From the Worlds to the World in Second Life

From Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

From the Worlds to the World is a new installation by Giovanna Cerise at the R&D Gallery, Diotima, in Second Life. Occupying the entire gallery space, this is a complex installation to unravel, incorporating as it does elements of post-modernism, philosophy, logical progression, nature, geometry – whilst also, perhaps, promoting a discussion on what is the role of past and present in influencing the future.

Produced entirely in black-and-white, this is perhaps a stark piece, but there is a natural symmetry to it. Set against a black surround, the white forms within the installation are made up of geometric elements denoted by fine black lines – geometry being both a basic expression of both nature and intelligence. In all, the installation comprises three parts, perhaps analogous to the concepts of past, present and future, and which represent the evolution of intelligence.

From the Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

“The first part of the installation can be seen as an archetype of nature, now incorporated and reduced to its geometries,” Giovanna states in introducing the work. Given the overall framework of the installation, I’d venture the opinion that in this instance archetype is being used to reference Jungian archetypes – universal, archaic patterns and images from the collective unconscious which form inherited potentials, which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures – and the idea that as universal patterns within the collective unconscious, they exist as a kind of primordial suspension, without individual structure and form.

Thus, in this first second of the installation, we are confronted with a chaotic form, uneven, broken, but with its geometry holding the promise of potential, of becoming individually / culturally and collectivity more.

From the Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

From this the installation progresses through and initial shape and patterns in which human forms can be seen – a reference, it would seem to the rise of intelligence and self. A time when we shape and drive the world around us, while being both apart from it (humanity over nature?), yet wholly constrained by it – as evidenced by the shapes rising and folding out of, so to speak, the same geometric forms as seen in the initial part of the installation.

Beyond these lies the future: a place where individually no longer exists per se, and the identical reigns. A point at which intelligence has homogenised, There is no need for bodies nor the baser needs of humanity. Life has again become unified, archetypes woven together through their universality. A time has been reached where individuality or culture are no longer required. Nor is there need for dialectical discussion or reasoning; all that is required is uniformity and experiential growth and perfection of the whole.

From the Worlds to the World – Giovanna Cerise

As a representation discussion of the evolution of intelligence, From the Worlds to the World (“worlds” and “world” perhaps again a reference from separate cultural environments and attitudes to the single, homogeneous “whole”) is – as noted – a complex piece. While it may well point to a time where dialectical discourse is no longer required, it nevertheless encourages it, just as it also promotes more philosophical consideration of our own development and growth. Are we really to rise from the “primordial” homogeneity of initial instinctual intelligence to a point where the potential of the individual (be it person or cultural) is to be only a span of time before we are once again absorbed into a single whole once again, uniform of thought and goal?

These latter elements: the opportunity for considered thought and discussion make  – for those willing to dwell on interpreting the installation – From the Worlds to the World an ideal opportunity for a shared visit.

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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.

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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Giovanna’s Last Harbour in Second Life

The Last Harbour: Self control and Eve
The Last Harbour: Self control and Eve

“I had been thinking for some time about having a place,” Giovanna Cerise said as we stood at the landing point of her new exhibition space, The Lost Harbour, which officially opens on Thursday, July 14th. “Some time ago I had a gallery, and many people have asked me if I would have a regular place where they could see my work and so I decided to make one.”

If I’m totally honest, Giovanna having a space in she can freely display her art once more is well overdue. Whether it takes one of her large-scale immersive pieces such as Tristan und Isolde or The Eternal Suspense (to name but two), or her smaller pieces, as seen in her recent Retrospective , her work is beautifully exquisite and quite marvellous to see. I was therefore excited to learn about The Lost Harbour, and delighted to spend time visiting with her ahead of the opening.

The Last Harbour
The Last Harbour

Occupying the north-east corner of a region, The Last Harbour is a fabulous setting for Giovanna’s work, beautifully laid out and presented to visitors. From the landing point, a series of platforms sit on the waters of the parcel, connected by transparent and translucent tiles from the aforementioned Tristan und Isolde. These form both a display space and a walkway passing across the parcel.

On the seaward side of the parcel sit four pieces which those familiar with Giovanna’s work may recognise as being from some of her past installations. On the landward side, against the boundary wall, are more pieces, notably her black pen line images and forms mindful of installations like Line, together 3D pieces, such as Breeze, a piece best appreciated by camming around and through it, rather than simply regarding it whilst stood still.

The Last Harbour
The Last Harbour

Between these two sides is a stepped platform on which are displayed four new studies, comprising single and paired figures. “I wanted to do some new work,” Giovanna told me as we studied them. “In recent times I have worked mostly for large installations. I wanted to focus my ideas and my inspiration on smaller works.”

She continued, “Each of them expresses an idea; a thought emotion. Pandora, Eve, Self Control, Stranger, The Unbearable Lightness of Being … symbolic names.” Symbolic they may be, but they are also deeply intimate; one doesn’t so much observe each of these figures; one becomes a part of each of their stories, a confidante in their expression, if you will.

The Last Harbour: the beach
The Last Harbour: the beach

This is a place where wandering, sitting and contemplation are welcomed. “I imagined a place to walk among the works of art and even then relax by the sea,” Giovanna said, indicating the arched wall along one side of the exhibition space. Passing through this will indeed bring you to a little beach, beautifully landscapes and with seats in which visitors can relax, as well as little beach house, while hovering over the sandy tide are the sirens from Il Folle Volo (The Mad Flight).

The Last Harbour formally opens at 13:00 SLT on Thursday, July 14th at 13.00 SLT. My congratulations to Giovanna in establishing the space, and my thanks to her as well, for allowing me to pop over and spend time with her discussing it.

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