Cica’s Coloured Images in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Coloured Images, June 2022

Summertime is the time in which, when we are young, we gather precious memories of long holidays free from the supposed tyranny of school; times when we can run outside and play, build and create places of wonder through our imaginations, aided perhaps by toys such as building blocks or similar – or even the simple expanse of a piece of paper and a box full of tempting crayons.

The latter are particularly powerful as tools of the imagination, allowing young minds and hands create the most fantastical, colourful worlds, filled with the most bizarre or wondrous creatures and animals from upright elephants to giant ball-like and very happy spiders to aliens apparently visiting from another world.  The worlds we create using them can become a source of pride and a set of memories that, as we grow ever older and put such things behind us, summertime offers us again raising a smile and a sense of joy as they are recalled.

Cica Ghost: Coloured Images, June 2022

Because sometimes – as Cica Ghost reminds us through her June / July 2022 installation, all we need is a little splash of colour to gift us with a sense of joy.

Capturing the sense of fun exhibited with Garden (see: Happiness in Cica’s Garden in Second Life), this installation – called, for the record, Coloured Images – invites us to take a trip back to those younger times when our imaginations lay unfettered, and a new world lay in the promise of a blank sheet of paper and coloured sticks (or indeed, in the bricks or pieces of a toy building set).

Backed by a dark sky spotted with blobs and snowflakes of colour substituting for stars, the installation presents itself as a series of brightly coloured buildings – some complete, others not; some with bits and pieces of painted materials scattered around as if awaiting their turn to be used.

These buildings mostly stand on bases that suggest piece of card painted by hand to give the impression of surrounding gardens and footpaths, while walls carry painted images of creatures smiling happily and windows and great doorways edged as if with flooring petals. With strangely hued and coloured plants adding to the mix, and floors and different levels linked by simply-formed stairways, the entire setting is rich in its sense of imaginative invention and carefree innocence.

Within it, the animals and creatures are not just two-dimensional; they also exist as 3D characters waiting to be found. Some again look to have been painted by young hands that care little for “realism” such as the need for browns, white and black to predominate the coats of cows, or that caterpillars should for the most part be green. Instead, there is a further joyous riot of colour among all the creatures – from aforementioned upright elephant and multi-legged alien through to snakes, caterpillars, cows and more – that is exuberant in the sense of freedom it exudes.

Cica Ghost: Coloured Images, June 2022

As always with Cica’s installations, there are multiple sit points and dance animators waiting to be found (including one sit point right at the landing area – just look to one of the walls!), giving Coloured Images a further sense of fun as one explores.

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Terrygold’s I Would: reflections on life

Terrygold: I Would

In May 2022, Terrygold opened I Would, a further installation of art exploring personal themes of, life, love, and the passage of time. It is something of a third chapter in a series that started with Empty Chairs (see: Terrygold’s Empty Chairs: remembrance in Second Life) and then continued with Rain (see Terrygold’s Rain in Second Life), which – at the time of writing this article, at lease – is still open to visitors at Terrygold’s gallery, alongside I Would.

As with its predecessors, I Would takes visitor on a journey of two parts; one reflecting on childhood and the innocence carried within it; the other the increasingly harsh realities of life within a society which appears to be growing ever more isolationist, intolerant and selfish. These two parts are mirrored one to the other, but they are not reflections of one another; rather they are windows into different states of mind, linked by the presence of Terry, an adult woman who is both guide and voice of the artist’s – and our own – thoughts.

Terrygold: I Would

In the first part of the installation, we travel with Terry from her house and through a park; a place which, in childhood was never short of magical and where excitement and fun and release always awaited and where something might always be found to delight. A place where any little girl could be a princess and dream dreams of a future bright within happiness and light, and within which the realities of human nature were hidden – as least until seen through the weary eyes of adulthood.

In the second, we also start within Terry’s house, but on exiting, we pass onto a street of a modern town; a place dark, dreary and where anger gnashes teeth, and everything appears to be in a state of decay and uncaring selfishness. This is a street where anger is quick to boil over, and where those that have care little for the hardship of those who do not have, whilst being without is grounds to exude the right to threaten and to take.

All of this is evidenced in the words spoken in local chat by Terry as you come across her at various points in both scenes, and also through the words of other characters that might also be found, whilst mood is set by the framing of the scenes and the vignettes waiting within them.

Terrygold: I Would

Within the park, for example, we travel from Terry’s house through the bright colours and magical mysteries imagined by childhood eyes, to arrive back at Terry’s house as it sits in the harshness of winter – symbolic of the passage of time as we grow from the gaiety of childhood to the coldness of adult life.  Meanwhile, in the street scene we find a subtle amplification between those who have, and those who do not: in a garden protected by a high fence, a little girl plays happily, utterly oblivious of the little girl down the street cut off from her enjoyment of the local swings thanks to the vandalism of others and the force erection of another, and altogether different, high fence.

Throughout both scenes the words of the character of Terry give us pause for thought and to question. Why is life like this? Why do we so readily give up on the magic and promise of childhood to settle so readily into the cynicism and cruelty of adult life? What is it about our natures and our societies that make it “easier” to live in anger, resentment, selfishness and disregard, rather than allowing ourselves a more positive and accepting outlook? We obviously cannot remain as innocent as when young – but can we not hold onto the dreams we have, share them, and made the world a better, brighter place by doing so?

Terrygold: I Would

Within each half of the installation are 2D images by Terrygold that offer further reflection and visual tapping of the words offered through the character of Terry. These images add a further layer to our interpretation of I Would as it offers a thought-provoking window into life and the questions we can silently ask of it, and consider the wishes we all have at some point whispered within the stillness of our own thoughts.

On arrival at the gallery landing point, use the teleport disk to visit I Would and the other installations. 

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Milena’s retrospection and introspection in Second Life

Kondor Art Square: Milena Carbone – Introspective

I have been fortunate to follow a large part of Milena Carbone’s artistic journey in Second Life. Since her first major exhibition of work I visited (Agape, February 2020), Milena has repeatedly demonstrated the inherent power of art to challenge, to question, to offer statements on life, politics religion and self, to engage and to provoke.

Her work has tackled subjects as diverse as the nature of reality, self-perception and the realities (or otherwise) of “god”; it has plumbed the depths of our humanity (and inhumanity), of identify and self, and even navigated the waters of quantum field theory and the Casmir effect.

Kondor Art Square: Milena Carbone – Introspective

Thus, whilst offering a retrospective of her work after just three years of exhibiting it in Second Life might be seen as something of an exercise in ego, it is not (for one thing, I know Milena is far too self-aware to allow her ego to get in the way of things). Rather, it is a chance for those who have not had the ability to observe the evolution of her work and explore her ideas and thoughts on life, human nature, reality and self, to do so by acquainting themselves with piece from her catalogue of work to date, and to consider the paradigms she explores and presents. Equally, for Milena, it is an opportunity to revisit her work from earlier times and consider it under the light of her current thinking and world-view.Hence why, in receiving the invitation from Hermes Kondor to mount a retrospective of her work within the Art Square of his arts hub, Milena opted to title the exhibition Introspective, and frame it around a central commentary and three questions. The latter initially appear to be offered as a means to help frame her continued presence within SL; however, they actually reach much further than this.

Kondor Art Square: Milena Carbone – Introspective

Within all three resides both a cry oft heard down the ages, and also a challenge to us all in the here and now: why, really, are we here; what purpose do we serve? When are we finally going to put pettiness and anger and hate behind us and truly learn acceptance of one another and embrace love for one another? When will we, quite frankly, cease the shouting din of childish behaviours and grow up as a species?

Around the introductory boards (which on their reverse sides offer copies of the books Milena has produced in reference to some of her exhibitions, thus offering further insight and means of retrospection) and against the edges of the square are pieces taken from Milena’s exhibitions. These start in the north-east corner of the square and proceed south and then around to the north-west corner, arranged in chronological order. Each is presented with text either from the exhibition itself, or designed to offer a framing for it – text which also, for those willing to read, muse and reflect, offering further reverberations of the core questions Milena asks.

Kondor Art Square: Milena Carbone – Introspective

These images, in and of themselves, also allow us to travel through Milena’s growth in both experimentation and in confidence with her ability to use the tools at her disposal to represent her art and her thoughts and in allowing her inner voices to speak in unison and / or equally.

Introspective is an exhibition that can be appreciated purely visually; however, its full richness comes in taking the artist’s hand and walking through her words and thoughts in reflection of the images and the introduction.

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Loss, life and strength, Alone in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mihailsk
There are moments in life when you feel like you are losing everything; the laughter, the joy, in short the colour disappears from your life. You are ALONE, nude, mourning about what you lost. You have to find the strength to stand on your own feet again and find the light in the darkness that surrounds you.

– Mihailsk, June 2022

With these words, Greek photographer-artist and observer of life Mihailsk introduces guests to his exhibition Alone, which forms the June exhibit at Dido Haas’s Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. As might be gathered from his intro, this is an exhibition that leans into darker feelings and emotions: loss and loneliness, depression and hurt, whilst also offering a sense of hope beyond the shadow and pain.

The fourteen pieces Mihailsk presents are extraordinary in the depth of life they each offer. All are finished in black and white, using deep shadow and nudity to tremendous effect. But while nudity is present, it is not excessively NSFW, (although caution might be best employed with a couple of the pieces). Nor is its presence in any way gratuitous; rather, it is essential to the exhibition’s theme and tone.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mihailsk

This is because – as Mihailsk notes – nudity is the most physical manifestation of helplessness / being alone. When nude, we have nothing by which to hide our condition; we are literally and metaphorically laid bare to the world and our scars are openly visible; scars that are not necessarily physical, but certainly emotional (and represented here by the tattoos, marks and drawings present on Mihailsk’s torso and face). Thus its use within these images is a literal expression of naked emotion.

Similarly, the use of shadow and monochrome project feeling and mood. The shadows are perhaps most obviously representative of depression, feelings of darkness, loss and being lost. At the same time, the use of shadows to obscure eyes (together with eyes being closed) speaks again to sorrow, loss, and emptiness.

Contrasting with this is the use of light, both directed and visible. Through the pieces, whether indirect and lighting Mihailsk’s body and face, or direct in the form of beams of light falling across him or the presence of a ceiling light, give a sense hope for the future, and happier times will come again. More particularly, its presence within the images literally pushes back against the darkness, bathing Mihailsk in a sense of warmth, a visual reference to the fact that bad times do come to an end and that – to borrow from another expression – our darkest times come just before the brightest.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mihailsk

This hope is further expressed through pose. Nowhere is the figure slumped or huddled; instead, the poses all contain one or more suggestions of strength: a muscular outstretched arm, a seated back that is straight, not curved in defeat; the fluid movement of dance, and so on. Thus, they further add to the sense of hope for the future, that our inner strength will allow us to survive and to move forward as we seek the light of better times.

Accompanying the art are two quotes from Greek writer and poet Anastasios-Pandeleïmon Leivaditis and Belgian poet and novelist Eleanore Marie Sarton, both of which perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the exhibition. This can be found on the gallery wall, while lighting by Adwehe has been provided to add further atmosphere to the piece (make sure Advanced Lighting Model is enabled).

Rich in metaphor, meaning and very real emotion, Alone is an exhibition of enormous personal depth, but which offers a richness of feeling that it resonates strongly with anyone who has experienced one or more periods of loss and / or darkness.

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Gem Preiz: Exoplanet II: On The Way Back in Second Life

Gem Preiz Exoplanet 2: On The Way Back

In February 2022, Gem Preiz opened Exoplanet: Once Step Further; the first chapter in a two-part series that combines a science-fiction story with his fractal art to offer a vision of humanity’s innate desire to explore, discover, learn about and understand the cosmos around us (see: Gem Preiz: Exoplanet – One Step Further in Second Life). Now, with its formal opening on Wednesday, June 1st, 2022 comes the second chapter of the series, once again hosted by Akiko Kinoshi (Akiko Kiyori) within her “Akipelago” art hub of regions.

In the first chapter (which remains open to visitors) we are invited to a crew of astronaut-scientists engaged on the deep-space exploration of planets beyond our own solar system – referred to as exoplanets in the science community – and to consider the remains of civilisations the crew have discovered, as represented by Gem’s fractal images displayed within the base the crew have established. Now, with Exolpanet 2: On The Way Back, we find the crew aboard a space station (or perhaps, for reasons I’ll come to, a ship-come-station) about to make the return to Earth.

Gem Preiz Exoplanet 2: On The Way Back
Astronomy is a science that makes you dream. The observation of distant objects transports us in space and time, and leads us to ponder the origin of the universe and the possibilities of hosting extra-terrestrial life there. The discovery of exoplanets in 1995 opened up a new field of exploration which could undergo even more spectacular development thanks to the new James Webb telescope. The enthusiasm for their discovery was nourished by science fiction stories, now legitimized by the proof of the existence of these worlds.

– Gem Preiz

As with the first chapter, Exoplanet 2 is both art installation and immersive environment intended to nudge visitors into thinking about life and and interstellar exploration. The station (/ ship) itself is built on a vast scale, with multiple levels to explore, both within the vertical central core (housing the essential systems and services – control, power, life support (including a hibernaculum), medical and essential crew facilities), surrounded by two concentric rings of additional facilities, including labs, crew sleeping quarters, access to docking facilities and small ship hangers, escape pods, etc. Through all of this are points of interaction (look for the hand icons), whilst floor-and-wall mounted teleport disks and buttons provide fast transit between different points of the station.

The art comes in three primary forms to be found throughout the station. The first is a series of eight framed fractal images depicting the worlds the crew has visited; the second, eight sketch-like images of locations within Second Life, serving to remind the crew of their beauty of their home world – and us of the fact they we are all bound to a single, beautiful but wholly fragile planet.

Gem Preiz Exoplanet 2: On The Way Back

The third art element sits within the Entertainment section of the station. Here can be found two large media screens which can display videos of some of Gem’s past installations. These include a video of Wrecks, itself part of a  two-element exhibition of Gem’s art from 2016 (called Heritage) and which also formed an evocative foray into the realm explored through Exoplanet (see: Of Heritage and Wrecks in Second Life).

A fourth artistic element might be said to exist outside of the station, where Gem has used a series of EEP settings to provide a changing backdrop of astronomical images. These include distant galaxies, stars, imagined worlds and moons a lot closer to home, and can be viewed either by camming out or by one of the little personal flyers found in one of the station’s hangers and taking a trip outside. Just be sure you are using the installation’s EEP settings (make sure World → Environment → Use Shared Environment is checked).

Not only do these EEP settings offer an additional layer of art, they also suggest the station is “jumping” its way through the cosmos to bring the crew back to Earth.

Gem Preiz Exoplanet 2: On The Way Back

Exoplanet 2 is also linked directly with Exoplanet: One Step Further via the teleport HUD, which can be obtained at the main landing point (and which provides direct access to the major points of interest in both installations), or by finding your way to the shuttle about to launch from the station, and which contains a teleport to Exoplanet.

A detailed introductory card is available to visitors on arrival, which both provides an overview of the installation and explains some of Gem’s thinking behind it. The card makes for a recommended read, and Exoplanet 2: On The Way Back makes for a rich, engaging visit.

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Regi’s “Limitations” in Second Life

Regi Yifu: Limitations are Self-Imposed

Currently open in the skies above GlastonBelli on the mainland continent of Corsica sits Limitations are Self-Imposed a 3D installation by Regi Yifu.

The essential idea appears simple enough: a rainbow-hued series of walls interspersed with the shadowy forms of trees around and between which shade-like birds fly, forms a maze visitors are invited to walk. However, appearances are deceptive. Finding your way around the maze to its heart isn’t simply a matter of trying to pick the correct route between the high walls.

Regi Yifu: Limitations are Self-Imposed

This becomes apparent as soon as one enters the maze: the walls are actually phantom, allowing people to pass through them. So why the maze? The clue is in the title of the piece: all too often the limitations we place in life are self-imposed, either personally or by the strictures of our environment.

We make ourselves follow lines of thinking / belief / the demands of society when trying to grow or learn or achieve, and as a result, we frustratingly come across walls that seem to block our way, causing us to stop, turn back and try again using a different approach – one that may succeed or may lead to further frustration. But what if we didn’t? Rather than turning aside, what if we just kept pushing forward and pushing through the apparent barriers we face?

Regi Yifu: Limitations are Self-Imposed

Many of the world’s ideas and innovations have been achieved in this manner: by pushing against limits, by turning aside and moving outside of “traditional thinking / approaches.

True, doing so may not always yield the immediate result we hope for – there might be further barriers to work through / around; by pushing through one barrier might lead to initial confusion as much as trying to follow traditional thinking, and so on.  This, too, is reflected by Regi’s maze: pushing through a wall here and another there can lead you to a point where progress has been made, but you’re not at the heart of the maze – and it’s no longer clear where that centre is; you need to pause, reorient – and then push onwards.

A simple but layered installation that is also fun to visit.

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