Sensual wings and written reflections in Second Life

Kondor Art Centre: Lika Cameo – One Thousand Wings

November 25th marked the opening of a new exhibition at the Kondor Art Centre, curated by Hermes Kondor, of a themed selection of images and words by Lika Cameo (LikaCameo) that is utterly extraordinary in its presentation of art, introspection / reflection and in its presentation style.

One Thousand Wings takes as its foundation, the major part of a quote from Virginia Woolf:

[Lock up your libraries if you like;] but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.

– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Within that essay – the result of two lectures she delivered in October 1928 to the women’s constituent colleges of Newnham and Girton at Cambridge University, England – Woolf sought to explore social injustices and comment on women’s lack of free expression that existed at the time. This quote is joined by a verse by artist Erin Hanson:

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?

– Erin Hanson

Kondor Art Centre: Lika Cameo – One Thousand Wings

While there are some core against various views Woolf expresses within that essay, Lika uses the quote from her essay, and the words by Hanson to explore what it means to freely express emotions in a century that has started to feel as if our freedoms are being increasingly being constrained by intolerance and when life has been constrained by a global pandemic, complete with a layering of what freedom means to her.

In doing this, Lika presents trios of avatar studies, all utilising the same pose and with a motif of wings, each piece finished individual to its partners. This approach leads to three images that, whilst all identical in terms of posing and motif, offer three pieces that offer a vastly different sense of depth, focus and emotions.

Accompanying them is a piece of prose  / blank verse (by either Lika or possibly Zakk Bifrandt, it’s not entirely clear) that offers an outlook / sense of emotion or thought that works to both complement and compliment the images.

Kondor Art Centre: Lika Cameo – One Thousand Wings

Complement, because the text can be taken as a whole with each version of the image and the trio as a whole, forming pairings with each image, working with the subtle differences in presentation and finish to tell a unique story of reflection / emotion. Compliment, because whether taken as pairings or as set of four panels, they together form a whole, works balancing image(s).  Each set of images is further reflected in animated double-sided panels that offer a further, changing take on the sets.

As expressions of freedom, these image carry a powerful metaphor in the use of birds and butterflies to express the freedom of thought taking flight, as captured in Erin Hanson’s words. As reflections of emotion and release in a time when were are under pressure to conform or keep our feelings under wraps, this is an incredibly powerful series of images. More particularly they stand as insightful, emotive reminders that it is so easy to become trapped within ourselves  – something that Lika expresses beautifully through her own words:

Often our thoughts tangle around the soul, forging our prisons, never grasping that we are always the key to our infinite free will.

Lika Cameo

Kondor Art Centre: Lika Cameo – One Thousand Wings

As demonstrations of art and how to use lighting, colour, tone and other post-processing techniques to impart a range of emotional responses to a single image, One Thousand Wings is equally as powerful an exhibition; and while I’ve oft said this – it is an exhibition that should be seen and appreciated.

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Campbell Coast Art Walk 2021 in Second Life

Campbell Coast Art Walk: Zia and Samanthe 

Currently underway at Campbell Coast art centre, is their autumn 2021 Art Walk exhibition, featuring an outdoor display of art by a number of artists, and the opportunity to tour the study galleries within the village.

The featured artists for the Art Walk are: Eylinea Seabird (eylinea), Ourane NuevaVida (ourane), Loony Carabosse – Moretto (louna.perl), Samanthe Mirror, Traci Ultsch and Zia Sophia (zia.branner). Between they, they present a contrasting selection of art. Zia, as the closest to the landing point, presents to of her abstract painting from the physical world that are captivating in their use of colour, tone, contrast and line. Alongside of her, Samanthe presents four avatar studies, nicely balanced between colour and monochrome pieces that offer narratives on an individual’s life, from enjoying the simple pleasure of a hot drink to moments of dance and delight or of quiet introspection.

Campbell Coast Art Walk: Loony and Eylinea

Loony’s images, meanwhile make use of soft tones and carry a distinctly avian theme across two of them, whilst one presents a layered digital media piece. Beside these, Eylinea’s work is a stark contrast, giving us three simply marvellous digital pieces that are fabulously minimalist or abstracted, and gently animated in a manner that is genuinely captivating and calming.

Traci Ultsch is an artist who repeatedly pushes herself with her art; she has a fearlessness when it comes to experimentation and diving into different styles and genres. Her work has embraced avatar studies, landscapes, photography, whilst also offering personal statements on life and society. Here, bracketing the door to her studio gallery, she presents four stunningly abstract expressions of nature.

Campbell Coast Art Walk: Traci and Ourane

Ourane is an artist I’m not overly familiar with, but her paintings at Campbell Coast immediately captivated me. These are richly expressive pieces, their use of colour and line as unique as their subject matter.

As noted, the art walk also offers the opportunity to visit the boutique galleries of the other artists exhibiting at Campbell Coast as well, comprising Bijoux (BijouxBarr), Michiel Bechir, eta (etamae) and Jeanie (jeanienabottle), all of whom definitely worth viewing.

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Suzen’s Illusion in Second Life

Kondor Art Garden: Suzen JueL – Illusion

Now open at the Kondor Art Garden, curated by Hermes Kondor, is Illusion, an exhibition of 2D art by photographer-artist Suzen JueL (JueL Resistance). It offers an engaging range of pieces that mix styles and ideas to present images that are visually engaging and carry with them strong narratives.

Within these pieces might we find photo-collages, measures of surrealism, expressionism and more; stories with an edge of abstraction and / or the broad strokes of impressionism, some of which sit as dream states in their form and colour. Primarily produced within Second Life and richly post-processed, these are pieces that also encompass elements and images drawn from the physical world.

An intriguing aspect of several of the pieces is that rather than using a traditional avatar, Suzen presents a mannequin-like personage that, while female in form, offers us – male or female – the opportunity for greater association with it, and thus themes and emotions contained within the pieces where it is used.

Kondor Art Garden: Suzen JueL – Illusion

With their focus on the mannequin presence, these particular images offer a sense of dual narrative. Backwards into Depths, for example offers the suggestion of taking a leap of faith. On the one hand, they colours stand in emphasis of the fact it is into the unknown we might jump whilst also presenting the sense of fear that such leaps often entail. Similarly, Monster at first seems to suggest the coming of a horror, a strange, looming creature that might well be in pursuit of us – but then on second look, it perhaps suggests we are the monster, looming forth to inflict something on the unwary.

Elsewhere the narrative is more direct, as with Whale Dreaming, a marvellous photo-collage that folds into itself considered elements of surrealism, impressionism and realism. Beside it, Hanging with the Zebra similarly offers a mix of surrealism and over-exposed expressionism that holds the eye before the magnificent Elephant awaits to again offer use entwined stands of narrative.

In their mixing of styles, narrative, these are pieces that live up to the title of the exhibition. Each gives us an illusion to ponder, be it directly through the image (again, I’d point to the likes of Whale Dreaming) or in the manner in which meaning and narratives might be seen to be intertwined to hold our attention, making it an engaging and captivating exhibition.

Kondor Art Garden: Suzen JueL – Illusion

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The art and beauty of the microscopic in Second Life

Limoncello Art Gallery Annexe: Unseen Beauty

Currently available within the Annexe of the Limoncello gallery – for a while longer, at least, given it opened at the start of November – is an intriguing exhibition of images by Guille (Antoronta) entitled Unseen Beauty.

Guille appears to be a relatively recent arrival in Second Life – as inferred by his Profile. An educator by profession and hailing from Spain, he appears to be bound to the natural beauty of Nature, noting in his Profile that it is the ultimate expression of art whilst his Flickr stream takes us on a journey into the microscopic – as is the case with Unseen Beauty.

Through both the exhibition and his Flickr stream, Guille takes us on a rarely-seen journey, one to a world that exists not beyond our own, but within it. no, not a world – an entire universe where the strangest and in many respects the more wonderous forms of life exist.

Limoncello Art Gallery Annexe: Unseen Beauty
It is possible that this is the first time that a sample of these characteristics has been exhibited in SL, as in RL this type of exhibition is extraordinarily scarce, as well as the knowledge of these wonderful and fascinating living beings to whom it is dedicated. All the images have been taken under the microscope, on living organisms that, after being observed, have been returned to the place from which they were collected. Almost all of them are very little known, and some of the smallest, contain the keys to know how we are and how we have evolved.

– Guille, describing Unseen Beauty

Thus  we are presented with a series of living images of the most incredible creatures, from cyanobacteria (aka Cyanophyta or “blue-green algae”), a kind of  prokaryote and one of the first organisms known to have produced oxygen, thus helping to start life on Earth as we know it today. Then there are diatoms such as the family of Coscinodiscaceae, noted for their radial symmetry and circular shapes when viewed from the front.

Each image is accompanied by an information giver providing a description of the featured algae, bacteria or amoebic form, each beautifully – in places poetically – written by Guille. Witness:

In each drop, the world of Cosmarium becomes rainbow, letting the sun melt on its cover, while absorbing the juice of life between its rays, tiny pearls that live are arcoris, true water jewels. They gravitate in the water like planets that in each drop for them is infinite.
Perhaps because it has the skin of an elephant, Cosmarium pachydermum, it endures the icy winter nights with the starry sky and the scorching summer sun on the highest peaks, as long as a drop of water is its ocean between Sphagnum, and in it, which is its universe, can show its soul scalloped with green jewel, perhaps from the times when the ice was the mantle of these mountains.

– Guille, describing Cosmarium pachydermun

Limoncello Art Gallery Annexe: Unseen Beauty

Beautiful images of life unimagined – but without which we would not be here to admire it – captured in an instant and written into the memory through colour and words, Unseen Beauty is a bewitching exhibition, not to be missed, and an excellent gateway to the additional exhibitions on the remaining levels of the Annexe.

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Blip’s urban and industrial vision in Second Life

Kondor Art Centre: Blip Mumfuzz – Urban and Industrial Images

As an artist, Blip Mumfuzz is generally an improvisor; her images tend to come about as a direct result of her general interaction with the environment she is in, rather than conscious pre-planning of pieces. Initially becoming involved in SL photography as a means of cataloguing her grid-wide travels, she started to drift away from the more conventional angles and camera positioning common to such photography, her eye and camera becoming freer, allowing her to look not so much at any given focal point within her field of view and any object therein, but more towards the physical relationships of objects, one to one another.

This gave rise to a more spontaneous, visually engaging style of photography, one coupled with a lean towards finding subjects that feature bright and / or contrasting colours, which images often presenting their subjects – objects, landscapes, settings and avatars, from unique angles or unexpected perspectives. This is turn feeds into exhibitions of Blip’s art being wonderfully free-form and rarely bound by a single idea of theme or narrative.

Kondor Art Centre: Blip Mumfuzz – Urban and Industrial Images

Which is why, when Hermes Kondor approached her about mounting an exhibition of her more urban / industrial art, Blip was somewhat sceptical, feeling that focusing on a single theme would be too confining, limiting her to archival pieces and forcing her to avoid other themes and ideas often present within her work. However, Hermes persisted, and with the assistance of Naru Darkwatch, Blip accepted his request – and the result is both unique and remarkable.

Urban and Industrial Images isn’t just an exhibition of Blips’ art, it is something of an immersive engagement with her work. Rather than merely hanging her images on the walls of a gallery space, she had the idea of presenting her work within a setting that reflects its nature. The result is an environment brought together by Naru as an industrial setting, split into two levels: an upper “street” level, where stand shipping containers, an office space and a backdrop of illuminated buildings suggestive of a larger town or city. The lower sits as a canal intended to bring barges and materiel to the city, and perhaps carry the detritus of industrial activities away – as with the barge sitting on the water.

Kondor Art Centre: Blip Mumfuzz – Urban and Industrial Images
Within it, Blip’s images have been laid out, some mounted in a manner so as to form a natural flow of the eye from backdrop into setting, others sitting within a building or mounted on the shipping containers, the back of a street sign, and along the deep walls of the canal. In this way, setting and art form a whole, allowing us not only to view Blip’s art, but to experience very much how she might see the scenes she comes across in her travels.

From the lower level, for example, a view of Tonarino is set beyond the arch of a bridge, the later curtailing our view, framing it to present it as a moment of motion rather than a photograph. Above it, meanwhile, the rooftops of Kekeland sit beyond the arm and jib of a crane as it raises a  girder, forcing us to consider the spatial relationship between image and crane – just as Blip does in observing the places she explores and the objects within them – as does the placement of images within the old office space at one end of the setting.

Kondor Art Centre: Blip Mumfuzz – Urban and Industrial Images

An engaging, engrossing exhibition, Urban and Industrial Images is an engrossing examination of the photographer’s art.

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Samaniego Art in Second Life

UASL: Samaniego Art

Opening on November 12th at a gallery space provided by the United Artists of Second Life is a fascinating and highly engaging exhibition that offers a small insight into the work of two artists from the physical world whose work is simply remarkable.

Presented by Bijoux (BijouxBarr – herself an artist), Samaniego Art is a collection of paintings by her mother and grandmother, which is being presented in Second Life with the artists’ full permission. The art on offer is primarily presented as digital prints of watercolours that art startling in their realism and accuracy whilst simultaneously presenting the journeys of the artists to the Middle East and within their home country, and starling life studies.

Most of the images are offered in pairs in around the gallery that have clearly be set out as such, allowing us to visit Manila and witness the beauty of its architecture (San Agustin Church and the El Hogar Building) or appreciate a more distant view of the city’s skyline before travelling onwards to enjoy the pools of the Estrella Falls on the island of Palawan and / or further afield to explore the streets of old Jaffa (Yafa) in Tel Aviv, Israel.

UASL: Samaniego Art

Also to be found are the vibrant richness of life studies that bring the power of dance, the serenity of a lake and the beauty of a bird to life, while rounding out the exhibition is a selection of oil paintings, one paired with the bird the other three hanging together as a eye-catching trio among a hall of eye-catching pieces that carry with them a depth of realism that is genuinely exquisite.

Drawing on a variety of influences such as the great Romantic painter Joseph Mallord William Turner through to modern artists such as Andrew Tischler, these are pieces that will genuinely grace any Second Life home. In this regard, while the pieces at UASL are not offered for sale, prints can be obtained via the Samaniego Art Gallery at Campbell Coast.

UASL: Samaniego Art

The UASL exhibition formally opens at 11:00 SLT  on Friday, November 12th, with music by Bsukmet.

My thanks to Owl Dragonash for the hat-trip.

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