Flash Back / Flash Forward in Second Life

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Open from Monday, May 29th through until Monday, July 31st, 2017 at Split Screen’s temporary home*, is Giovanna Cerise’s newest installation, Flash Back / Flash Forward. This is a complex piece, rooted in both the artist’s own perceptions of creativity and in the notion  – or perhaps that should be the temporal nature – of time as we generally tend to perceive it.

The core of the installation is a large, fractured structure. This seems to rise in multi-faceted tiers into the sky, but contains only a single level, reached via teleport – the large daisy at the base of the structure and a short walk from the landing point.  This level is divided into disparate rooms and corridors to present something of a maze in which none of the spaces are connected to its neighbours but must be reached by passing through the walls themselves. within some of the spaces can be found certain artefacts  –   a suitcase and oversized key, an easel, a hat and rose, images –  which we are left to interpret for ourselves.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

There is no set root through these spaces, although a list of SLurls those containing objects is supplied in the descriptive note card. Instead, visitors are encouraged to wander. In doing so, moving through the room and along the corridors becomes something of an optical experience. Scenes flicker in and out of our perception, colours flick and change – white, red, white – perspectives shift; self-awareness fluctuates as our avatars flips through different states. sometimes solid, other times an outline reflecting the shapes and images contained within walls, sometimes a shadow.

It’s a slightly confusing, perhaps disconcerting effect, heightened by the longer one walks through the installation, as images and colours and outlines flicker in and out of existence or flip from one to another before our eyes, become discrete moments in time revealed only to us in our passing. And time – as noted, is the core of things here.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Flash Back / Flash Forward is an examination of time at both the micro and the macro levels. On the micro, is an attempt to encapsulate the artist’s relationship with her work, from initial concept through development, to its completion, as seen trough the lens of time. The artist can only exist in the present, thus the development of a piece of art becomes an exercise in reflection and projection: the initial idea is reflected in the mirror of construction, which serves to project the work into the future, to its final state. There can be no viewpoint from outside the linear nature of time; no real ability of see the work as a fluid whole, from start to finish.

At the macro level, Flash Back / Flash Forward reminds us that our entire life is spent in “the present” – but “the present” is personal to each of us, an elusive, undefined space through which we each travel, sometimes overlapping with the space occupied by others. It is a space into which the past can intrude via memories which flicker, appear, vanish or even morph from point to point as our present is influenced by mood, desire, understanding, and so on. And always, the shifting nature of our present foreshadows what is yet to be, but never allows us to experience it until “the future” is our “present”.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

And so everything might be said to be chaotic, hence the form of the build and the random tumble of sights as we move through it. But within the chaos of the present are oases of calm; moments forever caught in time – and thus, the rooms Giovanna presents for us to find: The Dream; The Point of View; The Desire; The Lighteness; The Bird; The Impossible Choice.

This is a fascinating, intriguing installation, one which may require a careful reading of the supplied nots to fully grasp, but which is nevertheless beautifully executed.

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*For more on Split Screen’s situation, please read Split Screen Loses Its Home.

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Giovanna’s sky harbour in Second Life

The Last Harbour: sky platform
The Last Harbour: sky platform

In July 2016, Giovanna Cerise invited me to explore The Lost Harbour, her (then) new gallery space in Second Life, shortly before it opened to the public (see here). Occupying the north-east corner of a region, it’s a superb open-air exhibit space, and Giovanna recently extended it with the introduction of a new skyborne section, which can be reached via an Anywhere Door at The Last Harbour’s landing point  (just follow the arrows on the floor to the door), or alternatively, you can teleport directly to it.

The extension continues the theme found at the gallery’s ground level, offering a series of platforms on which elements and reproductions of Giovanna’s 3D installations are displayed, with her 2D work occupying panelled wall sections mirroring some of the floor areas on the ground level.

The Last Harbour: sky platform
The Last Harbour: sky platform

Of particular note to me on my arrival were two scale reproductions of elements from Giovonna’s Monochrome (open until the end of December 2016 and which I reviewed here), and her Ice Castle, which recently formed a part of her display at Holly Kai Park (see here). All of the pieces are offered for sale to the collector, and included a scripted resizer.

As a long-time admirer of Giovanna’s work, I can only say that the sky platform is a superb extension to The Last Harbour, offering an excellent reason for a re-visit  – or for those who have not taken the opportunity to drop in, to have twice the reason to jump over and enjoy Giovanna’s art.

The Last Harbour: sky platform
The Last Harbour: sky platform

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Giovanna’s Monochrome in Second Life

Monochrome - Giovanna Cerise
Monochrome – Giovanna Cerise

Open now through until the end of the year is Monochrome, a full region installation on three levels, designed and built by Giovanna Cerise. It’s a hard piece to quantify – if indeed it requires quantifying. Spread over its three levels, it presents three different environments / structures, offered in black, white and red respectively.

The black element is located at ground level, facing the landing point, with a teleport door providing to the next level – white – which then connects to the upper, red level. There is no specific windlight for the installation; visitors are encouraged to experiment with different times of day / settings.

Monochrome - Giovanna Cerise
Monochrome – Giovanna Cerise

Sitting over the water, the Black level presents a series of cubic and rectangular boxes rising into the sky, some interlinked and stacked like great square hills. Their walls are phantom, allowing visitors to walk  or fly through them (watch out for transparent floors when flying up!). Slender metal spars rise up around them, while string like strands loop through the air, threaded with cubes of their own.

At the centre of all this are three tall, cube-headed female figures. One stands threading a cube onto another metal-like strand, which is being fed to her by the seated and kneeling figures. One of these holds a pair of scissors, ready to cut the strand, presumably so it can also be set floating in the air once a suitable number of cubes have been threaded.

Monochrome - Giovanna Cerise
Monochrome – Giovanna Cerise

The pattern of cube-like rooms is repeated on the White level – only this time the cubes all occupy just one level, spread like a vast building across a white plain. Phantom in nature, they can again be walked through, only this time their walls can also be seen through from both sides. Once their bounds, this gives the feeling of being in some vast maze, one where many of the rooms have large magnifying glasses standing in their centres, while others are empty. Wandering through them, it is exceptionally easy to lose one’s sense of direction.

And on the upper Red level, lies a mass of red cubes, as if caught in a swirling wind lifting them into the air. At their centre is a red mass, like a congealed lump of spilled paint, on which four red figures appear caught in the same vortex, being pulled apart from the head down, their broken bodies rising and twirling together within the vortex, becoming a single strand rising into the sky, eventually to bind the spine of a huge red notebook.

Monochrome - Giovanna Cerise
Monochrome – Giovanna Cerise

All three levels offer intriguing montages. They challenge us to quantify them according to our own perception, by challenging that very perception as we study them each in turn. Is the binding of the book on the Red level really being drawn from the figures below, for example, or is it slowly unravelling from the book to fall and become those figures? And if it is, does this not alter our thinking about what is being portrayed here?

You decide.

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Giovanna’s Soul of Colours: a Magic Flute in Second Life

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute
Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

Now open at LEA 21 is the first part of Giovanna Cerise’s Soul of Colours, an installation which will unfold over the coming months. For this initial instalment, open through until the end of August, Giovanna presents Variations in The Magic Flute, based on the 2-act opera Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, K620) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an opera which has, in my opinion at least, one of the most rousing and engaging overtures ever written.

This is an installation which first appeared in-world some four years ago, and which takes the visitor on an interactive, allegorical journey of light, colour and sound through key elements of the opera, complete with extracts of the music from some of the key events in the unfolding story.

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute
Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

Premiered just two months before Mozart died prematurely, on September 30th, 1791, The Magic Flute is, at its heart, a love story, focusing on handsome Prince, Tamino and Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, and involving an additional tale of desire and love between Papageno and Papagena, as well as the aforementioned Queen of the Night and her handmaidens and the enlightened Sarastro and his retinue.

Within Variations in The Magic Flute, Giovanna invites visitors to engage on a journey through key scenes and events from the opera: the grove with its serpent, where Tamino is rescued by The Queen of the Night’s three ladies in the opening scene; an expression of the Queen’s anger from Act 2, Scene 3, Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (“Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart”); allegorical representations of Sarastro’s garden, pyramids and the Temple of the Ordeal / Temple of the Sun (which it is depends on your interpretation of the opera as you come to it).

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute
Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

Passage through these scenes and locations is a matter of ascension  – something which is itself an allegorical reflection of the opera’s story, following Tamino’s  rise from the Queen’s deception into the enlightenment of Sarastro’s benevolence and also the rising triumph he and Pamina share in overcoming their individual trials and tribulations to finally be united in their love.

Passage between the levels / scenes are via crystal staircases (also triangular in shape, reflecting the pyramids of Sarastro’s domain), although you can fly if you wish. I’d personally recommend the former, as the latter does run the risk of missing things.

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute
Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

The interactive elements come in the form of music spheres which will play excerpts from the opera,together with locations where you can sit, and animations which will place you within some of the scenes. You can, for example, be tossed around by the vengeance which rocks the Queen’s dark heart.

I have no idea of the direction Soul of Colours will take from the start of September. I will, however, say that as I missed Variations in The Magic Flute when it was first displayed, I’m delighted to be able to visit it this time around; Giovanna and I appear to share something of the same taste for musical inspiration. With this piece, she has captured the essence of the story through a marvellous symbolism, while the use of light perfectly captures the heart of the music.

And with that said, I’ll leave you with the original overture as a prelude to a visit.

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