Tag Archives: Split Screen

Bleeding Books in Second Life

Split Screen: Bleeding Books

Now open at Split Screen, curated by Dividni Shostakovich, is Bleeding Books, an installation by Haveit Neox which offers a commentary on how language and information can be both abused and overwhelming.

Three huge platforms float in the sky; one is the landing point where information on the installation and Split Screen can be obtained. The remaining two, one reached via a walk through a tornado of golden letter and the other by flying down to it, offer huge columned but roofless halls. The floors of each resemble printed pages from which stone letters partially rise, draped with human figures who appear to be merging with them. Over both, giant books spill a black torrent of letters.

 

Split Screen: Bleeding Books

Beneath all three, at ground level (fly down to reach it) is an enormous fortress, slowly decaying,  the roof gone, the floors pitted and broken, the walls collapsing. Throughout its bulk can be found the essence of words: letters can be seen parts of the walls or hang like broken chains from columns, printed pages form the lumps and undulations of the floor. More letters are locked within great cells, or have fallen into the pitted floor.

“It is a story in my ongoing series on abuse as seen through the lens of language,” Haveit says of the piece. “What happens when knowledge is so disrespected that it is freely contaminated with doses of falsehood? There are avenues to properly sort facts in this information age, yet we easily turn a blind eye to certain evidence if it goes counter to our beliefs – even when our choices may cause immeasurable harm.”

Split Screen: Bleeding Books

In truth, words and literacy have always been seen as a focus of power (such as the withholding of literacy from the masses in times long past) and as a means of conducting war (be it hot or cold, political or ideological, through the use of propaganda and misinformation). What makes Bleeding Books perhaps particularly relevant is that today, we collectively have access to so many channels of communication and alongside them, so much data and information, that the ability to freely contaminate what we read, see and hear is becoming a significant issue.

Worse still, facts and counter-facts are increasingly forced to vie with so-called “alternative facts” and outright misinformation, that it is often far easier for us to retreat into our own bias and seek only the information which fits that bias, no matter how damaging it might be politically, ideologically, ecologically or personally in our health and daily lives.

Split Screen: Bleeding Books

Thus the metaphor is clear: such is the flood of information flowing around, over and even through us, that the power of words to define truth, objectivity, reason, understanding  – their very ability to present reality to us – is being eroded and broken, both intentionally by others and through our own unwillingness to set aside our own biased outlook, no matter what the consequences.

Bleeding Books is not necessarily an easy piece to understand, nor may it sit easy on the conscience. But neither of these points mean it should be avoided. Rather, it is a piece that the longer you spend within it, the more clearly it speaks to you.

SLurl Details

Bleeding Books, Split Screen (Amra, rated: Moderate)

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From Here On There Be Dragons in Second Life

Split Screen - From Here There Be Dragons

Split Screen – From Here On There Be Dragons

Now open at Split Screen, curated by Dividni Shostakovich, is From Here On There Be Dragons by Alpha Auer. It stands as a celebration of these mythical, mystical beasts and much of what they represent  both culturally and in terms of our own psyche.

Within an abstract environment of ornate towers lit from within and semi-transparent floors, sit the dragons of the title. From Alpha’s notes, they stand as guardians of self; that this strange structure is perhaps – if I might borrow from the current British television incarnation of a certain sleuth) – a “mind palace”, in which is hid the wonders and terrors contained within our deeper selves; countries of the mind through which we might only travel with care, and having accepted the challenge presented by the dragon standing before each one.

Split Screen - From Here There Be Dragons

Split Screen – From Here On There Be Dragons

More than just a guardian, however, the dragon can be seen as a symbol of the challenges we might face in travelling those countries of the mind. As the protector of treasure, it stands as the guardian of Self; as a creature of power, harnessing a primal element – fire – it is a reflection of our own force of personality; it can also stands as a symbol of the fears we might want to overcome and of our own self-courage in doing so; and it may also reflect our baser emotions: anger, selfishness, temper.

But there is more here that introspection. As notes, this is a celebration of all that dragons can represent. Hence why the floor of this “mind palace” is inlaid with a leaf from Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (“Theatre of the World”), considered to be the first true modern atlas. It is, as Alpha notes, a reminder that dragons once represented the unknown and the need to take care in the world at large: that there were limits to our knowledge and understanding of all that lay around us.

Split Screen: From Here On There Be Dragons

Split Screen: From Here On There Be Dragons

Then there are the dragons themselves, a mixture of common western and eastern archetypes, all vibrant and alive in this ethereal setting. Within their claws many hold an egg; a further symbol of the dragon’s role in many creation mythologies. Of course, in some religions the dragon symbolises the End of Times. In fact there is hardly a culture in the world, east or west, north or south, where the dragon doesn’t resonate in some way.

Hence why Alpha notes, “Dragons have always been with us, although we have come to deny their existence and their potency.” Hence why, perhaps, she also includes an extract from T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding, allowing it to stand as an echo of the fact that dragons have always been with us, and always will be.

Split Screen - From Here There Be Dragons

Split Screen – From Here On There Be Dragons

From Here On There Will Be Dragons will be open through until the end of January 2017, and you can also pick up one of alpha’s free avatars during a visit.

SLurl Details

Flowing through The Path in Second Life

The Path

The Path – Split Screen

The Path is a new installation by Cherry Manga, currently being hosted at Dividni Shostakovich’s Split Screen installation. It marks her first major Second Life exhibit in around 18 months, Cherry having largely moved to FrancoGrid in 2014. It is also just a foretaste of things to come: Cherry is working on a much larger piece which will feature in FrancoGrid’s annual Fest’Avi avatar-focused art event, which opens in September 2016.

At the arrival point, visitors are invited to take and wear a free, full-permission avatar, Line of Light, as well as a memento of their time in The Path, prior to teleporting to the installation proper. Here, against a cosmic backdrop of stars, sits a circle of meditative pose balls on which visitors are asked to sit and partake of a journey. Hypnotic music ebbs gently around travellers as animated lines radiate outward from the circle and the heavens all around are filled with wireframe figures and patterns, while a  quote from Einstein, Creativity is contagious, pass it on, drifts and tumbles through the space.

The Path

The Path – Split Screen

There is a double meaning in this quote which is, for me beautifully reflected in this preview. On the one hand, it encompasses the idea that human creativeness is contagious, passing between us and between generations, driving us forward down through the ages as much as has our desire to understand all that lies around us. On the other, there a more cosmic element: everything that has happened since the dawn of time some 14.5 billion years ago, has grown from a single creative instant. Every galaxy, every star, every planetary system – each and every one of us – stem from that single point of creation.

These two concepts are perhaps embodied in the figures to be found in The Path. On the one hand, we have the constant figure holding forth a star-like sphere in which a smaller figure sits; a symbol of human creativeness passed from generation to generation, as well as, perhaps, the echo of creativity in its most natural form: birth and life.

The Path

The Path – Split Screen

Then there are the seated figures which flare into existence, follow their own path for a time before suddenly dissipating, with new figures appearing elsewhere. They are like the massive stars of the galaxy, which burn brightly, before throwing off their bulk in a vast, gaseous nova, through which the next generation of stars are born.

Travelling through The Path with these thoughts flowing through my head, another quote sprang to mind, which would also appear to fit here. As Carl Sagan once observed, “We are made of star stuff”; we are an inherent part of the creative process which gave birth to the cosmos. A process which continues to this very day, in everything we do, again as Sagan also observed when he famously said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

The Path

The Path – Split Screen

I will admit to finding the jerky motion of the pose balls a little distracting when following the path through the installation (as was the presence of other avatars sitting with me). However, this is still a fascinating glimpse of what should be an interesting immersive installation at Fest’Avi – and it is certainly one built on ideas which strikes a chord in me.  The Path will remain at Split Screen through until the end of July.