Behind the Scenes in Second Life

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

Hermes Kondor is a photographer and artist I’ve come to greatly admire since first witnessing his work in 2020. Whether presenting his photography from the physical world or his digital art, Hermes has a remarkable range of artistic expression that always engages the eye and the brain. Given this, his Kondor Art Centre with its multiple art spaces, always makes for a worthwhile visit – as I noted in The art of Hermes Kondor in Second Life.

On January 7th, 2021, Hermes opened his latest exhibition, providing an excellent reason to both appreciate his artistic vision and to explore his art centre. Entitled SL Behind the Scenes, he presents a portfolio of art made within Second Life, but with a truly unique perspective, originating as they do with images taken while running the viewer in Wireframe mode.

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

For those unfamiliar with Wireframe – or wire-frame model, it is the the visual representation of a three-dimensional (3D) physical object used in 3D computer graphics. As such it is common in all virtual environments, be they games, animations using computer graphics, environments such as Second Life, and so on. In the case of SL, the underpinning wireframe model can be revealed via the Developer menu (under the rendering sub-menu) or by pressing SHIFT-CTRL-R (use the same option / shortcut to turn wireframe off again).

The mode has a number of uses in SL (particularly where content creation is concerned). However, I’m not going to delve into them in what is an arts review. Suffice it to say that if you’ve not witnessed the wireframe view of SL before, it can be both confusing and intriguing – and for Hermes, it offered a new way to present images of the places and events he’s recently visited.

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

The result is a fascinating collection of compositions that, whilst originally captured in wireframe mode, have been richly post-processed and composited (possibly with “natural” images of the same scenes, although I’m by no means sure of this) to focus on specific elements within the captured scene to present us with views of Second Life that are genuinely unique and contain a marvellous sense of narrative.

Some 22 images are presented across the two floors of the gallery, each one using solid colour to draw the eye into their detail and frame its story, whilst careful elimination of aspects of the wireframe helps to add further depth and provides a quite enticing sense of life and / or motion to many of them.

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

Visually stunning, SL Behind the Scenes takes us into Second Life in a most individual manner That genuinely sets this exhibition of places and art in Second Life well apart from others, offering as it does – as Hermes notes – an opportunity to draw back the curtain and see into “the Matrix” of Second Life.

Highly recommended – and don’t forget to use the teleport disk outside of the gallery to visit the rest of the facilities at the centre.

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Contemplations on an eternal light in Second Life

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna

Milena Carbone (Mylena1992) has opened a new exhibition at Noir’Wen City. Entitled Lux Æterna, it encompasses themes in consideration of religion, humanity and personal belief; elements that are not new to Milena’s work, but are here presented somewhat differently, being projected largely through the work of others, notably Second Life artist Norton Lykin.

Through the exhibition Lux Æterna, I want to express this paradox which is at the heart of my deviant faith in an imperfect God. Our perception of light covers a ridiculously narrow spectrum, and yet this handicap allows us to contemplate incredible beauty. The human species represents a miserable, ignorant, fateful, devastating vermin, trapped in a thin layer of gas on a tiny planet, and yet we have been given the privilege to see, to feel what is. If there is an intention in the universe, this intention is totally indifferent to our fate, and has given us this gift with infinite generosity.

– Milena Carbone

Lux Æterna, “eternal light”, in terms of its religious use, is perhaps most familiar for being a part of the Catholic Requiem Mass, although – and as Milena notes, it most likely dates to Gregorian times. It is a call to God to let his eternal light shine upon the departed as they rest with his saints.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna – image by Norton Lykin

Here, the the idea of eternal light is used both physically and metaphorically. As Milena notes, the light humans can see is limited to an incredibly narrow spectrum; one that, long before we discovered the non-visible (to our own eyes) wavelengths on either side of it, nevertheless allowed humanity to contemplate so much, achieve so much through creativity on both an individual and collective basis, and to perceive the richness and beauty of not only our own planet, but the incredible cosmos around us. Yet, at the same time – and even with our going understanding of the non-visible spectrum this promises to reveal even more to us – humankind so often opted (and still opts) to walk the path of ignorance, even whilst espousing enlightenment.

Metaphorically, this narrow spectrum light through which we perceive everything could be said to reflect our narrowness of understanding of any supreme being that might exist. For so long, we constrained “god” in terms of our own viewpoint – one that, far from putting the almighty at the centre of things, has actually placed mankind so that everything – even the idea of a supreme being – literally and figuratively revolved around us, in what can only be viewed as a arrogant outlook on the cosmos.

And herein lies the first paradox: for just as the cosmos is vast – and made more so as we finally drew back the curtain on those parts of the spectrum we cannot visibly see -and with wonders yet to be understood, so to must any supernatural consciousness behind it be vast. Thus, could it even be aware of humanity, as we sit huddled under the protection of our backwater planet’s thin envelope of atmosphere? And so we enter into Milena’s realm of pondering the nature of God; whom she sees as not no so much capricious for allowing all the woes that can befall us, as some might argue – but simply indifferent  and / or imperfect, simply because they have far too much to do in just keeping the rest of the cosmos going to pay us that much attention.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna

These ideas are bound together through Milena’s exhibition in a number of ways. As she notes herself, Norton’s art, in its abstracted beauty, informs us about the two greatest elements within the cosmos: emptiness and light. Both are enduring and unalterable; we can see the light of the stars and nebulae, of novae and supernovae, and of galaxies beyond our own,  visual cues to the vastness of the universe in which we sit, whilst the distances separating them appear largely devoid of anything we can perceive, forming an huge and everlasting void around us. To this I would add that through the choice of colours found in the majority of the pieces – the reds, purples, oranges, blues and yellows – we are reminded of the spectrum of light that extends beyond either end of the visible, and thus of the unseen grandeur this sits within the cosmos, and which may yet be found within the the emptiness that sits between the lights of the stars and the galaxies.

And this is only scratching the surface of what is an incredibly simple installation in terms of design and presentation which folds within itself so much food for thought by way of metaphor and suggestion.within the design, for example, is a subtle blending of eastern philosophy and Christian religion: the installation stands as three arms, intentionally representative of the Christian trinity, whiles the empty space at its centre representing the eastern ideal of centring, chakras, inner peace and the natural flow of energy. Elsewhere the the rising stairs might be seen as metaphors for ascendency, an ideal common to both eastern philosophy and “western” religions, if interpreted somewhat differently by both.

Milena Corbone: Lux Æterna – images by Norton Lykin

Through all of this, Lux Æterna also serves to touch on two subjects that can never be far from thinking when contemplating life, the universe and everything (notably religious themes and similar): those of death and immortality. These are concepts that can be said to be uniquely human, as Milena underlines through her use of extracts from Jorge Lui Borges’s  The Immortals. Unique because – as Borge himself notes, we are the only creature on Earth with an awareness of death and by extension, contemplate immortality. So animals might be said to be “immortal”, simply because they do not share this awareness or live in that ever-present terrible shadow, and as such, they might be said to be “closer to god” than we can ever aspire (and thus the hare-headed figure standing God-like over the scene).

And yet still, there is that eternal light of the cosmos surrounding us and reminding us of the richness and of everything; a light we cannot help – and indeed always should – contemplate in humility and reverence, simply because of the beauty it enfolds, and the encouragement it gives for us all to expand our thinking beyond the petty.

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Travel Past & Present in Second Life

Bare Rose Art Gallery: Owl Dragonash

Owl Dragonash has been a long-term patron of the arts in Second Life. She has supported artists through her curation of multiple art spaces, including most recently her own Hoot Suite Gallery, and she has done much to promote live music in Second Life, as well a providing huge support for a range of arts groups and locations in-world.

Owl has also been a keen SL traveller and blogger  over the years,  capturing regions, parcels, arts events and more. Over the years, it’s been my pleasure and privilege to come to know her and to experience first-hand her support, so it is will a genuine sense of pleasure that I  hope I can help turn the spotlight on Owl’s own work as a Second Life photographer and recorder of places to visit and appreciate through her new exhibition that is open through until December 2020, Travel Past & Present, which can be enjoyed at the Bare Rose Art Gallery.

Bare Rose Gallery: Owl Dragonash
I Love seeing the builds people create in Second Life. I feel these builds as Magic that weaves through helping to make along with all the people a soul in a virtual world.

– Owl Dragonash

This is a small exhibition that offers 10 of Owl’s pieces to appreciate, making it a cosy visit, despite the relative size of the gallery building. Taken within some of SL’s most popular public regions – some still available today, other now passed into the mists of time – these are pieces that offer us an engaging view of Second Life through Owl’s Eyes.

Bare Rose Art Gallery: Owl Dragonash

All ten are wonderful pieces, bearing a light touch of post-processing for a little added depth without in any way being over-bearing. Several of them have been rendered in the yellows of a late afternoon sky which not only bathes them in a warming glow, but also offers a natural reflection of Owl’s own warm nature. Even those that offer a sense of colder air – Elvion Crane for example – or are presented in darker tones – such as Stones at Sarawak  – have an unmissable warmth to them.

A small exhibition this may be, but it is nevertheless rich and colour and personality both in terms of the images and the artist.  As such, Travel Past & Present is a rewarding exhibition well worth visiting.

Bare Rose Gallery: Owl Dragonash

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Ciottolina’s Bots and Blossoms in Second Life

The 22 Art Space: Ciottolina Xue – Of Bots and Blossoms

Back in 2015 I first encountered the 3D of Ciottolina Xue, a gifted, self-taught sculptress working in blender (and who also has an excellent eye and hand for producing 2D art pieces). The encounter was entirely by chance: I was attending an exhibition of Mistero Hifeng’s work with a rooftop garden setting when I came across two small pieces that, whilst as skilfully crafted as Mistero’s pieces, did not have the familiar feel of his work – and closer examination revealed their actual creator.

Following that encounter, I wanted to see more of Ciottolina’s work, and started talking to her about exhibiting her sculptures. When I was asked to fill-in at short notice with an installation at LEA after an artist had been forced to drop out due to illness, I could think of no-one more with whom I wanted to share the space – and thankfully, she accepted, adding incredible depth to my garden / house / 2D art exhibition.

The 22 Art Space: Ciottolina Xue – Of Bots and Blossoms

Since that time, Ciottolina has gone from strength to strength,  exhibiting her work at galleries and events across SL, often folding into her work social and political commentary that is often powerful and evocative, as well as producing many lighter pieces that can be enjoyed in any environment (we have a number of her pieces that always form a part of our gardens wherever we set-up home).

Officially opening on November 14th, but currently available for people to enjoy is one of her smaller exhibitions, Of  Bots and Blossoms, that is taking place at The 22 Art Space in Bellisseria.  This is another boutique gallery that offers an alternative use for Linden Homes within the Bellisseria continent, and is curated by Rico Saenz and Randy Firebrand.  It is a setting that is ideally suited to Ciottolina’s work, offering two environments – indoors and garden – in which to display the two parts of her exhibition.

The 22 Art Space: Ciottolina Xue – Of Bots and Blossoms

The Blossoms aspect of the exhibition is to be found, appropriately enough, in the garden – which is where I’d recommend a visit starts. There, scattered across the lawn are a series of sculpted rose blossoms in which can be found scenes evoking all the joys of birth and the raising of babies and very young children. Playfully and light, the five pieces on display share the garden with one of her thematic pieces Hope, which is a quite magnificent invocation of that emotion, and of love and protective caring.

The latter piece is overlooked by the first element of the Bots part of the exhibition: a quintet of little robots (which, for no Earthly reason I could fathom other than perhaps the sense of mischief they have about them, put me in mind of Despicable Me’s Minions), sitting on the porch roof.

The 22 Art Space: Ciottolina Xue – Of Bots and Blossoms

The open door below them invites visitors into the house, where more of these charming automatons can be found appreciating art, reading the news paper, having a conversation with a most unusual fish and perhaps at risk of getting a little carried away with interior decorating (painting the walls is one thing, but it looks as if someone is considering whether the sofa also needs a lick of fresh colour!). With a vignette in each room, this is again a delightful presentation of Ciottolina’s work, while indoors and out, the two elements – blossoms and bots – work well together as a complete exhibit.

Open through until February 14th, 2021, Of Bots and Blossoms is an engaging and delightful visit.

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Cica’s Bridge in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Bridge

Cica Ghost dropped me an invite to visit her latest build, which opened to the public on Thursday, November 5th. Given I’m a long-standing fan of her work, I had to hop over and see it right away.

Bridge is another whimsical build – but also one that has a potential message for the world at large; a message encompassed in the quote Cica has selected to go with the installation:

It takes both sides to build a bridge.

Fredrik Nael

Cica Ghost: Bridge

For those who may not be familiar with him, Fredrik Nael, is an Indonesian writer of science fiction / fantasy short stories as well as a reviewer of books. In the west, he is perhaps noted for a series of inspirational quotes, of which the one Cica has selected might be his most famous.

With this build, Cica offers a pair of rocky tables sitting above the rest of the landscape, and on which sit two little towns – or perhaps the two halves of the same town, depending on your perspective. They are linked by a single bridge which – given both are walled on their own summits – appears the only way of moving from one to the other (although steps do descend from one to the valley below).

Cica Ghost: Bridge

Watching over all of this is a gigantic dragon. He doesn’t appear to be any threat to either part of the town (or the towns, depending on how you prefer to see them), but whether he is just visiting or a guardian is up to you to decide. He does, however, offer a nice link to Nael’s fantasy writing.

Walking around the tall, slender houses and the neatly set lawns and flower beds will reveal places to sit, places to dance and – across the bridge – pram-like cars (which can be purchased with a rezzing system) for those who want to try motoring around. Exploring will also reveal many of Cica’s cats, who very much have the run of the place – although they are likely not responsible for the little drawings from Cica that are on a number of the walls, and which bring further life to the setting.

Cica Ghost: Bridge

And the message? While Cica keeps her art largely apolitical, it’s hard to miss: at a time when we we tend to be defined by what divides us more than what can unite us, building bridges can do much to bring us back together.

Bridge will remain open through November 2020.

Cica Ghost: Bridge

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  • Bridge (Elle Island, rated Moderate)

Beyond Space and Time in Second Life

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

October 28th, 2020 saw the opening of a new gallery space at the Kondor Art Centre, the centre for the art of Hermes Kondor, an artist and photographer for whom I’ve developed a strong appreciation. Occupying a space-aged building designed by Beth Delaunay (Isilmeriel) entitled Into The Future, the gallery is intended to be the home of “new creative projects and ideas”.

The first exhibition within it is entitled Beyond Space and Time, a set of stunning images that combine digital creations textured with Hermes’ own photographs from the physical world. And when I say “stunning”, I’m not using hyperbole.

These are pieces that, although produced via digital means, have a deep organic feel and look that gives them a sense of life and vitality that just holds the attention. Such is this sense of life that, despite the metallic look with the primary forms in them, the mind is drawn to wonder if they are exotic lifeforms or living machines travelling through space to observe distant worlds, gathering strength in the yellow radiation of distant suns, or hurtling through the interstellar medium at relativistic speeds.

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

A closer look at them, particularly the “reflections” on their surfaces created through the use of Hermes’ physical world photographs, adds to this idea – and also turns in on its head. Within these “reflections” can be seen many of Hermes’ photographs of plants.

They suggest that what we’re looking at has been seen via a macro lens, powerful enough to reveal exotic new lifeforms travelling amidst the plants and flora of our own world. Or might it be these “reflections” are actually a part of these creature, these craft; patterns on their metallic-like skins or hulls,  or even part of their complex interiors, their surfaces actually bring semi-transparent?

The choice of what they might be is totally yours to interpret – and therein lies the magic of Beyond Space and Time – within the extraordinary set of themed images is the freedom to allow the imagination unfettered freedom of flight when appreciating them.

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

Another remarkable exhibition from a genuinely gifted photographer and artist. when visiting, make sure you set your viewer to Midnight, and reduce your draw distance so that the surrounding skyboxes don’t distract from the art when on the rooff of the gallery building.

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