No Life Without Art in Second Life

No Life Without Art: Kandinsky

“My passion for art has been part of my virtual life from the start, and in RL began many years ago,” Alo (Aloisio Congrejo) says of himself. “As an artistic ‘consumer’ there have been many artists both great and lesser known that I have followed and admired, but what is most important to me is to see the work of anyone who can craft various media in such a way as to express their feelings.”

Thus it is that for his latest exhibition, No Life Without Art, he uses his own artistic expressionism to celebrate some of the most influential artists of the early 20th century – Wassily Kandinsky, credited with painting one of the first recognised purely abstract works; Paul Klee, whose unique approach to art drew upon abstraction, cubism, expressionism and surrealism and surrealists Joan Miró, René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico.

No Life Without Art: Giorgio de Chirico

A visit to the installation begins on a platform overlooking a 3D tribute to Kandinsky with a piece that – for me at least – echoes his Small World pieces, produced in the 1920s when teaching at the Bauhaus in Berlin. This part of the installation is perhaps best viewed from above and by camming, although there is a walkway leading down to it for those who wish to explore more closely.

Beneath this, and reached via teleport board at the landing point sit the tributes to Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte. In the early years of the 20th century, de Chirico founded the scuola metafisica metaphysical art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. Featuring dream-like scenes offering strong contrasts in light and shadow and often with an undertone of mystery or threat, the movement flourished through the second decade of the 20th Century and is notable commemorated in this installation through the inclusion of a representation of The Disquieting Muses (circa 1917) and what might be a play on The Seer (circa 1914/15), together with architecture and backgrounds reflecting those seen in many of de Chirico’s works from this period.

No Life Without Art: René Magritte

Set across three platforms linked by walkways, the de Chirico pieces overlook a wall of identical pieces which offer a play on Magritte’s 1964 composition The Son Of Man and which also might be said it echo his 1966 piece, The Pilgrim. These form a link with the lowest level, where the artists is again celebrated, with another image of a faceless man, together with that of an apple, which for Magritte symbolised the tension between the hidden and visible.  Both of these images are also symbolic for the artist’s influence on the pop, minimalist and conceptual art movements, whilst also offering a tip of the hat towards his own playful use of art.

This level also celebrates Joan Miró and Paul Klee, with the latter’s highly individualistic style very well represented through a reproduction of his 1922 composition, Red Balloon, and a 3D representation of Flagged Pavilion (1927), while Miro is represented by his 1925 work, The Garden.

No Life Without Art: Paul Klee

All five artists are well represented, and Alo also provides biographical note cards on each, allowing visitors to gain a greater understanding of their lives and works. In introducing himself, Alo notes that he appreciates those who can express their feelings through their art. In No Life Without Art, he clearly reveals his own depth of feeling for, and admiration of, these five influential and provocative artists.

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One Tree Hill in Second Life

One Tree Hill

Karma Avedon sent me an invitation to visit her full region installation, One Tree Hill which is – although still in part a work-in-progress – now open for visitors. “[It’s] my first ever work for the LEA and I am very excited both to have had my idea accepted and to have managed to actually bring it to fruition,” she told me prior to Caitlyn and I paying a visit.

The installation is a virtual reflection of U2’s seminal album The Joshua Tree, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of its release in March 2017. The album grew from a mix of influences – social, political, spiritual, and cultural. It was released in a period of history which we see echoed somewhat today, with economics dominating the politics of the UK (U2’s home) and America; global small-scale conflicts; the changing face of traditional industries – notably coal mining; etc.

One Tree Hill: With Or Without You

All of this, including the influences behind many of the songs contained within the album are reflected within One Tree Hill. Some of these references are obvious, others are more subtle or layered. Also to be found are reflections on the band’s contrasting views between “real America”  and “mythological America”, and reminders that the UK and the USA have much in common.

A journey begins  Where the Streets Have No Name, a flat desert-like environment cut by broad, nameless roads, stretching away to the horizon, a great mesa rising to one side. Much of this contains images of the American mythos: great flat desert plains, broad, ruler-straight roads arrowing to the horizon, billboards (which carry some of the more overt political references for both the 1980s and today), and a reminder of the former importance of coal in building both the UK and USA.

One Tree Hill

Where one travels through this landscape is a matter of choice. Follow the single south pointing road, and you’ll pass a row of bonnet-buried Cadillacs – a reference to Cadillac Ranch, and emblematic of the American mythos. Close by, on the other side of the road visitors can reflect on being With Or Without You; the internal struggle of the song (to be a husband at home or a rock star on tour) powerfully represented by the statue of a couple caught in the tension of a tango – and a dance orb allows visitors to engage in a dance as well.

Staying on the lowland area, where Joshua trees via with umbrella thorns to offer some greenery, and travelling south, one will eventually come to a large gallery space (still under construction) and references to Bono’s time in South America. The latter represents both Bullet the Blue Sky and Mothers of the Disappeared in a rain-soaked corner. The latter of these also perhaps contains modern-day references: the three distressed mothers all being clad in burqa-like garments, whilst the boards set on the chain link fence appear to be in reference to more recent conflicts.

One Tree Hill: Red Hill Mining Town

Atop the mesa and reached via an ascending set of wooden platforms, sits a literal representation of Red Hill Mining Town literally sits, offering another layered interpretation of the period. The song itself was written around the unfolding political upheavals impacting Britain’s coaling communities in the mid-1980s, and in particular the 1984 Miner’s Strike; however, the town is very clearly American in setting.  Thus, a parallel is drawn between the decline in the importance of domestic coal witnessed in both the United States and the UK – for largely the same economic reasons – during the 1980s. A further layer is perhaps added as well, in that the embodying Red Hill Mining Town as a run-down American township might be seen as a metaphor for the band’s own conflicted views of the “real” (declining traditional industries), and “mythological” (land of golden opportunities) United States.

Within this town are further references to both The Joshua Tree with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, featured appropriately enough within a church; and to U2’s own history in the form of the STS Studios, where many of the group’s songs (including some from The Joshua Tree, but notably the likes of Rattle and Hum) originated / were recorded. Standing over all of this, and reach by another set of wooden steps, is One Tree Hill, written in reflection of a 1984 visit to Maungakiekie, a volcanic peak in New Zealand, and one of the most spiritually significant to Māori people. As with it’s namesake, Karma’s One Tree Hill is a place of reflection and peace.

One Tree Hill: Mothers of the Disappeared

 

One Tree Hill is a fascinating, layered installation, one which should be explored carefully, allowing for reflections on U2’s album and music and the imagery presented within the build. Do be sure to have ambient sounds active when visiting and – if you’re a U2 fan, try the music stream as well. I’ve also not referenced all the tracks on the album – others are to be found, but I’ll leave you to find them (hint: look indoors for at least one), as that’ll leave you some mystery as well 🙂 .

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Another World in Second Life

Another World

Another World is the title of a full region installation by Solkide Auer. It is described (literally) as, “a flight in a pure geometric ambience where shapes and colours try to give a momentary lapse of relaxation. Nothing else than be at peace with yourself” – although I’m pretty sure “lapse” should actually read “period”, and I blame Google translate for the error, not Solkide.

Open through until the end of June, this is an intriguing piece – region windlight (or midnight) is recommended, and you will be to have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled in your viewer (Preferences > Graphics) to appreciate the build. Projected lights are used extensively throughout the build, so if you leave ALM off, all you’re going to see is a lot of grey.  Shadows are not required to see projected lights, so you don’t have to enable them (reducing any performance hit); however, if you can, the nature of some of the shapes in the build means than the play of light across them gain added depth.

Another World

As the description states, this is a world of geometric shapes – spheres, hexagrams, hollowed spheres, squares, circles, straight lines, sine curves – all brought together in a landscape which takes on many different forms as you travel through it. Parts of the lower section resemble a gigantic roller coaster, the sine curves twisting and rolling through and around the other shapes as coloured light play across them. Elsewhere, it might be taken to be a giant’s building set, the larger shapes such as the hexagrams apparently made up of girder-like sections somehow locked together; in other places it has the look of a great machine, with elements coruscating and / or pulsing with colour.

There are a number of ways to appreciate the installation, and I recommend that you try as many and yo can. First and foremost, there is the aircar ride, available from the landing point. I suggest riding this in Mouselook if you can. There is also a series of teleport doors available, which will deliver you to different points and levels in the build, presenting the chance to see it from different aspects.

Another World

Camming also offers the opportunity to see this build and the lighting from angles neither of the other two options can offer, so if you’re practiced with ALT-camming, I recommend you have a go. Better yet, if you have a gamepad, joystick or Space Navigator, flycamming is highly recommended.

Whichever you opt for, in whatever order – make sure you have the music stream enabled. The occasional advert can be a little jarring, but the music really does set the mood for this installation.

Another World

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Crumbs from nightmares in Second Life

Crumbs From My Nightmares

How do we express our nightmares? What words would we chose, what lyrics would we consider suitable? What songs or images might we regard as reflecting those dark, frightening thoughts and dreams which pass through our tangled thoughts as we sleep?

Questions like these occupied Slatan Dryke as he developed Crumbs From My Nightmares, a personal look at the dreams which can trouble his sleeping hours.

Crumbs From My Nightmares

“How could I express what a nightmare is with simple words? The breaking into the nights of unknown and disturbing elements, made visible by the Imaginary as a bearer of psychic content, free from the control of the principle of rationality?”

Using extracts from literature – M. R. James, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Lafcadio Hearn and Ambrose Bierce, together with 2D images, 3D art and phenakistoscope, to present a vision from within the realm of nightmares: beasts feeding on flesh, hearts beating, words to chill the heart, bodies reposed apparently in death, ghoulish cartoon images, all held under a haunting audio scape.

Crumbs From My Nightmares

It’s a curious mixture; a rich tumbling of imagery in both form and words,  in places unsettling, in places familiar; sometimes edged in darkness, sometimes edged in the familiar or even the cartoonish. Just as we’d experience, perhaps, within a nightmare.

“The Imaginary is not real but true, messenger of a profound truth, therefore recognizable and unacceptable, Slatan continues, “The monsters represent the dark parts of the soul, in their various erotic, anxious or aggressive components. The Imaginary with its strange and disturbing images causes the turmoil that threatens the familiarity of the daily life.

Crumbs From My Nightmares

How much are our nightmares a part of us?How do they shape is, inform our natures? These questions also run through this piece, with Slatan further adding food for thought. “The perturbation as a feeling of fear and repulsion, arises from the risk of revealing the ‘ghost’ of desire and how much strong is the wish to control it. The irresistible necessity of controlling, natural in mankind, produces that protective mechanism that has enhanced the existence with monsters, vampires and ghosts, not only in dreams and nightmares.”

Crumbs From My Nightmares is an installation wherein the artist’s liner notes play an important role in helping focus thoughts and responses to all that we’re seeing in the installation. But while he may not that these may be his nightmares, many may find the symbolism here familiar, giving them pause to ponder within the framework of thought he offers.

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