Almost Blue(s) is an ensemble exhibition featuring the work of 16 artists brought together in the gallery spaces at Vibes Gallery, curated by Eviana (eviana Robbiani).
The introduction to the exhibition speaks pretty much for itself – and is expanded upon in the halls itself.
Because blue is favoured by so many people, it is often seen as a non-threatening colour that can seem conservative and traditional. Blue brings to mind feelings of calm or serenity. It is often described as peaceful, tranquil, secure and orderly. Blue is often seen as a sign of stability and reliability.
The artists participating in the exhibition comprise:
Theatre 7: Kimeu Korg, Meilo Minotaur, Shane Spero, Sonic and Karma Weymann.
Theatre 9: Mya Audebarn, Evie Heights, Matt Marcus, Jo Molinaro, Ooxooi and Cate Vogel.
The majority of the artists offer two or three images that encompass the overall blue theme, with the majority of the images taking the form of avatar studies, some of which use blue tinting / lighting to convey a mood / emotion (as with Jo Molinaro. Mya Audebarn or Anaya Oneiro) or offer a narrative frame for a story (e.g. Matt Marcus or Tutsy Navarathna). Some sway toward broader tonal pieces to convey emotion / ideas (e.g. Kiron or Ooxooi), whilst all offer an engaging and richly diverse series on pieces that demonstrate individual talents to the fullest.
Adding a sense of emotion and depth to each of the theatres are additional words – the lyrics from Almost Blue by Elvis Costello, the represents of music through the colour blue – or, if you prefer, the description of the tones musical instruments in terms of the colour blue -, which serve to add a further layer of interpretation to the pieces on display.
With pieces that both contract and compliment whilst reflecting and interpreting the central theme through multiple ideas, forms and narratives, Almost Blue(s) is an engaging exhibition set out within a gallery space that doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed by the pieces on display.
I ask that to myself and I let that question absorb me subconsciously, continuously as I render what I see into a frame so that elements of composition, light and background fuse in a balance in dependent from the subject.
The subject means nothing.
– from the introduction of RealUnreal
What is the real nature of a photograph? Once upon a time, cameras and photographs were a means to freeze a moment in time; a memory, something that might become an instant marked in history or a simple sharing of a family activity, a moment of friendship or love or something else.
Today, however, almost everyone has a camera at their fingertips. From the advent of the basic point-and-click “instant” camera through the rise of digital camera to the merging of camera and cellphone / smartphone, we have all become photographers. And with the increase in digital editing software readily accessed through ‘phone and computer, we have all become self-styled digital artists. Further, such is the skill we have developed in using such post-processing editing tools that it perhaps prompts the question: how much of an image remains true – remains real – to its subject, and how much is “unreal”, the result of the photographer imposing their subjective interpretation of their subject through cropping, light and colour adjustments, changes in focus, and other editorial techniques?
These are some of the questions posed in a new exhibition of images by Axiomatic Clarity, gathered from both the physical world and Second Life, which is currently on display at Eviana Robbiani’s Vibes Gallery. The title of the exhibition is RealUnreal – which itself references the fact the images offered are from both the physical and virtual realms.
Although the methodology is a good compromise it still does not grasp what I am looking at. Do I know what that is, do I like how it manifests, do I let it change myself?
– from the introduction of RealUnreal
Across the three gallery halls and the spaces between, Axiom presents a marvellous collection of predominantly black-and-white or monochrome images, with two of the halls focused on images from the physical world, and one on images from Second Life. They are all evocative; all have a story to tell. They challenge us to see them as images offered for display and how the artist arrived at their finished appearance; that is, what is the reality of their focus and content, and how much is “unreal” – the result of that subjective imposition placed on each by the artist through the editorial process? Indeed, what does each say about the artist’s approach to photography and developing a balance between the subject of each image, and the story the photographer feels drawn to tell?
Is it possess[ion], is it obsession, is it a form of growth?
The deeper to discriminate at a deeper and abstract level, a level where the photographic language borders the inexpressible and even replaces the subject entirely … and I tentatively find that balance.
– from the introduction of RealUnreal
These are complex questions, worthy of being pondered given they are central to the photographer’s approach and execution of their art, with RealUnreal mixing fabulously expressive we have a complex, visually compelling selection of art that draws us into the questions of “reality” vs. “unreality” and the drives that govern a photographer in the creation of their art.
I first encountered the physical world photography of Hermes Kondor back in 2020, when he presented a magnificent select of photographs centred on the Tejo Power Station, Lisbon, Portugal, one of the country’s great heritage centres and home to the Electricity Museum (see: The beauty of steam machines in Second Life).
I was, to say the least, immediately smitten by his work: his use of lighting, colour, composition, together with an avoidance of post-processing, these were images inherently and natural captivating. As such, while his focus within Second Life since that time has been establishing the Kondor Arts Centre as a multi-facet arts hub, I have always been excited when I learn that he is exhibiting his own work in-world.
And so, while I could not make the opening at Eviana Raider’s Vibes Gallery, I was keen to hop over and visit It’s All About theSea as soon as life offered me the time to fully immerse myself in Hermes’ latest exhibition.
For almost our entire history, humankind has had a relationship with the sea. It has been a source of food, a vast spread of blue that has called us to try to reach across its far horizon to touch whatever might lay beyond; it has romanced us with its mysteries and terrified us with it power, It has challenged our urge to conquer and master – if ever we could master so powerful and capricious a force. But, we have also sailed the seas of the world, and learned to harness their power; we have received their bounty and sought to use their power and beauty as a means to partake of sport.
All of this is very much captured in this exhibition, which Hermes has cleverly split into three individual sections within the gallery’s three halls, allowing him to bring forth specific elements of our relationship with the sea.
Within hall 7, Hermes presents Sea & Waves, a magnificent series of 11 photographs focused on the rolling power of breakers and whitecaps as they hurl themselves through the coastal shallows to batter and strike the shore. These are the kind of waves that are fearsome yet fascinating; the directly represent the sheer power the sea holds – and in a way, it’s anger at land’s temerity in trying to confront it and stem its ebb and flow; an action which is at times foolhardy: as the fine grains of sand that form the beaches of our coastlines and island reminds us, the sea is both patient and relentless, and given time, she will wear land down.
In some of these images we can see beyond the curl of wave and sweep of foam to a glittering expanse of ocean stretching out to hazy horizons of the kind that have called to us throughout time to reach towards and beyond. These views are further underscored by the opening stanza of Emily Dickenson’s And if the Sea ShouldPart underscores the inherent challenge offered by these waves and those far horizons.
In Hall 8, reached via a connecting walkway, the study of waves and the idea of challenge continue, but are presented in an entirely different manner. Here, within a further eleven images, we are presented with Surfer, simply stunning images of surfers taking on and using the power of waves, riding them from initial roll through to where the water repeatedly kisses the shore before retreating once more to re-gather its strength. Thus, through these images, Hermes carries us to a place where our relationship with the sea is bound within the sporting challenge of trying to master its power and demonstrate skill and artistry within its rolling thunder; a love affair between Man and wave that is again carefully amplified through the words of Fernando Pessoa.
The images in Halls 7 and 8 are utterly captivating not only for their subject matter, but in the sheer skill Hermes has used in taking them. The clarity with which he has captured roiling white anger of wave crests as they curl over deep blue-green troughs; and retained the natural blue-green colour of the troughs themselves that call forth thoughts of the depths of the oceans is just stunning, as is the clarity with which Hermes has caught the faces of the surfers. Nor is that all; looking at these pictures one cannot help but hear the roaring boom of the sea’s coastal voice and feel the fine spray of salt carried from wave tops to shore on the accompanying winds.
Across the courtyard in Hall 9, is a series of 15 images that are again utterly masterful in their framing, colour and focus. Beach Workers differs somewhat from Sea & Waves and Surfers, as there is very much a narrative flow to the 15 pieces within it; a story of the sea and its place in our lives as a source of livelihood and of sustenance – and not just for humans. To the left, on entering the hall are five images depicting the life and work of coastal fishermen, taking to the sea against the rolling and split of early-morning waves to cast their nets to seek whatever bounty the waters below might yield, before returning as the Sun lowers itself towards the horizon, and the work of taking the catch and clearing / drying the nets begins.
This is a story that continues through the five images to the right of the hall’s entrance, where the work gains interlopers in the form of gulls and seabirds, perhaps alerted by the commotion on the beach and the scent of fish carried in the breeze, and who have arrived to see what they might get away with helping themselves to. Both of these arms of the gallery then give way to the final five images to the rear, where the fishermen and their wives, their work now done for the day, have mostly retreated from the sands to leave them free for the birds to claim, together with whatever thy might find forgotten or ignored by the fisher folk.
Each and every one of these images is utterly extraordinary in the depth of life it contains, be it aboard the little boats, pushed from the sands and riding their way over the incoming breakers or the swirling, fluttering masses of gulls wheeling in to seek their share of food. Within each picture again, not only is there a beauty of an individual scene, there is a rich suggestion of sound and smell that lifts each one from the level of a “mere” picture to a complete experience / story of life.
With its three interwoven but unique elements, It’s All About the Sea is not only a magnificent celebration of the sea and our relationship with it; it is a triumphal tour de force of the eye and hand of a truly gifted photographer and an exhibition not to be missed.
Melusina Parkin is, as I’ve oft noted, one of the foremost photographer-artists in Second Life. Her work is always rich in content, style and interpretation, always offering the most unique views of our virtual world through composition, angle and focus, here exhibitions carefully crafted around a given theme. This is once again the case with her latest exhibition Ordinary People, which has just opened across all three exhibition halls at Vibes Gallery, curated by Eviana Robbiani, presenting three dozen images captured from across Second Life that brings the uniqueness of candid photography to the platform in both images and subjects. As such, this is, among all of Melusina’s unique exhibitions, one of the most captivating.
Candid photography is the technique of capturing an image of one or more persons without creating the appearance they have been specifically posed; whether or not the subject(s) in the photograph are aware of or consent to the image being captured is entirely secondary to the image itself (although if they are entirely unaware of the photograph having been taken, it might be referred to as “secret photography”). Candid images can be taken indoors or out, and in the latter regard share a strong overlap with street photography (which may not be focused on streets, despite its name, but can often feature people in natural situations within street settings).
In truth, and in regards to secret and street photography, Ordinary People contains a mix of both within its overall theme of candid photography, offering images of people going about their lives, seemingly oblivious to the presence to the camera. However, these is more to be found here; for these are not images from the physical world, be have been captured entirely within Second Life, and their subjects are not avatars but what we might refer to as static NPCs – non-player characters.
Like avatars, they are made of pixels; like statues and mannequins, they don’t talk nor move. They could be seen as objects, as a part of décor, but at a closer look they are revealed to have expression, and their still poses show activity…
– Melusina Parkin
NPCs occupy a unique place in Second Life. they are neither avatar nor statute, as Melusina notes; and while they are not “alive” in the manner in which we occupy our avatars, nor are the entirely devoid of life; again, as Melu points out, they carry facial expressions that given them a certain depth of life, and their presence within a region or setting, whilst frozen and in the manner of décor, actually brings life to the environment in which they are found.
Thus, the images in this exhibition are very uniquely layered in their composition and presentation. Within two of the gallery halls, the images are presented in black-and-white, and in the third, they are offered in warm colours. The former carry within them the sensation of everyday life: people coming and going from work, out and about sight-seeing, and so on. The latter suggest calmer, warmer moments: taking the time to read the paper, a walk through a garden with a loved one, sitting on a bench and (perhaps) feeding the birds: their colour giving the impression of calm and easy-going conversation.
Then there is Melu’s always considered use of angle, focus and cropping, which here leads to a rich sense of life waiting to be found in many of the images – such as those featuring crowds crossing the street, or the suggestion of activities going on just outside of a frame in which we only see the legs or hands of the subjects, rather than their entire bodies. On top of this comes the care that clearly went into creating each image, from the selection (or creation) of the location through the selection of the characters and their placement, the lighting and the shot itself – all of which gives each of the pieces event more life.
And this sense of life continues within the gallery halls themselves, where many of the characters featured in the pictures have returned to witness the results of Melu’s work. All of which makes for a truly engaging exhibition.
I recently had cause to drop into Vibes Art Gallery to witness a new exhibition of art featuring a trio of artists – Matt Thomson (MTH63), Zia Sophia (Zia Branner) and Wan (Wan Laryukov), entitled Vibes of Painting.
Curated by Eviana Raider (eviana Robbiani), as well as being a centre for exhibiting art, the gallery is also something of a statement of purpose in its own right. In developing it, Eviana has intentionally utilised industrial elements to create a space suggestive of a warehouse facility – three storage buildings with loading / unloading bays and areas, etc., – that has been repurposed rather than invoking the carbon-costly process of demolition, clearing and replacing. As such, the setting is something of an immersive environment for art displays.
As the name of the exhibition – which opened on July 14th, 2021 – suggests, Vibes of Painting focuses on physical world art the three artists have produced. I was attracted to it for both this reason – I do appreciate the opportunity to witness art from the physical world in Second Life – and because one of the three artists is a name new to me, whilst another is someone who is perhaps more usually associated with Second Life photography, rather than painting.
That person is Matt Thomson (MTH63). whose work I’ve appreciated through a number of SL exhibitions, and whose sense of humour I’ve enjoyed through reading and re-reading his biography at each of his exhibitions. Here, in one of the two smaller (and linked) warehouse units, he presents a selection of vibrant abstract expressionist pieces worthy of Jackson Pollock or Jean-Paul Riopelle without being in any way derivative. Far from it, in fact, given that Matt is himself an experienced abstract artist. As such, these are pieces that can be fully appreciated as being works by an established abstract art and for the statements they make (mostly in reflection of Matt’s sense of humour and self-deprecating manner).
In the neighbouring hall, Zia Sophia offers a selection of her always layered art. Working mostly with acrylics with accents in oil crayons and in, and to which she often adds materials such as paste, gel, sand, glue, bandages and paper to give her work a tactile sense before finishes with a layer of varnish to act as a binder, Zia produces pieces that have their own unique sense of life.
Embracing a range of techniques and subjects, Zia here presents a selection of pieces that include the purely abstract to a study of a flower in bloom (and which is quite marvellously attractive) and with a slight focus on pieces that feature water and / or coastal scenes. These combine to offer an engaging cross-section of Zia’s art that perfectly sits within the exhibition’s theme and compliments Matt’s abstract pieces, just as his compliment Zia’s.
Occupying the largest of the three display space, Wan Laryukov offers both 2D and 3D work that is richly evocative and oft provocative in theme and content, and which covers multiple styles and genres. Expressionism, allegorical art, symbolism art, figurative art and more are to be found in the selection offered across the floor and on the walls of the hall.
Presented in colour and black-and white, the 2D art is fascinating in content, with the strongest lean perhaps being towards expressionism, whilst the 3D pieces perhaps lean more towards symbolism in their themes. Both 2D and 3D work make for an engaging display which, when taken as a whole, also offers a stitching of oneirology that brings all of the pieces together as it offers a central point of appreciation.