Cica’s Dogwood in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

An arid land surrounded by the sea, conical hills sprouting from its back to rise above both the nude ground and denuded briar-like trees – this is the strange landscape that greets visitors to Dogwood, Cica Ghost’s latest installation in Second Life.

Within this landscape is an equally curious mix. Two slightly porcine dogs, the kind you might expect to see romping through an animated film, appear to stand guard either side of a ramshackle pair of fences that  themselves appear to be protecting a group of strange structures.

Looking like a mix of gourds, pearl drops and long-necked vases, these structures sprout valve-like arms from  necks rising up to open mouths. Combined with their sometimes bent shapes, these “arms” and open mouths give these forms a comically anthropomorphic look about them, little little odd women and men waving little arms at one another or to visitors, and exchanging conversation.

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

Two more dogs stand among these structures, again appearing to have dropped in from an animated film. One is a toothy and slightly worried-looking bulldog, the other an almost Chihuahua-like companion. Together they have an air of a Laurel and Hardy pairing about them.

Also scattered across the island are black birds, standing some in groups some on their own. With their colouring, long legs and beaks, they resemble a cross between a stork and a crow; but like the dogs and the strange structures, they have a strong sense of individual personalities.

Both dogs and birds are nicely animated – the eyes of the dogs dart around, while the birds move their eyes, turn their heads and raise the occasional leg as if about to take a step, then lowering it again in an change of mind.  These animations, together with the multiple avatar sit points with their share of dances waiting to be found throughout the region, add a subtle dynamic to this setting.

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

But sitting under a hazy sky, even with its oddly comical-cum-fairytale look, it’s hard to completely understand Dogwood – until that is, you reach the south-west corner of the region. It is here, with a narrow channel of water acting like a moat to separate it from the rest of the land, that a another hill rises. It is topped by a tall tower, reached by precarious-looking flights of steps stacked together without support. The tower is itself enfolded by the scaly tail of a great, wingless wyvern, who rests his bulk on the crown of the tower, eyes roving over the landscape before him.

Tower and wyvern add a further fairytale feel to Dogwood – but it is what lies within the tower, at the end of that precarious stairway that offers a key to Dogwood. A lone flower stands here, the brightness of its colours and the redness of its pot standing in strong contrast to the rest of the landscape. Put them with the quote Cica has selected to frame the installation, and the poetry of Dogwood falls into place:

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

– Hans Christian Andersen

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

Perhaps initially hard to grasp but equally quirky and cheekily humorous, Dogwood is genuinely poetic in its presentation, carrying a rich vein of fairytale under the banner of the Andersen quote.

SLurl Details

  • Dogwood (Dueville, rated Moderate)
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Pixtoria: the art of Davenwolf Dagger in Second Life

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

I recently gained an introduction to the photography of artist, photographer, and Second Life resident, Davenwolf Dagger as a result of his participation in the July exhibition at Kultivate’s The Edge gallery (see: Kultivate: The Edge Gallery – July 2019), where his presented an eye-catching collection of black-and-white photos entitled The Blacksmith Series, that particularly caught my eye, both for the richness of their narrative and for the fact they indirectly reminded me to recall the time I was lucky enough to spend in Tasmania.

Coincident to my review of that exhibition, Davenwolf also sent me an invitation to visit his in-world gallery, Pixtoria Galleries – an invitation I was happy to accept.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

Split between two levels, one on the ground and the other in a skybox, Pixtoria is a veritable tour de force of Davenwolf’s art  – and quite engagingly so. The ground floor provides an introduction to his digital images, running from the abstract through to fractal-like pieces to those suggestive of exotic, alien landscapes to a – for me – fascinating piece entitled DNA, with is marvellous suggestion of constructs and building-blocks and hint of architectural constructs.

The ground level gallery space is small, offering a social area on its upper floor rather than more images, but it is enough the whet the appetite and encourage the visitor to click the teleport disk to reach the sky gallery.

I’m a bit of a creator and perfectionist so I’m always making something. Whether it be in SL or the real world I like to keep myself entertained by creating artworks, photography, drums, videos, sculptures etc., you name it and I’ve done it over the years. Some projects I’ve had with better success than others but I eventually get there in the end.

– Davenwolf, describing his life and art

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

The sky gallery is a much larger affair, split into two levels of two halls apiece, the upper levels connected to the lower by elevators. The lower level is home to more of Davenwolf’s digital art, one hall devoted to pieces that continue the themes evident in some of the ground level pcitures, with experiments in line, colour, form and tone. Some of these offer a clear fractal influence (Trident, the triptych like Connections and Spiral), while others present more “organic” forms.

Across the floor, in the other lower level hall are some utterly wonderful images expressing the beauty of geometry as a model for art. Spheres, rings, cones and more sit on chequerboard patterns and under expressive skies, their colours and reflective surfaces offers wonderful depth, so much so you feel like the reflections should move in response to your own camera / avatar movements. Tucked into one corner of this hall are two pieces – Urban Decay and Stranded – that each contain an especially powerful narrative.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries: The Blacksmith Series

The upper levels of the gallery featured, at the time of my visit, two exhibitions of Davenwolf’s photography. The first focuses on The Blacksmith Series, his marvellous black-and-white series noted above, captured in an old working environment in Launceston, Tasmania, and, across the intervening atrium, Ward 21 Morisset Asylum.

The latter is an utterly evocative series, taken (I assume) in a disused wing of the psychiatric hospital that opened in 1908 either within, or very close to, the town of Morisset, New South Wales, Australia. Reaching its peak in the 1960, when it houses up to 1600 patients, today it still tends to dominate the town’s reputation, despite now having a patient population roughly one-tenth the number from the 1960s.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries: Ward 21 Morriset Asylum

Davenwolf’s pictures capture halls and rooms now broken and decaying, but which are now the home of graffiti. Utilising light and shadow, camera angle and choice of lens, and the occasional image of a man, Davenwolf uses the condition of the ward and the presence of the graffiti to give  – and pardon the term, no pun intended whatsoever – graphic interpretation of a mind in turmoil.

When viewed as complete sets, The Blacksmith Series and the Ward 21 Series are striking in their storytelling. However, the individual pieces within each also stand as collectable images in their own right.  Similarly, the digital images offered through the gallery will natural grace any art collection, making any visit to Pixtoria Galleries doubly worthwhile.

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Cica’s Cubism in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Cubes

As the old, old saying goes, “I have some bad news and some good news.”

The bad news is that if you were hoping to visit Cica Ghost’s Luna Park (see Cica’s Luna Park in Second Life), that build has now gone from Second Life, the result of low visitor figures, possibly as a result of clashing with SL16B.

The good news is that Cica has replaced it with something that is quite dynamically wacky (literally, if you wander across the landscape!), a piece she calls Cubes.

Cica Ghost: Cubes

Occupying the same region as Luna Park, Cubes is a curious piece, comprising a barren landscape under a bright sky, occupied by a few bare trees, but which is periodically deluged by downpours of … huge steel reinforced concrete blocks.

These appear a handful of metres above the dry land, hover for a few seconds as if waiting for gravity to notice them and question just what the heck do they think they are playing at, before yanking them down to the ground, where they tumble and roll against one another and build random mounds and towers before silently poofing and starting over.

With the lines of steel bars embedded within them creating checkerboard patterns on their face, these great cubes look like a certain cubic puzzle game, albeit one usually made up of smaller cubes with coloured faces. Hence why, perhaps, Cica gives Cubes a quote from that game’s creator:

The Cube is an imitation of life itself – or even an improvement on life.

Ernő Rubik

Cica Ghost: Cubes

And, given these cubes are physical, they can have quite an – impact, shall we say – on life should you happen to wander out and stand when they are falling!

There is something very faintly Petrovsky Flux-ish (for those who remember that installation) about Cubes. The way the Cubes fall is mindful of the destruction of each Flux build – be here, all the pieces are regular, and the fantastical forms they create are entire as a result of their  dropping from the sky, rather than the starting point for their collapse. Watching them, like the parts Petrovsky Flux, can be oddly hypnotic.

I’m not sure how long Cubes will be open, but like Luna Park, it’s meant in fun.

SLurl Details

  • Cubes (Meropis, rated Moderate)

Cica’s Luna Park in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

Update, June 24th: due to low visitor numbers, Cica ha opted to replace Luna Park with a new dynamic installation called Cubes, which you can read about in Cica’s Cubism in Second Life.

Cica Ghost opened her latest installation on Saturday, June 15th. Called Luna Park, it is once again a whimsical trip into the fantastic.

As usual with her pieces, Cica offers a quote to go with the installation, this one from Walt Disney:

Adults are only kids grown up, anyway. 

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

It’s a part of a wider quote from the famous animator and film producer that reflected his entire philosophy towards films and entertainment – and why so many of us find his animated films so endearing: “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”

This approach is why Disney films can be touchstone to our childhood, a reminder of a time when we were able to forget the world around us and let our imaginations run wild, even if only for an hour or so.

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

And so it is with Luna Park. It’s an opportunity for us to let go of the adult sensibilities and embrace our inner child; to put aside worries and concerns and simply immerse ourselves in fun, frivolity and lightness. It offers a marvellous landscape filled with curios and strangeness intended to raise a smile.

From a strange horn-like machine  that will dump odd metal shapes on you if you stand at the landing point, to tall funnels and box-like stages and boot / funnel-like structures, this is an interactive theme park where visitors are invited to wander, dance, sit, observe and have fun. There’s a lot to see and do throughout – make sure you take the time to hover the mouse over as much as you can, there are dances and poses throughout; make sure as well, that you climb all the ladders to climb into the boxes and funnels where steps are offered – you might find a few surprises!

Cica Ghost: Luna Park

It’s a place with many reminders of Cica’s past builds – such as her Frogs, a new take on her cats, her delightful flowers and stick figures and crow – even some of the structures present echoes of previous works, making Luna Park somewhat evocative as well.

But, when all is said and done, this is an installation that should be experienced, rather than written about, so I urge you to pay a visit and let your inner child out to play. Luna Park will be only be around for a month – and do please consider making a donation towards the cost of the region and Cica’s future art in SL.

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Cica’s Drawn Town in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Drawn Town

I first came across Cica Ghost’s work as a result of Honour MacMillan writing a piece on Cica’s animated stick figures, displayed at LEA 13 from September 2012 through March 2013. Later in 2013 I visited Cica’s Rust, and fell in love with her work, which I started covering from Ghostville onwards.

I mention this because her latest piece, Drawn Town, which opened on February 1st, 2019, in some ways brings my acquaintance with Cica’s work full circle. Within it, she brings together both her familiar 3D design style and an echo of her drawings and stick characters.

Cica Ghost: Drawn Town

Set against a midnight sky and black sea, Drawn Town presents just that: a town surrounded by fields of flowers, all of which appear to have been drawn in chalk on a black board. Or perhaps a better description would be a white-on-black drawing raised from the pages of a pop-up book.

It’s a simple, delightful setting. Star like flowers rise from the darkened ground, mirroring those rising from many of the chimneys of the finger-thin houses. Roads and alleys pass between the houses and buildings, thier routes simple horizontal lines on the ground, while plazas are marked out like white-on-black chequer boards.

Cica Ghost: Drawn Town

Also scattered around and in the town are little black-and-white cars, available for anyone to jump into and start driving (just turn off your AO should you do so).  Also to be found are some of Cica’s familiar motifs: her cats, her little stick characters occupying various windows, and places to sit – such as a little café like setting in a town square, or benches by the fields of flowers.

Wrapped in a wonderfully apt quote by Maureen O’Hara, “In the beginning it was all black and white”,  Drawn Town is wonderfully whimsical, light and endearing. As per most of Cica’s builds, it will remain open through the month. Do be sure to visit!

Cica Ghost: Drawn Town

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Cica’s Rusty in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Rusty

Cica Ghost sent me an invitation to visit her latest installation in Second Life, which opened on  Sunday, November 4th, 2018. Rusty is another of Cica’s more quirky builds, a strange post-industrial landscape looking like a little town and dominated y some strange machines.

Cica sums the installation up with a quote by Joseph Addison, the 18th Century English essayist, poet, playwright, politician, and co-founder of The Spectator magazine: Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week. While Addison, the son of a Church of England clergyman, was referring to the act of going to church – noting that it both refreshes people’s thinking around God and gets them looking their best in their Sunday finery – Cica offers no such religious connotations with Rusty.

Cica Ghost: Rusty

Instead she offers a single suggestion: “have fun!” It’s an idea that’s also well suited to a Sunday, but which applies equally well whenever you opt to visit Rusty, because this is a place where there is a lot to do, besides wandering around.

Given the name of the installation, it should come as no surprise that rust features heavily here; it can be found on almost every surface – sometimes to the degree that you might think that simply tapping a drum or tower or metal line could result in all or part of what you touched vanishing a cloud of rusty dust and falling debris.  The structures themselves are many and varied – from chimney-like stacks to metal prams travelling along old metal tent spikes strung together to form cables. Part of some might resemble old watering  cans, others strange kettles with upturned spouts. Some even has a decidedly anthropomorphic look about them.

Cica Ghost: Rusty

To the east of the region, for example, a series of ladders rise against some of these strange structures, one of which, with its large rotating wheels set either side of a hook-like bill, looking from a distance like some weird metal flamingo. More to the centre of the region is a very definite rooster, also offering a place to sit.

There are also metal creatures to be found here, from the massive wheeled (and ridable) cat near the landing point (if it is not already rolling around the region, jump up on its back and touch its tail light to start moving), to an odd metal spider, or the mouse also out on the water, well away from its cousin on dry land.

Cica Ghost: Rusty

The “Flamingo” is linked to a neighbouring tower by means of a metal plank. Those wishing to do so can obtain a pair of boxing gloves at either tower and join in a game of Plank Boxing. Elsewhere are plenty of places to sit and watch others come and go, while a tall building offers the only place where machinery largely unaffected by rust can be found. Could it be responsible for keeping the place running?

Filled with Cica’s familiar motifs, Rusty is another whimsical installation that will remain open until the end of the month.

SLurl Details

  • Rusty (Kymor, rated: Moderate)