Loss and life in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

Opening on October 25th, 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery is How Isolde Got Lost, by Arete of Cyrene (AretevanCyrene). It is a complex piece, a story in 14 part;, a story in images dealing with the complex subject of love, loss and healing.

Narrative in art is not unusual; I’ve often referenced it when writing about exhibitions in these pages. But with this particular exhibition, the story is presented through the chronological order in which the pieces are presented, the start indicated by the sign The Story Begins Here, located on one of the inside walls of the gallery space, then progressing from there in a clockwise direction.

As Arete states in her liner notes, mourning is a deeply personal experience, influenced by a number of factors: our closeness to the lost one; their place within our circle of family and friends and how they react to the loss; religious and social factors, and so on. In her book On Death and DyingElisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined what she saw as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. A sixth was later added, in the form of shock, preceding the other five. But as Arete also notes from her own experience the stages of loss can be more complex and can extend beyond just six stages.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

In particular, the images here have not only been specifically created for the exhibition, they chart Arete’s on experience with loss (one of which also touches on Dido’s story, notably in She Found a New Home….). Nevertheless, the story here in one that is going to resonate with anyone who has suffered loss and grief.  Through them, we travel not only through the six acknowledged stages of grief, but also through the situations and actions that can both move us through them – or return us to one of them.

In this, Arete presents a simple, but forgotten fact of mourning: by labelling loss in terms of 6 “stages”, we tend to look at them as a linear progression: a series of steps from shock to acceptance by way of the other stages, all neatly in order. But the reality is, beyond shock, while we may well initially travel through the remaining stages in the order they are offered, we might also travel back to different stages of grieving. This can be as a result of a number of factors; perhaps as a result of finally packing possessions away, or clearing a closet of clothes that will no longer be worn, or simply witnessing something unexpected through the course of everyday life.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

The healing process can also be found within the images, the return to “everyday” life; the support of family and friends; the taking up of new activities and filling the void as best we can. Given the personal nature of the images, and the nature of loss, singling out individual pieces in the series isn’t easy. However, it is the smaller, personal aspects of the story – such as Boxes – or the need to talk to the one now gone (which can be a vital part of the healing process: acknowledging that while a loved one might be physically gone, we can still keep them with us through memory as an integral part of us), that particularly struck a chord with me.

Love, listen.

To understand death, she so often talked with him to find spiritual acceptance.

Her words send to address unknown:

“Love listen, I must go on…but when I laugh, I feel guilty. When I forget you in a moment, I feel guilty. Please, try to understand, I love you and miss you so much but I have to let go of that guilt. Love listen, walk with me each day and we make that day together. Sleep with me each dark hour and share my dreams till we walk on the same soil.”

– Arete of Cyrene, How Isolde Got Lost

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: How Isolde Got Lost

There is more here as well; the images are not only unique to this story and exhibition, they are wonderfully constructed in 3D. To see the intricate layering of this, I recommend enabling Advanced Lighting Model and setting graphics to at least High. Also, do make note that the story can also be followed through a website created by Arete, and accessed by clicking the first image in the series for a link.

An exhibition of enormous depth and message, How Isolde Got Lost is a must see. And please note that while individual image are available for sale, all proceeds will go to The Catboat in Amsterdam, the only animal sanctuary that literally floats, sited on a canal. A tip jar for the charity is also available in the gallery.

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Moni’s Changing Moods in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

Monique Beebe makes a further return to Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, with a new exhibition entitled Changing Moods, a must-see exhibition, although part of it should be considered NSFW.

This is Moni’s third appearance at the gallery, and having covered her first two – Hidden Faces (see here for more) and Sensuality (see here for more), I confess to having been excited by the news of her return, as I’ve found her to be one of the most sensuous, evocative artist and – given she is generally the subject of her own work – models in Second Life.

The traits of sensuality, strength, vulnerability and expressive beauty seen in both Hidden Faces and Sensuality are clearly present in the 14 images presented within Changing Moods, which takes a different direction to the two prior exhibitions by presenting all of the photographs in monochrome. This is a particularly striking decision as it richly casts Moni’s work in a new light: black-and-white photography can often lead to bold images bereft of the greater softening afforded by the blending of multiples hues and tones common in colour photography; it also tends to draw the eyes into the central figure(s) within a tableau.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

This is very much the case with many of the images Moni present here. But while perhaps appearing more hard-edged than might have been the case had they been produced in colour, the monochrome presentation also serves to heighten the beauty within each piece and – to my eye – induces more of a feeling that we are witnessing Moni’s inner perspective of herself, as shaped by her moods and desires – some of which might be considered leaning towards the erotic.

Narrative is another powerful factor within Moni’s photography, and this is also brought to the fore within the pieces offered in this exhibition. Take for example Robotoca, Almost Real, and The Mask We All Wear. All offer up ideas of identity, place and self-image in an increasingly technological world where the demands to reveal all perhaps causes us to react with a greater desire to hide, while the pressure to conform evokes the need to be strikingly  different.

Moods and desire as also powerfully incorporated into these works in a variety of ways, from the direct – as with Captured, with its strong portrayal of erotic desire -, through the almost wistful subtext contained within InnocentThe Look and (to a degree) Wet.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

There is also something else within these images which is salient for the times in which we live. It is an over-arching narrative that collectively runs through all of them and which, in so doing, completely alters the perspective they present. This is entirely intentional on Moni’s part, as Dido explains in the liner notes accompanying the exhibition:

Moni presents work that shows how her ‘Doll’ is created. She uses artificial arms, legs and face to illustrate this process. Moni gets the impression in SL women are often treated like Dolls; pampered, loved and dumped after usage.

When viewed with this in mind, the context of the images presented in Changing Moods is dramatically altered. We are no longer in the mindspace of personal thoughts, moods, and desires, but have stepped into that questionable space of how – as Dido notes – women can so often  be regarded and treated as objects. Thus is the subtext present within the images dramatically shifted. Take the way in which Captured, for  example, moves from being a sensually secretive desire within the mind of the subject to become a darker voyeuristic (and subjegative) desire to see a woman so helpless on the part of an observer.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Changing Moods

Evocative, provocative, challenging and captivating is another stunning exhibition of photography by an exceptionally talented artist, Changing Moods is open through until the end of October 2018, and one not to be missed.

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Hypnopompia in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by curated by Dido Haas, is Hypnopompia, as exhibition by Cat Boucher. The title refers to the state of consciousness leading out of sleep (and not to be confused with hypnagogic state. The latter is associated with moving from wakefulness to sleep, and is referred to as a rational waking cognitive state).

Hypnopomia is more an emotional state of credulous dreaming, influenced by almost anything around us: noises, scents, touch, which on waking can lead to confusion, dissociation from our surroundings and confused (to others) speaking. The hypnopompic state is sometimes accompanied by lingering vivid imagery, and some of the creative insights attributed to dreams actually happen in this moment of awakening.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

All of this is richly reflected in Cat’s images, which are quite stunning in their range. Among the 14 pieces on offer are monochrome images – perhaps reflective of the state experienced by around 12% of people, who only dream in black-and-white (a percentage, interestingly enough that has changed over the last 60-ish years: dreaming in colour was once a rarity reported by adults, and according to some researchers, the shift from “monochrome dreaming” to “colour dreaming” appears to be associated with the arrival and rise in popularity of colour television broadcasting).

Other images in this selection are presented in deep, vivid colours, perhaps reflective of the more vivid influence our surrounding can have on us as we move through hypnopomia to full wakefulness. Most, reflect not a scene, but a moment in time: bones of a fish; a face caught in sharp focus; a figure with legs curls and entwined, but seemingly without a body. In this they mirror how we so often recall our dreams – not as a continuous narrative, but as flashes of images and colour that we can only recall as a single, brief frozen moment, there rest having been lost as another stimuli causes the mind to discard the imagery and move on.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

There would appear to be some plays here on the state of dreaming; one image seems to reflect an erotic dream – but whether it is brought about as a result of the brain processing actual events or simply the hypnopomic reaction of something, I leave to you to decide. There’s also an echo of the sepia tone so often loved by Hollywood directors when portraying dreams, while the clever use of vignetting can be said to both also reflect the Hollywood use of pinhole focus to convey dreaming and also, as noted above, as a metaphor for the way in which certain images in our dreams come into crystalline clarity and sharpness, imprinting themselves so strongly on our emotions, that the remain with us through our waking hours.

Evocative and captivating whether considered individually or as a part of the exhibition’s theme, these are stunning images – and all the more so given none are post processed; all Cat uses to achieve her completed images in the SL camera floater, within its colour and filter options, and suitable windlights.

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The Colour of Unspoken Words in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Colour of Unspoken Words

Officially opening on Thursday, May 24th, 2018 at 12:00 noon SLT, is the latest exhibition at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by curated by Dido Haas.

One of the reasons I return to this gallery so often is Dido’s ability to inviting artists to exhibit who have a talent to provoke the mind, give rise to feelings, and give us pause for contemplation with their art. In this The Colour of Unspoken Words by Natalia Serenade is no exception.

“Looking around me I’ve been wondering why at certain moments there’s silence and no words are spoken,” Natalia says in her introductory notes. “Where do all these unspoken words go? Do they disappear in nowhere, get stuck in our throats, or are they flying away like birds? When this happens you realise how much silence there really is.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Colour of Unspoken Words

She continues, “I want to paint the silence, the words not spoken, the freedom, thoughts swirling around me, the desire, the joy, the fear, the pain; AND there is my mind that is thinking constantly as it’s always filled with ideas and I have no choice but to create. Putting the colours together, with many cheerful tones, I will colour the day before it gets dark. So, let’s make today the most colourful of days.”

The result is 16 images of a distinctly abstract tone, utilising a measured approach to tone and colour which are both unique and also rich in emotional content. This might be hinted at when looking at a specific painting and then given form by its title, or it might be clear from the lines of an image without the need to reference its name.

In the latter category, I’d point to the likes of A Broken Heart Can’t Bare To Speak and If You Would Know… Then there ar pieces which seem to contain subtext within them: Someone hears every unspoken word and Reborn, both of which can offer up at least two potential narratives within their lines. In all of them the use of colour plays an important role if revealing their meaning and story: the colours used, their proportions relative to one another, their individual prominence in an image.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: The Colour of Unspoken Words

“Some people only speak when their words are more beautiful than the silence, some hide their words because of shyness,” Natalia says of the exhibition. In these paintings she brings all of those words and the silence in which they can exist, colourfully to life.

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Out of Here in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

“My images don’t have a bar code, from time to time they scream. Today is the first day of peace though,” Nevereux notes in her Preview to Out of HereNitroglobus Roof Gallery, an exhibition of her work now on display at , curated by Dido Haas. An evocative artist whom I’ve admired through these pages on a number of occasions,  Nevereux offers sixteen images which, as show notes in a mere general introduction to the exhibition, form something of a reflective, emotional journey.

Out of here is despair converted into media with intrinsic meaning and no pretenses,” she sates, “… it’s a spiritual thing, the individual perception of feelings after breakup. We seek in our beliefs sensory encounters, something beyond the words uttered. The words may reverberate subtlety, but the raw feelings, truth, irony and an imaginative point of view wrestle us each moment to create image after image.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

And so we are presented with images of raw emotional depth, each one presenting not a narrative or idea, but a feeling; a response; a desire. All but one are really presented as standalone moments; flashes of an emotional state, a state with which, in all likelihood we can each identify. The exception is Adieux. Beta version, seen at the end of this piece, which conveys emotions through words as well as by image.

Love and loss obviously result in darker feelings – emptiness, loneliness, despair, hurt, and so on. This is certainly the case with the majority of the pieces offered here – but that shouldn’t be taken to mean these are in any way bleak images. Entirely the reverse, in fact. As noted above, these are images that are powerfully and evocatively familiar in their interpretation; so much so that rather than sinking us into bleaker thoughts, they offer a journey – possibly cathartic – through feelings and responses. Some may even offer more than one potential interpretation.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

Take Every Song Is A Lament (above, left), for example. Clearly, the title reflects how songs can feel to us when a relationship ends;  that sense of loss, not just of love and companionship – but also a of oneself. This is beautifully framed by the image itself – a body partially dissolved into a trail of feathers leading to an escaping bird. But so to, is there an alternative here: that need to escape; a wish not to feel the hurt and upset evoked by song, and to simply escape.

Similarly, and alongside of Every Song Is A Lament, is Going from Belonging 2 B Longing. Again, the title and the image perfectly convey the idea that there comes a time when a relationship ends – for whatever reason – when we a deeply aware of that shift in state: for a couple (or family) or an individual; we feel more a shadow than a presence. But again, perhaps, there is an alternative metaphor here: when a relationship ends, we are often surrounded by support; and as well-meaning as that support might be, we nevertheless feel apart from it, rather than a part of it. We simply want to fade away and escape it all.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Out of Here

An open display of images reflecting inner thoughts and feelings, Out of Here is an expressive exhibition, one not to be missed.

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Cold’s Fading in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Fading

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Fading, a selection of art by Cold Frog. Cold is a long-time Second Life artist, but time and health is placing limits on her ability to produce new pieces. So, as Dido notes in her introduction to the exhibition, Fading is something of a retrospective of Cold’s past work, rather than being an introduction of new pieces. The title also perhaps stands as reflection of Cold’s situation, as Dido also notes: Cold is sadly finding her own sight is fading.

There is a strong sense of melancholy about many of the pieces offered in this exhibition, again perhaps in keeping with the title, although the subject of death has often been evident in her work, as has suicide; both either directly or through intimation – the splash of blood here, a skull there or perhaps a repose or  reference in a title.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Fading

This might cause some to think of Fading as a dark and dour exhibit, but I would argue the reverse. Yes – again as Dido notes – death and suicide are serious subjects, but there is a depth and sensitivity layered within Cold’s pieces that draws one into them. There is also, in some, a little sense of playfulness, as if she is quietly saying, “OK, let’s not get too heavy with this. We’re still alive.”

This more light-hearted aspect can, for example, be seen in Sending a Tweet from My Grave, a piece both rich in its imagery, particularly in Cold’s hair, and playing on the idea of tweeting. There is also a certain darkness to the piece; a question, perhaps of how will we be remembered – by others after our passing. Will we have a place in their thoughts, or will memory be fleeting, a flash of remembrance equivalent to a 280-character line of text. Across from it, 40 Days of Isolation is again rich in meaning, and may well reveal itself to different people in different ways; however, to me there is a subtext on the subjects of loneliness, depression and conditions which might lead to suicide.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Fading

For me, the most poignant of the images displayed at Nitroglobus appear to be somewhat self-referential: Losing Parts (seen above centre, alongside 40 Days of Isolation), Even Lost My Shadow and the titular Fading (seen directly above). All three seem to point towards Cold’s own circumstances, and while they might be regarded as melancholic, all three are beautifully rendered, allowing them to stand apart of any deeper or more personal meaning. I admit to being particularly drawn to Fading and Even lost My Shadow, while the way both are partially faded speaks to Cold’s situation,  so to does the approach present a pair of hauntingly beautiful pieces, their beauty heightened by the muted tones.

Nuanced, rich in detail, presenting several approaches to art and photography, Fading is another exhibition featuring work by a gifted SL artist and which further demonstrates why Nitroglobus is one of the leading galleries in Second Life, and Dido one of the most gifted curators of fine art in SL.

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