Now open at Melusina Parkin’s gallery space, located above her Melu Deco store, is her latest exhibition, Cars. It is a small, cosy exhibition of a dozen pieces focused – as the name suggests – on cars. Or more specifically, cars in Second Life.
In keeping with Melu’s approach to her art, these are not simple studies of motor vehicles; Melu has an eye for detail and angle, and this is much in evidence in these pieces.
So, rather than presenting us with what might be regarded as “traditional” shots of cars – side views, three-quarter front or back views, etc., Melu presents us with images in which the framing and background is as important as the vehicle itself, or where the car is presented in unusual circumstances. Nor are these bright shiny models: Melu offers shots of vehicles that have seen better days.
The result is a collection of images where the vehicles depicted within them are more than just cars, they are characters, and the pictures containing them are studies of their nature. It’s an elegant series, each beautifully presented and with a story within it.
As well as Cars, visitors to the exhibition space can also view a copy of Melusina’s Second Life Exhibits, a gorgeous collection of her exhibitions between 2011 and 2019. Just click on the book and follow the web link.
Open from September 10th, 2019 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery curated by Dido Haas, are two independent – yet in some ways complimentary – exhibitions by two gifted artists. Crossing Over features a 3D installation by Kaiju Kohime located in the middle of one of the gallery’s two arms, while Night Walks presents a further series of Melusina Parkin’s unique studies of Second Life. Both installation and imagery offer a richly layered environment in which thought is strongly provoked.
Crossing Over is the second installation Kaiju is presenting since his return to Second Life (his first being a collaborative piece with Electric Monday and entitled Orizuru (which you can read about here). It forms, in the words of the exhibition’s introduction, a commentary on the changing face of society’s thinking and structure:
The vertical small worlds we used to live in, illustrated by male white religious oppression, are slowly tilting towards a more horizontal and more human engagement. This installation is about the continuing struggle between verticalism and a horizontal way of thinking and being, about the masks we put on to protect ourselves from our mirror image.
The white-dominated element of religion (Christianity) is clearly symbolised by the main structure of the piece, which forms the framework of a great church. Within it, at the chancel, multiple white crosses float over the wireframe bust of a man as tendrils of light (thought / understanding / realisation?) fall from an angled blue cross to strike a mask that deflects them away – although it is showing signs of crumbling and breaking under their persistence.
It’s a clear and concise statement concerning religious oppression through the implementation of doctrine over belief / understanding. The white crosses stand as bars rigidly defining the dogma and the vertical nature of “white” Christianity as it is so sadly practised by some, wherein matters so often defined as “right” or “wrong” in terms of race, colour, gender and sexuality (perhaps more so in this present era than more recent times past). Meanwhile, the blue cross and the tendrils of light reflect that shift in thinking from dogma and vertical superiority towards the more compassionate, humanistic (and perhaps even more Christ-like?) “horizontal” view that we are in fact all equal; thus underlining the use of race, colour, gender and sexuality by some as masks and shields by which they seek to hold themselves apart from, and over, others.
Night Walks, meanwhile, offers a series of images that take us on “journeys into a dark world”. As the introduction notes:
Streets are empty in the night. At 3 or 4 am we can walk around without meeting people (just somebody who is “still” or “already” there, according to the words of the great Italian writer Italo Calvino, a night owl or a worker). So, we can look at buildings, parked cars, windows, street lamps and benches as they are the true inhabitants of that dark world.
Thus we are offered a series of night-time images taken from around Second Life offered in Melu’s unique perspective where she uses minimalism and close focus to tremendous effect. These are images that offer not so much a picture of a location but a glimpse into a world; sharply defined and focused they might be in their composition, but behind each one of them sits an entire story into which the imagination can fall.
Empty streets at night can be both enticing and frightening. We can be alone, even when just beyond the few inches of stone or brick that may separate us from the interior of house or apartment building, we know there are others, sleeping peacefully or – if lights are still to be seen through curtailed windows – going about their lives as we tread the pavements outside. Thus, we can wrap ourselves in a cloak of our own thoughts without fear of interruption or distraction.
But at the same time, the streets late at night can be unsettling: the familiar can be redrawn by the simple fall of light and shadow; doorways that by day might be welcoming can by night become places of menace. Thus – and again as the liner notes state, “Serenity and fear live together in the dark and empty streets. Which of them wins, depends on our mood. In the night the dark enchanting forest of the city becomes the landscape where the contrasting sides of our souls live.”
And it is in this contrasting sides of the soul that the link is formed between Night Walks and Crossing Over is formed. It is said that it is in the depths of night that one can most clearly hear the voice of God – or the voice of conscience, if you prefer. That quiet, insistent voice of challenge against dogma that cannot be silenced by the distractions of daytime life or deflected by the masks we might otherwise wear when not so deeply alone, and which calls into question our structure doctrine of thinking and encourages us towards a more open – dare I say “horizontal” view of the world around us.
The symbolism within and between both Crossing Over and Night Walks is both rich and powerful, offering multiple ways to interpret each as individual pieces and as interconnected exhibits (there is something of a symbolism for death in Crossing Over, for example, and the small hours of the night as seen in Night Walks are said to be the time when death visits the most – ideas which can taken interpretation of both into a whole new dimension).
In this, I could go on to write at length on both, but I’ll resist putting words into the artist’s mouths and ideas into your heads. Instead, I would encourage you to go to Nitroglobus and view both, and allow them to jointly speak to you. Both Night Walks and Crossing Over officially open at 12:00 noon SLT on Tuesday, September 8th, 2019.
On Sunday, September 8th, Cica Ghost opened the latest in her monthly installations – and it is simply wonderful in its light-heartedness.
Silly is just that: a marvellous retinue of silly characters in a lush green landscape full of whimsy that would right at home in a children’s story or a scene in The Beatles Yellow Submarine. All of which is wrapped in an About Land joke by Cica:
Q: What is a cat’s favourite colour? A: PURRRR-ple.
Across the vivid grass, two-dimensional shoots of many different hues periodically rise in bursts of speed growing, shoots forming as they do so. Except instead of becoming flowers, the buds they sprout become “fingers”, turning the plants into hands that wave in greeting before they descend back into the ground. Fluttering over these are similarly colourful and equally two-dimensional butterflies, their faces lit by happy grins.
There are no trees here; instead huge mushrooms rise over the landscape, casting broad, umbrella-like shadows, while the hump-backed hills are littered with boxes that have their own role to play. It is, in a word, a happy place, rich in humour. but it is not the scenery – whether in two-dimensions or three – that capture and hold the attention; it is the major characters within it.
These are a marvellous mix of the seemingly ordinary – cow-like creatures atop a hill and worm-like characters – to the quite bizarre. Some additionally have more than the usual allocation of heads or expected number of legs, but all of them would be perfectly at home within an animated film – a feeling that has added depth courtesy of the music stream Cica provides for the installation, which should definitely be played during a visit!
As with all of Cica’s installations, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the setting – places to sit, places to dance, and more. Just mouse-over the boxes scattered around and click when you see the sit icon. Where you end up might surprise you; one box certainly offers a new meaning to the term “in the belly of the beast”, while another might leave you feeling lighter than air! There’s also a free gift you can use to take to the skies and become an airborne participant in things.
Cica’s builds always offer something attractive. Sometimes they come with fun and frivolity, like Silly, others can be more thought-provoking or carry a narrative. It is this constant mixing of ideas and approaches that always made her installations worthy of time and attention. They are also why Cica is one of Second Life’s treasured artists.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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’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.
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’sLuna 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.
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.
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.