Noir Vibrations in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Noir Tater – Noir Vibrations

Oftentimes the matter of who we are or whom we would like to be is bound into the idea that it is all matter of listening to our “inner voice” and following it direction.

But what happens when that inner voice is itself confused – or rather, unwilling to be constrained by a bilateral thinking and choosing not to be A, bit to embrace B; what if that inner voice desires to be C or D or more, even if giving expression to one, excludes us the allowance of one of more of the other ideals of who we are? Can we even make a choice, or are we forever caught in a state of flux – vibrating if you will, enduring a struggle not just with the matter of who we are or might be, but also what society expects of us.

This is the country of the mind Noir Tater explores within Noir Vibrations, which is open through the rest of August 2022 and into September at Dido’s Space – now officially called The Annex – within Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. It forms my first conscious introduction to Noir’s work, and I admit to finding myself draw into an ever-branching training of thought.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Noir Tater – Noir Vibrations
My need to be free in all aspects dominates, anguishes and suffocates me. Vibration Noir is my daily struggle to be what I am and who I am. 

– Noir Tater

Across 14 pieces – marking this as one of the largest exhibitions I’ve witnessed within the Annex at Nightroglobus – Noir offers a series of striking self-portraits which are striking in their presentation. Layered to present a sense of multiple exposures, cut through with large “pixelated” blocks of colours, some edges with touches of cubism and others rendered almost as anaglyph images, they are at once highly stylised and also deeply engaging, bringing forth that idea of vibrating between states of who ae are / might be.

These are pieces which quietly speak the to struggles the artist faces in their need to find the fullest freedom of expression. A quote from Jean-Paul Satre used to further underscore the fact the struggle can be made that much harder because of the all-pervasive binary structures we have woven into society – up to and including the notion that there is only “good” and “evil” (a particularly poignant underscoring, given the way those of so-call “good” religious beliefs seek to demonise those who look beyond the binary perceptions that have been enforced on humans by humans).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Noir Tater – Noir Vibrations

Fortunately, for many of us, Second Life offers a safe haven for positive self-expression – and Linden Lab has done (and continues to do) much to foster this. However, through the use of “pixelated and “anaglyph” forms, these pieces also (perhaps) remind us that even hers, freedom to express ourselves is not easy: it requires time and effort on our part: learning to use the viewer, building visual representations by others may come to know us, etc. – just as is suggested we need anaglyph lenses to bring some of these images into “clarity”.

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Invisible Cities: Fighting Women at Nitroglobus in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Debora Kaz – Invisible Cities – Fighting Women

Invisible Cities – Fighting Women is the title given to a combined 2D and 3D art installation by Debora Kaz that is currently open to the public through until the end of August 2022 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas.

Supported by a custom lighting environment created by Adwehe, this is perhaps one of the most complex installations and layered installations I have seen – something that in itself is saying a lot: Dido has a consummate skill in challenging the artists she invites to exhibit at Nitroglobus, consistently leading to installations that stand head-and-shoulders above those found elsewhere in Second Life in terms of their richness of presentation, meaning, and narrative.

Perhaps the best way to describe the installation is to use Debora’s own words, both from the introductory notes (available via the giver at the landing point) and the open letter Debora has written form women and which is displayed on the north side of the gallery space (and which is included with copies of each of the pieces in the exhibition when they are purchased):

Invisible Cities – Fighting Women wants to show the pain and difficulty of being a woman in a world where women historically were portrayed as objects of desire, exposed to consumption, which induces rivalry, resulting in us women not having a real union to fight the violence that is directed at us.

– Debora Kaz, introducing Invisible Cities – Fighting Women

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Debora Kaz – Invisible Cities – Fighting Women

Whether we like it or not, we live in a world that is largely derived in terms of patriarchy, be it societal, historic, and religious or a mix of all three. It is a global environment where even today, women are faced with a broad range of physical violence (1 in 3 women world-wide will be beaten or raped or face other forms of direct violence at the hands of males at least once in their lives) and more subtle psychological violence.

It is something many women the world over are trying to address and overcome through projects and activities such as One Billion Rising, through protests, activism and even through art – as has often been seen here in Second Life.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Debora Kaz – Invisible Cities – Fighting Women

However, as Debora moves to point out in Invisible Cities – Fighting Women, we so often undermine these efforts by committing “violence” upon ourselves and one another: we cave to the demands of advertising, objectifying ourselves, turning ourselves into things of desire to attract others; we seek to dominate one another at work or socially, and so forth.

Within this capitalist game of consumption and desire, women compete with each other attack each other in an irrational way; and most of the time, they are not aware of it, because of the superstructure. Structural misogyny occupies the minds of not only men, but it is also present in the formation of every woman who is born objectified. The demand to be desired grows and seeks to be desired all her life – by men, but mostly by women; to be desired by another woman is to have power, to be better than others is wanting to be better than any other woman.
With this in mind, the union that women desire [in order] to combat violence against women [as] imposed [by] the history of patriarchal societies becomes unviable. It is not possible to unite when someone wants to have one power relationship over another.

– Debora Kaz, Invisible Cities – Fighting Women

Through the 16 images and 5 sculptures, Debora presents aspects of all of this in quite vivid and engaging pieces. Within them, we can find reactions to patriarchal dominance (Fuck God) to the need for mutual support (I’m By Your Side), and more. Throughout all of the pieces, colour pays a major role. Pink references both female empowerment and the struggles we face  – external and internal – to be understood as individuals, while harder, courser colours are used to represent emotional and the turmoil they can and create and the conflicts – again, internal and between one another – they induce.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Debora Kaz – Invisible Cities – Fighting Women

Individually, these are striking pieces; each carries a weight of narrative that has impact – this cannot be denied. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to being somewhat confused in understanding the core theme and message of this installation. I’m not sure if this is down to a shortfall on my part or because the artist has accidentally cast her net too wide and introduced to much in the way of narrative and subtext. As such, I encourage you to visit and explore Invisible Cities – Fighting Women for yourself and free from any confusion on my part.

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Art and Complex Chronic Disease in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, July 2022: Wicked Eiren – Body Language/The Invisible Woman

I’m going to open this piece with an apology to Dido Haas and – especially – to Wicked Eiren for coming to Body Language/The Invisible Woman relatively late in the day, the exhibition having opened at the end of June 2022.

Located in Dido’s Space within Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, this is a tremendously powerful selection of black-and-white art in the personal message it contains – although the images themselves, as can be seen by the banner image for this article – should be considered NSFW.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, July 2022: Wicked Eiren – Body Language/The Invisible Woman

In the physical world, Wicked suffers from Complex Chronic Disease, also known as Central Sensitivity Syndromes (CSS), a health condition that combine a very range of symptoms and conditions from a number of recognised illnesses including (but certainly not limited to) Fibromyalgia (FM) and Myalgic encephalomyelitis, and which can be complicated by chronic viral conditions such as the vicious Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) and bacterial infections such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, each of which can give rise to multiple health conditions.

Such are the complexities and symptoms involved – physical, mental and psychological – CCD / CSS conditions are extremely hard to recognise or even correctly diagnose and they manifest in so many ways, individually and collectively. A further complication with the conditions is that they are further exacerbated by the central nervous system repeatedly misfiring, amplifying the sensory symptoms and leading to CCD / CSS being referred to as “pain without cause”.

This latter point does not mean that for the sufferer, the pain and related fatigue and mental anguish do not exist; the symptoms are very real and very physical, and require a complex approach to diagnose and care.

Unfortunately, the fact that the symptoms do seem to be without underpinning, easy-to-understand causes can result in those who have not experienced the conditions to dismiss both symptoms and sufferer (“oh you look fine!” or whispered “X has this mental thing” or “it’s just attention-seeking”, and so on) . This in turn can lead to a highly negative internalising of the conditions and the symptoms on the part of the sufferer, causing further withdrawal from the world.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, July 2022: Wicked Eiren – Body Language/The Invisible Woman

Body Language/The Invisible Woman is a subtle but exceptionally powerful statement on Wicked’ life with CCD / CSS, with the pieces presented speaking to both reality and desire. The desire to be seen, to be able to look at oneself free from the tyranny of discomfort, pain, fatigue and mental sluggishness – to be seen – in Wicked’s case – as a woman – beautiful, free, whole, and desirable; the reality in the ever-present company of those symptoms that force her to stand aside or hide, exemplified by both the poses used (note the use of light and show, the placement of hand, the crook of finger or thumb, urn of head, direction of look – all intended to hide as much as reveal) and the subtle rash-like lines of her body.

In this, the use of nude images should not be mistaken as being simply gratuitous or for the sake of titillation. The conditions associated with CCD / CSS are not something those experiencing can merely weather and “get over” through time and medication; rather, they defined the person experiencing them – however unwillingly – as keenly as their skin, that is as ever-present and familiar as the shape and lines of their own face. As such, the use of nude images serves to emphasise all of this, underlining the manner in which CCD / CCS is as much a constant to life as is flesh itself.

Similarly, the use of black-and-white images is evocative of the manner in which life might appear to feel: washed of colour and vitality; a plain mix of light and dark that personifies the wish to retreat, to hide. It also most effectively underscores the central tenet to the exhibition, as does the intentional monochrome lighting and overall presentation of the hall itself a monochromatic finish of its own: that those who experience CCD / CSS so often encounter a two-dimensional response from others: they are seen, but not who they are, because their pain causes them to be denied true expression and/or to be cosseted, be it out of lack of understanding (the aforementioned “it’s all in her head”) or over-protective response (“you shouldn’t be doing that! Let ME take care of it!”) that can be as equally denying and born of a lack of understanding.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, July 2022: Wicked Eiren – Body Language/The Invisible Woman

Remarkable and powerful, Body Language/The Invisible Woman is so deeply layer, there is much more I could say about it – but really, it is a collection of images that should be seen and allowed to speak for themselves, so I urge you to pay a visit before the exhibition closes, and let the pieces there speak to you directly – and be sure to taken the introductory note card from the board within the hall to learn more about Wicked and CCD.

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Life’s primary colours in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Bamboo Barnes – Colores Primarios

Bamboo Barnes is back a Nitroglobus Roof Gallery for July, with an exhibition occupying the main a hall of Dido’s Haas’ superb arts venue. She comes with a new collection of pieces gathered under the title Colores Primarios (Primary Colours), offering a total of 21 pieces (six of which offer an engaging commentary on the core theme for the exhibition, lined as they are along one wall of the gallery’s space), with a fair number beautifully animated.

Whilst coming a touch over a year since her last exhibition at Nitroglobus, Colores Primarios shares something of a spiritual connection with that last display of her work – Tranquil Droplets -, presenting as it does reflections on the nature of life. However, where that exhibition focused on light and dark as expressions of mood, here Bamboo asks us to consider the colours we use in defining moments and moods and which, ultimately, define who we are.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Bamboo Barnes – Colores Primarios
What colour is the ground you cower on?
What colour is the sigh your breath makes?
What colour is that place where you fall asleep?
What are your basic colours?

– Bamboo Barnes, Colores Primarios

We’re all familiar with the concept of using colour to define our emotional states – red with embarrassment; down and blue; green with envy; a black mood; white with rage; a rosy smile, and so on. We are all likely familiar with the idea of our aura; the supposed spiritual / energy field said to surround all living things (yes, George, we know where you got your idea for the Force from!), which is also expressed in terms of colour: red, green, blue, orange, yellow, white, violet, black.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Bamboo Barnes – Colores Primarios
But what if, rather than standing as simple reflections of mood or state, colours were a genuine outflow of every moment of life; something informed by where we are, what we are feeling, events recently passed, and so on? Colours that, if visible, would literally paint our lives for all to see – what would they show? How would they ebb and flow? Would they further reveal us, giving expression to not only the emotions we are feeling, but the depth of those emotions (Neon Glitch)? Would they be forever flicking and changing, moment to moment (the Assemble 3 series)? Would they offer a reflection of us that is real, or own that is blurred by our own confusion?

How would they define us to both ourselves and those around us? What would we say through them?

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Bamboo Barnes – Colores Primarios

I offer no answers here; Colores Primarios deserves to speak directly to all who see it and give pause to consider what it has to say. As always, Bamboo’s work is rich in colour and presentation, primal in look – again, reflection the exhibition’s title – and always absorbing; an exhibition once again supported by Adwehe’s colour spheres.

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Loss, life and strength, Alone in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mihailsk
There are moments in life when you feel like you are losing everything; the laughter, the joy, in short the colour disappears from your life. You are ALONE, nude, mourning about what you lost. You have to find the strength to stand on your own feet again and find the light in the darkness that surrounds you.

– Mihailsk, June 2022

With these words, Greek photographer-artist and observer of life Mihailsk introduces guests to his exhibition Alone, which forms the June exhibit at Dido Haas’s Nitroglobus Roof Gallery. As might be gathered from his intro, this is an exhibition that leans into darker feelings and emotions: loss and loneliness, depression and hurt, whilst also offering a sense of hope beyond the shadow and pain.

The fourteen pieces Mihailsk presents are extraordinary in the depth of life they each offer. All are finished in black and white, using deep shadow and nudity to tremendous effect. But while nudity is present, it is not excessively NSFW, (although caution might be best employed with a couple of the pieces). Nor is its presence in any way gratuitous; rather, it is essential to the exhibition’s theme and tone.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mihailsk

This is because – as Mihailsk notes – nudity is the most physical manifestation of helplessness / being alone. When nude, we have nothing by which to hide our condition; we are literally and metaphorically laid bare to the world and our scars are openly visible; scars that are not necessarily physical, but certainly emotional (and represented here by the tattoos, marks and drawings present on Mihailsk’s torso and face). Thus its use within these images is a literal expression of naked emotion.

Similarly, the use of shadow and monochrome project feeling and mood. The shadows are perhaps most obviously representative of depression, feelings of darkness, loss and being lost. At the same time, the use of shadows to obscure eyes (together with eyes being closed) speaks again to sorrow, loss, and emptiness.

Contrasting with this is the use of light, both directed and visible. Through the pieces, whether indirect and lighting Mihailsk’s body and face, or direct in the form of beams of light falling across him or the presence of a ceiling light, give a sense hope for the future, and happier times will come again. More particularly, its presence within the images literally pushes back against the darkness, bathing Mihailsk in a sense of warmth, a visual reference to the fact that bad times do come to an end and that – to borrow from another expression – our darkest times come just before the brightest.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Mihailsk

This hope is further expressed through pose. Nowhere is the figure slumped or huddled; instead, the poses all contain one or more suggestions of strength: a muscular outstretched arm, a seated back that is straight, not curved in defeat; the fluid movement of dance, and so on. Thus, they further add to the sense of hope for the future, that our inner strength will allow us to survive and to move forward as we seek the light of better times.

Accompanying the art are two quotes from Greek writer and poet Anastasios-Pandeleïmon Leivaditis and Belgian poet and novelist Eleanore Marie Sarton, both of which perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the exhibition. This can be found on the gallery wall, while lighting by Adwehe has been provided to add further atmosphere to the piece (make sure Advanced Lighting Model is enabled).

Rich in metaphor, meaning and very real emotion, Alone is an exhibition of enormous personal depth, but which offers a richness of feeling that it resonates strongly with anyone who has experienced one or more periods of loss and / or darkness.

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Dido’s Fade to Grey in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Fade to Grey

It was back to Dido Haas’s Nitroglobus Roof Gallery for me for the second of the May / June exhibitions on offer there. Fade to Grey, offered within Dido’s space at the gallery is an exhibition of Dido’s own images, all of which have been rendered as monochrome pieces, with some additionally post-processed to give the impression of drawings.

Dido is perhaps best known for her curation of Nitroglobus Roof gallery where – as I’ve oft stated in these pages – she is able to encourage artists from across Second Life to present exceptional exhibitions of their art. She is also, again as I’ve noted, a gifted photographer-artist herself. What may be less well known is that she is a blogger and Second Life traveller.

Since July 2009 I put a lot of my SL time in writing for my blog ‘Exploring SL with Dido‘, however the emphasize shifted more and more from text to images. In line with this I started to place my best blog images and more private photos in my Flickr account … Being so busy with curating the gallery, I have little time left to make images myself … But sometimes when I am in the right mood I do make images, most of them black/white. 

– Dido Haas

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The eight images reflect Dido’s talent for black-and-white images and her love of exploration. They have been captured in various regions around Second Life, including Furillen, Quoted Memories and AEAEA islands. However, seven of the images are all very much studies in narrative, the focus being both Dido herself, and the embodiment of mood and emotion, while the eighth is presented as a self-portrait, finished as a drawing, an arm stretched forward as if in greeting / encouragement. All of them together offer an invitation for us to step into Dido’s Second Life and share in both her artistic view of our digital world and in her personal time in-world.

Small in size, intimate in content, Fade to Grey is a warm exhibition that can be enjoyed for itself – and for those who might like to, Dido suggests viewing the exhibition whilst listening to the most successful single released by British synth-pop group Visage, and which has the same name as the exhibition (and, as it was originally written as an instrumental piece, there’s also this version, if you prefer).

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Dido Haas – Fade to Grey

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