Cica’s Fade Away in Second Life

Cica Ghost – Fade Away

Fade Away is the name of Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide installation, which opened on May 5th, 2017. The title is drawn from a quote by Bob Dylan, “Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all.” It’s a quote from his 2004 memoirs, Chronicles 1,  which ostensibly looks back on his arrival in New York and immersion into Greenwich Village life.

It’s a quote which has tended to be used as a reflection of mortality, the passage of time and / or the sometimes transient nature of relationships. It is a fitting foundation for this installation, which is a deeply personal piece for Cica, for reasons those who know her are aware, and which I’m not about to reveal here without her permission. Suffice it to say, the meaning behind it is something with which we all identify at certain points in our lives.

Cica Ghost – Fade Away

Within a ghostly, misted landscape sits a bedroom, part of an old house, where a gaunt figure has apparently just risen from bed. An alarm clock states the time is some ten minutes before six. As we watch another version of the figure fades into view, apparently departing the room, looking over his shoulder, and down along a path, more versions of the figure fade in and out of view, copies of the alarm clock still frozen at ten before six sit close by, until the figure reaches a pair of wooden gates set within a rickety fence.

Nor is this all; outside of the house, and along part of the route, ghoulish creatures appear to watch and mock the figure’s progress, while he also passes through groups of cloaked figures, apparently caught in their own world. One more of these hooded figures sits apart from the rest, before a table, two cats providing him with company. Another alarm clock sits close by, also showing the same time.

Cica Ghost – Fade Away

Symbolism here is heavy – but what does it all mean? Perhaps the answer lies with a lone figure of a woman standing to one side of these various tableaux. She stands separated from them by the rickety fence the lone figure appears to be making his way without ever actually arriving, watching his progress.

Is the fence perhaps a metaphor, the dividing like between the woman’s physical presence in the world, and her memories of someone no longer in her life? If so, this perhaps makes the various tableaux across the rest of the region memories of that loved one, and his passage through (her) life. If so, might the hooded figures perhaps be more distant remembrances of time spent with him, echoes from deep within memory? As Dylan also said, “I’ll let you be in my dreams, if I can be in yours.”

Cica Ghost – Fade Away

Life is transient; however we feel about ourselves and those around us, we – and they – are only mortal. This would seem to be the message within the ghoulish characters gathered around the house. But at the same time, there is more to each of us than our physical presence, although that is often the most missed.  Through memories, we can hold on to those dear to us, however they have moved on from their physical presence in our lives so that, to one again use Dylan’s words, “when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all.”

Fade Away is a poignant, heartfelt piece, rich in symbolism and deep in personal meaning, deserving to be seen and contemplated.

Cica Ghost – Fade Away

SLurl Details

Advertisements

Cica’s Frogs in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

Frogs, Cica Ghost’s latest region-wide installation in Second Life opened on Sunday, February 5th. After the poignant, provocative Burning (which you can read about here), Frogs sees Cica in a lighter mood, with a little play on fairy stories – albeit with a little touch of pathos.

Across one of Cica’s familiar undulating landscapes sits a huge house. Or at least, part of a huge house. We’ll return to that in a moment.  A few trees, some a little scrawny, others tall or fat, are scattered across the landscape, some with their trunks ringed by flat circles of round stones. But these hold the attention for the first few seconds after arrival, before eyes are drawn inevitably to the frogs of the title. Given their size, they are a little hard to miss!

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

By default, seven of the amphibians occupy the region, sitting either individually or in little groups, their croaking filling the air as they bounce up and down on their hind legs as little children might seem to rise and fall when suffering a bad case of hiccups.  All of them crouch with forelegs folded over the top of pot bellies, mere bumps caught between belly and folds of fleshy throats. Wide-eyed and horned, six of these frogs are green, while the seventh sits alone and aloof, upon the stump of a tree. Its skin glistening and brown, it stares out to sea unaware that it is being watched by one of Cica’s crows, also perched on a tree stump.

It’s a wonderful, whimsical sight – although it is hard to know quite what to make of it on first sight. But then the fact that it brings a smile to one’s lips, and the opportunity to join in the fun by donning the free frog avatar Cica provides at the landing point, and go hopping off across the landscape is reason enough to simply enjoy the moment.

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

It is at the aforementioned huge wall where the mood shifts. The side facing the landing point has a little girl dressed in a simply knitted dress, feet shod in heavy boots, drawing what might be a self-portrait upon it: a little girl dreaming of a prince who might sweep her away to a different life. On the far side of the wall (touch the huge door if it is not open when you arrive), we catch a glimpse of her threadbare life, complete with an image of times past.

The juxtaposition between the poignancy surrounding the little girl and the whimsy of the frogs is striking, while the link to childhood fairy stories so subtle it might at first glance be overlooked – but it is there. If you need more convincing of the connection between little girls and the frogs hop (so to speak) onto the table in front of her little girl, and make a choice. Might it even be that the lone brown frog is, in her imagination, an enchanted prince, hence its difference to the rest of the frogs on the island?

Cica Ghost: Frogs
Cica Ghost: Frogs

Frogs is another gem from Cica, offering a gentle blending of humour and pathos, where visitors themselves can become a part of the scene. Should you pay a visit, do offer a donation towards Cica’s work so more delights like this can be shared.

SLurl Details

  • Frogs (Aggramar, rated:  Moderate)

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)