CyberNorm: the two sides of an artist in Second Life

Art Korner Main Gallery: CyberNorm – The art of “Cyber”

Recently opened in the Main Gallery at Frank Atisso’s Art Korner is an intriguing exhibition that presents two sides – two personalities, if you will – of a single artist: CyberNorm (aka ndl1971).

As “Norm” the artist – who has had their work displayed in several exhibitions in Düsseldorf, Germany, between 2018 and 2020 – explores art using the brush and canvas, using the medium as a means to explore life and politics in a somewhat playful manner, and explore aspects of gender politics. Meanwhile, as “Cyber”, the artists works with the digital medium, expressing their imagination through structured, mathematical terms – in this case through the use of fractals.

Through both forms of art, the CyberNorm particularly explores the subject of control: the use of political standpoints to exert control over the world as a whole, and the ability of mathematics to present structure and control within the digital domain.

Art Korner Main Gallery: CyberNorm – The art of “Cyber”

At Art Korner, these two sides of the art’s work are displayed across the two floors of the gallery building. The lower level is primarily given over to the art of “Cyber” (with one exception), and the upper level to the work on “Norm”.

The digital art offers a vibrant richness, bringing together the richness of natural forms with those of more abstracted elements to form pieces that are all individually unique and captivating. Some of these offer suggestions of Nature and life, while some capturing the infinite beauty of the Mandelbrot set, while others suggest textile-like pieces that offer their own fascination.

Art Korner Main Gallery: CyberNorm – The art of “Norm”

The display on the gallery’s upper floor offers paintings that demonstrate “Norm’s” approach to political commentary / satire, together with broader pieces that offer food for thought on the topic of what might be seen as commentary on gender, continuing female sexual emancipation and societal freedoms, including how (for some) these might be seen as threatening (as with Dragon and the Firefly, for example).

Taken individually, both halves of this exhibition contain much to hold the attention; together the present a wealth of expression and contrast the play off one another, revealing as they do two very different sides of the artist’s nature. For those interested, it will remain open through until February 2nd, 2022.

Art Korner Main Gallery: CyberNorm – The art of “Norm”

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A World of Fairytales and Beauty in Second Life

Dragon Sanctuary Gallery: World of Fairytale and Beauty

For their first exhibition of 2022 Dragon Sanctuary Gallery presents World of Fairytale and Beauty, a joint exhibition of art spanning the virtual and physical worlds presented by the Second Life partnership of Orpheus Paxlapis-Savior (OrpheusofDarkness) and Viktor Savior (ViktorSavior). Within it, Orpheus offers rich selection of avatar-inspired art, and Viktor more of his real-world paintings.

Located on the ground floor of the gallery, Orpheus presents 37 images that most clearly carry the fairy tale and beauty aspects of the exhibition. And if you are unfamiliar with his name, it might be for good reason: its marks his first public exhibition of art within Second Life – and he only started placing his images on Flickr in May 2021.

Dragon Sanctuary Gallery: World of Fairytale and Beauty

His work has a distinct clarity of style, one that carries a strength of narrative  / story with in, as is very apparent in the images he has selected for this exhibition. Offered as pairs and groups, they carry us to the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome, and those of the Celts, elves, shamen, warriors, princesses and more; the figures drawn of the imagination, yet capturing the essence of our ancient past and the richness of fantasy and fairy tale. Gently and lightly post-processed, these are pieces that are instantly engaging to the eye and imagination.

On the upper floor of the gallery, Viktor offers a collection of 38 paintings he created in the physical world and has uploaded to the virtual. Offering  a mix of flowers and plants, landscapes and seascapes that have the beauty of watercolours and the rich depth of colour oft found in oils that together present the beauty and world elements of the exhibition.

Dragon Sanctuary Gallery: World of Fairytale and Beauty

Mixed with the flora and landscape paintings are a number of abstract pieces that again offer Viktor’s richness of colour and presentation. However, what is particularly engaging with the works is that a number of them are digital copies of pieces he displayed at physical world exhibitions in Italy, Spain and Mexico in 2021.

Offering highly individual styles that nevertheless offer a balance of art from the physical world and from within Second Life, World of Fairytale and Beauty is a captivating and appealing exhibition that opened on January 4th, 2022, offering plenty of time (at the time of writing this piece!) for people to visit and appreciate. When doing so, use the teleport disk at the main landing point to reach the gallery (select “*Exhibit*”).

Dragon Sanctuary Gallery: World of Fairytale and Beauty

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The Incal and the 4 mazes in Second Life

Akikaze: The Incal and the 4 mazes

Currently open at the Akikazie art hub, curated by , is a new large-scale installation by Betty Betty Tureaud which, for lovers of mazes in liable to be a measure of fun.

The Incal and the 4 Mazes takes as its inspiration the French graphic novel series The Incal (L’Incal), written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and originally illustrated by Jean Giraud (aka Mœbius), who published the initial stories in the series in the sci-fi / horror Métal hurlant (“Howling Metal”) science fiction / horror comics series he co-founded, with the full story later published as a single volume by Marvel/Epic. Set within a fictional universe, the story follows the adventures of one John Difool (in fact, the first story in the series was published in  Métal hurlant as “an Adventure of John Difool, and artefacts referred as the Incal – The Light Incal and the Dark Incal.

Akikaze: The Incal and the 4 mazes

The graphics novels include multiple themes, include technology, religion, space, good and evil,  and more. Within her installation, Betty pays homage to some of the themes and ideas through the four titular mazes of the the installation. These are placed individually placed in four blockhouses, and can only be accessed via a teleport. Each maze has a theme (or element) – Space, Earth, Techno, Mind – with those visiting referred to at the 5th element (a passing reference, perhaps to Luc Besson’s cult sci-fi  classic of that title?).

Accessing the mazes is a case of clicking on one of four teleport options arrayed at the landing point,  an Incal (Space), an eyeball (Mind), a pink flying creature and a cube that is mindful of those of the Borg (Techno).

Clicking on any of the them will carry you into one of the mazes. These are all designed around s similar layout, and the object in to find your way to the centre and both a gift and a teleport back out. None is particularly hard to complete and again – having not read the Difool series, I’m not entirely aware as to how each ties back to L’Incal.

However, there is a rich degree of symbolism within some of the mazes. Within the “techno” cube for example, the Borg-like is continued, but more particularly, some of the hallways of the maze are marked by curtains of binary notation (and clouds of binary lines tumble here and there as well). These may at first appear meaningless, but actually represent “2022” –  the year we have just entered. Meanwhile, within the “Mind” maze, there appear eyes and hands that bring to mind the Lab’s own eye-in-hand logo.

As well as the mazes, visitors can walk between the blockhouses to a teleport point at their centre. This provides access to the Incal floating over the installation as it flashes light through the four blockhouses.

Akikaze: The Incal and the 4 mazes

Those teleporting up to it will find sit points allowing them to take flight around the Incal  – although be careful when you stand: it can be a bit of the drop to the blockhouse below. There are several other points of interest around the installation – a crystal that rotates on being touched, another that generates a pyramid of glowing light, a cube that will provide information on Betty and a rezzer for a buzz fly creature you can sit on and take to the air.Curious, symbolic,  carrying with it an element of fun and the homage to Jodorowsky  and Giraud Incal and the 4 Mazes offers an interesting visit with rewards from Betty.

Akikaze: The Incal and the 4 mazes

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A Cathedral and Silent Beauties in Second Life

The Cathedral and Sinful Retreat – Fly Kugin: Silent Beauties

In September 20221, I visited Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat art hub to witness The Falling Leaves, a series of watercolour paintings by Fly Kugin (FlyQueen), uploaded by the artist for presentation in Second Life (see: The Falling Leaves: Fly’s watercolours in Second Life). At the time, the tone of the notes with the exhibition and Fly’s own Profile gave the impression she was taking a possibly extended leave of absence from Second Life. I was therefore surprised – and delighted – that just before Christmas, I received an invitation to visit a further exhibition by Fly, which is once again being hosted by Chuck and Jewell, this time on the Sinful Retreat adjunct region, Angel’s Rest.

Silent Beauties features Fly’s second collection of watercolours to be displayed in-world, and it is one that continues her exploration of watercolour painting as a means of expression through the creation of pictures depicting flora and flowers. However, where The Falling Leaves focused more on the former, Silent Beauties presents twelve simply gorgeous paintings of garden and wild flowers.

Offered as individual pieces for one-time sale (no copies), with each flower simply presented on a white canvas, the fifteen pieces in this collection are genuinely captivating – as is the setting for their display, which should be seen as a work of art in its own right, as I’ll come to in a moment.

The Cathedral and Sinful Retreat – Fly Kugin: Silent Beauties

The majority of Fly’s pieces are individually hung – the exception being Rose Effect, a group of four paintings of a rose presented in a single frame. Most of the paintings are offered with a single dominant colour / tone that reflects its title and / or emotional essence, including the four paintings of the rose to be found in Rose Effect. Taken individually or together, they demonstrate that Fly has, in the 6 months since she commenced her experiments with watercolours, become an accomplished and expressive artist in the medium (a further proof of which is the fact that all of the pieces have already been sold, and the exhibition only opened on December 21st).

The space in which Silent Beauties is being exhibited is The Cathedral, a build that might be said to be a piece of Second Life artistic history. Originally designed and created in 2009 by Patch Thibaud, it was textured by by DB Bailey utilising alphas to create its distinctive crystalline look. In 2020, Djehuti-Anpu (Thoth Jansen), an immersive, multi-media artist whose work I’ve long appreciated and admired, joined with DB to add media textures to the build, magnifying its depth and richness.

The frames for Fly’s art are displayed along the columns of the cathedral’s knave, one or two per column. These columns also feature some of the media surfaces Thoth has added to the Cathedral. To witness them in all their glory, together with the rest of Thoth’s artistry, (which blends well with Fly’s paintings), enter the Cathedral and enable media playback (click the movie camera in the top right corner of the viewer, alongside the media stream button and those for camera and graphics presets). The image below offers a sample of what you will see.

The Cathedral and Sinful Retreat – Fly Kugin: Silent Beauties

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A touch of sci-fi at 22 Artspace in Second Life

22 ArtSpace: Ricco Saenz (l) and Wicca Merlin (r)

The holiday period is often a time for sitting back and enjoying a film (or six!), and networks and streaming services tend to offer us an especially good mix of genres to enjoy – including a drop or two of sci-fi. I mention this because Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand are currently presenting a pair of exhibition at their 22 ArtSpace Gallery in Bellisseria that mix the subjects of sci-fi and film quite naturally.

Within the main gallery space – occupying one of the Victorian style houses within Bellesseria – is a further pairing of artists in what might be seen as a continuation of the gallery’s “duet series”, with Electric Sheep featuring a series of images by Wicca Merlin and Ricco himself.

22 Artspace: Ricco Saenz

For his pieces, Ricco follows-up on the exhibition title with pieces that could be said to be inspired by Ridey Scott’s Blade Runner films (and those that are stylistically similar). They offer us a series of images set within a city, focusing on an assortment of individuals; setting and subject forming a whole in scenes which it is easily possible to imagine Philip K. Dick’s Rick Deckard – as personified by Harrison Ford – walking or running through, or Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty from the original Blade Runner film standing and observing – or calculating his next move in his quest for continuance.

Wicca Merlin, meanwhile, offers images very much focusing on the individual. Some of them would not look out of place in Dick’s / Scott’s Los Angeles, others of whom could equally be found in the likes of the Alien franchise – or the imagination of H.R. Giger. Others offer a touch of fantasy, whilst all are expressive and make rich use of colour and tone, with more than enough within them for us to form our own stories around them without undue prompting.

22 ArtSpace: Wicca Merlin

Reached via teleport, the second level of the gallery – and, I believe, new with the current installations – is a skybox that is home to an exhibition of images be Huckleberry Hax.

Waarheid: Truth Hunter offers a series of 14 images focused on the character Waarheid, first seen in Hax’s 2020 sci-fi machinima STÖMOL (which I reviewed here), played by Caitlin Tobias and who is due to lend her name to Hax’s follow-up to STÖMOL, due for release in 2022.

These are images that, outside of the context of Hax’s films might be hard to grasp. Drenched in a bloody red, dark in other tones, their focus / meaning isn’t that easy to comprehend sans the introductory notes Hax provides, and the descriptive elements added to each picture. These provide insight to the character, helping to round-out her background from before STÖMOL and lay a foundation for the character in readiness for the next film.

22 ArtSpace: Huckleberry Hax

Both Electric Sheep and Waarheid are small exhibitions, easily seen as a pairing, joined as they are by their sci-fi themes. As such, they make for an easy, enjoyable visit for the holiday season, although both will be open to visit through until March 19th, 2022.

Note: updated following the comment, below, from Huckleberry Hax on his Waarheid exhibition. 

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The avatar artistry of Gianmario Masala in Second Life

Art Street Gallery: Gianmario Masala – The Eternal Leave

I recently received an invitation from Vally Ericson (Valium Lavender), owner of the ValiumSL regions in Second Life, to visit a new exhibition of images now on display at the Art Street Gallery, located in the air above the Valium regions. Entitled The Eternal Leave, the exhibition is devoted to the striking avatar studies of Gianmario Masala, an artist whose work I cannot remember previously encountering – which, having spent time viewing The Eternal Leave, I cannot help but regret.

Multi-talented, Gianmario received a Master of arts in Architecture after studying in Milan, and is also recognised as a musician and a motion picture set designer. In particular, he is an accomplished photographer, his work having been displayed in several collective exhibitions in Milan, Turin and Naples. In addition he has also mounted solo exhibitions, including Il parco agricolo sud Milano (“The agricultural park south of Milan”), displayed in Milan, Vigevano and  Naples; and Harmonia, exhibited in Finland.

Art Street Gallery: Gianmario Masala – The Eternal Leave

Having entered Second Life in 2007, he was quickly drawn to the potential of photography within our virtual world, and started exhibiting his work in 2008. In 2010, his series Women Portraits was displayed on the metro stations of Milan as a part of a collaboration involving the Italian community of Arte Libera/2Lei in Second Life and the Brera Academy of Milan.

In both the physical world and within Second Life Gianmario’s art covers both landscape images and portraiture / avatar studies. His work involves considerable experimentation with a range of techniques from long duration exposures through to the skilled application of post-processing techniques and tools.

I try to create artistic images through post-production, giving them the aspect of a painted artwork. Through the variety of texture layering as a background, together with use of colour and focus, I try to give give the sensation of paintings of past centuries. In highlighting elements by fractured textures, I invite a sense of uneasiness, putting “beauty” up for discussion in order to reach a more deep sense of “truth”.

– Gianmario Masala on his art.

Art Street Gallery: Gianmario Masala – The Eternal Leave

For The Eternal Leave, Gianmario offers a selection of his avatar studies that bring together all of this in the most engaging of exhibitions spread throughout the various levels of the gallery. Mixing colour images with those in monochrome tones and / or black and white, these images are extraordinary in their richness of presentation and depth of narrative.

As a photographer, Gianmario notes he is influenced by some of the greatest painters down through the ages through to some of the most noted cinematographers and directors of the 20th and 21st centuries. This is also much in evidence through the images offered within this exhibition. The narratives, drawn as they are from classical art and from the central inspiration of music by English electronic band Massive Attack, are presented through the mix of subject, pose, colour, tone, camera angle and post-processing, whilst also opening the door on that discussion as the the nature of beauty and it truth.

Art Street Gallery: Gianmario Masala – The Eternal Leave

With the holiday period upon us, we’ll all possibly have more time for our SL explorations and travels, and when it come to art exhibitions, I can think of none better to visit for its breadth of presentation of avatar studies and portraiture than The Eternal Leave.

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