say some 27 other artists weren’t so shy, and have come together to participate in the exhibition, with each – as noted – offering three pieces of art. The result is an intriguing selection of pieces from artists who may well be familiar to some, new to others and some of whom may not have exhibited that widely of late.

The complete list of artists comprises: Carelyna, Etamae, EvangelinaBurroughs, Jessamine2108, Lampithaler, LydiaFairmount, MTH63, Mylena1992, SecondHandTutti, ViktorSavior, Alpha Auer, Michiel Bechir, Sisi Biedermann, GeeJAnn Blackadder, Sheba Blitz, Zia Branner, Ilyra Chardin, Kayly Iali, Anibrm Jung, Silas Merlin, Saul Morigi, JolieElle Parfort, Melusina Parkin, Tom Prospero, Jamee Sandalwood, Talullah Winterwolf, and Callum Writer.

Art and Fashion Union: Kayly Iali

The display is presented across the two floors of the gallery, and given the nature of some of the pieces, it will be interesting to see the fashion items produced for the show. Will designers seek out an individual piece for inspiration, or see several pieces as a means to visualise a design, or will they be drawn to a specific artist rather than one or more pieces?

Thematically, the work of Sheda Blitz, Alpha Auer and EvangelinaBurroughs, as three examples, present pieces that might collectively inspire a fashion design, rather than one of the three pieces each presents forming a single point of inspiration. By contrast Sisi Biedermann, Lampithaler and Callum Writer – to keep the list to another three – perhaps offer pieces that individually encourage designs based on each of them.

Art and Fashion Union: Callum Writer

Exactly how designers will get to choose which work or works or artist they see as an inspiration is unclear to me. But regarding the art on display as potential incentives for design work isn’t the only reason for visiting the gallery during this month-long exhibition: each selection of three pieces by the participating artists offers a unique insight into their work and how they look upon art and Second Life.

Those wishing to attend the fashion show at the gallery can do so on Sunday, January 26th, 2020 at, I believe, 11:00am SLT.

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Paying It Forward: Fortuna Hills Gallery in Second Life

Fortuna Hills Art Gallery

We received an invitation from Chic Aeon to visit her new Fortuna Hills Art Gallery, which is not your usual gallery, offering as a does an interesting take on the concept of supporting others.

Currently featuring some 42 pieces of art – Second Life landscapes, close-up studies, pieces processed to present faux art finishes, etc., – the gallery’s display is a rich selection of art by Chic hat she is offering free to anyone who would like to add to their collections  / have some at for their SL home.

Fortuna Hills Art Gallery

As a long-time Second Life resident and creator (as well as being active on platforms such as OpenSim and Sansar, Chic explains making the art free as follows:

I have just opened a gallery of free art. There are currently forty works of various styles … hopefully, a range of 2D items with something for everyone.

I plan to add to the gallery regularly and soon have over a hundred works for people to choose from. This is part of a “Pay It Forward” movement that I started years ago in Opensim. I am revisiting the theme and hope others do as well.

– Chic Aeon of the Fortuna Art Gallery

Fortuna Hills Art Gallery

All of the pieces are provided with a resizer script, and the mix of art presented is rich, although I found myself particularly drawn to the SL landscape photographs and her monochrome close-up shots of items, which make for a particularly eye-catching collection of pieces.

Those interested in doing something similar to Chic and paying forward to help others, should best contact her should they need advice (I believe she also has a logo she can offer people).

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The sensual lens of Velvetsdream in Second Life

Velvetsdreams, January 2020

Currently open on the adult (and BDSM-oriented) region of El Desvan, is an exhibition of photography by Velvetsdreams. I’ll say up front that the subject matter might be considered NSFW by some, but it is nevertheless enticing. I’d also note that for those who may be a little put-off by the idea of visiting a BDSM region, the exhibition space sits on its own, surrounded on three sides by raised terrain and / or curtain walls of rocks, so there is little risk of seeing anything untoward beyond the gallery area.

Open through until February 14th, the exhibition is also BDSM-oriented, although all of the images – whilst some do include nudity – are not overly explicit. Rather, many offer moments in time that emphasis the more sensual element of D/s, while even those that do stray more to the B/D aspect of things are rendered in a manner that leans far more towards sensuality rather than the more physical aspects of this form of activity.

Velvetsdream, January 2020

In this respect, it is the strength of storytelling that makes these images pieces that push aside possible thoughts of voyeurism in looking at them, leading one to consider each piece in terms of the tale into which it provides a glimpse. At the same time, many of the pieces offer a peek into the many themes that can cross through many of the subjects people often associate with the BDSM / D/s lifestyle, including latex, bondage, worship, and pony play.

Throughout all 20 pieces, there is a richness of style from framing through lighting to cropping, that adds a depth of life to them, presenting them less as posed pieces, but as instants in the lifestyles of those depicted within each photograph.

Velvetsdream, January 2020

Provocative, erotic, sensuous and captivating, this is an unmistakably eye-catching and engaging exhibition.

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Therese Carfagno at Ani’s Gallery in Second Life

Ani’s Gallery: Therese Carfagno

Currently open on the upper floor of Ani’s Gallery is an untitled exhibition by Therese Carfagno that offers a intriguing mix of images and styles, and which runs through until early February.

I say “intriguing” because the art on offer spans everything from SL-focused photography – landscapes and those with something of an avatar-focus – to more sensual pieces that appear routed in the physical world, to more abstracted pieces mindful of Jackson Pollack and pieces that carry a strong surrealist element. All of which makes this a creatively diverse exhibition well worth taking the time to witness, one that also includes a hint of Second Life history.

Ani’s Gallery: Therese Carfagno

The latter is most noticeable in Sunrise, Midday, Sunset, Midnight, a four-panel image on the left wall of the the gallery space, relative to the top of the stairs. The four images in the piece show AM Radio’s The Far Away, now co-curated by Ziki Questi and Kinn Kinnaird, all of which appear to include AM himself (at least going by the top hat) as one of the two figures standing in the wheat field.

A further reminder of AM Radio can be found within the poster facing the top of the stairs, featuring as it does AM’s Mary Poppins outfit. Next to this are two pieces, Sita 1 and Sita 2 that are richly surreal in their presentation of their subject.

Ani’s Gallery: Therese Carfagno

The more sensual pieces appear to mix both physical world and SL studies that offer nudity without crossing the line into outright NSFW. Two sets of of abstract pieces are to be found, both amidst the more sensual pieces – nicely breaking them up – and with the SL-centric images. Three are predominantly monochrome in nature, three in colour. Together they form two sets that re almost triptych in nature, the images in each set following neatly from one to the next.

I’ve not previously witnessed Therese’s art prior to this exhibition, but on the strength of it, I will be looking out for more exhibition of her work.

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Art Made in Second Life: FionaFei’s fabulous shuǐmò

Fiona’s Reflection, as featured in Art Made in Second Life

FionaFei is a relative newcomer to Second Life and its art world, but she is someone who has made an enormous impression on those who have witnessed her art. I’ve personally had the delight in discovering it, and in writing about it on two occasions (see: Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life (May 2019) and FionaFei’s shuǐmò Reflection in Second Life from November 2019).

As such, it was a joy to see that Fiona and her work are the subject of the first video (embedded below) in the Second Life series Art Made in Second Life (itself a further branching of the Made In Second Life video collection).

FionaFei (via Art Made in Second Life)

Fiona specialises in reproducing shuǐmò ink wash painting as 3D sculptures and setting within her appropriately-named Shui Mo gallery space in Second Life.

Also called shuǐmòhuà (suiboku-ga in Japanese) shuǐmò, uses different concentrations of black ink to create an image. Found throughout East Asia, it first emerged in Tang dynasty China (618–907), before spreading to Japan (14th century), Korea and to India. Beside the use of black ink in place of colours, it is also marked by the emphasis of the brushwork being on the perceived spirit or essence of the subject, rather than directly imitating its appearance.

Through her installations, Fiona marvellously brings the entire essence of shuǐmò to virtual life. In doing so, she allows the spirit of this ancient art form directly inhabit us, by making our avatars part of her work by virtue of our presence within it, whether we participate through direct interaction (as with the umbrellas in the “foyer” area that sits between the pieces referenced in the video (Reflection and Rising) or through our entry into, and exploration of, Reflection itself.

Within pieces like Reflection and Umbrella Landscape, and before them Wo Men Dakai (about which I wrote in Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life), Fiona offers a combined celebration of this ancient form of art, a means of reflecting on her heritage, and an opportunity to present her own philosophy on life, as she notes both through the video and in her own writings.

As a Chinese American who immigrated from China at a young age, I created the Shui Mo series as a way of connecting with my ancestry and celebrate centuries of art from old masters who painted using traditional Chinese ink brush style….

…I see life and my journey as a painting. It can be forever an evolving piece … At any given time, you think you’ve reached the end of it, but you can always add to it, layer it, and change it. In a sense, each brush stroke is like a footprint.

– Fiona discussing her art and her world view

Three of Fiona’s traditional Chinese scroll painting – which are actually 3D sculptures, the centre on animated

What is particularly attractive about this short video (running to just under 2 minutes) is the manner in which it reflects the emphasis of shuǐmò. Rather than dwelling at length upon Fiona’s art, or presenting an in-depth look at her life and how she came to Second Life, it provides broader – dare I say  – brush strokes of both. Thus, and like shuǐmò, it captures the spirit of her work and presence hear, rather than more directly presenting the appearance of both, leaving us with the opportunity to discover more by visiting Shui Mo and Fiona’s Flickr gallery.

For my part, I cannot emphasise the sheet beauty and alluring appeal and depth to Fiona’s work, and urge anyone who has yet to witness it to both watch the video and take the time to visit her gallery in-world and fully immerse themselves in her art and vision.

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