Strand Starsider’s art and stories in Second Life

Raging Graphix Gallery: Strand

Currently open at Raging Graphix Gallery, curated by artist RagingBellls, is an exhibition by digital artist and storyteller Strand Starsider.

The exhibition is split into two chapters: Magic, Angels and Demons, which ran from February 1st through 14th, and Fantasy and Scifi, launched on February 15th, and which runs through until the end of the month, which features the images seen in this article and includes a special celebration of art and music that will take place on Saturday, February 22nd from 11:00 to 13:00 SLT.

Strand’s work covers multiple genres: fantasy, science-fiction, noir, erotica, romance, avatar portraiture, abstract, whimsical, and more, enfoldling his imagination, Second Life and the physical world (catch his renderings of Christopher Walken, Clint Eastwood and Heath Ledger as The Joker available on his Flickr stream, for examples of the latter) . Rich in compositing, his are more than just digital art, they are genuine tales, each one with a narrative reaching far beyond the frame in which it sits, many often with subtle details that only reveal themselves through considered examination, adding to the tale they have to offer.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Strand

The pieces selected for this exhibition all offer a reflection of this gift for embodying narrative through art, and his exceptional ability to  create entire worlds within each piece. To fully appreciate them, I would strongly recommend using the viewer’s camera control to focus in on individual pieces rather than trying to view them from a distance. In this way, the details of each piece in turn are brought to the eye, rather than multiple images in the frame of view each competing for attention.

As a master artist, Strand is comfortable enough in his medium to not only present his work for public exhibition in-world and through his Flickr stream, but also take us into his creative world, producing videos that reveal his compositing process from end-to-end. Take Moon Princess, for example, shown below as it appears on Flickr and at the exhibition; it is accompanied by a time-lapse video showing how the image progressed from initial idea to finished piece, including the flow of change and experimentation that form part of the real-time creative process.

Strand: Moon Princess

I confess to wishing to be able to see Strand’s work displayed in a larger format than offered  – and I say that with no disrespect to RagingBellls; we all work within the space we can make available. It’s just that a larger format for the images would allow one to more easily focus on individual pieces.

However, and make no mistake, this is a stunning display of Strand’s art, and should not be missed, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with his work. Full kudos to RagingBellls for hosting it.

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Tansee’s Pearls of Wisdom in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Wisdom is the title of an art exhibition currently available in its own space at ArtCare Gallery, curated by Carelyna, and which opened on February 7th.

Produced by Tansee, it is perhaps best described as an examination of some of the viewer’s advanced rendering capabilities, notably Advanced Lighting and lighting projectors, together with surface environment and shine effects available through the Build menu, through the medium of art. It utilises both 2D and 3D elements and allows for audience interaction.

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

Given the above, it is necessary to have Advanced Lighting Model enabled in your viewer (Preferences→Graphics and check Advanced Lighting Model); failure to do so means that most of the exhibition will not work for you. Note that enabling ALM does not require enabling Shadows, which tend to have the most severe impact on viewer performance; however if you can run with shadows enabled, they do give additional depth to the 3D element of the exhibition.

This comprises a large hall with animated spheres – the pearls of the exhibit’s title, illuminated by projected lights and with shine applied together with animated textures. These are set against walls illuminated by projectors and a landscape of pearl-topped plants to create a soothing, alien-like setting in which visitors are invited to relax and spend time, either on the lidos on the floor or the floating cushions within an airborne sphere.

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

The L-shaped hall leading to the 3D element of the installation offers a range of 2D art, some of it using layering techniques and transparency settings, lighting projections to great effect, with some mixing digital images and techniques with images taken in the physical world. These again offer a sense of alien environments and ideas. It also includes the introduction to Pearls of Wisdom which should be read not only for the instructions on how to best view it, but also things to look for whilst spending time visiting the installation.

These pointers include hints at some of the element hidden within the images, and one notes the glittering pearls scattered throughout the exhibition. Touching these will offer pearls of wisdom in local chat. Further large silver pearls are scattered around the floor that use projected lights and can be pushed around by avatars when visiting, so “personal” lighting effects can be created as a part of the exhibition.

ArtCare Gallery: Pearls of Wisdom

An eye-catching exercise in digital art, lighting and viewer capabilities, Pearls of Wisdom is an engaging installation to visit and witness.

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Seeking ownership or sponsorship: the Phoenix Art Collaboration

Phoenix Arts Collaboration

I recently wrote about the The Phoenix Artists Collaboration (PAC), a group formed to support artists from across Second Life by providing large-scale exhibition spaces capable of supporting multiple artists free-of-charge (for up to 100 land capacity).

The group was founded by Robert73Miller and Luke (Marshmal), with artist Anibrm Jung curating the gallery. Set within a Full private region utilising the additional 10K land capacity allowance (so 30K total capacity), PAC offers a range of gallery and events venues, with some 42 artists currently availing themselves of the gallery’s core exhibition space, as I noted in The Phoenix Artists Collaboration in Second Life.

Unfortunately, PACs future is now uncertain. While Luke and Robert have funded the region through until the end of March 2020, due to personal reasons, Robert has had to withdraw his involvement in the project as a funder, and this has cast doubt on the group’s ability to meet the cost of region tier from April onwards.

Phoenix Arts Collaboration

However, rather than simply give up on the endeavour, Luke and Ani are hoping they can find assistance in continuing PAC’s work beyond March through the wider support of those within the Second Life community who might be willing to get involved in both the group and the running of the region. Specifically, they are very keen to hear from:

  • Individuals or a group willing to:
    • Either take total ownership of the gallery and region, and meet the L$16,999 per week tier (and with Ani continuing in her role as gallery curator)
    • Or join with Luke and Ani in managing the group and gallery, and meet an agreed share of the region tier.
  • Individuals or groups willing to sponsor the region and gallery for a fixed weekly amount, in return for advertising space within the region, and with all promotional material issued by the group for exhibitions and events.

Those interested in doing any of the above are asked to contact either Luke or Anibrm in-world, and at their earliest convenience to discuss ideas and opportunities.

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Kultivate The Edge: February 2020

Kultivate The Edge: Jamee Sandalwood (l) and MTH63 (r)

Kultivate’s The Edge Gallery opened its first exhibition for 2020 on February 2nd. Specialising in black and white photography, the gallery invites submissions for its monthly exhibitions – those interested can apply here – which means that exhibitions there can be an interesting mix, and such is the case here.

For this exhibition, the gallery presents selections of art by Kapaan, MTH63, Ragingbellls, Wintergeist, John Brianna, Carisa Franizzi, Anibrm Jung, Lena Kiopak, CybeleMoon, Jamee Sandalwood, and Karma Weymann. Together they offer a rich mix of avatar studies, portraits, Second Life landscapes and art studies and photos of physical world locations.

Kultivate The Edge: Carisa Franizzi

When visiting the exhibition I was particularly drawn to Carisa Franizzi’s work, located on the lower floor of the gallery and to the left of the entrance. She offers 20 pieces divided between avatar studies and landscape pieces, with several of the avatar studies being striking in their classic composition and presentation.

Another name new to me is that of Karma Weymann. Her eight avatar studies, located diagonally opposite Carisa work in the gallery, are equally as striking, offering as they do unique glimpses into their subject’s lives. These are pieces that do not appear to have been posed or framed, but stand as moments caught in time – possibly as private moments of fun or introspection.

Kultivate The Edge: Anibrm Jung

I’m going to restrict myself to highlighting these to artists – not because the others are not worth mentioning – quite the reverse, in fact – but simply because they are names new to me, and so tended to attract my attention somewhat more  whilst visiting the exhibition. But make no mistake, this is another attention-holding monochrome ensemble of art well worth taking the time to visit.

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Digital expressions at La Maison d’Aneli in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – YadeYu Fhang

Now open at La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, is an exhibition that sees artists both familiar and perhaps new to followers of art in Second Life, displayed within a new layout for the gallery space.

The untitled exhibition features the work of JadeYu Fhang, Eylinea, Gaston Wonder, Vroum Short, Adwehe, and Aneli herself, five of whom present pieces of a distinctly digital nature, with Gaston Wonder providing a balance with photography grounded in the physical world.

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – Gaston Wonder

In describing his work, Gaston notes:

I find it interesting the way we have to interpret Art, we are all different, we did not have the same feeling while looking at an Art object or a photo, I don’t care about the rules for Art has no limit, there are no things better than others, there is only one emotion specific to each.

His work, often focusing on the inorganic – wooden planks, chains, wood and stones on a beach, a broken wall and more – offers a marvellous glimpse into the organic world, the lay of metal and shadow, chain against background, grain and knot of wood forming facial features, sometimes almost human, sometimes alien or even insect-like. Each evokes familiarity that in turn generates a focused emotional response.

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – Vroum Short

Next to Gaston, Eylinea is a relative newcomer to Second Life, an environment that that encouraged her to explore artistic expression through digital mediums. Here she displays a series of pieces, a selection of which are animated, and all of which sit within abstraction and expressionism.  Her work is reflected across the hall by Aneli’s exhibition, which offers further animated abstractions together with pieces that suggest they have been formed from copper beating as modern expressionism.

Making up the four displays on the lower floor, Yadeyu Fhang offers an immersive space, that once again presents a surrealism environment that deliberately cross the line between the physical and the digital. Yadeyu notes she is often influenced by the work of Kubrick and Lynch, and there is evidence of that here, together with a touch of French noir through the use of monochrome and lighting.

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – Adwehe

On the upper floor of the gallery space, Vroum Short presents a further immersive space, rich in colour and form, suggestive of he undersea environments or an alien landscape alive with plants. Adwehe is another relative newcomer, and – while I’m not sure – this might be their first exhibition. Featuring both 2D and 3D pieces, it’s an expressive display, one in which Adwehe acknowledges the support and influence of Vroum and her work at VeGeTaL PLaNeT.

A half-dozen fascinating displays by six fascinating artists.

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Rose’s Feelings at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Feelings

Currently open at Dido Haas’ Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is Feelings, a selection of self-portraits presented by RoseHanry. It’s a evocative series of 12 images, each one of which has a deceptively simple presentation that nevertheless encompasses a wealth of care, and eye for detail and narrative to offer a startlingly life-like finish that richly imbues each image with Rose’s own life and vitality.

This is something Rose notes herself in discussing her art, stating:

Second Life is more than a game and the avatar is more than a pretty doll. There’s a human behind the keyboard, who experiences feelings and hopes, has a Real Life with the normal issues that life offers, Some are good and some are not so good. Real Life is not detached from Second Life as most people think, or want to make us believe.

In this exhibition I try to show that an avatar is very natural and can show feelings as in Real Life.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Feelings

And so it is that each of the twelve images within this exhibition offer an emotional depth that is stunning; expression, pose and lighting allow us to see far beyond the avatar. Many not as posed shots, but as candid captures that record a passing and quite natural moment in time (vis: … a beating heart of stone …, … when I wake up, I see you with me …, … when I wake up, I see you with me …, and … maybe if I’d skim the stone …), when the subject is caught by the camera without being aware it was watching.

In others, while as candid, there is a sense that the subject was aware of the camera’s eye, so took a moment to respond to its stare with a deliberate look intended to tease or flirt (… another one bites the dust …) or with a natural response to being caught (as with …2am…, with the defensive drawn-up knees).

Thus, throughout the collection we are presented with images that each has a tale to tell; a tale furthered by Rose’s inclusion of a link to be found in the lower right-hand corner of each image. Clicking on most of these will present you with a note card containing song lyrics reflective of the image and mood, and with a link to the song on You Tube (one simply offers a link to the song itself).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Feelings

For me, the defining element of each picture lies in the eyes. We’re probably all familiar with the old saying, the eyes are the windows of the soul. Here, it is the case that the avatar’s eyes are the windows to the the avatar’s owner herself. Through them, we can perhaps capture the riches of each pictures’ story, even without reference to the accompanying note cards – and I would recommend viewing and considering each picture first before turning to the the note card giver.

A truly fascinating exhibition. One – as with all of those at Nitroglobus – that should not be missed.

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