Tag Archives: Cica Ghost

Cica’s Burning and poetic musings in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

Burning is the title of Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide build, which opened on Sunday, January 15th. It is a piece which stands in contrast to several of her recent builds in that it is of a darker tone and style. Under a lowering, cloud-heavy sky, lit by a distant sunset, a town burns. The land around it is scorched and aflame, ashen tree trunks, bereft of branches and leaves, point to the heavy sky like gnarled, accusative fingers.

Within the town, the tall buildings are charred, their pain blistered and blackened as flames lick doorways and windows. Some walls carry some of Cica’s usually light and happy stick figures, which here are cast in a new role as poignant reminders that this was once a happier place. A single bridge spans what might be the parched bed of a vanished body of water, offering a way into – or perhaps an escape route out of – the conflagration.

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

The who, what, how and why of the fire’s origin are not revealed. The burning landscape and buildings are an open page on which we can write our own view of what has occurred. However, with all that is going on in the physical world, coupled with the general presentation of Burning, it tends to cause the name Aleppo to spring to mind. So is Burning perhaps a political commentary?

Possibly. But before we decide or judge, Cica provides a possible clue to interpreting the work. It comes in the form of a quote: time is the fire in which we burn. It’s part of a line from  a 1938 poem by Delmore Schwartz entitled, Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day (also sometimes called For Rhoda), which is by coincidence, a poem I know quite well. In it, Schwartz records how we go about our daily lives largely unaware of the uncontrollable passage of time and the fact that, with every moment, we are closer to our own deaths and the deaths of those we love. From childhood through adulthood, we are so often caught within the minutiae of our lives that we lose track of all that is really important – or should be; only in our closing years do we realise what has happened – by which time all may lie burnt by time.

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

So is Cica presenting us with a philosophical piece with Burning? “I didn’t know about the poem,” she told me, “But I came across the line while searching for quotes about fire, and it fitted what I wanted to say.”

The quote in question attributed the line as coming from a character in the movie Star Trek Generations, hence why Cica didn’t make the connection. However, she has perfectly captured the tone and meaning of Schwartz’s poem as a whole, from the melancholy through to the way in which we do hurry through our lives – as exemplified by the visitors Caitlyn and I sat and watched from one of several perches in the installation (hover your mouse around to find them) as they hurried back and forth through the buildings and trees before vanishing.

Cica Ghost: Burning

Cica Ghost: Burning

That Cica has captured all of the nuance within Calmly We Walk…. may have been serendipitous, spinning outward from that one line from the poem, but that doesn’t matter. Serendipity is often the cousin to artistic expression, and the pairing of the installation with the entire poem broadens our understanding and appreciation of Burning. It also perhaps sits with that image of Aleppo which pops into the mind when first arriving. Schwartz wrote his poem shortly before the outbreak of World War 2, a time when towns and cities burned and lives  – and generations – were shattered; thus another layer of poignancy is added to the installation.

SLurl Details

  • Burning (Aggramar, rated:  Moderate)

A visit to Cica’s Library in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Library

Cica Ghost: Library

Now open to visitors is Cica Ghost’s installation, Library, which she introduces with a quote from Albert Einstein, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” And to be honest, this one is pretty hard to miss, being another of Cica’s installations produced on a huge scale – something visitors immediately appreciate on their arrival, being reduced to the role of Lilliputians during a visit.

All good libraries are presided over by a librarian, who is there to provide assistance or – as the movies would generally have us believe – to ensure that Quiet remains the word of rule among the hallowed bookcases. Cica’s bibliothèque is no exception: across the wooden floor from the landing point, a matronly figure sits behind her desk, apparently engrossed in a tome of sheet music while a parrot alongside her keeps a weather eye on the comings and goings. They are the first indication of the scale of this particularly library – as you can see from the shot below, as Caitlyn takes a rest from exploring, perching herself alongside Polly.

Cica Ghost: Library

Cica Ghost: Library

Beyond the desk, the bookshelves rise into the sky, but so engrossed is the librarian in her own studies, the fact that there are more books than shelves seems to have escaped her notice.; Thus, ungainly towers of book rise into the sky across the vast floor, and giant volumes cascade down green slopes rising above the floorboards. A gap between the bookcases provides access to the rest of the library, or for those feeling energetic, wheeled stairways offer a way up to the lowermost shelves and back down the other side.

Also, for the intrepid and the curious, the library includes places to sit and / or lie down atop the piles of books, on the parrot’s perch and librarian’s desk, across the floor in the library’s “little” truck – even up in the branches of a tree. For those who aren’t fond of heights, a couple of the library’s cats offer ballet dances to be enjoyed individually or in the company of another, and which go well with the piano soundtrack gracing the region. Visitors should also keep an eye out for a hidden room where quiet conversations can be had out-of-sight of the librarian!

Cica Ghost: Library

Cica Ghost: Library

Library is another of Cica’s pieces which is bound to delight and have visitors smiling; there is whimsy aplenty, things to do and enjoy, and one can feel Cica’s humour at every turn. It’s a place which can so easily draw you back for further visits – as I noticed on my return, bumping into several people who had been wandering between the books and sitting atop piles and on branches when Caitlyn and I first set foot in the Library.

Should you enjoy your visit – and believe me you will – please do consider providing a donation for Cica’s continued work in Second Life.

Cica Ghost: Library

Cica Ghost: Library

SLurl Details

  • Library by Cica Ghost (Rated:  Moderate)

Cica’s Them in Second Life

Cica's Them; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Cica Ghost: Them – click any image for full size

Now open is Cica Ghost’s latest full region installation: Them, and it is perhaps one of her most intriguing, and oddly endearing installations, yet

Beneath a blue / ochre sky, across which clouds periodically scud, lies as barren, undulating landscape of rock and rounded peaks. Strange tentacle-like forms rise into the air at various points, their dimpled sides suggesting they might be hollow, while their tampering, slightly twisted forms suggest tree trunks denuded of branch and leaf.

Cica's Them; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Cica Ghost: Them

Across this landscape, a horde of naked figures can be seen. Almost all of them have heads bowed, backs slightly bent, arms held limply, as in supplication, while one or two are in their knees and one is prostrated on the ground. They all appear humanoid in form, although their bodies are proportioned differently to ours, slightly emaciated in build with skin a pale grey tone. Among the horde, small groups of three or four, along with the occasional individual, have their heads turned towards the sky.

That so few are looking upwards seems odd, because floating or hovering in the sky is a circular craft, a quintessential disc of an unidentified flying object, or UFO. It rotates silently, slowly, beams of light from some of the dimples on its underside sweeping over some of those below, sunlight sparkling occasionally off of its upper surface while illuminating the strange glyphs on its side.

Cica's Them; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Cica Ghost: Them

The presence of the craft suggests the vast majority of the crowd are paying obeisance to it; their heads bowed, bent forward attitude suggestive of subservience. Only those looking up appear to be the least bit inquisitive, heads cocked as their faces are turned towards the sky.

But look again; there is more going on here than might appear to be the case. The eyes of those on the ground appear to be deep-set, lost in shadow beneath heavy brows – or are they? Could their blackened eye sockets indicate they are sightless, or almost so?  Is this why their ears are disproportionately large, and why even those looking up seem to be looking towards the ship in the sky, rather than at it – as if they can hear its presence, rather than see it, and so have heads cocked to better detect the sounds it might make, so they might better understand what it might be?

Cica's Them; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Cica Ghost: Them

Then there is the ship. It is here to observe, or do the beams of light indicate something else – the classic teleporting beams beloved of close encounters stories? And if so, is the ship here to gather, or simply to ferry, being little more than an intergalactic bus service,  picking up another batch of passengers along its route?

Is there, perhaps, a metaphor here, awaiting our interpretation? And who are the “Them” of the title? Whoever might be aboard the ship, or those on the ground? The layers of possible riddle and interpretation are wonderfully stacked together.

Cica's Them; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Cica Ghost: Them

“There is no U in UFO,” Cica tells us through the About Land description, and you can sense the twinkle in her eyes in writing those words. They hint at the idea of mystery revealed – things are only unidentified until we can make sense of them in our own way. Is this the meaning behind the piece, and are the apparently sightless folk on the ground a metaphor for this obvious-yet-complex truth? Or is the entire piece toying with us: a riddle demanding we apply our imaginations to identify the narrative within it which most appeals to us at the time?

This is the real delight of Them, we can peel back the layers within it – real or supposed – in many different ways, making it an intriguing installation worthy of repeat visits.

SLurl Details

  • Them (Rated:  Moderate)

Cica’s Keys in Second Life

Cica Ghost - Keys

Cica Ghost – Keys

Sunday, June 12th saw the cobwebs dusted away as Cica brought a new installation – Keys – to Second Life, which replaced Arachnid (see my review of the latter for more). It’s another delight from Cica, and also one of her little enigmas which always draw one into riddling what might be represented.

Across an undulating landscape, its services looking not unlike the rough ground of a construction site, Ranged across this is a gigantic network of pipes, steel frames, drums, huge iron grids and container-like cages which either sit on slender poles or are suspended from the steel frames. And then there are the keys – dozens of them, huge and differently styled, hanging from steel frames on great chains.

Keys-6_001

Cica Ghost – Keys

“Keys and locks,” Cica confided in me as she, Caitlyn and I discussed the installation. “Answers and questions. “A key is like answer or solution we all look for sometimes.”

And like questions and answers, often finding the right answer might mean seeking it out from many possibilities – hence the single lock and multiple keys. A further reflection of this idea can be found in the keys themselves, many of which are emblazoned with an initial; thus they encourage visitors to seek out “their” answer – the key bearing their initial.

Sometimes, as Cica also noted to Caitlyn and I, the answer doesn’t seem obvious; we simply cannot see it among the many possibilities. “It’s like we’re trapped in a room,” Cica said, “Just a feeling of being locked in.”

Cica Ghost - Keys

Cica Ghost – Keys

This idea is reflected through the presence of the giant containers. Within each one stands or sits a lone figure, lost in contemplation. They are anonymous in look and dress; they could be the same person, or they could be anyone.

Here also lies the suggestion that sometimes the answers to our questions are a lot closer than we might think, as symbolised by the keys already being in the doors of the containers; all that is required is a gentle push against the door, and all will be revealed. Elsewhere, a figure trapped under the gridwork covering some of the ground stares helplessly skyward to the keys overhead, reminding us of that sensation of having the answer we seek so tantalisingly close, at the very edge of out thoughts, but remaining just beyond our mental grasp.

Cica Ghost - Keys

Cica Ghost – Keys

Keys is another marvellous, layered installation from Cica set within a Windlight environment ideal for the photographer and videographer. When exploring, keep an eye out for places to sit and the various moving parts which bring this landscape to life, and please do consider a donation towards this and Cica’s future work.

SLurl Details

  • Keys (Rated: Moderate)