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.
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.
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.
Gem Preiz is a master of fractal art, as I’ve oft commented on in these pages. His work is always fascinating, encompassing as it does many interlinked themes and ideas – time, space, the future, the past, the rise and fall of civilisations and more, much of which is framed in terms of fractal images with a distinct architectural heritage. And while fractals are not part of his newest installation, architecture is very much its beating heart, fleshed with the use of physical space and a rich layering of time.
Arcadia presents a marvellous architectural fantasy – to use Gem’s words, what he refers to as a capriccio, a whimsy – although this actually does the installation no justice.
To encapsulate Arcadia as simply as possible might be to describe it as a neo-classical city, rich in Greco-Roman influence through the use of Renaissance Palladian architectural styles, whilst obelisks and some of the more tiered rectangular structures offer a hint of ancient Egypt within their forms.
This is a place of perfectly conceived design, where buildings, their shapes, placement and immediate surrounds have clearly been given special consideration such that while there is no deliberate mirroring of structural symmetry (e.g a Coliseum-like amphitheatre in one corner mirrored by a round building in an opposite corner) there is nevertheless a sense of symmetry in the way a line can be drawn through the city from the southern gates to the doors of the northern temple. passing through the arches of triumphal gates to cut this city neatly in two, or the east-west line that splits the city between low-lying precincts and raised palaces and temples (although this admittedly cuts through one of the raised elements).
This planned layout speaks to the ideal of cities being of a more harmonious design than we see today; places where architecture is considered to be both an art form and a reflection of a civilisation’s relationship with the natural world (as well as the familiar projection of power). Within his notes, Gem refers to Arcadia as a utopia in the form of a haven of peace and grandeur, protected from the rest of the world, to which I would add that were the concept of Elysium to ever be embodied in architectural form, that somewhere like Arcadia is very much how I would imagine it.
Somewhat extending from his Skycrapers installation, Acadia allows Gem to present an ideal, one that brings together past a future in a design of the present. By this I mean that while the overall look to the individual structures lie within classical architectural forms, the presentation of the installation – the lighting (I strongly recommend using the suggested TOR NIGHT Under a Yellow Moon windlight (or EEP setting) if you have it available / have imported it as an EEP setting) and use of orange glow give the installation a futuristic / otherworldly look.
Most of all, however, Arcadia is a marvellous celebration of architecture and geometry, both in terms of the entirely layout of the city, the individual styles of structure and building, the layout of courtyards, quads and terraces – even the very grassy elevations to the north side of the city – and the placement of trees and fountains, all form a part of the whole.
This celebration of architecture and reflection on great civilisations that spawned it can also be found within a number of the central buildings. Signified by glowing orange doors, these contain reproductions of works by some of the great masters who so often celebrated the beauty of architecture. They are: Giovanni Canal (Canaletto), Hubert Robert, Giovanni Panini (himself also an architect), and two of my personal favourites, the first being French neo-classical architect and visionary Étienne-Louis Boullée (whose proposed cenotaph for Sir Issac Newton was sadly never built, but does form one of a number of visualisation within Sansar created by John Fillwalk from the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts at Ball State university), and Thomas Cole’s quintet of paintings known under the common title of The Course of Empire, charting the rise and fall of an imaginary city.
This latter collection could also be said to be the spiritual forebear of Arcadia (although the influence of the other artists can also be witnessed throughout the installation), with the exception that while Cole’s city eventually collapsed in destruction, Arcadia is perhaps eternal.
When visiting the instillation, due ensure you following the local instructions for the greatest visual benefit (although I would suggest a draw distance of 300 metres should more than suffice for most visitors), and keep an eye out for the balloon ride close to the landing point and the horse and carriage ride within the city (where the balloon ride will drop passengers).
Arcadia officially opens at 13:00 SLT on Friday, October 23rd with a particle show in a special arena above the installation, followed by an opening party within the installation itself.
I’m not familiar with portraits; objects, details or landscapes are my favourite subjects. I’m not aware of the many secrets one needs to know to catch expressions, feelings or bias in a body or in a face. But sometimes I try that. It’s when a place, a dress, a pose, suggests an atmosphere or meaningful emotion.
– Melusina Parkin
These are the disarming words Melusina Parkin uses to introduce her latest series of images, Just Melusina, an enticing set of 34 self-portrait / avatar studies that are uniquely Melusina in appearance, tone and style that fully underline her use of atmosphere and emotion – and demonstrate she indeed has an eye for pose and look.
“Traditional” portraits tend to exercises in power and / or ego, however subliminal. The subject and their pose is what counts, the clothes they wear, the backdrop to their sitting, etc., are all merely accoutrements to the central theme of look at ME. Even self-portraiture can follow a similar route, although they can also lean the other way, projecting too much of the artist’s own self-reflection in a piece, although the end result is the same: to push their audience into a single track of emotional response.
Within avatar studies, ego can also play a role – who doesn’t want to have their avatar looking its stunning best? – but leaving aside things like Profile photos and personal shots, avatar studies within SL tend to focus on narrative: telling a story in a single frame. But often, rather than allowing the image to speak for itself, the artist will directly lead their audience into an interpretation of a piece through the use of an intentionally descriptive title that sets the foundation of what they are trying to convey. There’s actually nothing wrong with this where the story is the intent, but where the interpretation might otherwise be broader, it can focus too much on generating the primary response rather than – as with the likes of landscape images – allowing the audience to take in the whole and allow their thoughts and reaction to be more freely driven by what they see and perceive.
This is where the 34 images found within Just Melusina differ from the more “usual” forms of avatar study. While each and every one has obviously been posed, none are titled by anything other than by a number), so there is no leading by the hand when it comes to interpretation. The result is that what we see within each image is entirely a matter of our owner observation and emotional response – and this is broadened by Melusina’s skill in lightly (and sometimes indirectly) touching on smaller specifics within an image, as well as in using dress, poise and camera angle, to offer the way to larger stories our imagination might frame.
Take Just Melusina 34, for example (above). In a muted, soft-focus monochrome, it presents a woman sitting, perhaps curled with her knees up, on a sofa of some description. But is she at home or some public place? Just the hint of the chair is sitting on suggests a sofa, but could it be a vinyl-covered bench seat in public place that she has chosen to make her own. And is she alone or with someone? The turn of her eyes could suggest either; is she looking at someone whilst listening to them? If so who? A friend? A lover? A stranger? And if so, what does the neutral set to her expression suggest? Or has something outside of the frame attracted her attention? Is it something she is witnessing outside of wherever she is and seen through a window? Or is it closer, within the space she occupies, but not something with which she is directly involved? Or is she just lost within her own thoughts, unaware of either the sideways glance or the expression on her face? If so, what might be the thoughts she is lost within?
Thus, through each image, Melusina beautifully and lightly sets a scene – not an entire narrative, and certainly not a shout of “look at me!” – abut a scene. One in which we are invited to step and allow our eyes and emotions construct the narrative beneath.
And there’s more besides. Whilst all of these images open a veritable storybook of possible narratives to hold our attention, so too do some have other aspects to them. There are those that seem to have a more playful edge to them as they offer hints of other mediums – such as a possible call to Liza Minnelli in Cabaret or Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Others meanwhile, seem to offer hints of famous works to be found in the physical world – Just Melusina #17, with the use of pose and hair colour might be seen to offer an echo of Whistler’s Mother without actually ever being a direct take on it, but remaining true to itself.
Wonderful in scope and depth, this is another superb collection from Melu, and I hope you’ll take the time to see it.
Cica is back with her October 2020 build, and given the time of year, she’s presenting Halloween. However, rather than going all dark and gloomy with things that go bump in the night and nasty things hiding in the shadows, she offers something very different: a homage to the the genius of a film-maker known for his unique style of fantasy / horror storytelling that’s mixed with Cica’s trademark lightness and whimsy.
That focus of the homage is given away by the quote Cica offer with the installation:
Every day is Halloween isn’t it? For some of us.
– Tim Burton
And indeed, set out across the region is a series of little vignettes, many of which feature characters that may have popped out of the consciousness of Mr. Burton. They are all going about their business in this landscape of graveyards, pumpkin patches and strange little houses that appear to have grown, rather than having been built.
Round-eyed and slender, these are characters who carry on their skull-like faces grins that appear genuinely happy as they go about their business, be it stroking a cat, pulling a pumpkin-filled cart, riding a swing, playing a piano or some other endeavour. Like many of Burton’s characters, while their appearance may be drawn from the ideas of horror, they carry a natural attractiveness that encourages us to wander among them.
However, they are not the only attraction here. There are lots of little touches that add depth to the setting: flowers that will cause you to consider the term “spider plant” in a new way, crows that watch over everything with mischievous look in their eyes, and footprints that magically creep across the ground whilst eyes stare out of some windows, suggesting menace whilst none appears. And do keep watch for the rooftops that occasionally hinge upwards – they have a little surprise of their own.
There’s also interactive elements throughout the region waiting to be found as well, one of which carries a little touch of the macabre as it brings a whole new meaning to the words “dancing on a grave”, while for those who are taken by the folk occupying the region, a little shop offers the chance to purchase them, together with several of the other characters to be found at various points. And if the pumpkins in the patch take your fancy, they can be purchased directly from there.
Finished in a semi-monochrome environment, Halloween is another Cica delight. So, if you fancy something a little more whimsical for your Halloween, be sure to pop over – it’ll be there for the rest of the month!
I made my second visit of the week to Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat region in order to see Mindscapes, an exhibition by JudiLynn India, and which can be found within the region’s Janus Art Gallery II.
JudiLynn is a remarkable abstract artist who has been active in Second Life since 2010. Having studied graphics design at the Tyler School of art, at the opening of the new century she decided to focus her creativity on acrylic and digital painting, particularly exploring the opportunities for textured painting in the former and the ability to play with light and colour with the latter. When combined, these two approaches give her art a genuinely tactile dimension which in turn breathes a fascinating sense of life into them.
The title of this exhibition appears to be drawn from the fact that much of JudiLynn’s work originates within her mind’s eye, rather than being inspired by external sources. These are bold, vivid pieces, clearly drawn from her love of colour, their finish retaining the layered, tactile look that is so intrinsic to her art.
It is my goal to make charitable creation my life’s work. My intent is to share my craft and use it to raise much needed support for organizations that improve the quality of life for people at home and abroad.
– JudiLynn India, describing her art and her approach to life
Fourteen pieces are offered – twelve as conventional canvases, two as totems standing within shallow alcoves in the gallery’s curved wall. While all the pieces naturally draw and hold the eye, their mix of bright tones and more organic colours quite captivating, I confess that I found Mindscape 2 Totem particularly attractive; the colours within it richly organic, its form – a rectangular block – primal, its entire form exceptionally Earthly – by which I mean it has an element of having been drawn from the very crust of the planet, and raised up to offer a story of the ages that progresses down through its colours.
but each of these pieces that make up Mindscapes has something to say to those looking upon it; there are subtle narrative running through each, be it due the the shapes that are suggested within each or the manner in which colours ebb and flow with one another or intertwine gracefully, or the suggestion of things half-seen produced by the mix of line, colour and textural layering.
Captivating, entrancing, emotive and offering a combined journey into the art and imagination of their creator, the pieces presented through Mindscapes are not to be missed.
Milly Sharple is a remarkable artist, creator and patron of the arts in Second Life. An artist and photographer in the physical world, she has always enjoyed art and artistic expression, particularly that of fractal art, a technique she started using in 2005. It’s a medium in which she has gained deserved recognition: she has sold pieces around the globe, had them used as book and CD cover art and as promotional material, and has had her work used on the face of the bank cards issued by an Indonesian bank. Her work has even brought her to the attention of Salvador Dali’s protégé, Louis Markoya, who asked her to collaborate with him.
Milly was perhaps one of the first artists to bring fractal art to Second Life after she joined in 2008. Gaining familiarity with the platform, it became a place where she understandably wanted to exhibit her work, and following her initial exhibitions, she started receiving multiple invitations to display her work. She thus became immersed in the Second Life arts community, establishing her own gallery and also the Timamoon Arts Community, a place where artists could find a gallery home and like minds, and over the course of four years, she grew Timamoon into one of the most successful arts communities in Second Life.
For her incredible and expressive fractal art, Milly uses the Apophysis software package, while allows her to create soft, flowing, liquid effects that sets her work apart from other, more rigidly geometric fractal art with which we might be familiar as it is displayed in Second Life. This approach gives her work a stunningly organic look and feel, rich in life and often encompassing the intricate beauty of the Mandelbrot set.
However, Milly is not constrained to only producing fractal art; as a mixed media artist her expressive range is broad and deep – and I have long been an admirer of this aspect of her work as much as I am her fractal art. Indeed, I’m honoured to be able to have a copy of what I regard as one of the most engaging pieces of art in my modest personal collection -her Woman with Cat – hanging on the wall at our SL home. As with her fractal work, Milly’s mixed media art couples a rich use of colour with an etching-like finish to bring individual pieces to life in the most incredible manner.
I mention all of this because Milly has a new exhibition of work currently being hosted at Chuck Clip’s Janus Gallery, which opened on September 27th.
Meanderings brings together all of the above elements of Milly’s art and adds to it with a selection of her black-and-white portrait studies in a captivating microcosm of her talent. On display are seven large-format fractal pieces (with the patterns of two repeated on benches in the gallery’s two halls, and a third mirrored and inverted in the foyer that so blends with the décor, it might easily be overlooked), eight monochrome portraits and eight mixed-media pieces that are – without being in any way superlative – utterly stunning.
These latter pieces bring together all aspects of Milly’s art: her fractal work, her skills as a portrait artist and her expressiveness as a mixed media creator; there is a richness of life about them that is utterly absorbing, Similarly, the depth of life in the black-and-white portraits cannot fail to hold the eye; these are pieces that, whether inspired by real people or their images, or have been drawn entirely from Milly’s imagination, not only capture the likeness of the subject, but offer a very real sense of their life essence. Further, these monochrome pieces share a strong sense of narrative flow that can also be found within each of the mixed media pieces, thus presenting a thematic thread to connect them, whilst their arrangement around two of the much larger (and richly organic) fractal pieces offers a natural visual connection to them.
Taken together the three styles of art present within Meanderings offer a rewarding introduction to Milly’s art for those unfamiliar with it whilst also offering a unique thematic and narrative flow through the differing mediums, making this both an engaging and outstanding exhibition.