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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An offering to Mnemosyne in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne, sister of the Titans and Mother of the Muses, was the Greek Goddess of Memory. According to Greek Mythology. Those who drank from the waters of Mnemosyne secured recollection of their memories as they passed to the next life.

So reads the introduction to the first exhibition for 2019 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas. Offering to Mnemosyne by Fenris (Fenris345) is a somewhat different exhibition to previous events at the gallery in that is offering a series of images that offer a glimpse of the artist’s own introspections on life, set within a mythological framework that has a resonance for all of us.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

The daughter of Titans Uranus and Gaia, Mnemosyne occupies something of a unique place in Greek mythology. While the Titans were viewed as archaic, she nevertheless has a prominent role. With her nephew Zeus, she  conceived the nine Muses. As the introduction of the exhibition notes, she presided over a pool that ensured those passing into the afterlife preserved their memories, and which stood in opposition to the river Lethe, from which those passing into Hades might drink if they wished to forget.

More particularly, her role is important to the Greeks, as memory was seen as one of the essential foundations of the oral (and later written) tradition; thus Mnemosyne herself one of the essential building blocks of civilisation in within Greek mythology – hence her elevation to that of a Titan.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

And the truth is, memory is important to all of us; hence why this exhibition might be seen as an expression of introspection by the artist –  a fact further expressed by the inclusion of some descriptive notes on each of the pieces in the exhibition by Fenris himself. However, I would recommend that visitors view the pieces before reading his comments; personal and introspective to the artist these images may be, but they can also serve as a springboard for our own memories. Simply allow the title of each and the image it presents to talk to you a moment; it’s surprising the memories  each picture calls forward.

Evocative, personal, rich in narrative, there is a depth to this exhibition that encourages time to explore each of the images carefully; in allowing them to speak quietly to you, to tease memories to the fore. It is also the reason why a return visit is well worth the while: to appreciate each through the eyes of the artist, by viewing them in concert with his personal notes (just click the greeter board to receive them with Dido’s introduction to the exhibition.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Offering to Mnemosyne

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Seeing out 2018 at Nitroglobus Roof in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Natalia and Moni

“I’m not promoting it heavily,” Dido Haas informed me, as we met at the end-of-2018 exhibition she is curating at her Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. “I had another exhibition planned, but it didn’t go ahead. So I’ll just place some pictures on Facebook, Flickr and the SL group.”

Which is not to say that the current exhibition is simply a fill-in; rather it stands in part as a retrospective of some of the memorable exhibitions Nitroglobus has hosted through 2018. It also offers the chance to appreciate Dido’s own work, and that of David, aka “Mr. Haas” or silence (jemapelSilence) that speak to their growing relationship.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido and David

Dido has a marvellous eye for art; as such Nitroglobus features a series of outstanding exhibitions each year – something that keeps me going back every month or so. As such, selecting artists and pieces for any kind of retrospective is going to be a challenge, but Dido nevertheless presents a considered series of pieces featuring  Monique Beebe (who I confess is one of my favourite artists when it comes to narrative avatar studies), from her exhibition Changing Moods. Alongside of it is a piece by Natalia Serenade, as featured in her evocative exhibition, The Colour of Unspoken Words (read here for more).

Cold Frog, who presented Fading in January, can also be found, as can Nevereux, with a piece from Out of Here, and Cat Boucher, who appeared at the gallery in August with Hypnopompia. Between and around these are images by Dido and David.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Nevereux

The latter are very intimate pieces, some which might be regarded as NSFW, but which are all richly evocative for the story they tell. The pictures by Dido also act as a possible lead-in to the permanent exhibition of her own work, which can be found n the gallery’s second hall, and reached via an interconnecting tunnel. I’ve always found Dido’s work wonderfully expressive and deeply personal, and thoroughly commend a walk through the tunnel to her display space if you have not previously done so during a visit to Nitroglobus.

While unplanned, the selection of art offered here also perhaps serves a further purpose: to whet our appetites for the exhibitions Dido will bring to us in 2019.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido

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