An artistic dedication in Second Life

Onceagain Art Gallery: Celestial Demon – Les Fleurs du Mal

Les Fleurs du mal, an exhibition of images by Celestial Demon being hosted on a sky platform at Onceagain Gallery by onceagain (Manoji Yachvili), is an interesting installation in that its title appears to be juxtaposed with its intention to venerate, something which immediately piques the curiosity.

Across the platform, which is dressed as a garden – or perhaps a meadow in which is centred a small, modern building apparently built within the ruins of a slightly larger, older, house – there sits a total of six small display areas, each home two images of women presented with floral surrounds which may have been part of the original set used to create each of the images or added during post-processing – although which might be the case isn’t actually important.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Celestial Demon – Les Fleurs du Mal

Reached by selecting Les Fleurs after clicking the teleport disk at the entrance to the ground-level of the Onceagain gallery spaces, the building-within-a-building of the garden platform acts as a central introduction and hub for exploring the six pairs of images, On the wall, in both English and Italian, can be found the dedication for the installation, which reads:

This moment of my life is dedicated to the marvellous creature called woman.
To her who despite the storms and demeaning periods, she always manages to flourish.
To her who blossoms into a smile despite the incessant rain of the darkest night.
May the earth beneath her feet be always soft.
For her, Les Fleurs du mal.

It’s a charming and disarming dedication, encapsulating the central theme of reverence for women; however, it cannot be denied that the idea of presented women who have so captivated with les fleurs du mal jars a little; or perhaps the expression is used in reference to those self-same storms and rains of dark night the subjects of these images have overcome. I’ll eave that for you to juggle with when visiting.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Celestial Demon – Les Fleurs du Mal

What I will say is that is little doubting the expression of reverence and the desire to off a visual dedication to the women – to all women, perhaps – presented through these pieces, each of which is available for purchase on a limited number basis.

Through graceful posing, a degree of soft focus through depth of field, and the employ of a plain white background and in some either the softest touch of a primary tint to match the floral arrays and or a gentle suggestion of shadow, the 12 presented pieces are eloquent and captivating in their depth of beauty and narrative. Each image is attended by more words – again in Italian and English – as an expression of the character and nature of the individual featured in each piece.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Celestial Demon – Les Fleurs du Mal

Poetic, graceful and set within a location in keeping with the ideas of reverence and dedication, a garden one can wander in silence and come upon each pair of images and their words free from the distractions of surrounding pieces, complete with places where one can sit and contemplate, Les Fleurs is an idyllic exhibition of art from a gifted teller of visual tales.

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Remember to use the teleport disk to reach the exhibition platform.

Maddy’s artistic Reflections in Second Life

Onceagain Art Gallery: Maddy – Reflections

Now open at Onceagain Art Gallery, curated by onceagain (Manoji Yachvili) is a new exhibition of work by Maddy (Magda Schmidtzau). Entitled Reflections, it is a further selection of art combining elements of art drawn from Second Life and the Midjourney AI art programme.

I’ve been fascinated by Midjourney since first encountering it in later 2022, and have tracked how it has been leveraged by a number of artists and artist-photographers in Second Life. However, I have to admit that my enthusiasm for the application itself has cooled somewhat since Midjourney founder and CEO David Holz openly admittedly in an interview with Forbes magazine that the company has trained its AI tool by essentially plundering digital image datasets – including Flickr, which is popular with SL photographers – without regard for copyright or consent, which has understandably upset a lot of professional  and amateur artists and photographers alike.

Which is not to say work by Maddy or others in SL utilise copyrighted material; it’s just that appreciation of work produced purely through Midjourney should be balanced against this knowledge, and we should be forewarned in how we use it.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Maddy – Reflections

With Reflections, Maddy has used Midjourney to enhance her own Second Life avatar compositions, creating a series of  original pieces intended to evoke a sense of mood and melancholy intended to convey the the essence of the subjects presented within each piece.

The result is a selection of atmospheric portraits offered within an equally atmospheric setting which sets the mood perfectly for viewing and appreciating each piece in turn.

The pictures themselves are presented in monochrome and / or soft, minimalist tones which gives each or an extraordinary depth and emotive power. Within each there is a lightness of post-processing touch on Maddy’s part that further breathes life into each image, further encouraging us to view them as reflections of the essence of people, rather than digital doppelgängers, so to speak.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Maddy – Reflections

A superb selection, well worth visiting and appreciating.

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Onceagain: a broadening artistic presence in Second Life

Onceagain Gallery, October 2022

It’s been barely a Kwarting¹ since I was last at Onceagain Art Gallery curated by Onceagain (Manoji Yachvili), with my last visit being to witness the B&W Group Exhibit (see: Onceagain with black and white in Second Life); and while a month is traditionally said to be a long time in politics, the same is very much true in Second Life. This is because in the time since my last visit the gallery has been relocated from the sky to the ground, and Manoji, and has expanded, its facilities.

Now located on the ground level of its home parcel within the Peaceful Mountains region, the Gallery comprises a number of halls and buildings separated by landscaped gardens. At the time of my visit, parts of the the gallery were still in development. However, this is to be expected because, as Manoji notes herself, she is always tweaking things and making adjustments (and in fact note that the Gallery might be closed on Mondays so that she can do so in peace) – but there is more than enough to occupy the eye even should some elements of the gallery’s lands be under development.

Onceagain Gallery, October, 2022

This being the case, the new facilities,  which opened on October 16th, 2022, comprise:

  • The Main Gallery, alongside of which is the primary landing point for the Gallery spaces as whole (although the landing point is not enforced so that all remaining gallery spaces can have their own LP). The Main Gallery provides an ensemble exhibition of art.
  • The Private Collection, which as the name suggests, features art from Manoji’s personal collection.
  • The Personal Exhibition Gallery, featuring Manoji’s own work, which appeared to be under construction at the time of my visit.
  • A “Free to Rent” gallery, which was again under construction at the time of my visit, but once available, will be available subject to guidelines offered through a dedicated note card.
  • The Artist of the Month gallery, presenting the featured artist invited to display within the Gallery’s spaces – if I am understanding Manoji’s notes correctly, may be presented in one of a number of gallery space designs, as selected by Manoji after viewing the artist’s work.
Onceagain Gallery, October 2022

In addition to the above, at the time of my visit, the north side of the parcel was marked as Under Construction both for what I took to the Personal Exhibition gallery noted above, and to what appear to be three further boutique style gallery spaces and a little caravan park.

Between and around the buildings, the setting has been landscaped as a garden space, high granite cliffs forming privacy walls along two sides, and from which water falls, some of it to feed a stream burbling and bubbling its way through the land. A good portion of the garden has been constructed using Alex Bader’s always popular Zen Garden Building Kit, with the more open lawns being home to 3D art elements again from Manoji’s own collection, whilst towards the centre of the gardens sits what appears to be an office-come-bookshop / quiet spot.

For October, the guest artist is Kika Yongho who, along with Manoji, presents a light-hearted selection of images entitled I only have eyes for the Flamingo. Kika’s images are located on the upper level of the gallery (alongside the landing point), and clicking each piece will supply a note card offering something of a story to go with the image. Four further flamingo-centric images by Manoji can be found on the lower floor of the gallery.

Onceagain Gallery: Kika Yongho –  I only have eyes for the Flamingo

Those wishing to have their art displayed at Onceagain as a featured artist should contact Manoji directly for information on how to do so – with information also being supplied via note card to those using the main landing point.

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  1. Kwartang (n.). A unit of measure for time in British politics named for Kwasi Kwartang, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is roughly equivalent to three times the American political unit of measure, the Scaramucci – itself some 11 days in length. (Yes, folks, a touch of political humour to go with the time, if utterly divorced from the focus of this article.)

Onceagain with black and white in Second Life

Onceagain Art Gallery: B&W Group Exhibit (l-to-r): etamae, Mariza Reifsnider, Madame Reve, Moki Yuitza,  Whiskey Monday

Currently open (for a while longer, I hope, given its debut was August 11th, 2022), at  Onceagain Art Gallery curated by Onceagain (Manoji Yachvili) is B&W Group Exhibit – the title of which pretty much speaks for itself, being an ensemble exhibition of black and white and monochrome photography featuring both Second Life landscapes and avatar studies.

And when I say ensemble, I really do mean it: a total of 24 artists have submitted at least one image for the collection. Some of those who have done so will doubtless be familiar to patrons of art in Second Life, and others may be less familiar names – although their art is no less engaging.

Onceagain Art Gallery: B&W Group Exhibit (l-to-r) :Manoji Yachvili, Zakk Bifrandt

Together they are: Apple Pippage, BlazeAme, Celestial Demon, Dane Albion, D’cuir, Etamae, Kika Yongho, Kunisaki Izumo, Lika Cameo, Nino Vita, Madame Reve, Manoji Yachvili, Mara Telling, Mariza Reifsnider, Mihalisk, Moki Yuitza, Nekonuko Nakamori, Opie, Terrygold, Scylla Rhiadra, Violette Rembrandt, Whiskey Monday, Yeya Zuta and Zakk Bifrandt.

Given this list, and breadth and depth of the images on display is impressive, with the restriction of having to remain with black and white (as the majority have, although there are a number of more monochrome pieces within the collection) adding to both the appearance and appeal of those where one is more accustomed to seeing the artist’s work in colour.

Onceagain Art Gallery: B&W Group Exhibit (l-to-r): Mara Telling, Ninoo Vita, nekonuko Nakamori

With 24 artists taking part, it is not surprising that the entire main gallery is given over to the exhibition – and in this it is especially well suited to the exhibition’s theme.  The tonal quality of the gallery and its various rooms, coupled with the local environment setting leads an almost monochromic feel to the gallery, something further enhanced by the choice of décor placed within the various rooms, which heightens the feeling that the gallery is very much a part of the exhibit, rather than merely hosting it.

A further framing for the exhibition can be found on two of the gallery’s exterior walls, which feature quotes on the power of black and white photography from Ted Grant (1929-2020) – widely regarded as the father of Canadian photojournalism -, and Robert Frank (1924-2019), whilst the layout of the gallery, with its different rooms and levels (with access to the main hall down the stairs from the landing point, or to the upper level rooms via the catwalk, then using the internal stairs to visit the lower level) prevents the exhibition from every feeling “top heavy” from the sheer volume of piece on display.

Onceagain Art Gallery: B&W Group Exhibit (l-to-r):  Terrygold, Manoji Yachivli, Violette Rembrandt and Apple pippage

As noted, I have no idea how much longer B&W Group Exhibit will remain open, so I would advise that if you should like to visit, you do so sooner rather than later, just in case!

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Art and a rock in Second Life

Onceagain Art Gallery: Penis Rock, May 2022

It might have a title that hints at something sexual / upsetting but Penis Rock, an ensemble exhibition that opened on May 7th, 2022 at the Onceagain Art Gallery curated by Onceagain (Manoji Yachvili), really isn’t – although it does have an “Adult” section and a slightly lewd rock formation outside of the exhibition space.

The exhibition has been inspired by a mesh rock formation that has a certain resemblance to a certain male appendage – and which, like said male appendage, can also change in size depending on how it is stretched. However, rather than being intentionally lewd or sexual, the images presented are, for the most part intended to be fun and raise a smile.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Penis Rock, May 2022

Growing out of an in-world rock climbing expedition to a location where the rock had been included, the exhibition presents images by Alex Amore,  Alsatian Kidd, Ambre Singh, Crash Landers, Eupalinos Ugajin, Loony Perl, Jack in the box, Kika Yongho, Madoka Kawabata, Manoji Yachvili, Mara Telling, Zakk Bifrandt and Zedillo. All feature said phallic rock in one way or another, and may either present the likes of a simple landscape in which a finger-like rock stands, or as trios of images intended to be considered side-by-side or as pieces intended to offer a story – or even present a degree of social commentary – such as Ambre Singh’s Schism of Faith.

Reading the titles of some of the images may be required in order to appreciate them fully; others might be appreciated simply because of their artistic presentation – such as with Manoji Yachvili’s Grauland trio (the rock in question recently appeared in one of the Grauland region designs and helped to formulate the idea for the exhibition).

Onceagain Art Gallery: Penis Rock, May 2022

In terms of “Adult” content, these images have been placed in a room of their own, clearly indicated by a neon sign as Adult Only. These are not overly sexual in nature – although there are some obviously suggestive pieces and also some avatar nudity. When it comes to humour, I confess to finding two more pieces by Ambre giving rise to smiles. These are, Overprotective, which speaks for itself, and her proboscis monkey-filled Houston We Have a Problem, which is offers a richness of humour from the monkey schnozzes and somewhat bewildered expressions of the simians that seem to ask, “Oi, why are you sniggering?” and they look out of the frame at us, to an entire 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe that seems to be going on thanks again to said noses and the rock rising in the background.

All told, a fun exhibition that should not be taken overly seriously, but within which the art is rich in content.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Penis Rock, May 2022

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The Intimacy of self in Second Life

Onceagain Art Gallery: Scylla Rhiadra – Intimacy

The question of identity / pseudonymity has been linked to Second Life pretty much since the platform from the start; we have complete agency of how we represent ourselves and how much of ourselves we chose to reveal to the world. It is often said that this pseudonymity allows us to more fully express who we’d like to be.

But who are we, really? The person we are at home and among family is not the same as the person we are at work;, and that person is not the same as the person we are when with friends, and so on. Even within our family group, who we are with loved ones – husband / wife, children, parents – can change from moment to moment.

And all of these personas are very different to who we are when alone; those intimate moments of oneness in which we perhaps most truly reveal who we are without fear of observation / ridicule / rejection. And so, too, are multiple areas of overlap – each and every one of us is an individual; but the question still remains, given all these multiple facets to our make-up, some self-imposed, others placed upon us by society / those around us, who are we – really? And can we use avatars to express not who we’d like to be, but who we are?

Onceagain Art Gallery: Scylla Rhiadra – Intimacy

It is this exploration of self through our avatar that is the focus of Intimacyan exhibition / installation by Scylla Rhiadra which opened at the end of February 2022 at the Onceagain Art Gallery curated by Onceagain (Manoji Yachvili).

Set within an environment that is as much a part of the exhibition, are twelve images designed to better inform us as to who the person who inhabits “Scylla Rhiadra” actually is. To quote Scylla’s introductory notes from the exhibit:

The pictures in this exhibit represent my attempt to communicate that extra “something” about myself. They do so, not by removing the barriers that separate who I most truly am from how I represent in a virtual environment, but by leveraging virtual images and appearances to convey it … Here you will see “Scylla” (who has never washed a dish in her entire virtual existence) dancing as she washes dishes, getting dressed in the morning, and eating ice cream at outrageous hours of the night. These are intended not merely to provide some insight into “what I do” in real life, but more vitally “who I am” there – which is, pretty closely, also “who I am” in Second Life.

– Scylla Rhiadra

Onceagain Art Gallery: Scylla Rhiadra – Intimacy

Of course, one might say there is a certain hubris in trying to use an avatar in this way; at the end of the day, whatever is done, the avatar is not the person operating it, neither in look nor in perception by others. Plus, said avatar is a puppet; any image of it must posed, the setting staged; thus any attempt to use it to bring forth a broader expression of “self” must itself be something of a manipulation of perception as much as any other use of our avatar to impart a persona.However, this is far from true. While the images may well be constructed to bring forth a specific aspect of our personality, the fact remains that the aforementioned pseudonymity baked-in to Second Life also frees us from the usual impediments (fear, embarrassment, etc), that might otherwise stand in the way of our revealing more of ourselves to strangers never seen or known. Thus, they are the perfect vehicle, staged settings notwithstanding, by which we can “be who we really are” and express what might otherwise remain hidden, as Scylla notes in her introduction to Intimacy:

One of the most important opportunities afforded by Second Life, and virtual embodiment generally is the chance to represent facets of ourselves that we cannot, or do not, express in our material lives. That I am doing something that is really quite the opposite of this – representing my more mundane self virtually – doesn’t change the reality that a virtual self can be not merely liberating but also revelatory. Just as the fictions of a good novel can reveal Truths with greater clarity than more factual forms of discourse, so too, I hope, does my artifice here strip away some of the barriers that separate me from . . . you. 

– Scylla Rhiadra

Onceagain Art Gallery: Scylla Rhiadra – Intimacy

Thus, these 12 images are deeply engaging and fascinating in their depictions; so much so, that any thoughts of the “falseness” of their staging / posing is quickly lost. Instead, we are invited to share on the most intimate expressions of how Scylla views herself, and the moments from the physical world that make up many of the facets of who she is in the world of pixels and zeros and ones.

As noted, this is an exhibition in which the setting plays as much as role as the images themselves. From the night sky (make sure you have Use Shared Environment checked via menu → World → Environment), through to the maze, the lamps that illuminate each image as we approach it, to the props to be found throughout the space, everything has a role to play. The maze, for example, might be seen as a metaphor for our exploration of who we are, either as others try to understand us, or as we look upon ourselves. Such explorations can involve wrong turn (misapprehensions) and back-tracking (re-evaluation). Similarly, the lamps alongside each image represent those moments of realisation / revelation that spur our understanding onwards, and so on.

Onceagain Art Gallery: Scylla Rhiadra – Intimacy

Provocative, revelatory, rich in content and presentation, the images offered in Intimacy, are highly personal both in their exploration of Scylla’s sense of self, and in the way they can chime with each of us and our own considerations of who we are in life – digitally and physically. They are also marvellously composed and framed as individual artistic pieces that can be appreciated in their own right. All of which makes this a thoroughly engaging visit.

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  • Intimacy, Onceagain Art Gallery (Peaceful mountains, rated Adult)