The Scale of Love in Second Life

The Carbone Gallery: Milena Carbone – The Scale of Love: Agape

The Scale of Love is the title of Milena Carbone’s latest solo exhibition, which is now open at The Carbone Gallery in Second Life. It is something of a refresh of her 2020 exhibition, The Nine Levels of Love, presented at Noir’Wen City, but which I failed to blog about at the time – so I hope this makes up for that oversight.

The central theme of the exhibition is a visual exploration of the various types of love as espoused by the ancient Greeks; but as with the majority of Milena’s work, the canvas she paints within this compact installation is – quite literally – cosmic in scale, and carries with it some religious undertones that indirectly link the piece back to one of Milena’s central themes: the nature of “god”.

The Carbone Gallery: Milena Carbone – The Scale of Love: Pothos

To address the art first – as this can be appreciated quite  independently of any more complex cogitations if one so wishes. This is set within a marble-walled structure stand nine large format images, each representing a state of love as defined by the ancient Greeks.

Each image interprets the selected ideal of love through a simple statement utilising posed avatars pictured against white backdrops and then processed to be presented in soft, neutral tones and / or monochrome (with a single notable exception). The result is a single frame encapsulation of their subject that has a depth of structure about it that is captivating.

Take, for example, Harmonia, with its two figures joined in form by dance both in the foreground and through their shadows (which in turn have amore nuanced meaning, to which I’ll return in a moment). It perfectly and simply encapsulates the idea of harmonious love – two souls united, able to move as one, sharing outlook and motion, a concord of expression.

The exception to the general approach of soft tones and monochrome – each of which offers a subtle statement on both the positives of love: gentleness, lightness of mood and touch, and the negatives: broodiness, possessiveness – is that of Eros, which Milena defines simple as “flesh love”, but which might be more correctly seen as primal lust, and the form of love the ancient Greeks saw as the most base and frightening, involving as it does a loss of control. To represent this, Milena utilises a sea of red washing around her two lovers, symbolising the heat of passion (and which may perhaps also be looked upon as having more subtle undertones).

The broader aspects of the installation revolve around the origins of love, both as a human concept and as a part of the cosmos as a whole.

The latter involves considerations on the universe as a whole, how everything we can see, everything we know, everything we are, is the result of particles coming together under the force of gravity, the one seemingly immutable and universal force of attraction. Thus, given that love – in all its forms, including its expression through our various religions – is an immutable part of human life, might it not be a continuance of that universal theme of mutual attraction?

Bound with this is a consideration of Aristophanes‘ speech from Plato’s symposium on the origins of human love. Intended as a humorous morality tale, the speech as referenced here is used to draw a further line through the idea of human love being part of the natural state of attraction found in the universe as a whole. At the same time, Milena perhaps offers a subtle reference to the speech through the positioning of the figures in Hormonia, I commented on earlier; note how they appear to be conjoined to form a double-headed, eight-limbed creature as imagined by Aristophanes whilst considering the nature of love.

The Carbone Gallery: Milena Carbone – The Scale of Love: Harmonia

One might niggle over Milena’s selection of types of love – where is Ludus or Pragma, for example? When considering their definitions, are not her Agape and Charis one in the same, both effectively referencing unconditional love? But the fact is, there are multiple ways to look upon the ancient Greek concepts of love; as such, it’s likely not advised to get too hung up on definitions or individual references.

What is worthy of appreciation is the art itself, even if you don’t follow the broader themes contained within it, because The Scale of Love is beautifully executed. The art is exquisite, while the setting offers a Greco-religious theme suggestive of both a temple and a church that are in keeping with both the focus of the exhibition and its broader themes: the marble and Doric columns echoing the former, the central hall and end rooms echoing the nave and crossing of a church. And in the latter regard, make sure you look down the “nave” from one end towards Agape at the other, and the marvellous way it has been framed (and consider the subtext within that framing).

As always with Milena’s Work, The Scale of Love engages the eye and mind on multiple levels, the art and setting alone making it visually appealing, the themes and ideas contained within them making it cognitively rich.

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Cica’s Summer Day in Second Life

Cica Host: Summer Day

Cica Ghost opened her latest region installation on Sunday, July 18th. Entitled Summer Day, it is, as always with Cica’s installations, accompanied by a quote; one that might possibly have more meaning when taken with the installation than may perhaps have been the case with some of Cica’s recent works, a point I’ll come back to in a moment. That quote is:

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.

– Dr Seuss

The scene is quite simple – a rolling landscape under a deep teal sky, white horses gambolling and frolicking amidst the grass and under the shade of trees; a chap fishing on a little lake where he is watched by a swan, the fish under the water perhaps teasing him by ignoring his line and bait; and a woman (his wife?) sitting outside of a house, fussing a pair of geese, one of which is perched on her lap.

Cica Host: Summer Day

What is surprising is that unlike Cica’s other region-wide installations, Summer Day has few sit-points within it – just the bench with its white cat and the little boat bobbing off-shore, so far as I could see; and there are none of the usual animations / dances that tend to be a hallmark of her work. It is this lack of animations and sits, combined with the use of the quote from Dr. Seuss that led me to wonder if, perhaps, there is a message to be found within this Installation.

Seuss’ words remind us that memories grow from the experiences we have – or create – in our lives; so it is important we ensure we make time to have experiences – moments – that will result in happy, lasting memories – be it through engaging in something we enjoy, appreciating nature’s beauty or simply having fun. Otherwise, there’s a risk that when we page back through our memories, there is a risk that rather than having a richness of experience to enjoy, we find that all we have are a lot of “what if I had just…” memories.

Cica Ghost: Summer Day

So might Summer Day be a little poke Cica is giving us to maybe take a break from computer screen and keyboard and make time for the things that will give us happy memories? Those moments needn’t be complex: just space to enjoy a favourite past-time (the chap fishing), or to enjoy the touch of nature (the woman leaving the washing and fussing the geese) or simply taking time to play (symbolised by the horses), especially if we can share the fun with a friend or loved one.

Obviously, I don’t want to put words into Cica’s mouth, but I found it hard not to escape this feeling / sentiment as I wandered Summer Day, although it is true you might find it says something different. Which is why (as always with Cica’s work), I recommend playing it a visit yourself, rather than just relying on what is written here.

However, while you do so, please excuse me if I pop out to the garden for a moment, and make some memories playing with my cat 🙂 .

Cica Ghost: Summer Day

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Mareea and CybeleMoon at Kondor Arts Centre

Kondor Art Garden – CybeleMoon

June has brought with it two new exhibitions at the Kondor Art Centre, curated by Hermes Kondor, featuring the talents of Mareea Farrasco and CybeleMoon.

Having opened on June 10th at the Kondor Art Square, La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée, is an engaging selection of Second life art presented by the owner and curator of IMAGO Land Art Galleries, Mareea Farrasco.

Kondor Art Square – Mareea Farrasco

As the title might suggest, this is a collection that has a certain focus on the sea – although this is by no means the case for all the pieces on offer; at least, not in the sense of traditional water. Pieces such as Fabulous Goats and Silenced World give a suggestion of flowing waters through the wind-brushed sea of grass that presents a backdrop, and the shimmering of falling rain on which a rainbow is forming. Similarly, and while the sea does appear within it, Lavender perhaps embodies the ebb and flow of an ageless tide far more through the curving sweep of flowers that is its focus than by the sea that sits on the horizon.

However, all these pieces are deeply evocative and rich in narrative. Mareea has a deftness of touch coupled with a eye for style, angle, cut and framing that brings her images beautifully to life. Her use of colour to suggest emotion is sublime, while the lightness of her use of post-processing allows here pieces to retain a natural, unforced beauty about them that is simply ideal.

Kondor Art Square – Mareea Farrasco

It is absolutely no secret that I am in awe of CybeleMoon’s artistry. Her work embodies a life and spirituality that is is unmistakable both for its heartbeat and for its richness of narrative. Witnessing her pieces is genuinely like stepping into a Loreena McKinnitt song: you are lifted beyond the plain of the ordinary and carried into a mystic realm of light and shadow, life and dance, legend and fantasy and love and remembrance. Just as McKinnett’s music and lyrics weave tales in your mind, so Cybele’s images offer tales for your imagination.

Celebrating the Solstice, on display in the Kondor Art Garden embodies all of this in an exhibition of two parts. At the landing point and close to the stage, are eight images simply arranged on stone plinths. Each one evokes a sense of story both in terms of image and title (I confess that Listen to the Wind from the South utterly captured my eyes and heart, there is so much within it that sets the imagination alight).

Kondor Art Garden – CybeleMoon

Beyond this and within a wooded grove sits a mystical ring of standing stones and more of Cybele’s pieces. When crossing to them, it is best to set your time of day to Midnight to fully absorb the atmosphere of the setting and the beauty of the art. Again, while the focus is on celebrating the summer solstice, so too are wider tales embraced.

For example, Aine, the Irish goddess of summer, wealth and sovereignty, and who is particularly associated with midsummer, is pictured alongside the Celtic god Lugh, more usually associated with the time of harvest, and Ogma, the inventor of Ogham, the script in which Irish Gaelic was first written and who is often given the epithet Grianainech, or “sun-faced”. Thus through this exhibit, Cybele helps open us to the broader richness of Celtic mythology and the landscape of Ireland (The Hill of Tara, Listen to the Wind from the South) as well as to the worlds of fae and nature and childhood dreaming, all of which further engages the visitor in viewing these pieces.

Kondor Art Garden – CybeleMoon

Two superb artists and two very different but equally engaging exhibitions that can be enjoyed side-by-side when visiting the Kondor Art Centre.

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Waka region is rated Moderate.

A Variation in Art in Second Life

Janus II Gallery: Etamae and Imaginary Footprints – Variation

Saturday, June 12th saw the opening of Variation, a joint exhibition of art by Eta (etamae) and Imaginary Footprints.

Hosted at the Janus II Gallery at Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat, Variation is the second such collaboration by the artists I’ve visited, the first being Memories of a Forgotten Reality (see: A Foreign Reality in Second Life), which I found to be an absorbing exhibit both in style and its collaborative development – and the e same can be said of Variations.

Supplied without exposition by the artists, Variation appears to follow the approach seen with Memories, with each artist starting with a single piece before passing it to the other, the back and forth continuing as the piece gradually evolve in accordance with the perceptions and thoughts of the artists.

Janus II Gallery: Etamae and Imaginary Footprints – Variation

However, where there was a central theme to Memories that likely focused each artist’s thinking when working on an image, the lack of stated vision apparent with Variation has offered perhaps far greater freedom,  with each piece becoming entirely framed within the individual thought processes and feelings of each artist as they worked with it. Thus, the focus of the art – and the exhibition as a whole, is the variation that marked the evolution of each piece.

The result is a collection of art that is broad in scope and potential interpretation. In terms of style and / or genre, there are pieces that might be said to have their roots in abstraction, others that lean towards expressionism or surrealism, and still others touching on abstract expressionism or digital etching. Not all are 2D or static;  the added 3D elements presenting a certain depth, particularly those that are placed alongside 2D images they appear to reflect.

Janus II Gallery: Etamae and Imaginary Footprints – Variation

In terms of subject matter, the best place to start is to paraphrase a comment by Eta’s SL partner, Jos:

The only perspective that will be objective is your subjectivity.

That is to say, such is the depth to which these pieces speak, the only way to hear what they might say is to witness them for yourself and and let your own eye and emotions frame your perception / understanding of them.

However, with that in mind, I  will say that I found Variation suggestive of a dream state – something enhanced by the overall environment in which Eta and Imaginary have framed the exhibition. A condition wherein the conscious mind is at rest and the subconscious is steady processing all that it has been a party to. Such processing can give rise to bright and dark moments (dreams and nightmares), and similar moments might be found within these piece, tugging and twisting our thinking and emotions into a state of variation.

Janus II Gallery: Etamae and Imaginary Footprints – Variation

Superbly produced and presented, Variation is a marvellously absorbing exhibition.

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A trip to Cica’s Circus in Second Life

Cica’s Circus

For June, Cica Ghost is offering us all a trip to the circus with her latest installation which opened on Tuesday, June 8th.

Called, appropriately enough, Circus, this is an engaging setting that brings to life all the brightness – and perhaps some of the edge – of its namesake for people to explore.

From the big top to cages to transport animal whilst on the road to the animals themselves – elephants, giraffe, seals, lions, bears – Circus presents all the elements that for so long made circuses a place of wonder for young and old. And not just the circus – rids and other interactive elements aware those who visit, giving the setting a slight funfair lean as well.

Cica’s Circus

Scattered throughout are Cica’s trademark dances lay hidden within various objects awaiting discovery – keep and eye out as well for the gifts that can make the dancing even sillier! Other items, when moused over, offer sit point for those who wish to observe all that is going on. for the more energetic, the trampolines offer the challenge of bouncing in place or trying to time bounces and movement to catapult yourself upwards and back and forth between them.

Of course, circuses can raise feelings of disquiet over the welfare of animals, whilst clowns are not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to fun. These points are perhaps indirectly alluded to by Cica due to the clowns here keeping themselves to one side of the path through the circus, and the fact that the entire setting sits under a slightly gloomy twilight sky.

Cica’s Circus

But really, Circus is about freedom and escape, a recapturing of childhood innocence and wanting to “run away to the circus”. And in a time when there has been so much gloom and spectres of pandemics and political polarisation and more, taking time to escape is actually not a bad idea. So why not hop along to Cica’s Circus and have a little fun?

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  • Circus by Cica Ghost (Springville, rated Moderate)

Vita’s contrasts in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro is an Italian term that literally translates as “clear-dark”, although within the world of art, it is more usually referred to as “light-dark”, and references the use of strong contrasts between darker and lighter colours or shades in images, be they paintings, drawings, sketches, photographs – even video and film in the modern era – and which is intended to give a sense of volume and three-dimensional depth to an image through the use of lighter contrasts within the subject of the composition, and the broader contrast between the subject and the background.

It’s a technique that is all around us in art (just look at almost any portraiture or painting by the European painters of the Renaissance, for example or modern photographic portraiture or even graphic novels), and its use extends into visual mediums such as the stage, and more latterly, advertising, television, and film (for example, Francis Ford Coppola uses the technique extensively within The Godfather trilogy – just take a look at this still of Al Pacino from the first film in the series). However, it also doesn’t have to purely the contrast between “dark” and “light”; Andy Warhol, for example, utilised the technique extensively through his use of really bold colours contrasted against lighter tones rich in brightness.

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

In music, Chiaroscuro again emphasises contrast, combining a brilliant sound referred to as squillo with a dark timbre called scuro to produce a sound that has considerable depth and warmth. It is perhaps most notable in its use within opera, although again, many compositions, from classical through to the modern era also use it.

I mention all of the above, because it is the richness and depth of contrast suggested by Chiaroscuro that Vita Theas embraces in her exhibition of the the same name that opened at Aneli Abeyante’s La Maison d’Aneli arts centre on Wednesday, May 26th.

Set within a space created by Vita that enhances the idea of contrasts  (dark brick wall and heavy wood roof timbers over which sits the inverted bowl of a glorious sunset itself beset with darkening clouds lit by the lowering Sun, the marvellous murals she also presents on the walls – look at the sense of movement contrasted with the relative calm of the ships beyond in the “waterfront” piece, for example), this is a collection that embraces the idea of Chiaroscuro in art, image, and life.

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

From monochrome images – perhaps the “simplest”(if such a word might be employed) expression of the use of contrast through to avatar studies that reflect the use of chiaroscuro both in modern photographic portraiture (Lost, If Only…, Hope), to pieces evocative of classical portraits of the likes of the Dutch Masters (And Then He Was Gone), this is a collection that also celebrates the broader use of the technique in  landscape photography (where again, we might not actually be aware the technique is present) pop art (the quite brilliant Warhol-esque Seduce), and more.

These are images that also illustrate the essential vitality of life that is evident through contrast. As Vita herself notes, the interactions of light and shadows, brightness and darkness, warm and cool colours and shading, all work together to give these pieces a visual and emotional depth, a reminder that chiaroscuro isn’t just a technique, it is a part of the fabric of life. Just take a look (again) at And Then He Was Gone and both Regret and the exhibition poster; all three present a powerful sense of emotion through the contrast of pose and background, or that between the overlaid focal image and backgrounds.

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

A truly powerful and evocative collection, Chiaroscuro offers an engaging selection of art that can be appreciated for its visual appeal and composition and for its ability to get the grey matter working.

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  • ChiaroscuroLa Maison d’Aneli (Virtual Holland, rated Moderate)