Art, science, and the future at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery

Two thematically related exhibitions opened at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, on Monday, October 21st. Between them, they touch on subjects of concern to many, and which can be viewed as controversial. With CRISP, a single large 3D piece, Kaiju Kohime delves into the subject of CRISPR gene editing; in A Beautiful Collapse, Nevereux questions the decline of societal values.

Genetic manipulation in human beings has the potential foe enormous good: it could help cure / prevent cancers and viral infections, for example, while its use in pregnancy could prevent in vitro genetic depletion than can cause the creation / transfer of genetic illnesses in unborn babies.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: CRISP

However, it also potentially has a much darker side as well – which is why the November 2018 report that Chinese scientist, He Jiankuihad helped to make the world’s first genome-edited girls was greeted with no small degree of outrage among the global science community. The twins, called Lulu and Nana, reportedly had their genes modified before birth to make them immune to infection by HIV, through the removal of the CCR5 gene – a process that may also have boosted the twin’s intelligence and cognitive abilities and made them better able to recover from strokes.

Through his piece, Kaiju points a spotlight at the birth of these twins and the reactions He’s work has caused. At a time when many in genetic science had agreed to limit human gene manipulation to material extracted from embryos until such time as the ethics of such manipulation could be fully understood and safeguards enacted to prevent the misuse of such a capability (if at all possible), He is seen by some as irresponsibility throwing wide the doors of the science without regard for potential consequence.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Beautiful Collapse

Neveraux, meanwhile uses the format of the Polaroid snapshot to explore the decline of societal values, which appears to be occurring at an ever-increasing pace. The framing is the idea that these images are all that remain as a means of defining our society following our global demise – although in truth, these are intended to challenge us as their audience.

These are sharply conscience-pricking images, each one focusing on an aspect of our modern lives, framed within a picture and caption, covering as they do everything from the superficiality of our so-called “on-line lives” through to the collapse of established national norms (This is America) and the declining longevity / honesty found within our physical world relationships (Partnershit). Elsewhere, the images carry something of a double edge to them. Take Art Doesn’t Sell, for example. On the one side, it carries with it the message that unless it is intentionally commercial in nature, it is not worth consideration. On the other, it perhaps carries a message within it concerning our quickness to turn to violence to achieve an end  – or fame through notoriety rather than creative talent. Similarly, Stay Hidden both (again) critiques the shallowness of our need to share everything on-line and offers a reminder that there is sanctity (and safety) to be found in also keeping things to ourselves.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Beautiful Collapse

One of the functions of art is to provoke; to give us pause for thought and consideration. By challenging perceptions, it offers us an opportunity to re-evaluate our ideas and how we might view the world. Both CRISP and A Beautiful Collapse do just this, and I recommend both for your viewing.

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Crossing Over and Night Walks in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Crossing Over and Night Walks

Open from September 10th, 2019 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery curated by Dido Haas, are two independent – yet in some ways complimentary – exhibitions by two gifted artists. Crossing Over features a 3D installation by Kaiju Kohime located in the middle of one of the gallery’s two arms, while Night Walks presents a further series of Melusina Parkin’s unique studies of Second Life. Both installation and imagery offer a richly layered environment in which thought is strongly provoked.

Crossing Over is the second installation Kaiju is presenting since his return to Second Life (his first being a collaborative piece with Electric Monday and entitled Orizuru (which you can read about here). It forms, in the words of the exhibition’s introduction, a commentary on the changing face of society’s thinking and structure:

The vertical small worlds we used to live in, illustrated by male white religious oppression, are slowly tilting towards a more horizontal and more human engagement. This installation is about the continuing struggle between verticalism and a horizontal way of thinking and being, about the masks we put on to protect ourselves from our mirror image.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Crossing Over

The white-dominated element of religion (Christianity) is clearly symbolised by the main structure of the piece, which forms the framework of a great church. Within it, at the chancel, multiple white crosses float over the wireframe bust of a man as tendrils of light (thought / understanding / realisation?) fall from an angled blue cross to strike a mask that deflects them away – although it is showing signs of crumbling and breaking under their persistence.

It’s a clear and concise statement concerning religious oppression through the implementation of doctrine over belief / understanding. The white crosses stand as bars rigidly defining the dogma and the vertical nature of “white” Christianity as it is so sadly practised by some, wherein matters so often defined as “right” or “wrong” in terms of race, colour, gender and sexuality (perhaps more so in this present era than more recent times past). Meanwhile, the blue cross and the tendrils of light reflect that shift in thinking from dogma and vertical superiority towards the more compassionate, humanistic (and perhaps even more Christ-like?) “horizontal” view that we are in fact all equal; thus underlining the use of race, colour, gender and  sexuality by some as masks and shields by which they seek to hold themselves apart from, and over, others.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Crossing Over

Night Walks, meanwhile, offers a series of images that take us on “journeys into a dark world”. As the introduction notes:

Streets are empty in the night. At 3 or 4 am we can walk around without meeting people (just somebody who is “still” or “already” there, according to the words of the great Italian writer Italo Calvino, a night owl or a worker). So, we can look at buildings, parked cars, windows, street lamps and benches as they are the true inhabitants of that dark world.

Thus we are offered a series of night-time images taken from around Second Life offered in Melu’s unique perspective where she uses minimalism and close focus to tremendous effect. These are images that offer not so much a picture of a location but a glimpse into a world; sharply defined and focused they might be in their composition, but behind each one of them sits an entire story into which the imagination can fall.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Night Walks

Empty streets at night can be both enticing and frightening. We can be alone, even when just beyond the few inches of stone or brick that may separate us from the interior of house or apartment building, we know there are others, sleeping peacefully or – if lights are still to be seen through curtailed windows – going about their lives as we tread the pavements outside. Thus, we can wrap ourselves in a cloak of our own thoughts without fear of interruption or distraction.

But at the same time, the streets late at night can be unsettling: the familiar can be redrawn by the simple fall of light and shadow; doorways that by day might be welcoming can by night become places of menace. Thus – and again as the liner notes state, “Serenity and fear live together in the dark and empty streets. Which of them wins, depends on our mood. In the night the dark enchanting forest of the city becomes the landscape where the contrasting sides of our souls live.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Night Walks

And it is in this contrasting sides of the soul that the link is formed between Night Walks and Crossing Over is formed. It is said that it is in the depths of night that one can most clearly hear the voice of God – or the voice of conscience, if you prefer. That quiet, insistent voice of challenge against dogma that cannot be silenced by the distractions of daytime life or deflected by the masks we might otherwise wear when not so deeply alone, and which calls into question our structure doctrine of thinking and encourages us towards a more open  – dare I say “horizontal” view of the world around us.

The symbolism within and between both Crossing Over and Night Walks is both rich and powerful, offering multiple ways to interpret each as individual pieces and as interconnected exhibits (there is something of a symbolism for death in Crossing Over, for example, and the small hours of the night as seen in Night Walks are said to be the time when death visits the most – ideas which can taken interpretation of both into a whole new dimension).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Night Walks

In this, I could go on to write at length on both, but I’ll resist putting words into the artist’s mouths and ideas into your heads. Instead, I would encourage you to go to Nitroglobus and view both, and allow them to jointly speak to you. Both Night Walks and Crossing Over officially open at 12:00 noon SLT on Tuesday, September 8th, 2019.

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The art of Silence in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: David Silence

Officially opening on Saturday, July 13th, but available for preview at of Nitroglobus Roof Gallery curated by Dido Haas, is Silences, featuring the art of David Silence.

Dido is justifiably proud to have been able to persuade him to present his first solo exhibition at Nitroglobus, and Silences demonstrates he has considerable skill in constructing scenes that present a moment in time belonging to perhaps a larger story canvas, and for evoking emotional and intellectual responses through his work.

After returning from a long absence, SL became for me a tool to discover, recognise things of myself without filters without masks. I use Silence to capture emotions, which we can find with attention in an avatar. In this first exhibition … the intention was to see myself, to strip myself of myself, look at myself from a distance, naked, try to understand me and show me during this phase of my life.

– David Silence, discussing Silences

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: David Silence

Thus it is we’re presents with a series of marvellous images, predominantly of David’s avatar, each of which engages the eye and mind on multiple levels. Given there is something of a metaphorical stripping away of preconceptions of self and the influence of how one might wish to appear to the rest of the world, many of the images feature naked, or near-naked avatars; their nudity perfectly reflecting the idea of the stripping away of ego and self (it also means, as an aside, some of the images might be considered NSFW).

Whether it is intentional or not, the images are displayed in such a way as to suggest grouping by theme. Along the southern arm of the gallery, for example, are images pairing David and his model (Dido?) in a manner suggestive an exploration of self and relationships – who are we with those closest to us?

Meanwhile, along the gallery’s north facing wing, are a pair of images that are suggestive of an exploration of self without the masks we so often wear, and the questions of who we might actually be, beautifully suggested through the presence of owl and zebra head, as they lead the way further around the gallery and its exploration of self before returning to the studies of self and companionship.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: David Silence

In this way the images engage the intellect, encouraging us to consider matters of self, identity and generate a degree of personal reflection. But alongside of this, many of the images have, as noted, a broader canvas of narrative in which we can become engaged. Again as an example, take the initial three images feature David and his model on the southern wall of the gallery; these present a story of a relationship that paints itself in our thoughts: who are the couple? What are the thoughts they are each holding? What is the cause of the apparent tension evident between them? And more.

Thus, Silences is a richly engaging exhibition, powerful in the ways in which it engages the eye and mind, the dark tones evident in many of the pieces simply serving to draw us deeper into them. With its official opening at 13:00 SLT on Saturday, July 13th, featuring music by Gitu Aura, this is yet another Nitroglobus exhibition that should not be missed.

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Livio’s retrospective at Nitroglobus in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Livio Korobase

Livio Korobase is rightly known and admired for his 3D art installations in Second Life. Sometimes irreverent or with a rich vein of humour and sense of fun, other times thought provoking and challenging – but always fascinating and engaging, Livio’s work never fails to capture the eye and mind.

Given he frequently works on the scale of an entire region, any attempt at offering a look back on his work is going to be something of a challenge; just how do you bring together some much in the way of large-scale work in a space that could often be confined by the limitations of a gallery.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Livio Korobase

Yet that is what he has done – and quite appealingly so – thanks to an invitation from Dido Haas, owner and curator of Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. With Post Factum (“after the fact” – or to put it another way, retrospectively) Livio presents a marvellous review of his work that  – in Dido’s own words (borrowed from Monty Python which, given Livio’s aforementioned sense of fun, is not entirely inappropriate) – present and exhibition that is quite “completely different” for Nitroglobus Roof Gallery.

Nitroglobus has always made a clever use of space: the gallery’s halls are high walled, allowing extremely large format images to be exhibited. More than this, however, its walls extend below the transparent floor  level, allowing mirrored copies of images exhibited to be placed “below” them, giving the impression the pictures are being reflected in the polished floors themselves.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Livio Korobase

For Post Factum, Livio both continues this approach, placing 2D images of his art both above and below the floors to give the illusions of reflections. But at the same time, he presents different 3D pieces on the main and sub-floors of the gallery.

Not only does this allow for the display of more of Livio’s work than might otherwise be the case without making things crowded, thus making excellent use of the available space. More than this however, the use of the available space cleverly reflects Livio’s ability to challenge our perceptions: paintings and photos “reflected” in the floors – yet those same floors reveal completely different 3D figures below them than those sitting above them.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Livio Korobase

To move between the two levels, visitors are invited to use the teleporter “hole”. Doing so is recommended, given that many of Livio pieces can be interactive so you’re going to want to get close enough to be able to mouse-over / touch them to find out what might happen.

As a retrospective, the exhibition offers pieces from many of Livio’s installations and exhibitions – Black Elk, Eidola, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Musiclandia, and more. For those of us familiar with Livio’s work, Post Factum therefore offers a fascinating trip down memory lane. For those who might not be so familiar with his work, the exhibition still offers an inviting and immersive introduction.

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Paola’s Nudes: an homage to Helmut Newton at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Gallery: Nudes by Paola Mills

Now open through April and into May at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Nudes, a themed series of images by Paola Mills, which stands as something of an homage to the late German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton.

For those unfamiliar with Newton, who is perhaps best remembered for his work from the 1970s through mid-1990s, I’ll let Brooke McCord provide an introduction:

Nobody has made quite the lasting impression on fashion imagery as Helmut Newton. Hired by French Vogue in the 1950s before being propelled to fame in the 1970s, Newton came to be renowned for his controversial scenarios, hypersexualised imagery and striking compositions. With elements of his work that linked to the themes of surrealism – an art movement dominant during his youth spent growing up in Berlin – Newton’s unadulterated love of beautiful and strong women saw him create images laden with heavy overtones of voyeurism, sadomasochism and fetishism.

Brooke McCord, Your ultimate guide to Helmut Newton, Dazed, 2016

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

In particular, Newton is p[erhaps best known for two classical collections of photography, White Women (1976) and Big Nudes (1981), which together with 1978’s Sleepless Nights, often form a triptych of themes for retrospectives of his unique style of photography.

For Nudes, Paola states she draws inspiration from, and pays something of a tribute to, Big Nudes, although I would perhaps argue that some of the pieces here also reflect (and contrast with) Newton’s White Women as well. As noted, both have come to be regarded as classical works by Newton; White Women due to its mixture of aesthetics, technical perfection and bourgeois decadence laced with dark elegance and eerie abstract s/m trappings to present what was regarded as a pinnacle of erotic photography.

Big Nudes, however, eschewed all of the trappings found within White Women. Instead, for this series of black-and-white photos, produced between 1979 and 1981, Newton took a stylistic change, the elaborate layouts with their tones of decadence discarded in favour of a full-on unambiguously formulated approach that took pride in female nakedness, and its power therein.

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

This latter aspect is very much in evidence within Paola’s images, which also offer a contrast to Big Nudes with their use of skin tone and backdrop; they thus present almost an inverse mirror to Newton’s originals. And like Newton’s Big Nudes, Paola’s images speak to both the vulnerability and strength of the female body. But within some of them as well are echoes of White Women: a delicate and nuanced sensuality which, when combined with camera angle and backdrop – the plainness of the latter notwithstanding – offer echo elements of Newton’s 1976 collection. Not that Paola is intending to titillate through these images, a point she makes in the notes accompanying the exhibition, after she gives credit to Newton for his work:

Much more modestly I wanted to represent the nakedness of an avatar in all its erotic charge. I don’t want to tickle the sexual instincts nor excite the minds, but only convey to my avatars the human sensitivity that guides them in the metaverse.

– Paola Mills, describing Nudes

Nitroglobus Gallery: Paola Mills

But just because there is something of a voyeuristic / erotic aspect to some, of the images in Nudes should not be seen in any way as a failure on Paola’s part to achieve her stated goal. Rather, it speaks to the success in presenting the full complexity of human sensitivity – both within the images themselves and our reaction to them.

Nudes officially opens on Sunday, March 31st, 2019 with a party at 12:00 noon SLT, and will run through the month and into May. However, those wishing to see the exhibition ahead of the launch can do so now.

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Entering Kerupa’s Hydrosphere at Nitroglobus

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

Open through the rest of February and into March at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Hydrosphere by Kerupa Flow.

The name is a reflection of Kerupa’s fascination with water, which has been – as she notes – a major theme in her art for a long time.

Creatures can not live without water, everyone knows. However, we forget what water is. Water is infinite, it’s a huge force beyond humanity, which enables us to stay alive …. but it also can destroy us.

– Kerupa Flow, introducing Hydrosphere

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

This description might suggest the art on offer comprises images with a water theme – and so they do; but not in the manner one might expect. These are images that reflect our complex relationship with water, richly personifying it. In one sculpture, it is celebrated as the place from which complex life evolved, the mother of all that life on Earth has become. In another it appears as a whirlpool drawing a body in to it, a reminder that it can be a destroyer of life; the most powerful demonstration of nature’s power, as Kerupa again notes.

The earthquake and tsunami disasters that occurred in 2011 in Japan were exactly the power of the earth itself. The way the tsunami moved over a long distance with the overwhelming power until it stopped inland, is a terror that can not be forgotten.

– Kerupa Flow, introducing Hydrosphere

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

The images present many facets of our relationship to water, a relationship which is so complex, it is easy to arrive at more than one interpretation for some of them. Take the second sculpture mentioned above, Minawa. On the one hand there is that sense of water’s power to kill, but it also perhaps personifies that origin of life also mentioned above – and even that of birth; that is, rather than being pulled into the whirlpool, the figure within the piece is coming forth.

The theme of birth might also be evident which might be seen in Twilight dreams. On the one hand, this piece might serve as a reminder of the soothing influence the sound of the ebb and flow of water can have on us, encouraging rest and dreams. On the other there is a suggestion of the womb, and the security it represents.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Kerupa Flow

Elsewhere in the collection, the nature of water is more directly personified, through Merman – Voice of the Sea, for example, or the marvellously animate Water of the Erebus.  In this latter piece is another marvellous intertwining of ideas: water is given a face – but not just any face. It belongs to the primordial deity personifying darkness, a child of Chaos – a further referencing to natures raw power through water and the seas around us.

All told, Hydrosphere is another fascinating exhibit at Nitroglobus, rich in context and narrative (I’ve not even mentioned Water Dragon and how it would appear to have a tie with Kerupa herself – but I’ll leave you to read her byline for the exhibition and draw your conclusions on this 🙂 . All I will say is that, as always, this is not an exhibit to be missed.

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