Persona: emotions and self in Second Life

Kondor Art Centre Main Gallery: Hermes Kondor – Persona

Now open at the Kondor Art Centre Main Gallery is Persona, an intriguing selection of Second Life / Avatar-based images by the art centre’s owner and curator, Hermes Kondor. Intriguing, as that selection of images on display have apparently been selected by Janjii devling – although whether from Hermes’ existing collection of works or from a series of images specifically produced by Hermes with the intent to be used in this exhibition, I have no idea.

The 20+ images are a further tour de force of Hermes’ work as an artist. Each is a rich, digital collage study with an avatar focus. Either presenting a layering of colour or one if monochrome tones, each is a genuinely multi-faceted piece, a glimpse into a life offered through its layered, almost sharded finish, some of which offer a sense of the abstract, others touch upon the surreal, but each one carrying its own narrative. Collectively, these are all exceptionally tactile pieces – they draw out the desire to touch them as much as they call on us to study them and decipher their story.

According to the liner notes accompanying the exhibition, the narrative in each of these images is an intent to explore the idea of persona, the idea that we project facets of our personality depending on circumstance and audience. While this is very true as a theme within the images here, I found it to be somewhat too narrow a view, because while there is a projection of persona in these images, there is a far greater depth of emotion and a capturing of emotional expression.

Kondor Art Centre Main Gallery: Hermes Kondor – Persona

To be fair, this is touched upon within the liner notes, but it is this emotional expressionism that really comes to the fore in viewing the images. In some it is offered directly through the eyes of the subject in the image, or their expression(s), in others it is more subtle – such as the suggestion of music in Persona 091 for example. Of course, emotions and projection  / persona are inter-related, the one tends to give rise to the other; nevertheless so, allowing the mind to explore the former rather than attempting to define the latter – again for me – offered a richer experience.

These are also pieces that, whilst clearly the product of considered experimentation with software, the use of colour or tones, the structured nature of the layering within them, are obviously the result of a cartesian process, both on the part of the software itself (for obvious reasons), and the artist himself. This separates them from what we might regard as “traditional” abstract expressionism in works of art, which tends to be marked by a certain spontaneity, but it also offers a doorway into the medium of digital abstractionism  / abstract expressionism that has a unique richness of its own. Further, and in keeping with the works of Rothko, Newman and Still, these are pieces that carry a strength of symbolism that offers s further narrative avenue awaiting exploration.

Kondor Art Centre Main Gallery: Hermes Kondor – Persona

Evocative, rewarding, challenging and engaging, Personas offers multiple threads of exploration and interpretation. However, when visiting, I would perhaps suggest avoiding reading the posted curator and guest notes that sit on the gallery’s walls along with the images; not because they are in any way “wrong” or anything, but rather because doing so might constrain thinking around, and appreciation of, the images in their own right.

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A Dialogue in sculpture and art in Second Life

Kondor Art Garden, Dialogue Exhibition by Artemis and Hermes

I was back at the Kondor Art Centre, operated and curated by Hermes Kondor, just a few days after witnessing and writing about Melusina Parkin’s Lockdown and Hope (see here for more). The occasion for such a reasonably quick return was the opening of a new exhibition.

Located in the Art Garden at Kondor Art Centre, Dialogue Exhibition by Artemis and Hermes presents the remarkable sculptures of Artemis (ArtemisGreece) displayed alongside Hermes’ art.

It’s a part of my desire to create a place for different Art and Cultural expressions – music, art, conferences, readings, and more; a garden display of Artemis’ sculptures and my photographic interpretations of them.

Hermes Kondor

Kondor Art Garden, Dialogue Exhibition by Artemis and Hermes

Hailing from Greece, Artemis was attracted to Second Life due to it many opportunities for creativity and expression. She initially found an outlet building houses, but wanted to be more expressive. Whilst not a trained artist, she taught herself to use tools like PhotoShop and Blender, and moved to producing and selling sculptures and 3D designs, developing a portfolio of work, ranging, encompassing everything from neo-classical pieces through to humorous pieces (yes, you can have a farm cat riding bicycle!) and figures of musicians, as well as more general items – frames, cushions, etc.

For this exhibition we are presented with eight individual pieces that brings together elements of her work that lean toward  neo-classical pieces that appear to be cast from brass, and figurines that look to have been cast and painted, to a complete set of her Chamber Orchestra collection.

Kondor Art Garden, Dialogue Exhibition by Artemis and Hermes

These are genuinely marvellous pieces, many encompassing themes, ideas and  or statements, some animated to add depth to their story / increase appreciation of their form. All are offered for sale to those who wish to purchase them. And believe me when I say these are pieces that will grace almost any setting; so much so, I could not resist obtaining a copy of Woman Makes The World Go Round for our garden; while those seeking something a little more special, Artemis presents an exclusive twin set Out of the Box.

Partnering the sculptures are ten pieces of Hermes’ digital art, rendered with his use of Second Life’s wireframe mode (see: Behind the Scenes in Second Life), but here given additional depth through an expressive use of colour.

Some of these images are placed as a backdrop to the sculpture they represent, as is the case with, for example Artemis Sculptures – 010 and Artemis Sculptures – 026; others stand a little more apart from their inspiration – but all of them a depth of narrative to accompany the pieces they represent. Artemis Sculptures – 010, for example, tells the story of how a dancer is inspired by the figure of The Ballerina, while Artemis Sculptures – 021 brings together a tale of Artemis’ Chamber Orchestra playing for the benefit of her Dancing Couple, in a tale of music, dance and romance.

Kondor Art Garden, Dialogue Exhibition by Artemis and Hermes

Individually, Artemis’ sculptures and Hermes’ art are each captivating to witness and appreciate; together they make for an enchanting exhibition that should not be missed – and don’t forget the telephone station connecting the art garden with the rest of the Kondor Art Centre.

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Behind the Scenes in Second Life

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

Hermes Kondor is a photographer and artist I’ve come to greatly admire since first witnessing his work in 2020. Whether presenting his photography from the physical world or his digital art, Hermes has a remarkable range of artistic expression that always engages the eye and the brain. Given this, his Kondor Art Centre with its multiple art spaces, always makes for a worthwhile visit – as I noted in The art of Hermes Kondor in Second Life.

On January 7th, 2021, Hermes opened his latest exhibition, providing an excellent reason to both appreciate his artistic vision and to explore his art centre. Entitled SL Behind the Scenes, he presents a portfolio of art made within Second Life, but with a truly unique perspective, originating as they do with images taken while running the viewer in Wireframe mode.

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

For those unfamiliar with Wireframe – or wire-frame model, it is the the visual representation of a three-dimensional (3D) physical object used in 3D computer graphics. As such it is common in all virtual environments, be they games, animations using computer graphics, environments such as Second Life, and so on. In the case of SL, the underpinning wireframe model can be revealed via the Developer menu (under the rendering sub-menu) or by pressing SHIFT-CTRL-R (use the same option / shortcut to turn wireframe off again).

The mode has a number of uses in SL (particularly where content creation is concerned). However, I’m not going to delve into them in what is an arts review. Suffice it to say that if you’ve not witnessed the wireframe view of SL before, it can be both confusing and intriguing – and for Hermes, it offered a new way to present images of the places and events he’s recently visited.

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

The result is a fascinating collection of compositions that, whilst originally captured in wireframe mode, have been richly post-processed and composited (possibly with “natural” images of the same scenes, although I’m by no means sure of this) to focus on specific elements within the captured scene to present us with views of Second Life that are genuinely unique and contain a marvellous sense of narrative.

Some 22 images are presented across the two floors of the gallery, each one using solid colour to draw the eye into their detail and frame its story, whilst careful elimination of aspects of the wireframe helps to add further depth and provides a quite enticing sense of life and / or motion to many of them.

Hermes Kondor: SL Behind the Scenes

Visually stunning, SL Behind the Scenes takes us into Second Life in a most individual manner That genuinely sets this exhibition of places and art in Second Life well apart from others, offering as it does – as Hermes notes – an opportunity to draw back the curtain and see into “the Matrix” of Second Life.

Highly recommended – and don’t forget to use the teleport disk outside of the gallery to visit the rest of the facilities at the centre.

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Beyond Space and Time in Second Life

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

October 28th, 2020 saw the opening of a new gallery space at the Kondor Art Centre, the centre for the art of Hermes Kondor, an artist and photographer for whom I’ve developed a strong appreciation. Occupying a space-aged building designed by Beth Delaunay (Isilmeriel) entitled Into The Future, the gallery is intended to be the home of “new creative projects and ideas”.

The first exhibition within it is entitled Beyond Space and Time, a set of stunning images that combine digital creations textured with Hermes’ own photographs from the physical world. And when I say “stunning”, I’m not using hyperbole.

These are pieces that, although produced via digital means, have a deep organic feel and look that gives them a sense of life and vitality that just holds the attention. Such is this sense of life that, despite the metallic look with the primary forms in them, the mind is drawn to wonder if they are exotic lifeforms or living machines travelling through space to observe distant worlds, gathering strength in the yellow radiation of distant suns, or hurtling through the interstellar medium at relativistic speeds.

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

A closer look at them, particularly the “reflections” on their surfaces created through the use of Hermes’ physical world photographs, adds to this idea – and also turns in on its head. Within these “reflections” can be seen many of Hermes’ photographs of plants.

They suggest that what we’re looking at has been seen via a macro lens, powerful enough to reveal exotic new lifeforms travelling amidst the plants and flora of our own world. Or might it be these “reflections” are actually a part of these creature, these craft; patterns on their metallic-like skins or hulls,  or even part of their complex interiors, their surfaces actually bring semi-transparent?

The choice of what they might be is totally yours to interpret – and therein lies the magic of Beyond Space and Time – within the extraordinary set of themed images is the freedom to allow the imagination unfettered freedom of flight when appreciating them.

The Kondor Art Centre: Beyond Space and Time

Another remarkable exhibition from a genuinely gifted photographer and artist. when visiting, make sure you set your viewer to Midnight, and reduce your draw distance so that the surrounding skyboxes don’t distract from the art when on the rooff of the gallery building.

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The art of Hermes Kondor in Second Life

Hermes Kondor: Reflections

In July I wrote about an exhibition of physical world photographs by Hermes Kondor, available at his own Kondor Photo Gallery (see: The beauty of steam machines in Second Life). However, that gallery is only a part of a complex that Hermes has put together, so I decided to hop back for a further look. The complex comprises several individual areas linked by a teleport disc system. These facilities comprise: a boulevard of rental studios for artists, an attractively Deco night club, and three galleries – including the photo gallery noted above – and a studio/gallery used to display Hermes’ SL avatar studies.

Hermes’ primary gallery is the Kondor Art Centre, which at the time of my visit was home to an exhibition entitled Reflections.

I invite you to join on a journey deep inside a magical lake, where we will find strange and beautiful creatures, lightbeings and gates to an alternative reality, deep inside a garden of fantasy and wonder.

– Hermes Kondor, describing his exhibit Reflections

Hermes Kondor: Reflections

This is a collection of 24 digital images that are truly remarkable in their content and depth. At their heart, each image features a mix of light, water (that of the magical lake) and and the reflections of the exhibit’s title. The majority of the pictures feature macro views of plant elements presented in such a way as to suggest they indeed from some alien – as in unknown – environment; alien, and yet somehow familiar.

Beautifully composited and and framed, these are images that are entirely captivating in their use of colour and light to create a rich sensation of living creatures of the imagination.

Hermes Kondor: Flowers

Plants and macro photography are also the subject of the images displayed within the Kondor Art Garden. Here, sixteen close-up images of garden flowers, each again perfectly framed through the aforementioned macro lens, again offering a considered balance of light and depth of field that makes for another quite entrancing collection of photographs, each one deeply attractive.

For those who enjoy images produced in Second Life can visit the Kondor Photo Studio. This is both a gallery and a studio, presenting a series of avatar studio by Hermes. Those interested in engaging him for a photo session should contact Hermes directly.

Hermes Kondor: Flowers

As noted above, I first came across Hermes work in his exhibition of photographs taken at the Electricity Museum, Lisbon, Portugal. I was immediately taken by those images, which can still be enjoyed at the Kondor Photo Gallery,  and admit to be utterly taken by his work in touring the rest of the gallery facilities he operates.

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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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