Tag Archives: MetaLES

OpeRaAnxiEty: metaphor in Second Life

MetaLES: Op[eRaAxiEty

MetaLES: OpeRaAxiEty

Now open at MetaLES, curated by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar, is OpeRaAxiEty,  by JadeYu Fang. Reached via teleport from the landing point, it presents a haunting mix of ideas and images  intended to play on our anxieties – albeit at times in the most subtle of ways (make sure you have local sounds enabled when visiting).

A misty landscape awaits visitors, across which web-like lines faintly ebb and flow and the air throbs with a steady beat, warping at times into the high-pitched beep of an electrocardiogram. These combine to offer the first play on feelings of discomfort.

In the distance, a huge structure glimmers its way into the sky, figures limned against its glow while darker shapes sit on the horizon. Closer to hand, a hill rises from the surroundings, crowned by twin human torsos atop stilt-like legs, each holding a sphere in which two more figures, back-to-back, stand surrounded by eggs as large, blood-red spiders sit on their abdomens as if about to suckle. Apparently genuflecting before this scene on the slope of the hill, is a crystal Arachne (as perhaps popularised more by fantasy than mythology).

MetaLES: Op[eRaAxiEty

MetaLES: OpeRaAxiEty

A web forms a bridge from these figures to the floating crystalline structure, its arches and general form suggesting a temple. Here, green female figures fade and form as one cams around them, bright trails of light curling and twisting around their bodies, kneel in a circle as a black arachnid female offers up eggs to a female human. Above all of this, watching, sits another crystal Arachne.

Elsewhere, human figures lie wrapped in webs, tended by more arachnids, while before the glimmering, cathedral-like structure stand three android torsos raised on great plinths. Within the arches (vaults?) of the “cathedral” white human forms float over their barbed wire doppelgängers. Flanking this, on either side, are two groups of plinth-mounted female forms, heads encased in televisions sets / computer CRTs.

MetaLES: Op[eRaAxiEty

MetaLES: OpeRaAxiEty

With the ebb and flow of the webs on the ground at this point giving way to flickering data displays (which also form the walls of the cathedral), and data wrapping itself through the misty air, OpeRaAnxiEty offers an ethereal, fascinating environment. But what might it all mean? The artist offers few clues; it is for us to create our own narrative.

To me, the arachnids are a metaphor – albeit perhaps a multi-faceted one. There is the obvious spider-as-phobia element. Many of us are put on edge on seeing spiders, and it would seem that is the intent here. But it is also true that we are by nature complex creatures;  we weave and create so much that often it can ensnare us or confuse us – hence the webs. This idea is also perhaps manifested in the armless figures with their heads encased by screens: they are helpless to prevent their total immersion in a media-driven overload of information which creates is own reality around them.

MetaLES: Op[eRaAxiEty

MetaLES: Op[eRaAxiEty

Thus, OpeRaAnxiety might offer a warning: that the unequal blending of humanity and technology may give rise to something potentially unpleasant. Hence (again) the use of arachnids and their link to images of gestation and hatching / birth (might even the heartbeat throb in the air and the ECG be indicative for new life?).

But perhaps there is also hope here as well. Might the figures floating over their barbed wire doppelgängers within the data-walled vaults of the great “cathedral” be a metaphor representing the potential for technology to yet free us from the mortal constraints  imposed by our own bodies?

OpeRaAnxiety will remain at MetaLES  into the New Year.

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Everything is Lit in Second Life

A scene from Tutsy Navarathna's Death of Death?

Tout Est Allumé: a scene from Tutsy Navarathna’s Death of Death?

Second Life is a powerful medium for machinima. It caters for everything from promo videos for events, stores, and activities through to music videos, or showcasing region builds and role-play locations, etc., through to offering the perfect medium for telling narrative series and short films.

One of the great masters of machinima in Second Life is the award-winning Tutsy Navarathna. At the MetaLES art region, curated by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar (and reached via teleport from the landing point), he is presenting a special retrospective of his work.

Tout Est Allumé (“everything is lit”) is a festival of 16 of Tutsy’s films  – including the award-winning The Residents and Metaphore. The films are being shown together with 19 of his animated shorts, and a series of 3D art pieces by Yoon (Toyono) and Romy Nayar.

It’s a machinima tour de force, one which ideally requires more than one visit in order to capture everything, particularly given the display environment itself requires a little exploration. However, the effort is mote than worth it; Tutsy’s mastery of the medium and his gift for storytelling are both outstanding and guaranteed to capture your eye and mind.

There is just one slight technical point to note: it is recommended that the films are watched using QuickTime. However, QuickTime is no longer supported on Windows, leaving it with some potential security vulnerabilities. So, if you are a Windows user, and your viewer can’t play the videos at MetaLES, it might be preferable for you to swap to the current official viewer rather than installing QuickTime. This uses the VLC media plug-in, which will play the videos without issue (TPVs are in the process of swapping to VLC or GStreamer for Windows media support as well).

But this aside, Tout Est Allumé is an outstanding opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of one of SL’s more visionary and creative visual storytellers. Just catch The Residents, from 2013, below, to get a flavour of his work and then hop on over to MetaLES to see the rest.

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Tout Est Allumé (MetaLES, rated Moderate)

A metaphorical Tumor in Second Life

MetaLES: Tumor

MetaLES: Tumor

“This work is my acknowledgement of greed for material things of human kind which is so powerful that it is going to cost us our own existence,” Igor Ballyhoo states of his new installation, Tumor, now open at MetaLES. “This is not [an] effort to fight it, it is not made in least hope to change anything, it is just a recording of my observation of human society at this point.”

Across a flat, misted plain – reached via teleport of the region’s skyborne landing point – strange structures rise, strange cubic conifers, denuded of branches and leaves. Underfoot, square stepping-stones of brown earth vie with an oily, sludge-like morass pulsating around them, The glowing mist hovers above this, with closer examination revealing it to be sheets of a digital grid pattern which blurs this strange, almost alien landscape into a soft focus.

MetaLES: Tumor

MetaLES: Tumor

But none of this holds the attention for long. Across the region a massive steel pylon raises multiple arms splitting and branching over and again as they reach into the sky. It stands as the embodiment of a the great metal pylons which march across many countries of the world, feeding our insatiable need for energy. Even the metal arms, rising into pincer-like pairs which seem to pluck and pull at the ball of the Sun overhead, offer a further metaphor for our energy greed.

More of these grasping metal arms and fingers can be seen overhead, stretching out from the sides of huge structures rising into the sky. Their blocky forms shimmering in the sunlight and defying the eye to pick out details, they rise one atop the last like great drilling platforms, oblivious of the strange, denuded and oozing landscape below, topped by a strange gigantic cube of cubes.

MetaLES: Tumor

MetaLES: Tumor

As a statement and as an art installation, Tumor is a powerfully visual piece, underlined by its dedication to  Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart, climate change sceptic and CEO of Hancock Prospecting, a company which could be said to have questionable concerns over the environmental impact of its projects. It will remain open until the end of November. At the time of writing, it overlaps lanjran Choche’s photographic exhibition, 5Y Smoking, which can also be reached via teleport from the landing point.

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Tumor (MetaLES, rated Moderate)

MetaLES at seven in Second Life

MetaLES, the arts region operated and curated by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar celebrates its seventh anniversary this year, and is marking this achievement with a special retrospective exhibition.

Since its creation, MetaLES has been a mainstay of the arts in Second Life, hosting remarkable installations, a fair number of which I’ve written about in these pages.  These have been designed by some Second Life’s most remarkable and enduring artists, including Alpha Auer, Igor Ballyhoo, Rebeca Bashly, Giovanna Cerise, Cica Ghost, Cherry Manga, Patrick Moya, Bryn Oh, Maya Paris, Betty Tureaud, and Ux and Romy themselves, to name but a few.

The retrospective presents many of the region’s exhibitions and installations as seen through the eyes of photographer Anita Witt. In typical MetaLES style, the exhibition sits upon a desert-like plain, itself perhaps offering a faint echo of the desert which once surrounded Anita’s own Dryland gallery (itself now gone, but not forgotten).

Above this plain, Anita’s framed photos float, anchored to the ground by rocks, and in places preventing some rocks  drifting off into the sky themselves. Lanterns also rise from some of the rocks, while scattered between them are various objects: here an oversized tea-cup and saucer; there a great stone throne, elsewhere the boxlike form of a piano, and so on, all of which further encourage the visitor to wander and admire the art.

The images, offered individually or in pairs or small groups, are presented with the name of the installation and the artist responsible for it. For those familiar with the installations staged at MetaLES, it presents a fair trip down memory lane, as well as offering an accessible exhibition for anyone with an interest in in-world art, whether or not they are familiar with MetaLES’ distinguished history.

Congratulations to Ux and Romy on reaching their seventh anniversary, and my best wishes to them both for many more.

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