Melusina’s Absences in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

“Absence,” Melusina Parkin states in introducing her exhibition, Absences, at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, “is a negative concept: it means that something should be there and it doesn’t. So, when we look at an empty place – a room, a seashore, a road or even a chair – we can’t avoid thinking of something or somebody who has been or will be there. That’s even more true when a world, including nature and landscape, is entirely made by humans, like Second Life.”

Absences is a set of twelve images on this theme, presented in Melusina’s familiar approach of offering a macro-like study, each scene a single point of focus – a beginning, not an entire story. Rather than the entire room, we are instead given an empty hanger on a hook, deserted chairs at a table, a glimpse of an empty couch facing windows without a landscape, the rumpled sheets on one side of the vacated bed, and so on. All suggest a story, of a presence lost but still felt; of  time when two were once one, but now only the one remains, the observer, the keeper of memories.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

But are the absences we see permanent – the result of the ending of a relationship or the passing of someone close to us? Or are they temporary –  the absence felt when a lover is away for an extended period, or who has just departed for a time and with the promise of reunion in the future? Or are they the absence created by changing circumstances – the empty room symbolic of possessions packed and gone, in transit to a new home while we remain, recalling all that has happened in the now deserted spaces – and the promise of new beginnings when next we see those possessions in their new home?

“I’m not completely aware of these thoughts when I take a photograph,” Melusina notes. “But when a detail, a colour shade, a light catches my eye and pushes me to freeze it in a photo, I think it happens ’cause they suggest me an atmosphere that any word, any human presence could better express.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

And here is where the power of these pieces resides. Because they are each so focused, so macro in content, there is no sense  that we are being particularly directed to view any of them one way or another. Instead, each is but an opening word or line, awaiting its story to be told.

In this, we become not so much observers of each image, but playwrights, sharing each canvas with Melusina, writing stories of ending and beginnings unique to each of us, filling the page she offers us through each image. Because, and as she notes, the blank page holds so much more power than the sheet upon which words have already been written. And so these images, as evocative as they are, are made even more meaningful to each of us through our involvement in the narratives that flow from them.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

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Black and White Women in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Black and White Women, and exhibition of photography by Christower Dae.

“Chris likes to explore, experiment, is curious and loves making pictures. Photography for Chris is immortalizing avatars in ambiguous attitudes,” Dido states in the liner notes for the exhibition. “His dedication to the avatar portraits, to the capture of those expressions that a skin can offer by giving (according to many people) a soul to the avatar and its personality begins.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

The result is a series of stunning avatar portraits presented in black and white, focusing on the female face. Presented in the familiar large format for Nitroglobus. However, these are no ordinary portraits. Each offers a considered, unique moment in time captured in the life of each subject; that all are presented in black and white services to heighten the beauty within it.

Each of the images is perfectly framed to offer a story; what that story might be is left entirely up to us: there are no visual clues within the pictures themselves; those which do offer any background do so in soft focus, ensuring attention remains on the face before us. Shown in close up, every detail of each face is presented to us: the brush of freckles across a cheek, the reflection of light within an eye, the spread of eyelashes, the fullness of lip – all are beautifully captured and rendered.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

I’ve seen many images of avatars in Second Life, both through exhibitions and via Flickr, but Black and White Women is one of the more remarkable sets of such studies I’ve seen. The natural cast to each is – to repeat myself – genuinely unique. This is an eye-catching exhibition, one I recommend visiting.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Black and White Women

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A Million Freckles in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Million Freckles
Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Million Freckles

“To be honest this exhibition was initiated because the January artist  I invited to exhibit her work at Nitroglobus couldn’t make it,” Dido Haas says in the introduction to an exhibition of her own photography, A Million Freckles, at the Nitroglobus Roof Gallery she curates. “I started making a few works and gradually got inspired. Hope you appreciate. It’s rather revealing I must admit, to show so much of your pixel skin.”

The result is 14 large format monochrome images which might be described as minimalist – as Dido notes, there is little use of background or props – which are sensual (nudity is apparent in some, so the exhibition might be considered NSFW in places), personal, revealing and engaging.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Million Freckles
Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Million Freckles

Within the liner notes, Dido describes a conversation she had with a visitor who the gallery as she completed hanging the images. He asks her if her goal is to attract attention / admiration (presumably for herself rather than her work), and why she didn’t use a model. Her replies to the questions are that she’s not sure if attaining attention / admiration for herself is her goal, and that she doesn’t feel her abilities to frame and express moods and feelings through the use of a model.

I’d tend to agree with Dido on both counts. While these are undoubtedly refined and attractive images of self, it is the mood they evoke which attracts and engages, rather than necessarily how Dido reveals her body within each image. And while, give the use of pose systems, etc., could facilitate the same selection of photos on display, the fact that they are revealing Dido herself makes the expressions of mood and emotion within each of them that much deeper. more unique to her – and thus our own response is deepened knowing it is her revealing / exposing her own moods and sensuality.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Million Freckles
Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: A Million Freckles

A Million Freckles will remain open through January.

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Always Closer in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Always Closer
Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Always Closer

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Hass is Always Closer, a selection of personal images by Elo (elorac Paule).

Through the sixteen images on display, we are asked to join with Elo as she reviews her exploration of BDSM and discovery of submission (which might not be what you might believe it to be after reading those four letters) as a part of her in-world time. Alongside of this, they are presented as a reflection of Elo’s year, which she acknowledges has been an emotional one for her in both the physical and digital realms.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Always Closer
Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Always Closer

Displayed in the familiar large format used at Nitroglobus, these are sensual images presented – for the most part – in soft lighting and muted tones. Often, with photographs featuring nudity and / or adult theme like BDSM, the observer is cast into the role of the voyeur; we are given a sense of being given an illicit peek at a situation. With only a couple of possible exceptions, that’s not the case here; with these images we’re being asked to share in the emotions evoked by the images: moments of loving affinity, of vulnerability, of introspection, of surrender, and of human change.

Alongside the desire to evoke an emotional response in her audience, Elo notes that she also sees her pieces in terms of songs, and offers Affection by Cigarettes After Sex as a companion piece to this exhibit.  in walking through the gallery. For reasons I can’t fully determine, Swing Out Sister’s cover of Windmills of Your Mind Iooped its way through my head; perhaps it was a subconscious linking of Elo (who is French) to Michel Legrand, composer of the song’s score; whatever the reason, it didn’t seem inappropriate.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Always Closer
Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Always Closer

Accompanying the exhibition is a personal note by Elo, alluded to above, which should be read alongside of the visit. Not only does it offer further insight into the very personal aspect of her photography, it also reveals her own understanding of the true nature of “submission”, devoid of the trappings of labels such as “BDSM”: that it is effectively the expression of love between two people; the willingness for each to give their best to the other without question or hesitation.

Always Closer is a fascinating exhibition. both through the art and Elo’s own words. Introspective, intimate, personal, it  both reveals Elo’s life and journey and gives rise to contemplation of our own thoughts, feelings and – perhaps – direction, as we straddle the physical and the virtual.

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