Keeping busy in SL: consolidating PAC

New gallery spaces for PAC artists at Cherished Melody

Friends on Twitter know that my blogging has slowed of late as I’ve been working on a number of projects. One of these is that of some major updates on behalf of the Phoenix Artists Collaboration (PAC).

Cutting a long story short, after PAC lost the ability to use a dedicated full region, Audie Whimsy and I volunteered space for the group, Audie offering a part of her own Full region, whilst I – as the former curator of Holly Kai Park – was able to secure space for some of the group there (see Providing a home for PAC in Second Life and Phoenix Artists Collaboration: April update).

Nine of the new gallery spaces with gardens at Cherished Melody

More recently, it has become apparent this arrangement is not beneficial to the group. The whys and wherefores aren’t important; suffice it to say that thanks to Audie, we’re now able to take the step of consolidating all artists in the group into a single location once again, and we hope that this will allow us to finally kick-start art and other events more centrally, and in the knowledge we have full autonomy in managing our location.

So right now, I’m in the middle of working with Audie to expand the Cherished Melody sky platform to accommodate the 30 artists presently at Holly Kai Park. It’s work that is taking time, as Audie has worked hard to create a unique environment at Cherished Melody, and it’s important that what we do in increasing the platform’s capacity both blends in with Audie’s work without dramatically changing things – and without inconveniencing the artists already there.

We’ve still got a fair amount of work to do!

As it is, the first eight studio galleries are now in place, complete with the core landscaping and garden space (with room for 3D art displays within the garden). A second group of eight units is nearing completion, and we’re working on developing new exhibition spaces for use by members for their own exhibitions as well as group art displays.

All things being equal, the initial work should be completed before the end of August at which time we’ll start to transition the artists at Holly Kai Park over to Cherished Melody. Once that has been done, we’ll be looking to finally gets started on an active programme of activities and events, including:

  • The long-awaited start to group exhibitions.
  • Featured Artist exhibitions.
  • New teaching / learning opportunities via a new Workshop area that will include lessons being streaming into Second Life by artists and photographers.
  • Opening-out the PAC website to allow members to blog about their work, exhibitions they are a part of, etc.
Five more studios and garden under construction

Cherished Melody remains open for visits during the work, and artists already based there do not have to do anything. However, we would ask that if you do drop in,be aware that things are unsettled around the outer edges of the platform, and do please note the Under Construction signs – we don’t want to have people finding a building or garden suddenly dropping on their heads or whooshing off from under them without warning in the construction areas!

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Intentional Creativity in Second Life

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

Currently on display at the Kultivate Signature Gallery, curated by Johannes Huntsman, and running through until the end of August 2020, is an exhibition of art from the physical world painted by KismaKSR – or Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling as she is known outside of Second Life.

Defining Kisma isn’t easy, as she is a woman of many talents – artist, published author, curator (notably working with Reiner Schneiber, head curator for various worldwide Biennales), gamer, therapeutic art life coach, immersive 2D / 3D artist, and currently a creativity teacher-in-training! As an artist, she works in a range of mediums including acrylics, watercolours, gouache, pastels, coloured pencils, graphite, texture paste, stencils, and more. 

I paint what I see inside. I love working in art journals, creating altered book art journals, and taking my creations from the page to the canvas… and on occasion from the canvas to the page! My creative journey is based in watercolours but has taken me into so many mediums that I believe I love acrylics the most. 

I love working in layers… lots and lots of layers, distressing paintings, vibrant colourful paintings, collage paintings and sketch paintings. I also work with encaustic wax and fibres, throwing in the making of journals and fibre weaving to create embellished covers. 

– Kisma K. Stepanich-Reidling

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

For her exhibition at Kultivate’s Signature gallery, Kisma presents 16 reproductions of her physical world art that fully embody her approach to her subject: all richly expressive, some offering hints of expressionism, others perhaps leaning a little towards surrealism and still others more abstracted in nature. Every piece speak of Kisma’s Intentional Creativity approach to her work: the act of being aware of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and of self, and allowing all of this to inform and shape whatever task is being undertaken – be it making a soup to writing a musical score or – as in this case – producing works of art.

These are pieces that also include subtle cultural undertones to them that can be form in form, style, colour and symbolism. These touches add further depth to Kisma’s work, infusing them with a sense of of humankind’s cultural heritage through the ages – something we tend to too easily lose sight of in the modern age of technology and bustle.

You can find out more about Kisma’s work via her website, and about Intentional Creativity at MUSEA, the Intentional Creativity Foundation.

Kultivate Signature Gallery: KismaKSR

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Claustrophobia at Nitroglobus in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mareena Farrasco – Claustrophobia

Mareea Farrasco is a Second Life photographer whose work covers a broad range, from avatar studies to landscapes – the latter oft processed to resemble paintings – and the literal to the metaphorical, producing images that can contain within them a rich narrative or which offer the confluence of shape and form to present a simple statement or comment.

Many of these elements are presented to us through her exhibition at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, with the exception of examples of her landscape work – for reasons that will become clear. Entitled Claustrophobia, the exhibition takes as its theme the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but from an angle that perhaps has not gained the attention it deserves.

When asked to define “claustrophobia”, most people are liable to go with its more well-known meaning: an abnormal dread of being in closed or narrow spaces. However, the word has another meaning, one not so often considered and that is a feeling of discomfort or discontent caused by being in a limiting or restrictive situation or environment, and it is this second definition that Mareea focuses upon.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mareena Farrasco – Claustrophobia

We live, these days, in a confined, pandemic universe of our own, and we are all more or less “claustrophobic”, even without suffering from this disorder in our normal, healthy lives. This exhibition is my metaphoric way to express those feelings, trying to rationalise them, in order to make them endurable.

Mareea Farrasco, introducing Claustrophobia

Now to confess, on first seeing the 14 images presented for the exhibition, I fell into the trap of looking at them through the lens of that more popular definition of “claustrophobia”, and while there are one or two that contain elements that most certainly do convey a sense of physically restricted space and / or a sensation of the walls closing in (notably Claustrophobia (6) and Claustrophobia (7)), I initially felt the exhibit, focused as it is on studies of an individual avatar, could just as easily be called “solitude”, without any need to reference the pandemic.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mareena Farrasco – Claustrophobia

It was only when I broadened my consideration to that second definition foe “claustrophobia” that I was struck by the manner in which Mareea has perfectly encompassed it through each of the pieces offered in this exhibit, and seamlessly linked them to offer expressions of how we have been forced into am artificial sense of “claustrophobic distancing” because of the pandemic. It doesn’t matter if we’re home alone or with family, we have been forced to artificially limit our environment and interactions to an extent that expressions of solitude are all we actually have left; circumstance demanding that as constrained as we are, we turn our thoughts inwards.

Seen it this light, all of the pieces here are subtle and evocative explorations of thoughts and feelings that reflect our desire – our longing – for more normal times. At the same time, there is perhaps a deeper aspect to be considered. Whilst physical distancing from friends, colleagues, neighbours and all might well be a requirement for all of us, many of us do at least have family with who we can at least find some release from that sense of isolation – but what of those who live alone? For them, the routine of isolation has potentially been amplified by the pandemic; through Mareea’s images, we perhaps catch a glimpse of all they face.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mareena Farrasco – Claustrophobia

Another outstanding exhibition at Nitroglobus that should not be missed.

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The beauty of steam machines in Second Life

Kondor Art Centre: Hermes Kondor, July 2020

The Tejo Power Station, located in the Belém district of Lisbon, Portugal, is regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of Portuguese industrial architecture from the first half of the 20th century.

Occupying the site of a thermoelectric plant first built in 1909 on the banks of the Rio Tejo, the building as it is seen today was first built in 1941, and provided power to the city through until the early 1970s, undergoing expansion over that time.

Kondor Art Centre: Hermes Kondor, July 2020

Encompassing architectural styles that run from arte-nouveau to classicism, the power station was declared a major Portuguese heritage centre in 1986, and in 1990 became the home of the Electricity Museum, celebrating its role in brining electrical power to Lisbon. It is in this capacity that Hermes Kondor visited it, along with his camera, retuning with photographs of the building’s machinery, some 28 of which his has placed on display at the Kondor Art Centre.

And while this may sound like a boring subject – believe me it is not. The bunkers, pressure chambers, pipes, valves and metal walkways of the station’s machinery within the museum have been lovingly restored and maintained, and Hermes’ has captured all of this in incredible detail.

Kondor Art Centre: Hermes Kondor, July 2020

Through an exquisite use of depth-of field, macro focus, angle, framing and light, Hermes presents these machines and their individual part as living entities. From threaded nut to valves to pressure vessels to the complexity of the larger machines, the crisp detail found within each photograph is stunningly exceptional.

Displayed within a modern skybox setting that itself has a clean industrial feel to it and that perfectly complements the art on display, this is a genuinely engaging exhibition that fully captures the history and beauty of these remarkable machines.

Kondor Art Centre: Hermes Kondor, July 2020

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Renoir and PxL at Club LA and Gallery

Club LA and Gallery: Renoir Adder

Now open at Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko Amano (Wintergeist) are two boutique exhibitions offer small selections of art by Renoir and Adder PxL (Z3NooBhasR3turn3D), two very distinctive and very different artists who together present two very different displays of art.

Renoir Adder is an artist who straddles genres. Within his pieces can be found elements of post-impressionism, potentially influenced by the like of Van Gogh; suggestions of Picasso; and surrealist leanings.

Club LA and Gallery: Renoir Adder

Here he presents a dozen paintings, some ten of which carry a strong hint of Van Gogh. Rich in colour, they present a range of landscapes and studies that might have been lifted from a gallery in the physical world and dropped into Second Life. The last two, meanwhile, lean more towards the surreal, with one in particular offering a nod and wink to the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.

Prior to this exhibition, I had not come across the work of PxL. Occupying the gallery’s north side, he offers 15 Second Life photographs that offer an enticing mix, in terms of their focus and style.

Club LA and Gallery: PxL

Mixing landscape image and avatar studies, they range of the delicately post-processed to those that have been heavily treated to offer the impression of painting as what I might describe as charcoal-like drawings.

These latter images are especially evocative, with a pair of images both called c3dots particularly capturing the eye – which is not to dismiss any of the others, I also found myself drawn to the darkly atmospheric Final Breath, together with Like a stone equally attractive.

Club LA and Gallery: PxL

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Bunkers are Us: contemplations on isolation in Second Life

Itakos Project: Kaiju Kohime Bunkers are Us

Now open on the Green Pavilion 1 platform at Akim Alonzo’s Itakos Gallery, is Bunkers are Us, by Kaiju Kohime. A 3D installation, it is a reflection on modern life, that in part draws on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, but casts its net much wider.

All of us need shelter. It can be a house, a tent, a church. But the past few decades we have increasingly isolated ourselves from others in ever more fortified houses with increasing security and locks. Because of the the increasing amount of threats that are bestowed upon us, like wars, climate change, exponential population growth and fast spreading diseases we have become less confident in our fellow human beings. We have retreated behind concrete masks, concrete skins, concrete bunkers.
Our last shelter is our skin. We hide inside our skin. But not only are we fortifying our houses, are we not becoming bunkers ourselves as well?

– Kaiju Kohime

Itakos Project: Kaiju Kohime Bunkers are Us

On the platform is a reflection of the above description: three large concrete homes with gun-like slits for windows, together with two smaller bunkers and a cathedral, its original form shown in rusting outline, the building itself having shrunk within the framework as physical representation of the idea of withdrawal away from the world.

The houses contain within them various elements: violins, concrete blocks that might be books, flowers, ladders that climb nowhere… They are perhaps the things we take with us into our solitude in lieu of genuine company, and perhaps – in the case of the ladders and the female form – reminders of the freedoms and companionships we lose in so shutting ourselves off from others.

Projected onto the walls of the building are the words of Proposition 1 from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Austrian-British logic philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (if you do not see the words of the proposition, make sure you enable your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) via Preferences → Graphics). The only one of his works to be published in his lifetime, TLP, as it is often called, was an attempt to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science, and is regarded as one of the more significant philosophical works of the twentieth century.

Itakos Project: Kaiju Kohime Bunkers are Us

Within this installation, the use of Proposition 1 would appear to be a direct challenge to the manner in which we are all increasingly self-isolating, an attempt to remind us that back contracting inwards, we limit ourselves, that the world is all that is, is becoming ever more finite thanks to our willingness to withdraw and the facts that help us interpret, understand, and live within that world are similarly become more finite, thus limiting our world view even further.

It is symbolism like this, found throughout Bunkers Are Us, that makes this installation provocative, be it through consideration of how our slide towards isolationism – which started well before SARS-CoV-2 reared its head -, or our mistrust of those around us that causes us to convert our houses into castles and has reduced churches from places that welcomed everyone to closed fortresses where only the known few are welcome; or through the manner in which it brings us into contact with Wittgenstein; or simply through the wonder of the mobile sculptures within the smaller bunkers.

With further subtle commentary in the form of the two Animesh figures located at the teleport station (echoes of simplier times when the world was our home?), Bunkers are Us is an installation that pokes at the conscience and grey matter.

Itakos Project: Kaiju Kohime Bunkers are Us

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ATL is rated Moderate