Tag Archives: Art in SL

Mistero Hifeng: straddling reality and the imagination

Spettatori malinconici di felicita' impossibili - Mysterio Hifeng

Spettatori malinconici di felicita’ impossibili – Mistero Hifeng (click images for full size)

I’ve been coming across the work of SL artist Mistero Hifeng a lot of late; his pieces have appeared in a number of regions I’ve dropped into recently, and he has an entry in the UWA’s Transcending Borders challenge. So when artist and friend Sniper Siemens invited me to pay a visit to Mistero’s gallery and store, I was only too delighted to hop along.

Volare - Mistero Hifeng

Volare – Mistero Hifeng

While some may not be familiar with his name, I would endeavour to suggest many are familiar with his work, his sculptures being instantly recognisable when encountered, many of them presenting a subtle blending for realities: very human figures often in very extraordinary – you might say surreal – situations, driven from deep within the imagination. Little wonder, then, that Mistero takes a Tom Watts quote for his profile description:

Mostly I straddle reality and the imagination. My reality needs imagination like a bulb needs a socket. My imagination needs reality like a blind man needs a cane.

E' soltanto  un ricordo - Mysterio Hifeng

E’ soltanto un ricordo – Mistero Hifeng

Mistero presents his work to visitors in an open air gallery space occupying one half of a homestead region. The design is minimalist, little more than a beach, partially flooded by the (presumably) incoming tide and a handful of off-sim islands, one of which is volcanic in nature, all overlooked by a marbled sky of white and black (do make sure you accept the parcel windlight on arrival). But while minimalist, it is also highly effective, the sand and water naturally acting to isolate each of the pieces on display, giving a sense that they each occupy a space that is independent of the others, no matter how relatively close some may be to one another.

The windlight setting also serves to complement the subdued colours used within each piece, allowing them to stand out on their own, an effect which certainly encouraged me to keep to the default rather than fiddling with alternatives.

Bella - Mistero Hifeng

Bella – Mistero Hifeng

The pieces on display are large – all the better to see the detailing within them; so much so, that I doubt my efforts here really do them justice – they really must be seen first-hand.

While there is a line of flat stones laid across the sand to form a footpath through the gallery space, linking two teleport points with one another, there is no need to keep to this when viewing the displayed works, the open space makes for relaxed wandering, and the park benches and pianos which can be found at various points encourage meandering – and sitting.

As well as connecting one to the other, allowing people to hop between the two ends of the gallery space, the two teleporters also provide access to Mistero’s skyborne store. Here one can purchase versions of the items displayed in the gallery, or images of them as captured by Mistero, as well as images of works not currently on display.

Mysterio's store

Mysterio’s store

If you’ve not visited Mistero’s gallery before, I have no hesitation in recommending it to you. His work is an exquisite blending of ideas, images and emotions, presented through a skilled layering of the real with the surreal to produce pieces which are marvellous evocative and compelling.

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Spettatori malinconici di felicita' impossibili - Mistero Hifeng

Spettatori malinconici di felicita’ impossibili – Mistero Hifeng

Art in a box

Art in a Box: Playful Dweller

Art in a Box: Playful Dweller

Holtwaye ArtSpace is fast becoming a regular destination for me. Since its launch in June by WayneNZ and Holter Rez, it has been the home of a series of eye-catching exhibits both in the main gallery space – beautifully designed by Waynenz – at ground level, and more recently in the air over it.

Joining How’s the Water? by Eupalinos Ugajin, which appeared above the gallery in September, is a new skyborne installation by Waynenz. Entitled Art in a Box. It’s a couple of wonderfully whimsical pieces which reflect the artist’s playful side; both are, as the name implies, pieces of art created in two giant cardboard boxes.

Art in a Box: Boxed Clouds

Art in a Box: Boxed Clouds

The first features a woodland scene, called Playful Dweller. This comprises woodland images covering the inside surfaces of a box, together with a 3D element of shrubs and ferns, with rabbits playing around a fallen branch. Two trees grow from boxes placed on either side of the main scene, while the picture at the back of the box features Waynez himself, blowing bubbles, which form a further 3D element in the scene as they float overhead. Touch some of these, and you’ll find yourself posed within them, becoming part of the piece. Or if you prefer, you can sit at the little tea-table, bedecked with flowers  and ferns, and around which butterflies circle and fireflies drift.

The second piece is Boxed Clouds and features a painted sky scene through which flies a Godlike Waynenz. Floating within the confines of the box are a number of cubic clouds, rotating slowly and blending perfectly with the 2D cube clouds floating beneath the image of Waynenz to create a feeling of depth to the piece.  This item is also interactive – touch the cubes and you’ll find yourself floating among them.

Art in a Box: Wild Things

Art in a Box: Wild Things

Art in a Box opened on October 4th with tea party, the remnants of which form a third display as Wild Things playing cards fall from another giant box, each one featuring an image of an avatar (friends of Waynenz and Holter, I presume), with a house of cards standing before it, the checkerboard floor under them forming the perfect transitional element between Boxed Clouds and Playful Dweller.

All told, a delightful installation.

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Aakriti Arts: giving art shape

If I seem to be writing a lot of art-related entires at the moment, it’s because there’s a lot going on right now in terms of art and SL, and I’m also trying hard to catch-up on a number of posts, some of which are art-related or have an art focus, like this one.

Aakriti Arts, located on the homestead region of Amadora, is a stunning venus for art, relaxation, music and meditation operated by Ranadeep Resident. To refer to it as a gallery or exhibition space would be an understatement; the build is itself a work of art, drawing on designs from a number of SL architects, notably Colpo Wexler, to create a venue which is simply stunning to behold, beautifully suited to its various purposes and worth seeing first-hand as much for its looks as for the art exhibitions hosted within its halls and guest areas.

In all, there are seven gallery spaces within Aakriti – which I believe means “shape”. The first and largest of these is Gallery One, a completely stunning design by Colpo providing a home to Ranadeep’s fractal and abstract art.

Aakriti Arts - Ranadeep's fractal art

Aakriti Arts – Ranadeep’s fractal art

In front of Gallery One is a series of wooden walkways and concrete and glass platforms sitting just above the water, which connect the gallery spaces to one another and to the meditation and lounge areas, sweeping, glass-like awnings providing a measure of shade, and an ultra-modern live performance area.

These walkways can be used to reach another impressive design by Colpo, which forms Gallery Two, which is currently being prepared for an exhibition of Ziki Questi’s images from Second Life. The remaining five exhibition spaces are grouped around a paved plaza, also facing out towards the platforms over the water. Four of these spaces are contained in low, rectangular buildings either side of the plaza.

Aakriti Arts - Gallery Two

Aakriti Arts – Gallery Two

These four units host monthly displays by guest artists – and it is somewhat to my shame I’m just mentioning them now, as September draws to a close, because the works on display really are worth seeing. Spiral Silverstar offers her own fractal art, while Toy Soldier Thor presents a mix of 2D and 3D art from both the real world and Second Life; Creative Sam India (Sumanta Dutta in the physical world), who modestly describes himself as “just a beginner” with photography, displays some of his real life images, and ChapTer Kronfeld offers an intriguing series of 3D art pieces entitled, The Third Dimension of the Stroke.

Aakriti Arts - Peeking inside Gallery Two, where Ziki Questi will be exhibiting her work

Aakriti Arts – Peeking inside Gallery Two, where Ziki Questi will be exhibiting her work

On the far side of the plaza, sitting between the two pairs of guest art exhibit spaces is the final gallery space which is currently home to the LTD Gallery Shop, which features a newly opened exhibition of 2D and 3D art curated by Quan Lavender and featuring Sylvia Fitzpatrick, Mistero Hifeng, Kubbrick, Louly Loon, Sabine Mortenwold, Fushia Nightfire, Bryn Oh, Oh (Ohsoleomio), Janine Portal,  FirleFanz Roxley,  Milly Sharple, and Trill Zapatero, with all of the pieces being linked to the current edition of LTD Magazine.

Aakriti Arts - the LTD Shop Gallery

Aakriti Arts – the LTD Shop Gallery

Aakriti Arts offers a fabulous venue for art, and a very photogenic place in its own right. Those who don’t wish to spend their time walking between the various exhibition areas can use the teleport boards, while the lounge and meditation areas offer places to set and relax.

Patons of the art or anyone wishing to keep up with events in the region, be they exhibition openings or music events, etc., can do so by joining the Aakriti Arts group. If you do enjoy art in SL and have yet to visit Aakriti, it is definitely one to add you your list of “must see” galleries.

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Bryn Oh: exploring the country of an artist’s mind

Bryn Oh is perhaps one of Second Life’s most respected and well-known artists. Her work spans the last seven years of SL’s history, and her installations have been visited by many in that time, whilst also making frequent appearances in the Destination Guide. Over the years, her pieces have grown from static sculptures to region-wide art-focused experiences, rich in narrative and elements of gameplay. It also spans the virtual and physical divide, having appeared at exhibitions, shows and festivals around the globe, marking her as an internationally regarded digital artist – in every sense of the word “digital”.

Such is the extent of Bryn’s work, that and in-depth retrospective is perhaps long overdue. Chance Acoustic and Art Blue have offered a modest, but attractive means of celebrating Bryn’s work through A Room for Ferrisquito. However, Bryn’s catalogue is so vast, it cries out for something more extensive.

Until recently, Bryn has fought shy of offering such a retrospective herself. However, she was recently invited to participate in the Art & Algorithms digital festival in Titusville, Florida, where she is one of a number of digital artists exhibiting their work through the festival’s digital lounge, and thus Bryn Oh retrospective 2007-2014, has been born.

This is a comprehensive study of her work, which might be said to span two locations in SL. The primary focus for the retrospective is a region-wide installation at LEA9, where visitors can explore the development of her art over the years chronologically. The second element – primarily aimed towards to the Art and Algorithms event, is an invitation for them to experience The Singularity of Kumiko on her home region of Immersiva – where she states she has instructed Mr. Zippers not to slaughter anyone should they do so!

The LEA9 installation is an immersive, multi-faceted endeavour involving elements of her work in both 3D and 2D together with information boards and links to machinina pieces on YouTube. Interestingly, most of the pieces on display are not Bryn’s own choices; as far as possible they’ve been drawn from suggestions and requests provided by members of her Immersiva in-world group.

Putting some of this together wasn’t easy, as Bryn informed me on inviting me to take a look around LEA9. “I discovered that all my really old work from 2007 etc., are now all unlinked and the prims migrated in some cases!” she said. However, if any of the early pieces on display had to be put back together, I’d say the time spent doing so has been more than worth it, because LEA 9 presents the visitor with a fascinating voyage through Bryn’s work – and more.

Those familiar with Bryn’s art over the years will doubtless recognise many of the items on display and regard them with fond memories; they may even trigger reminiscences about art, SL and more. Each year is presented in it own space or spaces, combining individual pieces with sets from some of Bryn’s more immersive, region-wide designs. Large signs denote the years as you come to them – make sure yo take the welcoming note card on your arrival, and do take your time exploring; there is a lot to see and read – and not all of it in the exhibition spaces, as noted there are a number of opportunities to watch machinima of Bryn’s work, such as the one below for Condos in Heaven.

Bryn is known for giving insight into her creations through the pages of her blog, where she frequently allows us glimpse her creative thinking. In many ways, this retrospective is a deeper extension of that process. Exploring it, I felt I was not so much looking back over her work of the last seven years but had in fact entered her “Country of the Mind”.

I make no apologies for using a fictional construct, as given form by Greg Bear, to describe my response to viewing this installation; if anything I’d say it was actually appropriate. “Bryn Oh” came into being as a way of exploring whether a digital character unaligned with any physical identity could gain acceptance as an artist in her own right; given the world-wide renown Bryn’s work has attained, there is little doubt she has achieved this goal.

But creativity is rarely purely an outward expression; through the creative process, we often define or enhance or influence or own thinking and perhaps reflect facets of our personalities back to ourselves as much as display them outwardly. As such, wandering through these spaces within LEA9 gave me the sensation that I was witnessing not only the growth of Bryn’s artistry within SL, but was also seeing the growth of her persona as a distinct entity separate from the human mind behind her. It’s as if each of the pieces on display, from the small to the large, form aspects of her “big and little selves”, to use Bear’s terminology, each reflecting a facet of her creativity and drive, which blend together and with her Primary Self – the human mind behind her – adding to her growth as a distinct personality. I actually mentioned this idea to Bryn as I toured LEA9; I’m not entirely sure what she thought of my perspective – but she seemed intrigued.

My point here is that this installation is more than just a simple retrospective display of past works; there is something very tactile about it which speaks as a voyage through the developing of Bryn as a personality as much as to the creative beauty of her work. As such, it is a fascinating place to visit and in which to dwell.

Certainly, this is an installation – a country – worthy of careful exploration. There is a visual and written richness to it that is engaging and well deserving of  the time one can spend immersed within it. I can honestly say I have spent more than two hours within the installation following Bryn’s invitation, and I will doubtless be returning to it again.

Highly recommended.

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