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Archive for the ‘Ekphrasis-Derryth’ Category

The Singularity of Kumiko (detail). Photo by Rowan Derryth.

The Singularity of Kumiko (detail). Photo by Rowan Derryth.

If there is anything to bring me out of my Second Life hiatus, it is a new exhibit by Bryn Oh.

I’ve got Ziki Questi to thank… she probably doesn’t know that I still follow her blog in my absence, and pop in to see the things she recommends as I can. It was through her blog that I saw a preview of Bryn’s new exhibit The Singularity of Kumiko last week, and like her, I don’t want to give too much away in terms of just what happens. As many will know, all of Bryn’s exhibits at Immersiva are game-like narrative adventures, and posting spoilers is something I refuse to do.

'The Singularity of Kumiko'. Photo by PJ Trenton.

‘The Singularity of Kumiko’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Suffice it to say, if you loved piecing together the the Rabbicorn/Daughter of Gears exhibits (which came together in her gorgeous machinima Standby), and others like the recent Imogen and the Pigeons, this one will not disappoint. In fact, the Canadian artist/puppetmaster behind Bryn Oh has just received a second award from the Ontario Arts Council to support this new work (the first supported the creation of Standby). Bryn credits the OAC for being forward-thinking in their approach to new media, and while this is certainly true, I also think it she would not find success if the work wasn’t so relevant to contemporary art practice, particularly in that she manages to make the virtual work available to a wider audience through film (machinima).

That said, in my opinion the best experience of the work still exists in the virtual visit, which is still problematic in terms of perceived access. I confess, the recent popularity of new narrative-based games like Gone Home and The Novelist has both excited and frustrated me. While I celebrate this attention to the art/game concept for a more mainstream audience, I also grit my teeth a bit thinking that Bryn (and others like Rose Borchovski and Rebecca Bashly) have been doing this so well in Second Life for years, and few people know. But perhaps that is a rant best left for a different post. Back to the exhibit…

Bryn oh at 'The Singularity of Kumiko'. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Bryn oh at ‘The Singularity of Kumiko’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Never one to rest on her laurels, Bryn yet again pushes what is technically capable in Second Life, employing innovative use of browser-based lighting controls to create a dramatic and intense visitor experience that is not without some peril (as far as our pixels selves can be in danger, of course). The psychological effect is very real, and certainly fun.

If am to be critical, the very thing that makes this new installation so innovative is also perhaps its one drawback. As Bryn explains on her blog:

This artwork will use some features in a unique way allowing for a quite different experience which, sadly, is fairly demanding on your computer. I have tested extensively and have found that most are able to run, while experiencing minimal lag, the artwork on mid range computers. To help keep lag minimized I will cap the avatar limit on Immersiva to 10-15. As with Imogen and the Pigeons, I am attempting to look at the virtual medium and determine what is unique about it over other mediums such as painting, sculpture and cinema. Then I work towards using those strengths to create an immersive experience that is specific to a multi user environment.

When you land at Immersiva, there are signs that tell you exactly how to set your lighting up according to which browser you are using (I strongly recommend Firestorm). It is a bit fiddly, but the instructions are easy enough. But as Bryn said, you will need to be able to use shadows, etc., which some computers might not manage. The choice to allow only a very small number of avatars at a time might also be frustrating to some… but if people can spend hours trying to get into events like FaMESHed to shop, then certainly being patient to see something so beautiful as this is manageable. And it really does help with the lag, which is important considering the multi-media nature of the work.

'The Singularity of Kumiko'. Photo by PJ Trenton.

‘The Singularity of Kumiko’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Also, please: REMOVE YOUR FACELIGHTS. Bryn politely asks you to do this at the start of the exhibit, but even walking around last night in a media preview I encountered two people still wearing them to see or take pictures ‘because it was dark.’ It is SUPPOSED TO BE DARK. It’s moody as hell! That is the point, and wearing a facelight deprives you and others of the authentic experience that Bryn intended. Bryn in fact dubbed me the ‘Facelight Police’ when I griped to her about it, and I said ‘You should see me bitch out people using flash/touching the art in actual museums.’ So yes, please, take them off for this. Actually, just take them off period and never put them on again, ok? People everywhere will thank you. /rant

Whew. So, this fantastic new exhibit opens this Friday, 14th February. And it is definitely a fun exhibit to explore with an accomplice, especially as you might need the occasional rescue. But if the low avatar limit makes it hard to visit, simply wait a bit, I’m sure the exhibit will be open for quite a while.

And incidentally, if you’ve never tried Second Life but would like to see the kind of amazing art being made there, this installation would be quite the introduction. Drop me a note or leave a comment if you’d like an intro.

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As the Second Life community celebrates this milestone anniversary, it’s a great time to reflect on the contributions this virtual world has made to contemporary art. This year, my third year of interviewing artists at the birthday celebrations, I am very excited to welcome a group of talented and seasoned artists whose work perfectly represents the diversity and potential of virtual art, and particularly the ways in connects to practice in the physical world.

MONDAY 17 June: GRACIE KENDAL (Kristine Schomaker)
We will kick things off chatting with Gracie about how her work has evolved from showing her paintings on prims, to a Master’s thesis, to now displaying works in a Beverly Hills art gallery that are directly inspired by her virtual creations. It will be a great start to talking about augmented reality, which will be a running theme throughout the week.

TUESDAY 18 June: WHISKEY MONDAY
I’m incredibly excited to talk to the talented and quite frankly hysterical Whiskey Monday on Tuesday. Those familiar with her stunning and surreal images might be surprised to learn just how short a time she’s been making virtual photographs. We will learn more about how she began, and how she works, and maybe a little about what makes her tick.

WEDNESDAY 18 June: DRAXTOR DESPRES
Drax has been a tour de force in SL media for several years, but I think his series the Drax Files is not only some of his best work, but is critically important in documenting what is happening in SL today. I’m looking forward to interviewing the interviewer, and hope to pick up a thing or two!

THURSDAY 18 June: IAN PAHUTE (Ian Upton)
Ian is an artist and technologist who also has a long history of creating virtual art, and he’s most recently broken the virtual wall with his exhibition EXTRACT/INSERT which was shown at both the LEA and in ‘real life’ at the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry. I had the pleasure of visiting this piece from both sides, and we will chat about this work and where it might go from here.

FRIDAY 18 June: CHIC AEON
Chic makes some of the best machinima around, and now she’s embarked on a project at the LEA to create a dedicated space for machinimatography. We will talk about this groundbreaking new media art form, and get advice from her about how budding film makers might get involved.

SATURDAY 18 June: BRYN OH
On Saturday I’ll be talking to Bryn… About everything. What’s more to say here, it’s Bryn!

All talks will be at 3pm SLT at the SL10B Auditorium. Don’t miss the other great talks Prim Perfect sponsors, meeting incredible designers and the people who make the community fun! See the auditorium schedule here.

Thanks to PJ Trenton for the lovely poster.

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Yooma Mayo’s previous LEA work ‘Dreaming Machine’. Yooma is one of a handful of returning artists this round.

The LEA is pleased to announce the fourth round of Artists-in-Residence, who will receive a full sim for six months on which to create and display their proposed projects:

Aequitas (Artist Collective)
Ambi bimbogami

Betty Turead
Cica Ghost
Ginger Lorakeet
Jack Mondegreen
Johnas Merlin
Mac Kanashimi
Mantis Oh
Marx Catteneo/Krakassus Jigsaw
Morlita Quan and Noke Yuitza
Newbab Zsigmond
Ole Etzel
Seraph Kegel
Sniper Siemens
Solkide Auer
thingiwishihadsaid
uan ceriaptrix
Vaneeesa Blaylock
Yooma Mayo

The LEA received nearly 50 high-quality applications, and it was a difficult decision, but those selected submitted truly outstanding proposals that represent a diverse range of virtual art. While a handful are artists returning for a second round, the majority will be exhibiting at the LEA for the first time. Projects range from full-sim immersions, to innovative builds geared specifically for multimedia works such as sound and machinima projects.

Artists will have up to four months to build their projects (though many have suggested they will be completed sooner), with all exhibits set to be open by mid-June. Many will likely open sooner, though, so keep an eye on this blog for announcements of exhibit openings and related special events.

The previous three rounds of LEA land grant artists-in-residence have resulted in some truly exceptional works, and we anticipate this next group to be just as fantastic. Congratulations to all the artists, we can’t wait to see your vision!

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The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

As a large chunk of the planet is at least grey, if not covered in snow, why not curl up at home with some excellent virtual culture! There is so much wonderful art opening this weekend in SL, and we’ve already highlighted three must-see exhibitions thus far:

Rose Borchovski’s ‘The Arrival’ opened yesterday at LEA 23, in which her Susas return for more misadventure. A multi-layered and multi-media work (sound on!), Rose’s installations just keep getting better and better in my view. And while you are there, many of the other LEA exhibits are open as well, so you can check the LEA blog for details on those.

Bryn Oh's 'Imogen and the Pigeons'. Photo by PJ Trenton

Bryn Oh in her new exhibit ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Bryn Oh’s newest Immersiva work ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’ officially opens today, so don’t be surprised if it is a busy sim. It is well worth the effort as Bryn delivers another intricate tale to explore. This is not a quick trip though, so make sure you have at least an hour to spare to fully enjoy this work (I believe it took PJ and I a couple, as we were so engrossed).

Winter Outlined by Fucshia Nightfire. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Winter Outlined by Fucshia Nightfire. Photo by PJ Trenton.

And Saffia gave us a jigsaw peek at Fuschia Nightfire’s new installation ‘Winter Outlined’, where you can pop in for some very unique skating fun!

If that wasn’t enough (and it’s never enough with great art), Stephen Venkman’s show ‘Past Present Future’ opens at the stunning Elephant and Seadryke Gallery at Eliza Wierwight’s Patron, today at 2pm SLT.

Stephen Venkman at Elephant and Seadryke Gallery. Photo by Rowan Derryth.

Stephen Venkman at Elephant and Seadryke Gallery. Photo by Rowan Derryth.

Venk tells us a bit about himself:

A resident of SL for  almost 7 years. I started taking images in SL to chronicle the people I met and the creations I encountered. Once I was introduced to Corel Paint and Photoshop, the realization of pushing the envelope with my images was born. A first life artist in music only,  I stumbled upon Second Life.  I have since been involved with many shows in-world and one real life show in Europe at the Museum of History in Florence Italy.  After being invited to show at Second Life’s 4th Birthday celebration, I was invited to show in the first multi- artist shows at “The Cannery” gallery owned by Rezzable and ran by Vint Falken and Shoshana Epsilon.  I was also asked to join Avatrait Gallery as a featured artist, then to their board of directors, and also gallery curator/manager.  I have since slowed down on my gallery curating to take more time creating . I’ve opened up a shop for male shapes, and continue expanding my line of in-world characters.  Resident photographer for a handful of magazines, I’m never in lack of something to do in SL.  I am very interested in environmental design and making my own textures. Currently residing on my Sim with fellow designers, creators and photographers as neighbor, along with a few virtual pets. :) Life is good!

And with so much wonderful art, Second Life is good indeed!

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The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

THE ARRIVAL:

Explanation 1:
The Susa Bubbles have caught a fish, and while they admire how big it is, the fish dies. They wonder if they are to blame.

Rose Borchovski’s new work ‘The Arrival’, at LEA 23, is a continuation of her Susa saga, in which these mischievous and sometimes malevolent childlike beings find themselves in another spiritual and philosophical quandary, brought on by the simple act of catching a fish.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Those familiar with Rose and her work know that certain symbols appear repeatedly, and the fish is chief amongst them (her gallery and group are both called Two Fish). If you’ve ever wondered why this is so, one of Rose’s explanations for this exhibit (she offers us a sampling) is enlightening:

Explanation 2:
I grew up in a small village on the edge of the sea. Once every few years a big fish (small whale) would strand itself on our beach. And that was an enormous happening event: the arrival, this giant big fish lying on the beach, its weight made it impossible to breath, longing for the water, overheated by its own fat, trapped in the sand, slippery and smelly. We would climb all over it, standing on top of its belly, poking it with sticks, jumping up and down for pictures, while the whale was slowly dying under our feet. The beach would turn into a fancy fair, good business for local kibbling (warm fish) and hot chocolate sellers.

When the fish was finally dead, there was a grand finale. Men with big boots, shiny yellow raincoats and sharp knives would chop the bubbling and the now very smelly fish up into pieces. Looking at it made our hair smell for weeks.

As a child this left a huge impression on me. Why were we not able to carry the fish back into the sea?

I wondered if we were to blame.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Susas wonder the same thing, as they repeatedly chant in haunting tones – and you must make sure to have your volume up as you wander this installation. ‘The Arrival’ exemplifies Rose’s continued move away from her earlier tableau-like installations (although sounds were always an important component of those too) towards an increasingly immersive approach in the form of the dynamic use of space, and interactive components achieved through collaborations with the talented scripter Caer Balogh.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

With a teleport from the landing area, your journey takes you on a somewhat precarious path down the back of this very big fish, which is essentially a massive virtual sculpture. But that is perhaps an over-simplification, as from a formal perspective, this twisted playground exhibits Rose’s increasing mastery in the use of mesh to relate her narrative. The forms and their composition are skilful and beautiful, even if a bit disturbing.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

But what the hell does it mean?

Explanation 3:
Christian explanation: do we need the fish to take over our sins?
Do we take more then we need, are we to blame?

The Susa story is multi-layered, and the Biblical themes and analogies are rather clear, if you look for them. I was struck by this the very first time I wrote about Rose’s work, and it is why I still find visiting her installations so very exciting. While they are certainly understandable for a broad audience, art history nerds like me find a wealth of symbolic material and references to ponder. Some of them incredibly direct, as Rose states in her fourth explanation:

Explanation 4:
Inspired by a painting: “Big Fish Eat Little Fish” by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Grandibus Exigui Sunt Pisces Piscibus Esca.

Big Fishes Eat Little Fishes, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Pen in grayblue on paper. 215 × 302 mm. Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina (inv.no. 7875).

I wondered how many of these choices were conscious ones, particularly when pondering a jumbled mix of letters floating on the water that, when puzzled out, spell ‘freedom.’ For me, this referenced the Futurist artist Marinetti’s groundbreaking typographic work ‘Parole in Liberta’ (Words in Freedom). Rose responded: ‘I love layers… in the end we all borrow from the giants that went ahead from us.’ I agree, but the very best artists, in my opinion don’t just borrow, they reinterpret and reinvent, which is why I find Rose’s work so compelling.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

However, explanation number 5 underscores the fact that neither my nor Rose’s ideas about ‘The Arrival’ should shape how this work is viewed:

Explanation 5:
Your story and enjoyment to discover the Fish.

‘The Arrival’ opens tomorrow (Saturday the 11th of January) at LEA 23. Go fish for your own story.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

The Arrival by Rose Borchovski at LEA 23. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Note from Rose:

I thank you all for supporting and visiting my art in SL. After some initial hick ups I had a lot of fun making this installation. Of course it is not finished. I will keep tweaking it until it has to die. I’m grateful that the LEA committee granted me this sim to create this installation.
Thank you, Rose ❤

CREDITS:
Installation and concept by Rose Borchovski
Scripts: Caer Balogh
Song at the end: Susanne Sundfør

Rose Borchovski Amongst her Susas. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Rose Borchovski Amongst her Susas. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Don’t miss Rose’s other wonderful installations:

The Inevitability of Fate: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cariacou/194/78/172

Echoes in the Garden: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Rosas/36/73/1801

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Bryn Oh's 'Imogen and the Pigeons'. Photo by PJ Trenton

Bryn Oh in her new exhibit ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Rebirth™ Life Encryption
Jesus saved… and so do we

As in most of her narrative installations, Bryn Oh’s ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’ opens with a mystery hinting at catastrophe. Her sim, Immersiva, has been made a dry, dystopic wasteland, riddled with artefacts that conjure a story. What was this ‘Rebirth Life Encryption’ organisation… and why does it immediately fill us with dread?

Bryn Oh's 'Imogen and the Pigeons'. Photo by PJ Trenton

Bryn Oh’s ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

Tonight PJ Trenton and I had a chance to preview this new full-sim immersive installation, which opens this weekend, but as we attempted Bryn’s shifting and tumbling staircase (a visual introduction to her narrative), we were met with an even more challenging and fearsome obstacle: lag from hell. Even after a reboot of the sim, everything seemed, as they say, ‘borked’. But it was not Bryn’s carefully managed scripting that was the trouble, as we quickly learned when complaints popped up in groups and all over plurk. Tonight, SL was utterly f*cked.

Bryn Oh's 'Imogen and the Pigeons'. Photo by PJ Trenton

Bryn Oh’s ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

In some ways this was a good thing for this article, as I won’t be tempted to spill the beans about this new story of Bryn’s. Instead, I can simply tease a bit… I hadn’t even met poor Imogen before I had to give up, though I did see hints of her story in the receiving room of an incredibly creepy ‘Therapist’. I also noted creatures which appear repeatedly in her work as symbolic motif: rabbits and butterflies in particular.

We were also able to see that from the start, ‘Imogen’ has all the hallmarks of Bryn’s excellent immersive style – interactive components, multiple complex spaces, atmospheric sound, ‘clickable’ objects which take you to related machinima on the web, and her simple-yet-eloquent poems that allow the tale to unfold. All of these reflect Bryn’s wish ‘to challenge the way the SL resident experiences 3d space and also to immerse them within a engrossing narrative.’

Bryn Oh's 'Imogen and the Pigeons'. Photo by PJ Trenton

Bryn Oh’s ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

I am very excited to return and continue the journey I began, which had just led me into some kind of asylum, where I was meeting the characters in this dark tale of heartbreak and madness (at least that’s how it seems so far). Before I departed, I asked Bryn a little more about what she hoped visitors might experience at ‘Imogen’, to which she revealed: ‘each piece to this build.. each character and scene is a facet of my personality. In the end I would mostly just like the mood to linger for a few days… the feeling of meeting someone who perhaps stays in your mind for a reason you can’t quite put your finger on.’

Bryn Oh's 'Imogen and the Pigeons'. Photo by PJ Trenton

Bryn Oh’s ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’. Photo by PJ Trenton.

I’ve no doubt this will be the case, and as such, I confess a small hope that the story ends somewhat brighter than it begins. But either way, I suspect it will be another riveting – and successful – work from this virtual virtuoso.

Six months in the making, ‘Imogen and the Pigeons’ opens this Sunday, the 13th of January, on Immersiva. The sim is closed to visitors until then, but mark this page for your slurl: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Immersiva/15/125/22

Until then, here is Bryn’s trailer for this exhibit (and I love that she makes trailers!):

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EXTRACT / INSERT

A live Installation happening at

The Herbert Art Gallery (Coventry UK) and Second Life

Opening Times 10am – 4pm (UK) 2am – 8am (SLT)

Sunday 12pm – 4pm (UK) 4am – 8am (SLT)

We avatars often struggle to explain our existence to those that dwell only in the physical world. But now, a new exhibit at LEA 24 helps us do what we aliens do best: INVADE!

EXTRACT/INSERT is a unique installation in both Second Life and at the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry, UK. It is a collaborative effort between internationally renowned performance artist Stelarc, lecturer and actor Joff Chafer and artist and technologist Ian Upton. With support in SL from the LEA, and in RL from the Arts Council of England, they have been able to create an environment where avatars can co-mingle with real people visiting the Herbert!

All week, a team of volunteers have been interacting with visitors of all ages, chatting with them about anything from where they are all from, American politics, to what it means to be an avatar. And these volunteers should be commended – many of them have been awake at all kinds of ‘unsociable’ hours to meet and greet the UK visitors. And Stelarc himself stopped in the Herbert last week for an artist talk, and logged in to SL for a performance, ‘Involuntary and Improvised Arm’:

Unfortunately, the Herbert exhibit is only open a very short time, but Upton has already been discussing further incarnations. However, YOU can still be part of it this week! If you would like to volunteer and chat with Herbert visitors, you need to know the following:

  • To experience the work you will need a Second Life Client capable of displaying ‘shared media’ (V3 recommended).
  • You will be able to communicate with the physical world using ‘voice chat’. Text chat and avatar names are not visible in the physical installation.
  • Second Life is being projected on a large screen in ‘Stereo 3D’. Your avatar will appear ‘life sized’ and ‘floating within’ the physical gallery space. As such, only a certain number of people can be accommodated at a time, and avatars should not be TOO large (but creativity is welcome!)
  • The Herbert is rated ‘general’. The physical audience can include children. We ask you dress and moderate behaviour accordingly.

To access the ‘live area’ you will need to apply for membership of the EXTRACT / INSERT group. Please contact Ian Pahute or Joff Fassnacht in world for details of being part of this experience.

This is a very fun, and dare I say historic, exhibition – do join in the fun! And if you live in the Coventry area, you should make plans to see it from the ‘other’ side! In fact, rumour has it yours truly might be visiting alongside a certain Cheeky-Pea-like creator next weekend… The live exhibit will close 25 November.

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