Tag Archives: Linden Endowment for the Arts

A Watercolour Wander in Second Life

Physical world / Second Life artist Ceakay Ballyhoo has a new region-wide exhibition currently open in Second Life. A Watercolour Wander, which will run through until the end of the year, brings together art and storytelling guaranteed to awaken our inner child and bring back memories of childhood imaginings set free whenever a blank sheet of paper and palette of watercolours were place before us, or the unwritten page and sharpened pencil placed in our hands.

“The idea started to form some months ago when I started to paint watercolours,” CK (as she is known to friends) states. “I’d been playing with making my own textures through watercolour paint and watercolour pencils a while before that … The idea of walking into a painting has always been a very attracting and intriguing one. Ever since reading Stephen King’s Rose Madder and later watching Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come, the wish to do something with that concept has been on my mind.”

And thus, A Watercolour Wander is just that – a walk through a landscape rendered as a watercolour. But not just any watercolour; this one forms a part of a story, the text of which is provided as part of the introductory notes offered to new arrivals, and which should be read as an accompaniment to any exploration (you can also read the story on CK’s blog). In it, a little girl, tired from the exertions of the day is slowly drifting to sleep when she realises her bedroom has vanished, to be replaced with a newly painted watercolour landscape, a path on the ground running from her bedside and into the trees, inviting her on an Adventure.

Staring from the from the little girl’s bed, we are invited to follow that path, scenes from her adventure presented to us in both 2D paintings and unfolding across the landscape before us: Mr. Nut, the squirrel, Pinkie Papillon, the gurgling river. Each painting marks a step in a story which – as is the nature of a good children’s story – has by turn its lighter and darker moments before all turns out well in the end.

The story is engaging, and very much as part of the overall experience – but it is the paintings and landscape that capture the attention. Beautifully rendered, the colours slightly washed and the outlines of trees and rocks and buildings perhaps outlined a little heavily, they perfectly embrace the idea that they have been painted by the little girl of the story to illustrate her dreamworld adventure; the reflections of a personal story imagined by a young mind.

The images from the story are all available at the end of the walk, together with a painting of a mermaid. CK has also created a Flickr group for those wishing to post their own wanders through her watercolours.

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Giovanna’s Soul of Colours: a Magic Flute in Second Life

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute

Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

Now open at LEA 21 is the first part of Giovanna Cerise’s Soul of Colours, an installation which will unfold over the coming months. For this initial instalment, open through until the end of August, Giovanna presents Variations in The Magic Flute, based on the 2-act opera Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, K620) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an opera which has, in my opinion at least, one of the most rousing and engaging overtures ever written.

This is an installation which first appeared in-world some four years ago, and which takes the visitor on an interactive, allegorical journey of light, colour and sound through key elements of the opera, complete with extracts of the music from some of the key events in the unfolding story.

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute

Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

Premiered just two months before Mozart died prematurely, on September 30th, 1791, The Magic Flute is, at its heart, a love story, focusing on handsome Prince, Tamino and Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night, and involving an additional tale of desire and love between Papageno and Papagena, as well as the aforementioned Queen of the Night and her handmaidens and the enlightened Sarastro and his retinue.

Within Variations in The Magic Flute, Giovanna invites visitors to engage on a journey through key scenes and events from the opera: the grove with its serpent, where Tamino is rescued by The Queen of the Night’s three ladies in the opening scene; an expression of the Queen’s anger from Act 2, Scene 3, Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen (“Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart”); allegorical representations of Sarastro’s garden, pyramids and the Temple of the Ordeal / Temple of the Sun (which it is depends on your interpretation of the opera as you come to it).

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute

Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

Passage through these scenes and locations is a matter of ascension  – something which is itself an allegorical reflection of the opera’s story, following Tamino’s  rise from the Queen’s deception into the enlightenment of Sarastro’s benevolence and also the rising triumph he and Pamina share in overcoming their individual trials and tribulations to finally be united in their love.

Passage between the levels / scenes are via crystal staircases (also triangular in shape, reflecting the pyramids of Sarastro’s domain), although you can fly if you wish. I’d personally recommend the former, as the latter does run the risk of missing things.

Soul of Colours: Variations in the Magic Flute

Soul of Colours: Variations in The Magic Flute

The interactive elements come in the form of music spheres which will play excerpts from the opera,together with locations where you can sit, and animations which will place you within some of the scenes. You can, for example, be tossed around by the vengeance which rocks the Queen’s dark heart.

I have no idea of the direction Soul of Colours will take from the start of September. I will, however, say that as I missed Variations in The Magic Flute when it was first displayed, I’m delighted to be able to visit it this time around; Giovanna and I appear to share something of the same taste for musical inspiration. With this piece, she has captured the essence of the story through a marvellous symbolism, while the use of light perfectly captures the heart of the music.

And with that said, I’ll leave you with the original overture as a prelude to a visit.

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Mourningstar: exploring a fallen angel in Second Life

 

Mourningstar is described as “An exploration of the ideas of the fallen angel, the vengeful god, and the diverse perceptions of Lucifer in various religious and social traditions. A virtual pilgrimage, proposing an alternate mythology…”

An immersive installation by Anahera (Fox Nacht), Mourningstar is in three parts – theological, Romantic and (for want of a better term) “present day”. Literary, theological and practical references are to be found throughout, making for an interactive piece. On arrival, do take a moment to read the notes on how best to full appreciate the installation.

The pilgrimage starts in the theological: a heavenly walk towards the upraised hand of God, culminating with a quote of Isaiah 14:12: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  And thus we, too are cast down to the ground, landing amidst a litter of broken angel wings within a ruined landscape – a reminder that around a third of the heavenly hosts fell with Satan – within a landscape. 

Through this grey engraving of a landscape lie a series of paths marked by arches. One continues the theological theme, taking us to the Tree of Knowledge. But here, as with the celestial hand above, a question mark is thrown over God’s role in things. In the heavens, the hand of God has strings attached to fingers and thumb, suggestive of a puppet master, while at the Tree of Knowledge, we are asked to ponder What sort of father would deny his children knowledge?

The remaining paths through the landscape encompass the great 19th Century Romantic era of poetry, encompassing an extract from Alfred de Vigny’s 1824 tripartite poem, Éloa, ou La sœur des anges (Éloa, or the Sister of the Angels), which offers Satan as capable of love, but unable to deny his own twisted nature, thus drawing the one who loves him – an innocent young angel – Éloa, down into hell.

Also to be found here are images of the great English Language Romantics – Blake, Bryon, Coleridge, and  Mary and Percy Shelley. According to Ruben Van Luijk,  writing in Children of Lucifer:  Origins of Modern Religious Satanism, these Romantics were spurred on by Milton’s Paradise Lost to see Satan as the ultimate rebellious hero, a champion of individual freedoms in an age of increasing political and social constraint.

One final path remains, one perhaps not so easily seen. It lies to one side of the reading area where visitors can delve into the writings of Blake, Byron and Milton. It leads to a pair of ram’s horns planted in the ground – their meaning clear enough – together with the definitions of “Belief” and “Faith”. A teleport disk before these provides the way to an examination of modern Satanism, with an introduction by Professor Darren Oldridge, and which sharply contrasts with the view of the Romantics.

I’m not so sure Mourningstar is an “alternate mythology” so much as a visual immersion into the theological, philosophical, Romantic and modern interpretations of Satan’s influence on people’s thinking and actions; one which also takes a short, sharp poke at the Christian view of a benevolent God in the process. Wisely, no attempt is made by the artist to direct or lead our thinking. Instead, we are encouraged to explore, examine, consider, and determine for ourselves.

Mourningstar will remain open through until the end of June.

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Gem Preiz: a retrospective in Second Life

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Complexity (2013)

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Complexity (2013)

Open now through June at LEA 26 is a retrospective of Gem Preiz’s entire catalogue of fractal art installations in Second Life. For anyone who is familiar with his work, they offer a visual treat in spades; while for those who have yet to encounter Gem’s stunning canvases of intricate, fractal-generated images, all of which combine technology with wonderfully organic forms, even when depicting artificial structures, there has never been a better opportunity to be immersed in his work.

The installations are reached via individual teleports, arranged in chronological, left-to-right order as the visitor looks at them, each with its original info card giver located on the wall above the teleport disc. This allows visitors to not only visit each of Gem’s past installation in turn, but also to witness his growing confidence in using fractal generators to not only create scenes, but to weave narratives through his work, offering insight into his own growth within his medium.

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Heaven and Hell (2012)

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Heaven and Hell (2012)

I have covered Gem’s work extensively in this blog (all of my reviews can be found by following this tag, or view the menu: Second Life > Reviews > Art Reviews > Art in SL > Gem Preiz), and so was personally delighted to see his two earliest installations, Heaven and Hell and Complexity are included in the retrospective, as I’ve not previously had the opportunity to view them.

Heaven and Hell, Gem’s first ever exhibition in Second Life, dates from 2012 and takes as its lead a quote from French artist Georges Braque, “Art is made to disturb, science reassures.”

“It seemed to me funny and interesting to evoke the concepts of hell and paradise, which are by definition irrational, by means of one of the most accomplished domains of the science: mathematics and fractals.” Gem says of the installation.  inviting people to cross the Styx and enter the devil’s domain before being reborn in paradise.

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Polychronies (2014)

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Polychronies (2014)

Complexity, first displayed in October 2013 at Timamoon Arts, is an intriguing voyage of creation and growth, physically and in terms of knowledge, reflected in a quote, “The detailed knowledge of the world helps us to better understand it, but we never understand it better than when we forget its details.”

It takes us through fifteen images, each an ever more complex outgrowth of the last, carrying us from a single fractal at the centre of a blue realm, to the most intricate and complex shapes which form their own universe, expanding ever outwards until at last we come to … what appears to be a single fractal floating in a blue realm. A perfect summation of the quote.

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Metropolis (2015)

Gem Preiz Retrospective: Metropolis (2015)

From Complexity, one can travel onwards through Cathedral Dreamer – my first exposure to Gem’s art,  to Polychronies, which still stands as one of my favourite installations by Gem,  and onwards through to Metropolis, with his most recent joint work: Heritage: Vestiges and Wrecks, also on display above the same entrance hall, thus providing a complete tour de force of Gem’s work to date.

Gem’s work is a wonderful mix of art and science, organised structure and organic growth. Within it complex themes are interwoven, which also doesn’t prevent him from having a little fun as well. But when taken as a whole, his work simply isn’t something to be missed, as this retrospective amply demonstrates.

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