Bryn’s mythical creatures in Second Life

Bryn Oh: Mythical Creatures

Now available at her Immersiva arts region, is Bryn Oh’s latest presentation Mythical Creatures, which is will have an official opening on Sunday, July 19th, 2020.

Perhaps the best way to describe this collection of 21 pieces is as a series of art collectibles, in that they come with a unique property, which I’ll get to shortly.

This was a fun project where I researched 20 legendary, mythical or creatures of folklore from around the world and re-imagined them. Some are well known such as the Dragon or Phoenix, but then there are more obscure ones like the Nariphon or the horrifying Manananngal.

– Bryn Oh on Mythical Creatures

Bryn Oh: Mythical Creatures

Each creature is presented as a 3D sculpture on a plinth bearing a brief description of the creature’s form. More detailed descriptions of the creatures and their histories, drawn from multiple sources, hang from the ceiling of the hall behind each of the sculptures. As Bryn notes, some of the creatures are very well known; others may ring bells without necessarily being something we’re actually deeply familiar with, whilst others are liable to be entirely new to us. For me, examples of the latter two would be the Baba Yaga – something I’d heard of, but not actually researched, and the Tatzelwurm, a creature I’d never heard of.

As well as the Russian Baba Yaga and Swiss Tatzelwurm mentioned above, the collection comprises: from Greek / Roman mythologies Capricorn, Cerberus, the griffin, Medusa, and the phoenix; from Japanese mythology: Jorōgumo, Kitsune and Ōmukade; from multiple folklores and mythologies: the dragon and the mermaid; together with the banshee (Irish mythology), the ettin, the kraken (Scandinavian), La Sayona (from Venezuela), the manananggal (Philippines), the nariphon (Buddhist legend), the Canadian Ogopogo, and the Chinese qilin.

Bryn Oh: Mythical Creatures

And in case you’re wondering why I reference 21 pieces, but only list 20 creatures, that’s because there is a bonus item in the collection, the Bryn Oh.

Bryn Oh is a pale white moth girl born on the Internet. She has curved glowing horns, cyberpunk interface plugs, wings or a neko tail. She is queen of the moths and creates stories and worlds with hidden meaning inside. She has magic and when threatened she can deform her enemies or launch them high in the air. She is drawn to music but often lurks on the outside listening and never dancing. Other creatures find her strange an melancholy.

– the description of the “Bryn Oh”

What is special about these creature is the manner in which they have been created in two parts: “left” and “right” as you look at each of them. Gacha machines within the exhibition halls allow visitors to obtain a random “left” or “right” half of a creature. Any “left” part of a creature can be combined with any “right” part of another creature to create an entirely new one. The clever part here is that whichever combination of to parts is put together, the descriptive text on the two plinth halves will always seamlessly combine to offer a description of the new creature.

Bryn’s own notes on combining a “left” and “right” half from two sculptures to creature a new creature

Thus, it is possible to creature any of the original creatures in the exhibition by collecting all of the different halves – with up to 441 combinations of creature to be created. Further, to help in the joining process, the individual halves have been scripted so that when placed together, they will correctly align and join.

Another interesting aspect of these creatures is the sources Bryn has drawn upon to creature their “mini biographies” hanging in the exhibition halls, and the manner in which set portrays some of them. With Medusa, for example, the focus is very much on her violation at the hands of Posidon – and for which Athena unfairly punished the young and beautiful girl, turning her into the monster with whom we are more familiar.

Bryn amongst her creations

As noted, Mythical Creatures officially opens on Sunday, July 19th, 2020, with a special event starting at 15:00 SLT. Skye Galaxy will be providing the music, supported by Semiiina. And when visiting, keep an eye open for Bryn’s flying machines that have appeared in her own mythologies and her floating / falling bricks that have also featured in her past work, and both of which – together with the design of the exhibition hall, very much hook Mythical Creatures into her universe.

SLurl Details

Enjoying Cica’s Summertime in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

For July, Cica Ghost has offered her latest installation for people to enjoy. Summertime is a reminder that summer days can be, for all of us, “the best of what might be”, as her quote from Charles Bowden, the late American journalist, essayist and author, reminds us. It’s also a reminder that despite all the shadows cast by the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, happier, brighter, days will come along.

This is another quirky, light and fun installation with more to see than might initially meet the eye. At its core, it offers what might be a giant’s overgrown yard garden. Much of the ground forms a tiled surface that undulates slight, giving the impression of an aged, uneven terrace. Set upon this, and the grass beyond it, lay a series of planters of assorted shapes and sizes, from which sprout a variety of plants.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

Tall willow-like trees watch over this landscape, whilst scattered flowers and grass grow free of the pots and planters – perhaps grazing for the cows that are also present here.

Standing or sitting alone or in pairs or small groups, the cattle are curious souls, their large eyes constantly roving over the land around them, seeing all that goes on. The set to the brows of some suggest they might not entirely welcome avatars traipsing over their grass and flowers, while others look more interested in one another than in any visitors passing by. All of them offer opportunities for photos to be taken in their company, that can be hard to ignore.  Nor are the only occupants of this land; representative of Cica’s cats and crows are also waiting to be found, while a unique coop provides a stacked home for snow-white chickens.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

There’s more to see throughout the setting, as well. Some of the planters have the distinct look of houses or buildings about them – with one even the home of a little cinema – while others have the feel of being little hideaways. As with all of Cica’s installations, there are multiple places to sit, although one or two might require a little careful seeking – so be sure to carefully mouse-over planters and plants as well as simply looking for the chairs and garden benches. And if you’re not in the mood to walk, hop on to one of the seed carriers that are fluttering around the landscape and be scooted around.

A heart-lifting setting caught in the light of a late afternoon Sun, Summertime is another delightful visit, while those so taken by them, can obtain Cica’s cows from  the little store in the north-west corner of the region.

Cica Ghost: Summertime, July 2020

  SLurl Details

Journeying through mineral fractals in Second Life

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

Gem Preiz, the master of the fractal image, is once again back with a new exhibition of pieces that opened on July 7th.

For those familiar with his work, Journey to the Centre of a Fractal Earth sees him return to familiar territory after his trip into the world of scale city design with Skyscrapers (see: Gem’s Skyscrapers in Second Life) as he presents some 16 fractal images linked by the theme of mineralogy, whilst also touching on some broader themes common to his art.

The core of the exhibit is an exploration of mineral formations, carried out through a hypothetical journey to the centre of the Earth, that we might see them in their natural environs.

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

Our Universe, whose laws of thermodynamics teach us that its disorder is constantly increasing, nevertheless conceals in some places such extreme conditions that matter is organised in a perfectly ordered way. At the scale of our vision, the optimal arrangement of the atoms produces crystals with flawless geometry and colours entirely determined by the composition and structure of the mineral.

There are a few hundred mineral species on Earth (a few thousand if we include those that the microscope only can reveal), born of the fantastic pressures suffered by the rock in the Earth’s crust, the sudden cooling of volcanic material, or the accumulation of sediments crushed by their own weight. While tectonic movements and volcanoes lava have brought to Man many of these natural treasures (quartz, gypsum, sulphur, obsidian …), many of them were discovered in the depths of the planet only through industrial research or scientific exploration. 

– Gem Preiz, introducing Journey to the Centre of a Fractal Earth

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

This journey is carried out through the visit of sixteen large rooms, one after the previous, topped and tailed by tunnel-like walks from and to the “surface”. Within each room is displayed one of Gem’s marvellous, multi-panel, high-resolution fractal images generated in the form of a mineral, or rock laced with mineral striate. In an of themselves, they are stunning pieces, their form echoed in the walls and floors of each room, which may also utilise particle effects  an Delain Canucci.

Whilst intended to be representative of mineral deposits ” at the bottom of the most obscure caves and in the most secret veins,” some of these pieces equally have an other-worldly feel to them that brings to mind objects that might be found in deep space. for example, a gold-and-grey comet that catches the light of a star, the outgassing of volatiles forming a bright halo around it. Others suggest not so much crystalline minerals lying deep underground, but fabulous coral formations sitting on the deep ocean floor. Thus, Journey weaves into itself, intentionally or otherwise, those mentioned broader themes that captivate Gem’s thinking, and so often influence his art.

Gem Preiz: Journey to the Centre of the Fractal Earth

My only slight reservation is with Journey’s general presentation. On the one hand, I could see how travelling through the rooms is intended to reflects on the idea of the great depths and pressures at which minerals can be found / are formed (and of course gives a physical link to the title of Jules Verne’s famous novel used in the installation’s title). But on the other, in travelling through so many rooms of near identical presentation, I couldn’t help but wonder if an alternative, more compact means of delivery couldn’t achieve the same result?

That niggle aside however, for those drawn to fractal art Journey is well worth a visit simply because the framed images are genuinely captivating and elegantly beautiful.

SLurl Details

Cica’s Elephants in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Elephants

Cica Ghost opened her latest installation on Sunday, May 31st, and it is another delight. Entitled Elephants, it offers visitors the opportunity to go on a night-time photo safari to film elephants.

Set on a grassy, somewhat humpy landscape and among trees, these elephants wander, stand or sit individually or in little groups. Whether they are African or Indian is up to personal choice – but the setting does perhaps suggest Africa more than India, particularly given the little huts scattered around the landscape.

Static they may be, but through the simple means of animating their eyes, Cica has imbued them with a remarkable depth of life and emotion that really captivates in the degree of expressiveness offered.

Take the pair who standing close to one another, one with trunk raised. At first they may appear to be going about their own, separate, business and just happen to be in close proximity to one another. Then with a swivel of their eyes, a look passes between them that is hard not to see as a look of of unspoken communication and understanding as might pass between a couple.

Cica Ghost: Elephants

Elsewhere, a lone elephant stands before green plants. From one perspective, it appears sorrowful – perhaps feeling lonely or because it is reflecting the plight of elephants in the physical world; but move your position and await a turn of its eyes, and suddenly you have a shy subject in your camera lens, expressing a coy embarrassment at being photographed – as seen top right of this article.

As usual with Cica’s installations, there are interactive aspects to be found here. Mouse over the elephants (and other points in the setting) and you’ll find sit points, some with single poses, others with multiple poses, allowing visitor to join in with the exhibit.

Cica Ghost: Elephants

There’s really not too much more to say about Elephants, as it should be seen, not described. I will say that it is a genuine tonic for those needing to escape (for a while at least) all the bad news reverberating around the world, and it really cannot fail to raise a smile. For those who wish, one of the little huts offers all of the elephants for sale at very modest prices, making them fitting additions to any art collection.

Definitely not an installation to miss.

Cica’s Elephants – who said an elephant can carry baggage with its trunk?

SLurl Details

Cybele’s Spaces Between in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

CybeleMoon (aka Hana Hoobinoo) is an artist oft featured in these pages. Her mixed media art is renowned for its fabulous richness of tone, balance of light and shade, depth of symbolism and – most poignantly – its wonderful framing of narrative that makes any exhibition of her work in Second Life utterly unmissable.

There are many ways to explore Cybele’s work, some of which I’ve touched upon in writing about it. However, there is one aspect that I’ve not really explored in words thus far; one that Cybele herself examines in her latest solo exhibition The Spaces Between Heaven and Time, which is currently on display the the Kultivate Signature Gallery.

I often use doorways, windows, bridges and solitude in my images as a way of conveying my impression of stopping the world and perceiving my own reality in the shifting tapestry of time.

– CybeleMoon

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

Through this series of images Cybele explores her relationship with her art and the idea of liminality – that as an artist (and indeed we, as observers of her art) – she stands on a threshold between two states: the reality she experiences rooted in the physical world, and the worlds presented through her images.

In the strictest sense, liminality is used to define the state of ambiguity that is said to exist within a rite of passage, in which participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. With Cybele’s art, however, I would suggest ambiguity or disorientation have but a small role to play (if any at all). Rather, that in facing her art, we are more in a state of enticement or longing; what we see in each piece offers us a glimpse of a world that calls softly to us to enter – a place we desire.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

There is more here as well; a nuance that is both subtle and yet entirely fitting given the state of the world as it stands in May 2020 and in the midst of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. It’s a careful, unobtrusive reminder that solitude and / or being alone is not necessarily the a contrary state of being (as some seem to believe). Rather, it allows one to give time to self – to appreciate, to learn, to relax, to enjoy, to reflect – to create. In these times of social distancing.

The manner in which the images reflect the themes within this exhibition offers an further nuanced layer to it. Take Dr. Chandra, Will I Dream for example. Through it, we can witness the beauty of solitude as reflected in the single outstretched arm and the simple, delicate pleasure offered by passing a hand lightly over the flowers in a field, while the idea of liminality sits within the title of its title, which comes as a quote from the climax of the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact, in which HAL 9000 sits on the threshold between two realities, whilst the words themselves reflect our very questioning of the nature of life.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: CybeleMoon

The Spaces Between Heaven and Time is a beautifully nuanced exploration of ideas through art – one that absolutely not be missed.

SLurl Details

Melu’s Roadside images in Second Life

Melusina Parkin: Roadside

Currently open at Melusina Parkin’s gallery is Roadside, her latest collection of images taken from around Second Life, which will continue through May and June. Presented in Melu’s familiar and captivating close-up style, they present a series of pictures with a theme of road trips – but with a very specific focus, as she explains in the introduction to the exhibition:

Diners, motels, pump stations, garages are elements of a “road popular culture” developed in wide spaces crossed by monotone and endless roads. We can’t imagine a motorway without them.

Like mountains, hills, fields, lawns and rivers, they are part of any landscape we see when travelling through the country.

– Melusina Parkin

Melusina Parkin: Roadside

So it is that we have a series of images of motel signs, petrol (gas) stations and pumps, parked vehicles, wooden walls of motel cabins and more, each one offering a unique take on the idea of the Great American Road Trip. Within them are many of the icons of that tradition – the coupé with its top down, the ribbon of dead-straight road vanishing into the distance, the metal-sized roadside diner, the pannier-laden motorbike, and so on. However, they are presented in such a way that rather than simply offering a scene for us to appreciate, Melu once again frames them in a manner that invites a story.

Take Roadside 3, for example: a battered yellow coupé sits parked in the foreground, inviting us to consider it: it’s condition, who might own it, where might they be going, and so on. Then, beyond it and through partially shaded windows, we can see the familiar bright red vinyl seating of a diner – something that always inspires a feeling of warmth and comfort, and our thoughts are similarly comforted with ideas of good food and rest in a friendly environment, whilst also broadening the story of the owners of the car: what might they be eating, what conversations are going on at their table, and so on.

Melusina Parkin: Roadside

Similarly, Roadside 5, with the motorcycle parked before petrol (gas) pumps immediately spins out thoughts of the freedom of riding the open road through to (perhaps) thoughts of iconic road trip films like Easy Rider. And so it goes on around the four walls of the gallery space (a single room at the top of her store).

There is perhaps a wider context for this exhibit as well. June will mark Second Life’s 17th anniversary with the familiar Second Life Birthday celebrations taking place. The theme for this year’s event, the theme is road trips and vacations, so Melusina’s Roadside might be said to offer a lead-in to the celebrations.

Melusina Parkin: Roadside

SLurl Details