Arnno’s city life art in Second Life

IMAGOLand Suburbs Gallery, April 2022: Arnno Planer

Arnno Planer is a self-described Second Life “snapoholic”, whose work I first encountered at the 2020 Movember art exhibition organised by JMB Balogh at the Men in Motion gallery. At the time I was struck by the natural arc and look of his avatar studies, so I was pleased to be able to see more of his work thanks to the April 19th, 2022 opening of an exhibition entitled La Ville, La Vie (The City, The Life).

Hosted by Mareea Farrasco as a part of her ever-evolving IMAGOLand cultural facilities (albeit on a separate region), the exhibition is being held with the Suburbs gallery space.

IMAGOLand Suburbs Gallery, April 2022: Arnno Planer

Be that as it may, La Ville, La Vie is located within a pair of hanger-like buildings that sit side-by-side, and presents a genuinely engaging and rich selection of both colour and monochrome male avatar studies. Some sit as what might be regarded as the more “traditional” form of avatar study, either portraiture or as a single framed story; others are more subtle in their message; several skilfully depict what might be regards (at least in places like the UK, America and Canada) “typically” French elements or touches.

Take Burning ManLacheTon Number, Beyound and Un Seul Coq. all are beautifully composed and framed as might be found in the pages of a high fashion magazine or through a Flickr photo stream covering SL fashion, with Un Seul Coq, offering a little nod-and-wink to us on the role of the model in such photos.

IMAGOLand Suburbs Gallery, April 2022: Arnno Planer

Or take Metagorique and Degaine; two quite marvellous monochrome studies, each richly layered in potential interpretation. Taken in context of city and life, Metagorique might be seen as reminding us that not everything about city life is bustle, business, happiness and fashion; Degaine meanwhile, whilst suggesting the invincibility of youth, is captured in such a way as to evoke classic French cinematography of a bygone era.

And then there is the quite marvellous Rat Race, symbolising the whole clean / dirty nature of city life (the out-of-focus gleaming lights of soaring towers contrasting with litter and detritus of daily city life on which rats and other perceived pests survive sharply defined in the foreground), whilst also personifying the whole mad rush of modern life and consumerism: the tossed-way waste of an empty coffee cup, the bright new trainers and the manner in which one foot is raised as if to crush the rat’s head (a trick of perspective, clearly, but nevertheless a visceral portrayal of many go through life, stepping on those around them in a pointless race to the top).

IMAGOLand Suburbs Gallery, April 2022: Arnno Planer

Wherever you look within this selection of 22 pieces, you will find something that captures the eye and fires the imagination, making La Ville, La Vie an exhibition that should be seen.

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The art of Sophie de Saint Phalle in Second Life

IMAGOLand: Sophie de Saint – The Art of Water and Colour

Recently opened at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGOLand Gallery (level 1B), is an exhibition of art by Austrian artists Sophie de Saint Phalle (Perpetua1010). Entitled The Art of Water and Colours, it offers a selection of Sophie’s work which may also serve as an introduction to her broader portfolio of work than can be found at her own gallery spaces, of which more in a moment.

The Art of Water and Colour, as the name suggests, showcases a selection of Sophie’s watercolour pieces that might be split broadly into two categories: landscapes and life studies, although all of them are simply captivating that speak to a talent steeped in, and with an innate understanding of, art and artistic expression.

IMAGOLand: Sophie de Saint – The Art of Water and Colour

Such is the beauty and skill found within these pieces, none of them really need any form of exposition here; each speaks plainly and clearly as to it’s subject and nature – and to Sophie’s skill as artist and teacher. Each is presented in a style that befits its subject, from the more abstract seen within Bodensee and the pair of “Namibia” scenes, through to the ink-and wash studies of the human form to the sheer beauty and power of Tanz (Dance), these are very much are pieces that speak for themselves.

As noted, these pieces can form an excellent introduction to Sophie’s work, and for those who haven’t witnessed it previously, I would strongly recommend a visit to The Art of Water and Colours be combined with time at Sophie’s own gallery, the SUBCUTAN Art Gallery and Multimedia centre.

SUBCUTAN Art Gallery: Sophie de Saint – Red Expressions

Here, across four galleries spaces one can more fully appreciate Sophie’s sheer versatility. From further studies of the human form through digital art that is as captivating to – at the time of my visit – the most glorious selection of political caricatures that are both fun and; this a richly diverse tour de force of art.

Set within a series of futuristic buildings by Colpo Wexler, which I know from experience – and as SUBCUTAN proves – are ideal as gallery spaces,  SUBCUTAN also encompasses a small club and an information centre, which is rounded out by a fascinating media display that steps the visitor through her creative process in producing Lazy Afternoon, copies of which can be purchased on the upper floor of the main gallery.

SUBCUTAN Art Gallery: Sophie de Saint – Political Caricatures 

For those with a love of art from the physical world, Sophie’s work is not to be missed; whether you explore it through her exhibition at IMAGOLand or via her gallery – or both, for as long as The Art of Water and Colour is open – I cannot commend it strongly enough.

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Bamboo’s Mindstorm in Second Life

IMAGOLand Gallery 3: Bamboo Barnes

Currently open at Gallery 3 of Mareea Farrasco’s MAGOLand is Mindstorm, an exhibition of art by Bamboo Barnes which opened on October 6th, 2021.

Hailing from Japan, Bamboo is, as I’ve frequently noted, one of the most vibrant, evocative, provocative, and emotive artists displaying her work in Second Life. She is also an artist unafraid of plumbing the depth of emotion and introspection – and this is again true with Mindstorm, which presents a series of images she has been working on for “a few years”.

The best way to describer this exhibition is to perhaps use Bamboo’s own words:

When you are feeling low, isolated, misunderstood.
Look at your disturbed soul pretending it never hurts,
The ocean of the pain roar to sweep all the goodness from you so you can feel the bottom.
Like the wind and the tide, there are no keys to open the sea, keep you face over the surface to keep the breath.
When the sun is up your skin is dry, start feel it’s in the past, then life goes on, there’s another day.
Don’t know what will come tomorrow, beneath the surface there is mindstorm.

Bamboo Barnes, describing Mindstorm

IMAGOLand Gallery 3: Bamboo Barnes

Presented in Bamboo’s familiar bold colours, the 16 images within the exhibit are joined by a number of 3rd part 3D pieces she has also textured, which together offer very visual statements on state-of-mind / relationships, which through presentation and colour emphasis speak loudly to mood and feelings.

As introspective pieces, these might be seen – not incorrectly – as reflections of Bamboo’s moods. Again, and as I’ve note before, her work is strongly bound with her mood, whether drawn directly from the emotions of life or as a result of the music to which she is listening while creating a piece. However, and as her own notes for the exhibition state, these are pieces to which anyone who has weathered feelings of isolation – not so much as a result of the on-going pandemic, but due to circumstances of life such as the ending of a relationship or an (obtuse?) misunderstanding directed towards you or the hurt inflected by the actions or words of another, and so on –  can identify.

IMAGOLand Gallery 3: Bamboo Barnes

I’m not sure how long Mindstorm is set to run, but I do recommend it as an exhibition worthy of seeing.

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Please use the teleport disk from the landing point below to reach the gallery.

Moni’s Images of Decay in Second Life

IMAGOLand: Monique Beebe – Images of Decay

There is something about Monique Beebe’s avatar-centric images that never fails to attract my attention. Her work has a unique blend of art, narrative, post-processing skill, and layering that allows her to create single-frame stories that carry a depth of mean that demands the attention of the eye and mind.

This is once again the case with Images of Decay, which opened at Mareea Farrasco’s IMAGOLand (Gallery 1b – use the teleport disk at the landing point) on September 2nd. Here Moni offers a selection of images with a central theme which wraps itself in layer of possible interpretation – whilst also allowing the observer to view them as intriguing studies in the use of light, colour and balance to present a captivating self-portrait.

The title of the exhibition – Images of Decay – might sound a little off-putting, but as noted, it can be taken on a number of levels. Predominantly offered in dark dark tones and colours – burnt umber, burgundy reds, shades of black and grey, these are intentionally “dark” images, each piece post-processed to add a rusting, metallic look to it, a discolouration that marks face, breast, arm, and so on. In some of the images, it is highly pronounced, in others it is more of a mottling. In one or two cases, due to the use of projected light and post-processed filters, it is subtle enough to give the impression of tattooing.

IMAGOLand: Monique Beebe – Images of Decay

As a first interpretation, this filtering / colouring might be seen as simple expressive colour play on the part of the artist. On another, and taking the title of the exhibition into consideration, they might be might be seen as experiments in giving a sense of age / the passage of time to the images themselves. It might also be taken as a reflection of life itself, and the undeniable fact that we are all doomed to grow older, age, whither, die and decay; that the beauty / vitality we have today is actual impermanent – but in being so, it is also part of life’s greater cycle.

This latter layer narrative is perhaps most clearly seen within the trio of images Girl, Lady, Woman, the idea of aging is clearly represented in the images as we take each in turn. So so might they also speak to how society can perceive women as they age, and our beauty is seen as fading over time (or to put it another way, decaying with the passage of time).

IMAGOLand: Monique Beebe – Images of Decay

There is an emotional content present within these pieces that adds additional layers to them. Many either directly or indirectly draw attention to the subject – to Moni’s – eyes, be it through the use of masks or eye shadow to highlight them, or face masks bubble gum or even  the wrap of a turban to obscure other parts of the face or the eyes themselves. In this way, we are drawn to each image and inhabit the emotions we might perceive as being present within them. Elsewhere, this emotional content is transmitted through the use of pose and lighting.

In places, this emotional element speaks directly to the idea of decay and the passage of time, in others, in other, the idea of decay emphasises the emotional content of a piece. Take, for example, Innocence and Light of Sadness. Within them the colours of decay do much to convey the essential emotion within them – the loss of innocence if the former, and the pain of sadness in the latter.

IMAGOLand: Monique Beebe – Images of Decay

Taken individually as as a whole, this is another richly engaging exhibition by Moni, one that should not be missed.

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Visiting IMAGOLand’s new home in Second life

IMAGOLand, April 2021

I’ve been visiting Mareena Farrasco’s IMAGO art gallery in its various forms for the last few years (check the IMAGOLand tag  in this blog). However, and as Shawn Shakespeare recently reminded me, I haven’t dropped in to see it since Mareena relocated and expanded its offerings using her IMAGOLand title.

The new location continues to offer art exhibitions – the galleries now located in skyboxes, rather than using the ground level’s open spaces as once was the case for IMAGO. Waht’s more, they share the sky with a number of other public areas which are connected to the ground via a teleport network.

IMAGOLand, April 2021

The ground itself presents an open, low-lying island which is probably best thought of as offering a series of populated vignettes rather than having a contiguous theme stretching through it. There’s no set landing point, so I’ve arbitrarily selected a location nor far from the region’s centre, where sits a teleport disk and a directory of destinations (sit on the disk for the menu dialogue in order to TP rather than touching the directory).

Close by is one of the vignettes: an open-air dance floor and stage where an Animesh band is playing.  Most of them appear to be engaged in a ballad of some kind, although one of the guitarists looks as if she’s off in a hard rock / metal riff of her own!

IMAGOLand, April 2021

Beyond this stage lies a bar where patrons and staff are engaged in coming, greetings and reading – and thus the frame of the island is set: simply wander the landscape and you’ll come across much such settings, some large, others small. Some can be reached via the teleport system, but it’s honestly worth taking the time to wander on foot, as there are some that can be easily missed just hopping point-to-point. The use of static and Animesh NPCs helps to give the setting an interesting sense of life – particularly along the beach (although I wouldn’t recommend arguing with the seagulls laying claim to the little rowing boats – they are big enough to make their objections felt!).

When you feel you’ve seen all the ground has to offer, the teleport system can be used to reach the gallery spaces. At the time of my visit, these were home to exhibitions by Mareena and Carelyna (Carelyna Resident).

IMAGOLand Gallery #1: Mareena Farrasco – Painting the Summer

In Gallery 1, Mareena presents Painting the Summer, an utterly gorgeous collection of rendered paintings taken from around Second Life that capture the warmth and delight of slow summer days, both in subject and the muted tones used in their post-processing.

Looking through the images within the exhibition, I realised that Mareena and I are frequently drawn to similar focal points for our images – notably bicycles and rowing boats. However, Mareena has a superb talent not only for turning her images into watercolour-like works of art, she also frames them in a way that tells a story  – a technique I have yet to come anywhere near achieving; these are painting that you feel you could simply step into and explore, or join her as she sits or stands in contemplation within some of them.

IMAGOLand Gallery #1: Mareena Farrasco – Painting the Summer

Red Alert is the title of Carelyna’s striking and evocative exhibit, occupying the second gallery space and featuring 15 large format images together with a series of oversized props.

It may at first be difficult to assess whether there is a central theme within this selection that reaches beyond the predominant use of red within all of them. However, closer examination of each image together with its title helps crystallise the theme of danger  – hence Red Alert – each represents.

IMAGOLand Gallery#2: Carelyna – Red Alert

This danger spans the personal – as seen in the likes of Femme Flamme, with its essence of la femme fatale, Addiction, Alone With Myself with its suggestion of isolation and depression – to more global themes of concern such as global warming (Crying out for Rain and the Titular Red Alert) and ecological disaster (Burning Forest. some, like Never Enough…. appear to span both personal and global excesses (personal exemplified in the idea of spending too much time in the Sun; global suggested by the vivid red and the loss of our protective ozone).

Rendered in styles that range from painting to etching, and which mix elements of abstraction and expressionism, this is a genuinely stylish collection of images that can be appreciated both for the artistry involved in each piece and for the interweaving of ideas and expressions.

IMAGOLand Gallery#2: Carelyna – Red Alert
Beyond the galleries,the teleport network can also be used to reach a photographic studio(although props cannot be rezzed even by group members) and a little setting called Storyteller Burrow, which I admit I’m not clear on as to its purpose. These share the same platform with one another and a small club space, although the latter was not connected to the teleport system at the time of my visit., so many or may not be part of the main facilities within the region.

Art remains the primary attraction at IMAGOLand, although the ground level offers its own attractions as well. As such, I look forward to seeing what future exhibitions are unveiled here.

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Broken Mountain is rated Moderate.

Landscapes at IMAGOLand in Second Life

Imago Gallery – Tresore Prada, February 2021

Currently open at Imago Gallery, owned and curated by Mareea Farrasco is an ensemble exhibition entitled Landscapes and featuring the work of Blip Mumfuzz, Carelyna, Michiel Bechir and Tresore Prada. Together they present views of regions and places within Second Life that encourage a desire to visit them whilst also allowing us a glimpse at them through the artists’ eyes and narrative framing.

Within the gallery’s lower floor left side hall, Tresore Prada offers thirteen pieces that might be said to reveal places within Second Life, but also the passing of the seasons from winter to summer and mixing cooler shades that might suggest spring and autumn.

These are pieces that all immediately draw the eye and offer a story;  whose house is that beyond the snow-bound bridge? Does it belong to the artist, or to a friend they were on their way through the deep snow to visit? Has the cat lying on the sun-warmed wall simply found a place to rest whilst wandering, or does it call the little cottage across a summery river home? What are the promises to be found off the canvas of each of the trio of images depicting little boats on or near the water? The threads of possible stories exist within each piece, simply awaiting you imagination to thread them together.

Imago Gallery – Carelyna, February 2021

Across the hall, Carelyna also presents a baker’s dozen of images, all of which have been processed and finished to offer a painted-like composition of the settings she has captured. Suggestive of a mix of oil and watercolour works, these offer some unique perspectives on popular SL destinations. Take Littlesquaw’s Midnight in Paris (which I wrote about back in November 2020) as an example; normally witnessed at night by visitors, Carelyna here offers a view across its rive Seine towards the Eiffel Tower rich in the colours and tints of an Autumn day. On the opposite wall, her take of Takoma presents a impressionist style take on the subject that brings to mind the likes of Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire.

The upper floor of the gallery is split between an open mezzanine area and a second hall running across the back of the gallery. The mezzanine is home to the display by Michiel Bechir, who offers a selection of eight images that stand not only as landscape pieces but also studies of the architecture of Second Life, with two focused as they are on a large manor house seen under different conditions with two more  presenting views of settings redolent of older parts of US cities like New York. Offered as both colour and monochrome images, this selection allows us to see the diversity of Michiel’s approach to, and presentation of, his SL photography.

Imago Gallery – Michiel Bechir, February 2021

In the rear hall, Blip Mumfuzz presents a series of images in her own inimitable style. Far removed from might be called “conventional”, they border on the abstract; rich in colour, their form taken by the rise of grasses against the sky, against a backdrop of open water or curtain of tress. Frequently flecked by by out-of-focus elements dotting the air above them, these are pieces that are very much reflective of the moment in which they were captured – the soft-focus elements suggestive of seeds caught on the breeze, carrying with the the promise of new life; the colours reflecting the fact that these are not images of places just seen, but places both seen and re-imagined by the mind’s eye in the same instant.

Blip’s exhibition is also semi-immersive: climb the steps and  walk the photo-mural of the stream;  imagine the coolness of the water about your feet and look out into the scenes on either side and both in front of you and behind you, and let your mind wander free…

Imago Gallery – Blip Mumfizz, February 2021

Four very individual and very captivating exhibitions well work dropping in to see.

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