No Man Is An Island in Second Life

DaphneArts: No Man Is An Island

No man is an island is the opening line from a poem by English poet and cleric John Donne which perhaps is more often referenced via quotations of its final lines,  And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

However, this poem actually originated as a passage  of greater length and written in prose as Meditation 17, from Donne’s Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. Originally written in late 1623 (and published the following year), Devotions was written whilst Donne was recovering from a but unknown illness (possibly relapsing fever or typhus), and forms a reflection of death, rebirth and the Elizabethan concept of sickness as a visit from God, reflecting sinfulness, with each of the 23 devotions within it a meditation on a single day of Donne’s illness.

DaphneArts: No Man Is An Island

I mention this because No Man Is An Island is also the title of the latest immersive installation by Angelika Corral and Sheldon Bergman, artist curators of DaphneArts, with the installation itself marking the reopening of the gallery at a new location in Second Life.

Taking its lead from Devotions, the installation offers the opportunity to reflect on Donne’s words as they came to be written in the poem, using a visual setting, music and the spoken word. Full instructions are provided at the landing point – and if you are using the Firestorm viewer, then you should automatically receive the required windlight environment setting. You should also accept the HUD that is offered on arrival. This will attach itself to your world view to present you with a “letterboxed” style view of your surrounding. If, by chance, you’re not using Firestorm and / or the HUD doesn’t attach (or you accidentally reject its request to attach), instructions and an option to obtain the HUD can be found on the wall of the arrival area.

DaphneArts: No Man Is An Island

The main setting for the installation and the poem’s recital is very atmospheric – and made more so by the music (played as local sounds, not via any audio stream). Across a windswept stretch of sand stands the silhouette of a lighthouse drawn against the heavy sky, a hut below it lit from within.  A candle-lit bridge, with more candles scattered over sand and rocks despite the rain, beckon you forward to hut and lighthouse.

As you approach the hut, the light from within is revealed as a fire, burning brightly in the single room and consuming pages of manuscripts together with a shroud-like blanket. More candles  light the way up the lighthouse and its single door. Inside lies the opportunity to listen to a recital of the poem, and contemplate the sculptures that sit within the lighthouse walls.

DaphneArts: No Man Is An Island

Perhaps disarmingly simple in appearance, No Man Is An Island is actually nuanced and layered in presentation. Within Meditation 17, Donne is considering the nature of death (his own), and its impact (on him, if it is fact claiming another and not him), noting:

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse …. any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde;  

Thus, within the hut with have the fire and the burning of manuscripts, many of the pages painstakingly written and illustrated by hand. They represent the idea that a loss does not just impact the one or the few, but lessens the whole; in their burning, the pages are not just lost to whomever set them ablaze, but are lost also to all who might otherwise have read them. Similarly, the blanket with its edge caught within the flames might be taken as a death shroud, symbolising, Donne’s view that any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde

DaphneArts: No Man Is An Island

In addition, the presence of the lighthouse offers reference to life and death, presenting a balance of views that reflects Donne’s thoughts. On the one hand, it was once perhaps the loneliest job on Earth, undertaken in isolation, would his passing of a lighthouse keeper really be missed by the world? But on the other, the role by its very nature was to protect the lives of those at sea, steering them away from the risk of death through the loss of the vessel beneath them – so yes, the loss of a lighthouse man could be sorely missed by the rest of us.

Other references are more obvious – the island-like setting, the rain (the curtained veil of death) – even our place in the cosmos (or what Donne might have regarded as God) is brought into focus, both visually and through the eternal questions repeatedly asked at the landing point.

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A sense of Confinement in Second Life

DaphneArts: Confinement

Confinement is a complex installation located at DaphneArts, featuring a concept and art by Mi (Kissmi), with the physical space and overall presentation of the elements making up the installation by DaphneArts curators Angelika Corral and Sheldon Bergman (SheldonBR).

Mi says of the piece:

Confinement is our lot – from the beginning, in the womb, and even before, as soon as the idea of our conception germinates in the minds of our parents, enclosing us.

In other words, how we might grow as individuals is subject to a series of constraints which encompass us from the moment of conception through until death. Mi sees these constraints as falling into four main categories: geographical, mental, physical and social, and the visitor is invited to consider each of these both visually and aurally.

DaphneArts: Confinement

To fully achieve this, it is necessary to ensure your are correctly set-up to experience Confinement. This means ensuring you have Advanced Lighting Model enabled within your viewer (Preferences > Graphics > check the Advanced Lighting Model check box), you accept the local Windlight setting on arrival (automatic if you are using Firestorm; if you are using any other viewer, the preferred Windlight is Phototools – No Light by William Weaver. Should you not have this available with your viewer, try opting for Midnight or a similarly dark setting). Most importantly, you must accept the local HUD when offered and allow this to attach – without it, you will miss the greater part of the installation. Once attached, the HUD will display introductory text, which can be clicked away once read and the instructions followed. You are then ready to proceed.

This involves walking along a walkway constructed of massive cubes, while walls of these great cubes dominate the view left and right, separated from the walkway by deep chasms.  As one progresses, each of the four categories of confinement are revealed in turn, starting with Geographical. Images by Mi are illuminated, and the HUD presents visitors with the opportunity to hear a reading in French by Mi intended to encompass the symbolism of the confinement – and to read the words, presented in both French and English (note that due to the limitations of SL, the words may lag behind the reading; this is unavoidable).

DaphneArts: Confinement

For Geographical, the reading is taken from the lyrics to né quelque part (“born somewhere”), first recorded by Maxime Le Forestier in 1987; for Mental Confinement, we are presented with Un grand sommeil noir (A big black sheep), by the 19th Century poet Paul-Marie Verlaine; for Physical Confinement and Social Confinement, Mi presents two poems by Jacques Prévert: First Day and Familiale, respectively.

Each of these reading is accompanied by a series of images by Mi, also designed to be representative of the confinement they represent. Like the readings (including né quelque part, when the lyrics are separated from the music), these are stark pieces; abstract in nature, are designed not so much to illustrate, but to encourage, along with the spoken words, our deeper contemplation on the nature of each type of confinement we live within: those born – no pun intended – by the place and time of our birth; the confinement we face in terms of mental development – both our own capability and the opportunities society gives to us;  and the constraints we have to face within both life itself and in society’s expectations of the roles we will ultimately play.

DaphneArts: Confinement

Beyond the fourth confinement, the way leads down to a lower level, stairs lit by the naked flames of candles cupped in stone hands as the darkness closes around. In descending these steps, it is easy to feel as if one is descending into a sepulchre; or that the descent marks the passing from life to death. In echo of this, the hands towards the bottom of the stairs become more grasping in nature, as if trying to reach out from the walls and grasp the life from those passing.

Finally, the path leads by candlelight to a last figure:  a woman caught between death (the hand at her throat) and life (the candle emerging from her midriff). And thus the circle is closed; our ultimate confinement lies within the unknown: we emerge from it in birth, and descend back into it in death.

One since June 2018, Confinement is a layered installation deserving of time and consideration when visiting.

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Nativo in Second Life

DaphneArts: Nativo

Nativo, featuring the art, words and voice of Italian physical world artist Stefano Mingione, and which has been open for that last month at DaphneArts, is the latest in a series of installations presenting a broad canvas of artistic expression which can combine multiple approaches into a single installation / expression of ideas which are intended to be viewed as a whole, rather than just as individual elements, be they drawing, sculptures or poems.

An artist working in a range of media – drawings, paintings, sculptures, digital media, written word – Mingione tends to identify himself more thematically, through his focus on the dualities present in life. Birth and death, happiness and despair, hope and fear, youth and age; and this is very much in evident in Nativo.

DaphneArts: Nativo

The exhibition space is split into two parts – although together they form a whole. The main exhibition area, where  visitors first arrive, forms a cylindrical hall in which eleven draws are displayed. Some appear to have religious connotations, offered through titles such as Santissima Trinità (Holy Trinity) or La Caduta dell’Angelo (The Fall of An Angel), or through their subject matter – as with  Padre Perché Io Disegno (Father Because I Draw).

However, religious overtones – entirely in keeping with the idea of duality in life, expressing both the earthly and spiritual – are only part of what these images have to offer.  Collectively, they provide an expression of thinking about left, death and all that lies between in a manner – to my eye at least – not that far removed from the art of Hieronymus Bosch, another artist who pondered (agonised over?) dualities through his work (and even through his patronage).

DaphneArts: Nativo

A single walkway extends back from this cylindrical room. It offers a way to where a grand sculpture of an old man, curled foetal-like, hangs in the air. It is a further embodiment of the theme of duality: the aged man appearing foetus-like in the darkness. Positioned before the sculpture is a chair and “play” symbol. Visitors are encouraged to sit in former and click on the latter – which will allow them to hear three of Mingione’s poems – Amico, Nativo and Vecchio – narrated by the artist himself in Italian, and presented with both text subtitles and a series of sculptures representing each one. These are very much the heart of the exhibit, richly evocative, and deserve special consideration which may require each to be listened to and watch more than once.

Interpretation of Nativo is deeply subjective. I found it by turns fascinating and also a little pretentious – and ultimately captivating.

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DaphneArts (Isle of Seduction, rated: Adult)

Je n’aime pas in Second Life

DaphneArt: Je n’aime pas

Je n’aime pas (“I do not like”), is the name of a collaborative art installation by Hern Worsley and Nur Moo which opened on Friday, February 9th, 2018 (with a second opening event planned for Saturday, February 10th, 2018 from 16:00 SLT) at DaphneArts, curated by Angelika Corral and Sheldon B.

Described as a conceptual piece, the installation features a build over three levels by musician, builder and artist Hern, within which a series of images by photographer Nur Moo are displayed. Mur is described as having returned to Second Life in the notes accompanying the installation, and I gather Je n’aime pas is something of a celebration of this fact.

DaphneArt: Je n’aime pas

Visits begin inside a building within the installation, on its lowest level. Before proceeding, make sure to observe the viewing instructions displayed in the dialogue box in the top right corner of your screen. In particular, make sure you have your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled via Preferences > Graphics or you risk missing details. There is art on the walls inside the building – but frankly, I’m not sure if the photography is Nur’s or Hern’s or someone else’s.

A set of white arrows line the floor outside, encouraging people to step out into the larger structure. This exudes a modern approach to architecture: great steel beams, arms pentagonal floor sections, and great glass panels. Some are designed by Hern, some are from other creators he has used in building the installation. Central to this is a huge mesh vase, while from the walls hang panels with animated images.

DaphneArt: Je n’aime pas

At the foot of the vase sculpture sits a teleport on an easel that leads up to the middle level. this is where having ALM becomes particularly important. Without it, none of the images projected onto the flat wall panels, the greeble boards, cubes and floor will not be visible. Two more teleport boards sit on easels in the centre of this floor: one up, one down. Go up, and you become part of the installation yourself, courtesy of a trampoline.

This is a difficult installation to quantify. In some ways it likely to be reflective of its name for some; for others it may well be a curious mystery. Conceptual art  is art in which the idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over any traditional aesthetic. As such, this is an installation that needs to be considered as a whole, and not so much as a sum of its parts. given this, how we consider  Je n’aime pas is down to individual interpretation – and I’ll leave this to you to determine.

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CioTTolina’s Dum Spiro Spero in Second Life

DaphneArts: Dum Spiro Spero

Now open at DaphneArts, the gallery spaces curated by Angelika Corral and Sheldon B, is an exhibition by Second Life sculptor and personal favourite, CioTTolina Xue, in which she presents a range of her work, some of which has appeared in previous exhibitions or in her store, and all of which share a theme of hope.

Dum Spiro Spero, “While I breathe, I hope”, is widely used as a motto by families, organisations, states, military organisations, and so on.  It is regarded as a paraphrase of ideas that survive in two ancient writers, Theocritus and Cicero through such works as Letters to Atticus. For  CioTTolina, it encapsulates her outlook on life.

DaphneArts: Dum Spiro Spero

“I try to create emotions,” CioTTolina says of her work, “And send a message: hope.
I’m still not good at what I do, but I put my heart into it. I hope that the love I put into things shows as what I might accomplish. This is the message that matters.”

Personally, I have always felt – and continue to feel – CioTTolina undersells herself. Her work has – and remains – full of beauty and meaning; as I said in reference to her exhibition at Solo Arte, Hope, “CioTToLiNa has clearly grown in confidence as an artist, producing ever more complex pieces which are not only beautiful and highly collectible, but also reflect her own interests / concerns for the world, and how we relate as a species one to another and the world around us.”

DaphneArts: Dum Spiro Spero

Indeed, Dum Spiro Spero is in many respects and expansion of Hope, richly demonstrating the breadth and depth of CioTTolina’s work and an ideal reflection of her ideals and outlook, with each of the seven display areas in the gallery space offering at least one of her pieces for viewing. Some may appear to be thematically linked one to another, expressing hope, love, joy, others may stand in contrast to one another. Taken together, the use of the spaces to display CioTTolina’s work is considered, allowing us to better study and appreciate the pieces offered in each.

If you haven’t seen CioTTolina’s sculptures before, I can recommend Dum Spiro Spero as an ideal means by which to gain familiarity with it.

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Seven lilies, seven virtues and seven artists in Second Life

DaphneArts: Lilium

Now open at DaphneArts is Lilium, the second in a series of exhibitions focus on the mystical number seven, following on from The Endless (reviewed here).

The curators of DaphneArts, Angelika Corral and Sheldon Bergman (SheldonBR), who are also two of the seven artists participating in the exhibition, describe it in part thus:

Number seven is sacred and powerful. Pythagoras, the father of numerology, considered seven as the most spiritual of all the numbers. Seven is the number of divine perfection. Seven are the colors of the rainbow. Seven are the notes of the diatonic scale. There are seven ancient wonders of the world, seven days of the week, seven letters in the Roman numeral system, seven arts…

When Pope Gregory defined the Seven deadly sins, he also included a counter-balancing set of values, in a way to protect one against temptation from the deadly sins. The seven [heavenly] virtues … For this exhibition, seven photographers were invited to create a photo, each of them representing one of the seven virtues.

DaphneArt: Lilium – Temperance by Fenris

Lilium is itself Latin for “lily”, a symbol of virtue, as Angelika and Sheldon also note in their curator’s introduction to the exhibit, illustrating the point with the inclusion of an image The Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis.

Thus it is, with viewer correctly set, visitors to the exhibition start their journey in the chancel of a marble-like white cathedral (white obviously symbolic of virtue). A HUD is offered on arrival and should be worn, while overhead is a set of easy-to-follow steps guide people through ensuring they have their viewer correctly set-up (e.g. ensuring the required Windlight is selected and Advanced Lighting Model is enabled).

DaphneArts: Lilium – Patience by Magic Marker

From here, a walk through the nave of the cathedral to the porch brings people to the main exhibition space, progress to it marked by the lyrics – in Latin of the Elven Song, or Elfen Lied, as featured in the Japanese manga series of that name, the lyrics based on biblical passages and the hymn Ave Mundi Spes Maria. Beyond the porch is an open platform set against a uniform backdrop and on which are arranged seven gilded lilies.

Approaching any of these lilies will cause it to open, revealing the art apparently “held” inside it. At the same time, the title of the art – the virtue it represents – and the name of the artist are revealed by the HUD.

DaphneArt: Liluim

The images / virtues are, by artist: Charity – Inexorably; Chastity – Sheldon Bergman; Diligence – Harbour Galaxy; Humility – Kimeu Kamolla; Kindness – Angelika Corral; Patience – Magic Marker, and Temperance – Fenris. Each is obviously a personal representation of the virtue it depicts, however each carries a degree of symbolism which may be related to the virtue it represents, to virtue as a whole or to the mysticism of seven.

Lilium is a further nuanced ensemble exhibition built around a central theme, rich in symbolism and interpretation. And for those curious about Elfin Lied, I’ll leave you with this.

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