The art of Bicycles in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Melusina Parkin

Most of us have probably owned – or still own – a bicycle, whether it be for fun, sports, fitness, part of our daily working routine (or even a requirement to work) or simply an alternative means of getting out and about and enjoying the countryside / local sights. We can lavish care and attention on them to keep them in tip-top condition, or we can simply regard them as a utility and replace them when they get too old or break. But are they art?

Well, yes they can be – as the July / August 2018 exhibition at DiXmiX Gallery demonstrates. Entitled Bicycles, it is a slight departure from the more usual run of exhibitions at the gallery, in that it takes up all three halls as a single display of themed art, featuring images by 25 Second Life photographers.

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Anu Papp and Ornella Batriani

Taking part in the event are: Calypso Applewhyte, Ornella Batriani, Skippy Beresford, Bliss Bookham, Jimmy Boots, A.DeLauren, Mareea Farrasco, Carisa Franizzi, Gaus, Huckleberry Hax, Kimeu Korg, Loverdag, Mich Michabo, Key Monk, Tutsy Navarathna, Mr Noboby, Randonee Noel, Karen Oliven, Anu Papp, Melusina Parkin, Megan Prumier, Grace Rotunno, Dixmix Source, Twain, and Jonda Zabaleta, with each artist submitting one or two images.

The pieces vary in style and presentation. In some, it is not unfair to say that the bicycles might be considered incidental to the overall image; they were simply a part of the landscape or setting when the picture was taken. Equally, some appear to have been use to frame an image intended to convey a broader emotional response than a focus on the bike itself. Then there also those where the bicycle is clearly the intended focus, bit it being ridden, standing on its own, lying broken, or images just in part. Thus, we get to view the bicycle in numerous ways, whether central to an image or not.

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Tutsy Navarathna

Which is to say this is a richly diverse exhibition in which the subject matter is more broadly presented than one might think. All of the images are captivating in one way or another, be it the way in which they are offered, the narrative they encapsulate, the use of colour and tone – or the various combinations of these factors. Presentation is also a significant part of the images and their presentation: the collection of monochrome pictures on the upper level of the Grey Gallery, for example, offers a power contrast to the majority use of colour images through the rest of the exhibition, while the considered placement of Cloudy Day by Gaus and Bicycle 3 by Key Monk also providing a contrasts with their surrounding images, and thus capturing the eye. Meanwhile, the two large format images in the foyer area of the Grey Gallery demonstrate how humble velo can be an icon of pop art.

The emotional content of the images is equally as broad as the colours, tones and subjects offered through the pictures. But there is one emotion often associated with bicycles that within this exhibition is conspicuous by its almost total absence: joy.

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Skippy Beresford

Yes, bicycles can be props to frame moods and offer a sense of depth and feeling, be it with someone leaning moodily back against their bike, or walking it gently over terrain unsuitable for riding, or in the sight of a machine lying broken or bent. But bikes are also fun. Riding one can give a wonderful sense of freedom, a liberating sensation of speed and escape. It is for this reason I fairly leapt at Skippy Beresford’s Last Day of School (seen above). Yes, it’s not unfair to say the bicycle is in some ways incidental to the broader idea of escape from the routine a rigours of the school week – but it’s equally fair to say the sense of exuberance and excitement exuded by the picture perfectly encapsulated the sheer sense of joyful freedom a bicycle can offer.

Which is not to detract from any of the other images displayed here; all do have something to say, and all are fine examples of the subject and the artistry of the photographers. Why not take a ride to DiXmiX yourself and have a look?

DiXmiX Gallery: Bicycles – Jimmy Boots and Mr Noboby

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Colour, whimsy and monochrome in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: A DeLauren

DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source is once more hosting three exhibitions by three very different talents – although one of the exhibitions draws to a close during this current week. All three present some very unique art that tends to generate very mixed – in a positive sense – reactions on encountering individual pieces, making all three engrossing as individual displays of art.

Within the Grey Gallery, just inside the gallery’s main entrance, A. DeLauren – (AlessaMendoza) presents Colour Experiments, a display of 12 images split between the lower and mezzanine levels of the hall. As the title indicates, these are pieces where colour, perhaps more than subject, takes centre stage. The various ways in which colour and tone is quite extraordinary, from the violet wash of Rush Heat, suggestive of everything from erotic dancing, through to club lighting to the stunning and subtle use of blue tones  – ocean, teal, cerulean, Arctic, peacock and more – found in Wild Back.

DiXmiX Gallery: A DeLauren

Several of the pieces do draw attention to the central subject – as with Wild Back, and Dots Space; others border on a more surreal approach. Heat Wave 1, Triangles, Blue, and Butterflies Garden, for example, project feelings of motion within them or of looking into 3D anaglyph images without the aid of the required red / blue glasses.  Thus we are offered a most sui generis set of images to appreciate.

“Don’t burn your mind thinking about the meaning of this or that in my works; but if you think there are symbols and hidden messages, feel free to imagine. Go any way the wind blows!” So says Kimeu Korg of hi work, presented at DiXmiX under the title of Osmosis De Un Sueno.

DiXmiX Gallery: Kimeu Korg

This largest of the three exhibitions, occupying the lower floor Black Gallery halls and for me, the most delightful and engrossing of the three. There is something about Kimeu’s art which so often offers us a unique perspective on Second Life, well removed from “the usual”. There is also in some of his work a wonderful blending of physical art with images and settings from Second Life which again gives cause to exercise the word “unique” in its most positive of connotations. Further, there is also – frankly – a depth of whimsy in so many of the pieces, that when viewing them, it’s hard not to feel as if we’re in Kimeu’s company, sharing a nod and a wink with him.

The sheer richness of narrative on offer in these images – be it simple whimsy coupled with a little dark humour, or the melding of physical world art into SL scenes – is extraordinary. The whimsy can be found in the likes of Wind Serenade and Dickens’s The Drunk and, with the dark humour in Curiosity… and  …Killed he Cat, which are a delightful pair of themselves, but in this exhibition sit almost as a triptych with Amanece, que no es poco (Sunrise, Which Is No Small Thing).

DiXmiX Gallery: Kimeu Korg

In contrast, Is This The End Of The World? not only sits as example of how Kimeu combines art from the physical world – in this case part of Michelangelo’s famous fresco The Creation of Adam – with a scene from Second Life to create something which is eye-catching and also rich in motif. Note the ghostly astronaut to the left of the scene, perhaps representing humanity’s pride in technological achievement (and pride, as we know, is said to come before a fall), the presence of an eagle with its Biblical connotations, matched by the presence of a serpent coiled in the lower left corner of the picture.

I could wax lyrical about all of the images in Osomsis De Un Sueno – I’ve not even touched on the sheer evocative power of First Flight or the richness of expression any lover of musical will recognise in Under A Hat Is Always Music. However, suffice it to say that if you miss this exhibition, you are missing an absolute delight. I just wish I could be sure of the provenance of the painting at the centre of the marvellously surreal El Cerco (The Fence); I’m fairly convinced the vessel is HMS Victory (often painted flying the red ensign), but I cannot put my finger on where I’ve seen this particular image before…

DiXmiX Gallery: Kimeu Korg

Rounding out – albeit also coming to an end this week – this trio of exhibitions is Grit by Kato Salyut, which occupies the Mezzanine level White Gallery at DiXmiX.

“I photograph avatars and make them more exciting, more real and very special,” Kato says of his work, and the 14 images presented within Grit certainly offer some unique – surreal, even, in some cases – perspectives on their avatar subjects.

DiXmiX Gallery: Kato Salyut

Presented in monochrome, these images both contract strongly with the colours used in the other two exhibitions above, whilst the tone and approach of several of the pieces offered also complement the surreal and experimental aspects present in some of the works to be found in both Colour Experiments and Osmosis De Un Sueno. They also present a very different perspective on avatar studies often found with other artists.

Due to come to a close on the weekend of the 16th / 17th June, this is another visually powerful exhibition, and one which  – if you haven’t already seen – should be given time to appreciate in-world before it closes.

DiXmiX Gallery: Kato Salyut

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Three into on at DiXmiX for April and May

DiXmiX Gallery: Oyo

DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, is currently hosting three exhibitions side-by-side by Second Life artists, all of which opened in April and run through (at least in part) to May. As is always the case with this gallery, the exhibitions are both intriguing and a little frustrating.

First up, and in the foyer area of the Grey Gallery, is I’m a Magic Marker (SquarePegRoundHole69), an artist to whom I was introduced – or her work at least – by Sorcha Tyles. “For me, Second Life is a way to escape into a novel that you write yourself, but with me, the story is generally without a plot,” Magic said at the time of her exhibition at Sorcha’s gallery. “Some images are cathartic, some are just because I like to look at pretty things.”

DiXmiX Gallery: Magic Marker

It’s a point of view that can be applied to the twelve images offered at DiXmiX. Quirky, eye-catching and often featuring bold colours which demand our attention, they present attention-grabbing avatar studies (with a little nudity in places). Some might appear to be straight-forward almost studio style photos (such as “#1” and “#7”); others offer that opening to a story mentioned in passing by Magic, while some evoke echoes of art and artistry from other sources – notably #5 and the wonderfully eye-catching #3 with its hint of a Jackson pollack influence.

Adjoining this in the ground floor Black Gallery is Blanc by Oyo, a series of fourteen quite striking studies, largely of avatars, but also featuring landscapes, in which white – and the title might suggest – plays something of a role almost throughout. Again untitled, given only a number, these are attention-holding studies which although free from narrative, instantly draw one into them each in turn. There is a vibrancy and life within each, beautifully encapsulated in their largely muted tones.

DiXmiX Gallery: Oyo

Most of the images stand as individual pieces, each to be appreciated in its own right. the exceptions to this are “IV”, “V” and “VI” which form an impressive triptych-like trio of images (above),  each on standing as an individual piece, but all three combine perfectly together to form a single and evocative whole; a glimpse of a vacation or favourite coastal place caught in the mind’s eye.

On the upper floor of the gallery, in the White Gallery space, is 12 Photographers and 1 Chair, by Mr. S. As the name implies, this is a set of twelve studies of Second Life photographers – all of them male, and welcome in an age where the camera is still often preoccupied with studies of the female form – seated in an armchair and presented with a glimpse of their own work as a backdrop.

DiXmiX Gallery: Mr. S

Caught in the same lighting, the 12 artists, Yann Whoa, Aran M., Skippy Beresford, Dixmix Source, Terry Fotherington, Gaus, Burk Bode, SL Senna, Moon Edenbaum, Oscar Sabra, Vrir Resident and Serene Footman, all make for intriguing studies; although I did find that in a couple of the images, the supporting “background” image tended to draw my eyes away from the main subject perhaps a little too much. Nevertheless, these are striking studies, and with several, I couldn’t help but feel Mr. S had caught not only the look, but the very essence of his subjects through both their portrait and the selected supporting image.

My frustration, such as it is, lies again with the lack of liner notes accompanying this three exhibitions. With 12 Photographers and 1 Chair in particular, it would have been interesting to get Mr. S’s perspective on his images, and perhaps those of some of his subjects. This (usual) quibble aside, all three exhibits are well worth a visit.

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Melusina’s minimalism in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Melusina Parkin

Less is More is the title of an exhibition of Second Life photography by Melusina Parkin, featured at the basement Womb exhibition space at DiXmiX Gallery and which opened on February 20th, 2018.

As an aphorism, the phrase is most readily associated with the German-America architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, regarded as one of the pioneers of 20th Century modernist architecture, although he appears to have lifted the expression from Robert Browning’s 1855 poem Andrea del Sarto  (also called The Faultless Painter). Van der Rohe used the term to define a form of architecture with a minimal structural framework that could suggest free-flowing open spaces, and which could explore the relationship between people, shelter, and nature.  Given Melu’s own unique approach to photography which very much encompasses the refined, minimalist use of structure balanced against the idea of natural,open space, the aphorism is an ideal title under which to exhibit some of her work. 

DiXmiX Gallery: Melusina Parkin

In all, 18 photographs are displayed in the Womb’s three halls – you can find it by entering the main DiXmiX gallery and making your way to the Black Gallery, where the entrance to the Womb resides. Primarily rendered in soft tones, all of the pieces perfectly exemplify the idea of minimal structure, both in terms of framing – most of the pictures carry an intentional off-centre focus – and in terms of content – the physical structures within the images are minimally presented against a broader backdrop suggestive of open space, whether offered by open water, cloudy sky or a blank wall. 

Also evident in these images, and in keeping with van der Rohe, is another of the architect’s adopted aphorisms: God is in the details. Yes, the over-arching aim of this type of photography is to present something that carries within in minimal structure and balances that structure against the use of space; however, this is something that just “happens”. It requires a measured eye and a flair for making what is actually a painstaking study of places and environments look so naturally easy.

DiXmiX Gallery: Melusina Parkin

Thus, while they might all look effortless in execution, considered study of each of them reveals the care and thought that went into bringing each of them to life. Even the way they have been paired within the three sets of images: views, interiors and bodies, should be considered; Melusina’s attention to detail is evident through this exhibition.So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t help but wonder if with some of the selected images, she’s not also offering a tip of the hat directly to van der Rohe. Looking at two of the images in Bodies (centre image of this article), I found myself thinking about his Farnsworth House design, and its original occupant, Dr. Edith Farnsworth.

Another excellent exhibition from one of my favourite artists in Second Life.

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DixMix: Elo, Maloe, Uma and a little change

DiXmiX Gallery – Uma Sabra

DixMix Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, opened a new exhibition featuring the work of  Elo (elorac Paule), Maloe Vansant and Uma Sabra in mid-September; and it is fair to say come of the images presented should be considered NSFW.

As well as the exhibition – appropriately entitled Elo, Maloe, Uma, the gallery has under gone some alterations, and with them comes a new SLurl / landmark. The overall design remains the same, with the exhibition space divided into three halls – the Black Grey and White galleries, with both lower floors and mezzanine levels. Also retained is The Atom club space, with the rooms behind it now given over to Dixmix’s work.

DiXmiX Gallery: Elo

However, located within the Black Gallery space is the entrance to Womb, a new exhibition area located below the main building, and finished in a very futuristic style somewhat at odds with the main display halls, but nevertheless also complimenting them. I’m not sure if this is designed to be a further space for exhibiting different artists or whether it is intended to be dedicated to Megan’s work (which was being displayed during my visit).

Of the three artists exhibited in the main hall, two, Maloe and Elo, have been reviewed in these pages a number of times while exhibiting at various galleries in Second Life. Both offer striking avatar studies – the focus of this exhibition – but I do confess to being biased towards Elo somewhat because I do find her work powerfully expressive. This is certainly the case here, with some 12 pieces of her work presented in monochrome, in keeping with the theme of the gallery’s Grey exhibition hall.

DiXmiX Gallery: Maloe Vansant

Uma Sabra’s art occupies the White Gallery on the mezzanine level, where she presents 16 studies of herself strikingly taken against a plain black background. All be three are nude shots, the exceptions being three facial portraits which are, for me, the most striking.

Maloe’s work occupies the lower floor Black Gallery and is the richest in terms of colour and style, with several of the pieces presented as paintings more than photographs. Through all of them there is a very tactile element; it’s hard not to want to reach out and run a finger lightly over the surface of several of the pieces.

DiXmiX Gallery: Megan Prumier

A balanced and nuanced exhibition featuring three superb artists.

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DixMix: Megan, Jes and Nekonuko

DiXmiX Gallery: Jes Mode

DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source and Megan Prumier, is currently hosting exhibitions by three artists with three very different, but complimentary styles: Nekonuko Nakamori, Jes Mode and Megan herself.

I last wrote about Nekonuko Nakamori when Sorcha Tiles was hosting an exhibition of her work alongside pieces by Blip Mumfizz, back in February 2017. A physical world artist with a grounded in Japanese art and who specialises in conceptual / abstract art in oil, Nekonuko uses her SL art to document her explorations of this digital world, each piece precisely square in ratio, and post-processed to give something of a painted look and feel.

DiXmiX Gallery: Nekonuko Nakamori

Twenty-two of her pieces are on offer in the gallery, twenty of them in a small enough format to allow them to be displayed in threes. Each offers a shot of Nekonuko in her wanderings, sometimes with enough surrounding detail for the seasoned traveller to be able to make an educated guess as to where she was at the time of the picture. Others, however, are a little more mysterious in nature. The majority are in colour, although three are monochrome, and offer interesting takes on avatar studies.

Occupying the White Gallery hall, Jes mode is making his debut exhibition at DixMix, and going on the quality of his work, I’m certain this will not be the last public display of his photography. All are presented as monochrome pieces, and are predominantly avatar focused. Some touch on the sensual, others on the serene or the satirical or the provocative. All are extremely well framed, and carry a unique narrative.

DixMix Gallery: Jes Mode

“I’m just an amateur,” Jes says of his work. I beg to differ; from the haunting beauty of Under a Heavy Rain through to the artful elegance of Situazione Surreale (Surreal Situation) these are masterful pieces. The sentiment and emotion in each is palpable; each captures the attention and draws one into their narrative, drawing forth felling of identification with the mood or tone of a piece, or making us a part of the scene.

Megan Prumier is possibly the more well-known of the three artists currently on display, her exhibition having opened a little ahead of those of Nekonuko and Jes. Nineteen pieces (including a 4-panel piece) are on display in the Black Gallery Hall, just off to the left of the gallery’s entrance foyer. These are again avatar studies, but are presented in soft focus and (predominantly) soft tones, given each piece an individual sense of life. Megan appears to be the model in most of the images, thus given some of them perhaps something of an autobiographical edge in the narrative they carry. All are, in two words, strikingly captivating.

DiXmiX Gallery: Megan Prumier

It’s a pity that – once again – no effort has been made to offer information on the artists. While this is fast becoming my usual nagging point about this gallery, it is something I feel strongly about. Discovering and appreciating the art on display is obviously a good portion of the draw to any gallery; but so to is the opportunity to discover something of the eyes, minds and personalities of the people responsible for the art, and to perhaps gain insight into their work and  / or their passions and interests as whole. Is providing an artist’s statement / bio therefore really that hard, given other galleries manage it?

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