Geometry, water and the cosmos in Second Life

Kondor Art Centre: Nils Urqhart – The Beauty of Moving Water

Hermes Kondor is keeping busy in his work in making the Kondor Art Centre a hub of artistic expression  featuring 2D art from the physical world and 2D and 3D art from the the virtual. Over the course of the last month, three exhibitions have opened which, while I’ve visited all three, I’ve allowed to get stacked up within my backlog of blogging.

The longest-running of the three, and therefore the one I’ve getting to first – is another stunning exhibition of real world photography by Nils Urqhart. Famed for his photographs of the Alps and mountains of France, Nils here presents an engaging series entitled The Beauty of Moving Water, a collection of photographs featuring mountain streams, rapids and falls, all of which appear to have been taken in the spring months when winter meltwater was running free.

Kondor Art Centre: Nils Urqhart – The Beauty of Moving Water

Still these images may be, but in keeping with the title of the exhibit, each carries a tremendous sense of motion, from the foam kicked-up by a waters in spate striking mid-stream rocks or the way in which sunlight reflects off of water in a pond and highlight the splash of moss colouring the flanks of rocks or enhances the plants lining the banks of streams.

And, of course there is a sense of life and motion present in every photo – from the afore mentioned above to the the rush and fall of water down sheer or steps faces of rock.  It reminds us of both the importance of water to life here on the planet and also its power: water doesn’t just flow over rock, it shapes and sculpts it over time, smoothing rough and points edges to smooth curves, carving the land, allowing life to flourish around it. Thus through these pieces we witness the full beauty of nature.

Kondor Art Centre: Aneli Abeyante

Located in the Kondor White Gallery is another exhibition focused on motion – albeit it very different in content and design. Untitled, it focuses on digital art of a most hypnotic form, created by Aneli Abeyante, who might be better know for running her own gallery, La Maison d’Aneli, a place I’ve had the the privilege of visiting and writing about on many occasions.

However, Aneli is an accomplished artist in her own right – although the exhibition at the Kondor White Gallery is something of a departure for her, as she explains in her introduction to the exhibit:

I love geometry and mathematics. So after much practice, I managed to create structures and shapes.

– Aneli Abeyante

Thus we are presented with a series of images that hold within them a mathematical form and beauty that is captivating  – and given an even greater sense of form through the use of animations that gives them their motion and life  – and their rich hypnotic forms. These are pieces one can easily get lost within by following their lines and patterns and letting their shifting forms wash over thoughts.

They share the two levels of the gallery with static paintings that are equally marvellous digital abstractions.  Whilst they don’t have the same physical motion  as the animated works, they are still as engaging, drawing the eye to them.

There is something more here as well. In her art, she strives to achieve a harmony of ideas and an balance of expression – and this is perfectly exemplified in this series and then manner in which static and mobile pieces both counterpoint and synchronise together into a unified selection of expressive art.

Kondor Art Centre: Aneli Abeyante

The third exhibition I’m covering is by Hermes himself, and is to be found in the centre’s Into the Future Gallery.

The Explorers offers a three-part story of exploration and discovery utilising digital art. It starts on the ground floor and an unspecified point in the future, a time when humanity is clearly capable of exploring the realms beyond out Earth-Moon system in person – although looking at the style of their space suits, it is perhaps not a time too far into the future.

This story invites us to travel with a team of astronauts as they explore a moon or asteroid, discovering clear evidence of alien life as they do so. Each piece, beautiful rendered, allows us to share in their discovery of strange crystalline forms and what appear to be machines and – perhaps – a portal revealing an alien world.

Kondor Art Centre: Hrmes Kondor – The Explorers

The story continues on the gallery’s mid-level which can be reached via the teleport disk on the lower floor or the elevator at the back of the gallery space – the images in front of the doors are phantom, so you can pass through them. Here, we find the explorers appear to have used the portal and are now another place, one in which they encounter life in a variety of forms – strange growths, egg-like objects and what might be plants that use a form of photosynthesis and  more.

On the upper level, again reached via teleport disk or elevator, we share with the travellers as they encounter life and civilisation directly – but in forms that are intriguing and recognisable: trees and humanoid forms – and a young child on a swing.

What we’re to make of this is down to our own imaginations;  but perhaps it is a message that all life which may exist within the cosmos is connected to us and we to it, wherever we might come to find it and whatever form it might take.

Kondor Art Centre: Hrmes Kondor – The Explorers

Three very different exhibitions, all connected by threads of life, colour and motion. whether appreciated individually or in turn as part of a single visit to the Kondor Art Centre, these are three exhibitions by three superb artists that fully deserve our time and attention.

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Waka is rated a Moderate region.

Bamboo’s Blue Snow in Second Life

Kondor Art Centre: Bamboo Barnes – Blue Snow

Blue Snow is the title Bamboo Barnes has given to her most recent exhibition, which opened at the Kondor Centre Art Gallery (curated by Hermes Kondor) on February 27th. I’m not sure of the origins for the title, but that hardly matters given the theme of the exhibition and the nature of Bamboo’s art.

Bamboo is a self-taught digital artist who started producing her work using Second Life in the form of avatar studies and images of other people’s art installations. In 2013 she started producing original pieces, and in the eight years since, she has developed a unique and striking style that has not only been exhibited in virtual spaces but also in the physical world.

Kondor Art Centre: Bamboo Barnes – Blue Snow

For this exhibition, Bamboo plumbs personal depths, exploring her growing understanding of art as a means of expression and her development as an artist.

In her introduction to the exhibit she notes that “Art is never finished, just abandoned”, a statement that might at first seem a little confusing, as clearly, many pieces of art do stand as finished items – hence why we can see them in galleries and museums, reproduced, sold, hanging on our walls at home, and so on.

Kondor Art Centre: Bamboo Barnes – Blue Snow

However the capitalisation of “Art” is important: signifying that rather than referencing any singular piece of art, Bamboo is referring to the medium in all its forms, be it painting, photography, sculpture, models, the written and / or spoken word and so on; recognising that it is always evolving, and that artists can change genre, format and style, taking on some and abandoning others as they find new or different ways to express themselves.

As is usual with Bamboo, all of the pieces offered within Blue Snow are endlessly vibrant, both in terms of the colours used and the degree of life they each exude. There is a strength about each one that captivates the eye and challenges the imagination, offering stories that might – when considering the central theme of the exhibition – enfold thoughts of the artist and her relationship with her work as well as revolving around our own perceptions of who we are and where we might be going.

Kondor Art Centre: Bamboo Barnes – Blue Snow

Richly engaging, Blue Snow is another superb exhibition from one of SL’s leading digital artists.

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Considering No Futur in Second Life

No Futur, Kondor Art Centre, February 2021

Currently open at the Into the Future Gallery of Hermes Kondor’s Kondor Arts Centre, is an exhibition by Caly Applewhyte entitled No Futur. The easiest way to describe this exhibition is to use Caly’s own description:

No  Futur [is] a very French expression that refers to the uncertain future of our world. this exhibition is an illustration of this idea that our world seems to be running to its ruin with our madness of “progress”.
We are constantly trying to do better or more … more technology, more biotechnology, more money of course … but in the end, we may wonder if we are not doing worse. What we are experiencing today is only a bad start if our powerful political and industrial leaders do not realise that economic growth at all costs is only a countdown … game over.

– Caly Applewhyte

No Futur, Kondor Art Centre, February 2021

Given this description, it is clear that this is an exhibition that has a sombre lean. It might also be thought that given Caly’s words, it focuses on issues of the political-industrial complex that – as Caly notes – is pulling us towards possible destruction. However, this latter view would be in error.

Rather than focusing on political indifference (and / or denial) and industries that continue to find the needs of board room returns of a higher priority than that of committing more fully to ethical, environmentally friendly means of doing business, these are pieces that focus on  the individual, either directly or indirectly. This makes them far more personal in nature, with all of them carrying a distinct lean towards matters of ecology and the environment, and the damage we are doing to it through pollution and climate change.

Gas masked, often in an environment suit, sometimes an adult at others more child-like, the figures within these pieces are set within environments where it is clear the air is no longer if to breathe and monuments crumble in a toxic environment. There are figures that walk deserted streets, who even when indoors need isolated pods and / or continue use of masks to assist with breathing. In some, eyes stare out at us in pleading, in others that stare wistfully at a world they can no longer freely share, or who hug rocks they can no longer feel thanks to the separating barrier of an environment suit.

No Futur, Kondor Art Centre, February 2021

With only a single figure in each image, these are all pieces that also emphasise our essential isolation from the world.  We’ve allowed ourselves to be cut off from it through the technology Caly notes and the creature comforts of modern life; we’ve created metaphorical barriers between ourselves and nature. All of which appears to be referenced as well, through the use of fences within several of the images.

Sombre it may be, but No Futur is nevertheless rich in expression, message and artistry.

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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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Melusina’s Lockdown and Hope in Second Life

Melusina Parkin: Lockdown and Hope

Melusina Parkin opened her latest exhibition in Second Life Life on Thursday, January 14th at the Kondor Art Centre’s White Gallery.

Lockdown and Hope is a highly topical selection of art by Melu that takes as a part of its theme  – as the name implies – something that remains on a lot of people’s minds as we roll on into 2021: the situation around the continuing threat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus / COVID-19, and the continuing grind, for so many of us, of being in a lockdown situation that brings limited opportunities to get out, interact with others or do the things we really want to do.

Melusina Parkin: Hope (v) 4 and Hope (v) 5

However, rather than focus just on the negative, Lockdown and Hope also looks to the future and the time beyond the shadow of the virus, when we can all resume largely “normal” lives with their attendant freedoms and activities as the various vaccines spread amongst populations,  allowing us to, if not eradicate COVID-19 entirely, then at least bring it under control and diminish it’s threat.

On the surface, this is an exhibition of two halves: on the lower floor are 18 images that carry the title “Lockdown”, and very much focus on the impositions that have been placed on us as a result of the pandemic situation. Their dominant themes  intertwine feelings loneliness, listlessness, boredom, the need for escape, and / or being cut off from the world. These are presented in Melu’s captivating style of focusing down on just a portion of a scene. It’s a technique I’ve long admired, simply because captured in this way, her images offer the opening lines of a story, leaving our minds to tell the rest based on the title of the exhibition and the point of focus in the image.

Melusina Parkin: Lockdown (v) 3 and Lockdown (v) 4

Take Lockdown (v) 16, as an example (seen in the foreground at the top of this piece). With its focus on the handle of a door, and the shadow on a distant wall cast by the light falling through a window, we’re given an image that clearly speaks to being shut-in. The door, so long a means of keeping others out so we can enjoy our own company, now a barrier to our ability to go out, the door handle caught in sunlight now a forbidden thing, the patterned shadow of an unseen window the calling of a world currently beyond our reach.

On the upper floor is a further set of 18 images that express the idea of Hope: that those freedoms we are temporarily without will return; that we will once again be able travel, to share, to appreciate nature, to enjoy a vacation on some remote shore and or enjoy the simple pleasures of walks along the coast or country roads. In contrast to those on the lower floor, these are offered as more expansive images – open spaces, broad skies, distant horizons – all of which are emblematic of freedom and the ability to roam where we will, and partake of all that life has to offer.

Melusina Parkin: Hope (v) 13 and Hope (v) 14

But there is more here as well; within many of the images on the lower floor offer not only representations of the isolation of lockdown, but also a glimmer of hope for the future. Again, to take Lockdown (v) 16. Whilst standing as a symbol of the need for us to stay isolated from those beyond our immediate bubble (if indeed, we have a bubble), it also offers hope: the very fact that sunlight is falling on the door handle suggests that the day will come when we can again open our doors to others and invite them in without fear, or pass through the door into the world beyond that is promised in the shadow falling on the wall beyond the door; indeed, the very fact that the door stands ajar suggests that time might actually be not that far away.

Elsewhere, Lockdown (v) 9 offers us a view of again being cut off from the things we would normally take for granted – cars parked outside the window with their promise of taking us anywhere we might desire, but for now beyond our reach. However, it also reminds us that despite all the impositions of lockdown, the cars are still there, waiting, and one day we’ll be free to travel wherever we would. Meanwhile,

Melusina Parkin: Lockdown (v) 8 and Lockdown (v) 9

This double focus can also be found in several of the images upstairs. Take Hope (v) 13 and Hope (v) 14 for example. Both offer use the promise of freedoms to be joyed – whilst the presence of the fences, open as one is and as relatively unobtrusive as the other might be in allowing us to see the sky, reminds us that the freedoms we’ll soon resume are not quite here yet, and restraint of action is still required.

From gowns cast across furniture out of possible frustration at being unable to wear them in public to the promise that nights out will yet return (Lockdown (v) 10) to a look towards a time when walks along sandy shores or country roads will again be ours to enjoy, but which is not yet upon us – hence the empty chair and bench Hope (v) 12 and Hope (v) 15); and with tales of separation and togetherness bound within the simple framing of a teapot, cups, decorative hearts and the placement of two chairs (Lockdown (v) 4). All 36 images within Lockdown and Hope have a richness of narrative, marking this as another extraordinary and engaging exhibition from Melusina Parkin.

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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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