Vita’s contrasts in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro is an Italian term that literally translates as “clear-dark”, although within the world of art, it is more usually referred to as “light-dark”, and references the use of strong contrasts between darker and lighter colours or shades in images, be they paintings, drawings, sketches, photographs – even video and film in the modern era – and which is intended to give a sense of volume and three-dimensional depth to an image through the use of lighter contrasts within the subject of the composition, and the broader contrast between the subject and the background.

It’s a technique that is all around us in art (just look at almost any portraiture or painting by the European painters of the Renaissance, for example or modern photographic portraiture or even graphic novels), and its use extends into visual mediums such as the stage, and more latterly, advertising, television, and film (for example, Francis Ford Coppola uses the technique extensively within The Godfather trilogy – just take a look at this still of Al Pacino from the first film in the series). However, it also doesn’t have to purely the contrast between “dark” and “light”; Andy Warhol, for example, utilised the technique extensively through his use of really bold colours contrasted against lighter tones rich in brightness.

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

In music, Chiaroscuro again emphasises contrast, combining a brilliant sound referred to as squillo with a dark timbre called scuro to produce a sound that has considerable depth and warmth. It is perhaps most notable in its use within opera, although again, many compositions, from classical through to the modern era also use it.

I mention all of the above, because it is the richness and depth of contrast suggested by Chiaroscuro that Vita Theas embraces in her exhibition of the the same name that opened at Aneli Abeyante’s La Maison d’Aneli arts centre on Wednesday, May 26th.

Set within a space created by Vita that enhances the idea of contrasts  (dark brick wall and heavy wood roof timbers over which sits the inverted bowl of a glorious sunset itself beset with darkening clouds lit by the lowering Sun, the marvellous murals she also presents on the walls – look at the sense of movement contrasted with the relative calm of the ships beyond in the “waterfront” piece, for example), this is a collection that embraces the idea of Chiaroscuro in art, image, and life.

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

From monochrome images – perhaps the “simplest”(if such a word might be employed) expression of the use of contrast through to avatar studies that reflect the use of chiaroscuro both in modern photographic portraiture (Lost, If Only…, Hope), to pieces evocative of classical portraits of the likes of the Dutch Masters (And Then He Was Gone), this is a collection that also celebrates the broader use of the technique in  landscape photography (where again, we might not actually be aware the technique is present) pop art (the quite brilliant Warhol-esque Seduce), and more.

These are images that also illustrate the essential vitality of life that is evident through contrast. As Vita herself notes, the interactions of light and shadows, brightness and darkness, warm and cool colours and shading, all work together to give these pieces a visual and emotional depth, a reminder that chiaroscuro isn’t just a technique, it is a part of the fabric of life. Just take a look (again) at And Then He Was Gone and both Regret and the exhibition poster; all three present a powerful sense of emotion through the contrast of pose and background, or that between the overlaid focal image and backgrounds.

La Maison d’Aneli – Vita Theas: Chiaroscuro

A truly powerful and evocative collection, Chiaroscuro offers an engaging selection of art that can be appreciated for its visual appeal and composition and for its ability to get the grey matter working.

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  • ChiaroscuroLa Maison d’Aneli (Virtual Holland, rated Moderate)

Khaos in motion in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli: Khaos Part 1

Khaos Part 1 is the title of a new 3D installation currently open at La Maison d’Aneli, operated and curated by Aneli Abeyant. It marks the latest collaboration by Cherry Manage and YadeYu Fhang, two artists noted for their distinctive style and for presenting art installations that tend to be layered and nuanced, and which require time to experience, rather than simply observe.

All three of the attributes mentioned above are very much in evidence with this latest work, particularly as there do not seem to be any liner notes supplied by either artist as to their intent with it, this requiring the grey matter to be cranked into action.

La Maison d’Aneli: Khaos Part 1

Reached via the teleport disk at the gallery’s main landing point, it is important that visitors take note of the basic requirements for visiting the installation. In short, these are:

  • Make sure your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) is enabled (Preferences Graphics make sure the Advanced Lighting Model option is checked).
  • Enable Used Shared Environment (World menu Environment make sure Use Shared Environment is check).
  • As you walk into the installation space, make sure you accept the local Experience when asked to join (this happens as you walk towards the installation from the teleport).
La Maison d’Aneli: Khaos Part 1

To these I would add a moderate Draw Distance of around 150-200 metres is ideal for viewing the installation, and that visitors should be prepared for some fairly visually violent interactions. Finally, if you’re in a position to freecam / flycam, you most definitely should do so, as this is a 3D installation with multiple perspectives and where the local verticals are not necessarily oriented to the plane on which you walk.

Situated in a sharply-defined sky – while below, a black, star-studded sky above across which square clouds pass, the installation might be described as an artificial, geometrical landscape made up of translucent blocks. Almost transparent around the teleport point, these become more opaque towards the far horizon, where they form a tumble of large cubes and blocks suspended in such a way as to suggest a wall frozen in the act of collapse.

La Maison d’Aneli: Khaos Part 1

Before this wall are humanoid figures, some of whom appear to be falling from the wall, tucked into tight balls, others appear frozen in a motion of action – some mid-fall, some apparently trying to run away, two caught mid-fight. Many appear to be coalescing out of smaller blocks – or perhaps breaking up into them, depending on your viewpoint. Lines of light spear they way through some, adding to the impression they are breaking up; elsewhere solid lines pass through others, slanted as if to present a visual  indicator of their motion.

The overall sense of the setting is one of disordered randomness – which is added to by the fact that within this basic setting, nothing is constant. Light shifts and glimmers, other figures both large and small appear and vanish, some performing actions, some caught in whirlwinds of blocks swirling around or a maelstrom of wind. As time passes, a forest of rectangular beams many appear, some seeming to rise and fall as light plays over and through them, or avalanches of white cubes will suddenly rain down the “slope”, or masses of while lines will roll and twist in place, like streamers of snow caught in a storm.

La Maison d’Aneli: Khaos Part 1

Nor is this all – as you explore the scene on foot, and having accepted the local experience, you will suddenly find yourself part of it, being shaken violently, or pulled roughly into Mouselook as your body hang bent doubled only to be slammed several time into an invisible floor before being released to fall – and then returned to the platform.

Disconcerting, chaotic, ever-changing within the main backdrop, what is to be made of all of this? For my part, I was drawn to the idea that Khaos Part 1 is perhaps a reflection on the idea of chaos theory; the concept that while dynamic systems may well have apparently random states of disorder and irregularities, they are in fact governed by underlying patterns and deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to their initial conditions. And in a mirrored reflection of this, perhaps there is also the idea that whilst life can appear to be well-ordered and subject to patterns and laws as defined by society, it is at its core the product of a chaos that is never far from the surface, simply because of the unpredictable nature of basic human emotional response and outlook.

La Maison d’Aneli: Khaos Part 1

However, I’ll leave further interpretation to you; as noted, there are no liner notes provided with the installation, and I’d prefer not to to colour reactions with my own interpretations, and will leave things here, other than to speculate that given this is “part 1”, there may will be a follow-on installation at some point.

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La Maison d’Aneli: new exhibits; new look

La Maison d’Aneli Gallery: Sweet Susanowa

Wednesday, May 20th marked the opening of a new ensemble exhibition at La Maison d’Aneli Gallery, curated by Aneli Abeyante, together with a new look / set-up for the gallery’s spaces.

For those familiar with the gallery’s former “indoor” futuristic look with the display spaces all physically linked, the current appearance is very different. On the ground sits a warehouse-like building tucked into a corner of Virtual Holland. With an outdoor seating area / event space, the warehouse offers two routes to the exhibition spaces.

La Maison d’Aneli: Desy Magic

The gallery spaces are now located in the sky overhead and connected via teleport both with the ground and one to the next. These new spaces actually gives artists more physical space with their exhibitions / installations, including the freedom to add the the décor / environment in which they are displaying their art.

The teleports, as noted, take two forms: individual Anywhere Doors that, from the ground, take visitors directly to a specific exhibit / installation. These also connect one exhibit to another, if a little randomly in terms of you don’t know where you’re going next when you open a Door on any given exhibition space.

La Maison d’Aneli: Nox Kirax

For those who prefer to select where they are going, the gallery spaces and the ground level are also connected via teleport disks that will offer a menu of destinations within the gallery, allowing visitors to pick where they go next.

The artists displaying at the gallery comprise:

  • Ilyra Chardin, with The New Normal: The Date, 3D installation offering a commentary on the current state of physical / social isolation resulting from the SARS-COV-2 pandemic.
  • Slatan Dryke, with a redux of his installation, Crumbs from my Nightmares.
  • Thoth Jantzen, presenting Vortex one of his  immersive, mesmerising media shows.
  • Nox Kirax, with a set of his portraits in which visitors are invited to consider the expressions on the faces of the subjects and reflect on what they might be saying.
  • Desy Magic, offering a captivating selection of avatar studies, paintings, and 3D sculpture.
  • Sophie Marie Sinclair, presenting a number of her physical world nude and abstract paintings.
  • Sweet Susanowa, with an intriguing selection of photographs and abstracted paintings / drawings.
La Maison d’Aneli: Ilyra Chardin

Together, they make for an engaging mix of art and expression. I admit to having a certain attraction to Thoth’s work and Desy’s images that tends to make me lean towards them, and that is true here -although admittedly, a still image of Thoth’s work really doesn’t convey it, it really does have to be experienced.

Ilyra’s piece is certainly of the times, and the staging of a couple sharing a romantic meal  whilst keeping strictly to their own apartments, and they sharing it whilst separated by the gap between their balconies is certainly of the time, whilst Slatan’s redux offers the chance to re-visit an installation that challenged introspection the first time around.

La Maison d’Aneli: Sophie Marie Sinclair

Nox Kirax, Sophie Marie Sinclair and Sweet Susanowa was three “new” artists for me, inasmuch as I’m not aware of seeing their work in the past, and all three offer something entirely engaging, in very different ways to one another. I particularly found the portraits by Nox to hold my attention in full, while the sheer diversity of imagery with Sweet’s exhibit offer a richness of imagery and a different style of narrative within them, while Sophie’s nudes have a wonderfully fluid feel to them that is suggestive of life and vitality.

A further engaging ensemble of exhibitions well worth seeing.

La Maison d’Aneli: Slatan Dryke

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Expressive art at La Maison d’Aneli in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli: FionaFei

Aneli Abeyante opened the April 2020 exhibition at La Maison d’Aneli on Wednesday, April 8th, and once again she offers an intriguing and engaging selection of art and artists, with content running from physical world art through to digital media whilst enfolding both 2D and 3D art. In keeping with the gallery’s ensemble style of art shows, six individual exhibits are presented for April, the work of seven artists in total split between the lower and upper levels of the gallery.

On the lower floor, and to the south side of the central aisle are contrasting 2D art displays by Agleo Runningbear and Tralala Loordes.

La Maison d’Aneli: Agleo Runningbear

Known as April Louise Turner in the the physical world, Agleo is a woman of many colours – art, shaman, teacher, poetess, to name but four – who presents her work under her own name and the title ArtShifter. She is a gifted portrait artist and caricaturist, who here presents 20 of her pieces in both line drawing and colour, of celebrities from the worlds of art, entertainment and fashion, some of them more than once.

Most of the faces (particularly if you have a long memory or a love or the arts, entertainment and fashion) may leap out at you, as did for me, Jaques Brel, Charles Aznavour (x2), Gerard Depardieu, the charcoal (?) caricature of Catherine Deneuve, the pairing of Karl Lagerfeld images (one a slight giveaway as his name is added) and the pair of Yves Saint Laurent pictures (although I did initially wonder if his blue-toned painting might be Isaac Asimov on first sighting it).

La Maison d’Aneli: Tralala Loordes

Tralala – perhaps best known for her Tralalas Diner location designs, presents a further series of self-portraits featuring LODE headpieces in what might be described as a celebration of the warmer seasons mixed with a hint of fantasy. These are quite gorgeous pieces – although I admit to feeling that the ambient lighting for the display does not do them the justice they deserve.

Across the central aisle to the north are the digital media presentations by Etamae and the combined talents of Kalyca McCallen and Eifachfilm Vacirca (aka Proton d-oo-b) operating under the combined name of Alchemelic.

La Maison d’Aneli: Etamae

Hailing from the UK, Etamae has a gift for producing striking images from Second Life of – to use her own words – “the things she has seen and loved which have inspired her to transform them into something else – not more, nor better – simply different.” The results are always captivating, and here she offers an installation of what might be described as two parts – both of which require the use of the viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (ALM: Preferences → Graphics, with the further advisory that your local viewer time is set to midnight). The first presents a series of animated digital images that challenge the eye in an almost hypnotic manner, the subtle motion drawing us into them and gently holding us in a trace. The second part is an equally hypnotic chamber that again involves animated elements.

Alchemelic describe themselves as “a Zurich-based music and art project with cinematographic background, mixed media, and 3D modelling [who] aspire to spark your imagination and elevate your mood with our unique blend of visual art and original music.” At La Maison d’Aneli they offer a two-part installation, The Space Between, which again particularly requires ALM to be enabled) might be described as an examination of the nature of space and relationships that has taken on something of a new meaning in recent times.  Take the Anywhere Door to reach the second part of the installation.

La Maison d’Aneli: Etamae

On the upper floor of the gallery, and lying to either side of the events areas are the exhibits by FionaFei and Xirana Oximoxi.

An artist from Catalan, Xirana describes her art as reflecting her concerns and moods at different times, abstractions or “mental landscapes” that are rooted in a number of artistic mediums and genres. With Lost Souls she offers a marvellous unique series of images that have been born out of the pandemic worries of 2020, and which offer an entrancing play on the the idea of portraiture. Trapped by social isolation and visiting a rooftop, Xirana  found herself drawn to the irregular nature of the walls and their coverings. Weathered and cracked, in places broken, rough conglomerate abutting smooth surface finish, lined and cracked, the surfaces suggest – with a gentle touch of post-processing – faces and characters. The result is is series of utterly captivating “portraits” of “souls” caught within plaster, stone and concrete that brings an entire new meaning to the expression if these walls could speak.

La Maison d’Aneli: Xirana Oximoxi

Facing Lost Souls, FionaFei offers us the chance to visit a wonderful ink wash garden of water lilies in bloom as they are admired by butterflies. Initially appearing to be 2D pieces, these are all more of Fiona’s thoroughly delightful, almost fragile-looking sculptures-as-paintings. Six are offered as hanging scrolls, the seventh, sitting behind a small pond of Fiona’s lilies, as a painting. A small table offers 2D representations of this main painting as a gift to all who visit.

Individual, evocative and fascinating, April at La Maison d’Aneli presents another collection of art that should not be missed.

La Maison d’Aneli: FoinaFei

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Digital expressions at La Maison d’Aneli in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – YadeYu Fhang

Now open at La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, is an exhibition that sees artists both familiar and perhaps new to followers of art in Second Life, displayed within a new layout for the gallery space.

The untitled exhibition features the work of JadeYu Fhang, Eylinea, Gaston Wonder, Vroum Short, Adwehe, and Aneli herself, five of whom present pieces of a distinctly digital nature, with Gaston Wonder providing a balance with photography grounded in the physical world.

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – Gaston Wonder

In describing his work, Gaston notes:

I find it interesting the way we have to interpret Art, we are all different, we did not have the same feeling while looking at an Art object or a photo, I don’t care about the rules for Art has no limit, there are no things better than others, there is only one emotion specific to each.

His work, often focusing on the inorganic – wooden planks, chains, wood and stones on a beach, a broken wall and more – offers a marvellous glimpse into the organic world, the lay of metal and shadow, chain against background, grain and knot of wood forming facial features, sometimes almost human, sometimes alien or even insect-like. Each evokes familiarity that in turn generates a focused emotional response.

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – Vroum Short

Next to Gaston, Eylinea is a relative newcomer to Second Life, an environment that that encouraged her to explore artistic expression through digital mediums. Here she displays a series of pieces, a selection of which are animated, and all of which sit within abstraction and expressionism.  Her work is reflected across the hall by Aneli’s exhibition, which offers further animated abstractions together with pieces that suggest they have been formed from copper beating as modern expressionism.

Making up the four displays on the lower floor, Yadeyu Fhang offers an immersive space, that once again presents a surrealism environment that deliberately cross the line between the physical and the digital. Yadeyu notes she is often influenced by the work of Kubrick and Lynch, and there is evidence of that here, together with a touch of French noir through the use of monochrome and lighting.

La Maison d’Aneli, February 2020 – Adwehe

On the upper floor of the gallery space, Vroum Short presents a further immersive space, rich in colour and form, suggestive of he undersea environments or an alien landscape alive with plants. Adwehe is another relative newcomer, and – while I’m not sure – this might be their first exhibition. Featuring both 2D and 3D pieces, it’s an expressive display, one in which Adwehe acknowledges the support and influence of Vroum and her work at VeGeTaL PLaNeT.

A half-dozen fascinating displays by six fascinating artists.

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Lalawood: unconventional, interactive and anarchic

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

Now open at La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, is a multi-level collaborative installation entitled Lalawood which is quite the most unconventional – and potentially controversial (for some) interactive installation I’ve seen in Second Life for quite a while.

Designed by Onyxxe, Iono Allen, JadeYu Fhang and Theda Tammas, Lalawand is difficult to quantify. Intended to be humorous, it is also in part pointed, perhaps controversial, irreverent (with what appears to be a healthy dose of self-satire), anarchic and – perhaps most of all – unconventional.

You never heard of LALAWOOD? What a pity! It is the best playground in Second Life. A kind of LEGOLAND, just without the first L. Yes you understand well. Finally a place where you are allowed to show off your talents, value and persona without any restraints … You will meet kings, queens, godfathers, godmothers and many other successful gods. You even can bump at Philip Linden while wandering around.

– Onyxxe, describing Lalawood

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

The installation comprises six levels, including the landing point where something of an introduction to the installation is to be found, together with instructions on how to best view the installation. From here there is a teleport to the first actual level of the installation itself.

To describe the five primary levels of the installation would be to spoil the element of discovery and perhaps unduly influence personal interpretation of Lalawood. suffice it to say each includes interactive elements, starting with the “iLala” music player that provides a music track to accompany your exploration of the installation (it is essential you have local sounds active). These interactive elements combine in-world objects and those presented to your inventory you are asked to add to your avatar.

Perhaps the easiest way to define Lalawood is that it is an exploration of self and the role of ego in our Second Life persona. In this, it raises topics we may well find familiar through our experiences in Second Life (the roles of sex and drama), and a sideways look at many of the attractions / activities people find within the platform (artistic expression, creativity, the ability to generate income), and how these might affect, challenge and change us.

Lalawood, La Maison d’Aneli

In this, the presentation of the themes might best be termed anarchic; some may seem to border on being insulting to those who engage the the various pursuits noted above (art, etc.) – hence why a sense of humour is emphasised in the instructions for the installation. However, there is a strong dose of self-irreverence on display by the four artists themselves as they satirise themselves as much as anyone else.

How one responds to Lalawood really does come down to a mix of personal sense of humour and ability to interpret the various elements found throughout its different levels. I confess that while I found myself smiling in places, in others I found things perhaps a little forced, while the inconsistency of teleports (some are interactive click-to-TP, others open the map and require a manual TP) a little distracting as the latter drew me out of any sense of being involved in the installation. So I’ll leave it to you to plumb the depths of the installation and draw your own conclusions, lest anything I might add here unfairly biases your experience.

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