Ekphrasis: the rhetorical nature of art in Second Life

Artsville: Angelika Corral – Ekphrasis

Now open within Gallery 1 within Artsville, the arts hub operated by Vally Lavender (Valium Lavender) and managed / curated by Frank Atisso is Ekphrasis, a selection of highly visual pieces of art by Angelika Corral, a Second Life photographer of note, and former co-operator of Daphne Arts in SL.

Comprising 10 individual pieces which – I believe – started as Second Life avatar studies, but which have been have been subject to considered post-processing to present a set of unique images created by the artist with the express intent of evoking a response from all who see them. But not, however, a purely emotional (or even visceral response); rather, the intent is evoke responses along more ekphrastic lines.

In its simplest form, ekphrasis is the use of one medium of art (traditionally the written word, be it prose, poetry or lyric) attempts to define and/or describe the essence and for of another, and in doing so, illuminates the art to a wider audience through its description. Some of the pieces I write in this blog on art exhibitions, of example, might be said to be examples of ekphrasis, in that they attempt to present an interpretive commentary on the art to which they relate. A motion picture based on a novel might also be seen as a latter-day form of ekphrasis, bringing the essence and form of the novel to an audience, allowing them to absorb and interpret it more freely than through the written word itself.

Artsville: Angelika Corral – Ekphrasis

In this, such interpretive broadening can be said to be rhetorical; they seek to persuade the audience towards a given reaction or response. Within her exhibition, Angelika embraces this concept, presenting ten images she encourages us to consider and interpret. to develop our own narratives and stories as we examine them; to allow thoughts and reactions to explore the spirit, if you will, of each piece. The fact that the narratives I see may differ from those you see, matters not.

And therein lies, perhaps, the broader genius of this exhibition; “traditional” ekphrasis is generally considered to be a rhetorical device – the words use by the poet or storyteller illuminating the art to which it relates. While this is certainly true here, it might be said that the images Angelika presents are themselves rhetorical devices; when we observe art, we do so entirely subjectively, our views coloured by our own sensibilities – hence my mention of an emotional / visceral response to any piece of art above.

So here, Angelika offers pieces that through their structure and form, themselves take on the role of narrator; they subliminally encourage us – through our own preconceptions / moods – to drive our personal narrative in a direction that is purely in-the-moment; a narrative that will more than likely shift and change the next time we view each one – be that an hour or a day or a month hence.

Artsville: Angelika Corral – Ekphrasis

Engaging, complex and a visual personification of a concept dating back to ancient Greece, Ekphrasis presents a thought-provoking exhibit of art.

SLurl Details

Artsville: a new arts venture in Second Life

Artsville, June 2022

Artsville is the name given to a new collaborative arts hub in Second Life, which opened over the weekend of June 24th through 26th with a trio of 2D art exhibitions. The hub is the work of Vally Lavender-Prodigy (Valium Lavender), who provides the space for the hub on her ValiumSL region; Frank Atisso, who has closed his own Art Korner to focus on curating Artsville, with the overall design and layout of the hub by Megan Prumier.

In the latter regard, Megan has produced an engaging, modern setting for the hub in the form of artificial island-platforms sitting directly above the surrounding water, each with its own features and attractions and linked one to another by flat glass walkways.

Set under a twilight sky that gives the impression the Sun has not long since set, these stucco-finished platforms and the buildings to be found on some of them has an understated, slightly sci-fi presence, edges limned in white strips and low lamps periodically spaces around edges – this is very much a place where Advanced Lighting Model is needed (Preferences → Graphics → make sure ALM is checked and disable Shadows if required) to appreciate the point lighting.

Artsville, June 2022

Between them, the two largest of these island-platforms present, respectively, the landing point, offering a minimalist touch of horticulture in the form of box hedges and junipers given a topiary twist, and the island housing the three 2D gallery spaces, of which more in a moment.

Four glass walkways reach outward along the cardinal edges of the landing point, each marked by a great arch. Beside offering the way to the 2D galleries, these walkways respectively lead to: a small island with the promise of Coming Soon; the centre’s café and presentations centre; and a further sets of island platforms of various sizes, each featuring 3D at by Mistero Hifeng.

Artsville, June 2022: Maloe Vansant – Freaking Beauties

Whether the 3D art areas represent a single, permanent display or will feature other 3D artists over time, I’m not actually sure. However, they offer a sense of space and peace as they all eventually leading the way south and east to where an impressive event space has been placed out by Megan, with one of the routes to it leading through an impressive sculpture tunnel constructed by Megan.

The 2D galleries are arranged on three sides of a platform which almost mirrors the landing platform, with the exception that the glass-over-the-water area forms the events space for exhibition openings. For its first exhibitions, The galleries are simply numbered 1 through 3, and for Artsville’s opening, they bring us exhibitions by Maloe Vansant, presenting Freaking Beauties; in Gallery 1; Hayley Dixon’s Just a Little in Gallery 2; and in Gallery 3, When You Open A Door, by Scylla Rhiadra.

Maloe’s Freaking Beauties is the most visually striking of the three, presenting a series of avatar studies offered in powerful, vibrant colours and strong contrasts; the magic of post-processing giving them a captivating and eye-popping edge, with a richness of tone and focus to draw the eye into each of them.

Artsville, June 2022: Hayley Dixon – Just A Little

With Just A Little, Hayley Dixon offers a short introduction. In it, she notes how, by adding just a little colour and / or light into an image, it is possible to completely transform it.

This is thoroughly demonstrated within the 10 images she presents, all of which are presented in black-and-white or monochrome tones, and which use light to great effect. Some make use of light in the most minimalistic of ways, drawing the eye into them, causing us to almost adopt a tight focus on the lines before slowly pulling back in the manner of a cinematographer so that the complete scene and its narrative might become clear (such as with pause); others intentionally contrast the use of light and dark in an almost yin/yang balance to present their mood and story.

Just A Door is another thought-provoking series by Scylla Rhiadra. Like Hayley’s, it comes with an introduction. However, I would urge visitors not to read it directly – or at least, to not read beyond the first question and the two sentences that follow it.

Artsville, June 2022: Scylla Rhiadra – Just A Door

This is because – for me – framing the exhibition through the supplied exposition beforehand risks diminishing the power and layering of metaphor waiting to be peeled back within each of the ten images and their accompanying texts – all of which combine to form a rich treatise on love, relationships, attitudes, the unlocking (or blocking) of potential; the richness of allowing the imagination to flower and bloom (and the potential emptiness of turning it aside). It is a layering that deserves to be examined free from the preconceptions which might result from reading such notes in advance, so as to allow their narrative richness of each piece to percolate freely through our subconscious thinking and challenge us in the most subtle of ways.

Which is not to say Scylla’s exploration of her work should be ignored; it does provide additional depth and underpins the exhibition as a whole. But in coming to it last (which, fortunately is easy to do given it is tucked between the entrances to the gallery, and so can be missed when initially entering), we allow her words to underscore our own thinking on, and reaction to, the individual pieces, rather than having her words shape that thinking.

Artsville, June 2022: Scylla Rhiadra – Just A Door

Artsville is an engaging new addition to the SL arts scene, and I look forward to further exhibitions there. I do, however, have one small critique: the gallery spaces could benefit from lighter interior finishes than was the case at the time of my visit; the tomb-like darkness left me squinting to make out details of some images, and then scrambling around in inventory for an alternate EEP by which to view the art (the images of the exhibitions shown here have all be had their contrast altered via post-processing to better present them); a lighter finish to the interiors would eliminate this kind of distraction.

Outside of that, all three exhibitions form engaging displays of art well worth visiting, with Artsville as a whole equally engaging in its general presentation.

SLurl Details