Tag Archives: Linden Endowment for the Arts

A City, inside and out

Officially opening at 13:00 SLT  on Thursday, March 26th at the LEA, is Haveit Neox’s newest full region installation, City Inside Out.  It’s a breath-taking and, at first look, bewildering build, huge in size, confusing in complexity and powerful in narrative.

The simplest way to describe the theme of the installation is to take the description from About Land:

Walking into any interior reveals only exteriors. The sense of personal space is absent. How is a city experienced when there are no comforts for the soul, no home?

The description of the build, found close to the landing point adds a little more detail:

To someone without a home living on the streets, the bustling city becomes one united exterior. “City Inside Out”, explores a world that lacks interiors. Some pedestrians throw coins into the beggars’ hats, others bark insults to their faces. Joggers, dog walkers, groups of boisterous friends, clean people in new clothes, romantic couples, cell phone conversations, shiny traffic, wash their daily tides of health and prosperity past the homeless.

And thus the world around us starts to take shape: this is a city we’re asked to see through the eyes of the homeless, the dispossessed; those who have nowhere to be, nowhere to go. For these people, the city is a very different place to the one we know. It’s a place where everything is strange, alien, and threatening. A place bad enough in daylight, but as Havit further explains, becomes much, much worse at night…

Late each night, the people living on the streets are confronted by another kind of crowd, dangerous as the sharp knife and gun. They are defenceless, even within their own bodies. Sensations abound, prickly as lice and poisonous insect infested clothing, blurry as sight without glasses, with ringing ears of imaginary voices, and resignation to untreated illness. The survival test is administered without consideration for those who will see the next day.

Armed with this narrative, it is possible to make your way down and through the installation, crossing bridges, descending ladders and – in places – flying – and see various elements and aspects as they are meant to be seen: as a frightened, forgotten nameless … lurker … in a city were “ordinary” life passes one either side of you and renders you invisible. A place where, when you are noticed, it can feel terrifying or threatening.

Witness, for example,  the portrayal of the man taking his dog(s) for a walk; is it really a pack of hounds he’s struggling to control, is is that home the mind of the lost, homeless individual conceives it, when in fact to the rest of us, it is simply one man and his dog? And, nearby, look how the figure dropping small change down towards you literally towers over you, massive hand outstretched, face a mask…

Then there are the horrors of the night and of living and sleeping rough, portrayed in nightmare images of bottles and guns and more with insectoid legs climbing towards you, or seemingly skittering around or even looming over you; parasitical, ready to suck the life from you.

If all this sounds dark, it’s not; there is a magnificence about this build that is enthralling – and such is its size, I doubt a single visit will suffice to appreciate it all. Time is needed to explore the various levels, the heights and depths and to appreciate all the imagery and metaphor that is layered throughout this amazing city. And do be prepared to play with your camera position and rotation; this is a city where gravity knows no constant in places.

From high in the air to below the water, City Inside Out is an incredible build from an incredible architect of cities of the mind. Not to be missed.

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Moving islands: the movie

Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant, 2013/14, curated by Eupalinos Ugajin

Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant,conceived and curated by Eupalinos Ugajin, 2013/14

From late 2013 through early 2014, LEA 20 played host to Moving Islands [Rafts], a collaborative art installation, conceived and organised by Eupalinos Ugajin, and which involved more than than 24 artists from across SL.

The task set for each participating artist was to create a piece that freely interprets the central theme of moving islands or rafts.  Derek Michelson provided assistance with scripting and Takio Ra with sounds. The result was a collection of remarkable pieces which were eclectic, quirky, fun, different, provocative, interactive, and more, and which grew and changed through the run of the installation, as Eupa invited different artists to add works, swapped things around, and so on.

Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant in 2013/14, curated by Eupalinos Ugajin; seen here: Maya Paris' contribution

Moving Islands [Rafts], a round 5 AIR entrant, conceived and curated by Eupalinos Ugajin, 2013/14

Indeed such was the depth of the installation,  which also enfolded a further collaboration between Eupa and Ole Etzel entitled In The Belly of The Whale, I don’t think my coverage of Moving Islands [Rafts] really did justice to it.

This being the case, I was delighted when Eupa tapped me in-world to let me know there’s now an official video of the project available. I’ve taken the liberty of embedding it here – but do be sure to watch it in all it glory of Eupa’s channel as well. At just under 22.5 minutes in length, it is not short, but like the installation itself, it is an absolute delight to watch, complete with quirky sound track and sound effects which perfectly match to tone and feel of the actual installation.

When Life Gives You Apples…

Now open at LEA 6, in what is the final installation under the UWA’s Full sim Art series as we’re currently familiar with it, is Rebeca Bashly’s When Life Gives You Apples … Run

As Jayjay Zifanwee notes while introducing the piece in the UWA blog, it is fitting that Rebeca should be the final artist to participate in the Full sim Art series in its current format; in 2011, she was the very first artist to participate in the series – indeed, in any LEA exhibition – when her remarkable interpretation of Dante’s Inferno opened in October of that year (my review of which you can read here).

When Life Gives You Apples … Run Offers a provocative look at the subject of the abuse of women, either by others or by themselves.  “Looking at various myths, legends and fairy tales, apple seems to be pretty unfortunate for a woman. When an apple appears in a story, you know that something will go bad,2 Rebeca says of the piece. “From Eve, thru Greek mythology to Snow White there was always a catch with an apple. It is beautiful, delicious, tempting, seductive. A Perfect disguise for all bad that can come. I use it as a symbol for the monstrosities that woman too often don’t recognise as such in its early stages.”

And indeed, the central part of the installation is – an apple. A quiet incredible apple in fact – or at least the core of one, as it has clearly been eaten. Constructed of mesh and over 70 metres tall, the apple sits on the ground, stalk pointing to the sky, the uneaten flesh at its lower end serving as the arrival point, where a smaller apple sits, offering visitors an introductory note card.

Winding up through the the core of the apple is a tunnel visitors are asked to follow.  This leads the way up to a couple of teleport platforms at different levels within the apple’s core, a sculpture in occupying the space between them; and it is by taking these teleports that the visitor is led to the parts of the installation dealing more directly with the theme of abuse (or perhaps “subjugation” might be an equally valid term) either inflicted from within or without.

In the first, Home Sweet Home, we see a house being torn apart by a giant heart, both suspended above an open road – itself an image of freedom. The accompanying story suggestive of a person caught in a relationship marked by the abuse of lairs, deceptions, stories, words, finally breaking the circle and finding freedom in herself and in the world at large.

In the second, the subject matter focuses on self-abuse in the form of anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa, and the destructive effects they can have on those stricken with them. This is also accompanied by a story, that of the Doll’s House.

There is strong symbolism throughout this installation, be it with the story platforms, or the sculpture of the caged women. Even the tunnel winding up through the apple core has a meaning of its own, for example; an echo of the way in which maggots can bore through an apple, ruining its wholesome appearance via decay from the inside, just as relationships or lives which might appear whole from from outside are slowly decaying from within, as with the vignettes presented by this build.

As noted towards the top of this article, When Life Gives You Apples … Run is a provocative piece; but one of Rebeca’s strengths is that she’s never fought shy of making people think.  As such, this is a worthy piece on which to close the current UWA Full Sim Art series.

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Lost Paradise

Currently open to explore, although the official opening doesn’t take place until Sunday, March 15th, is The Paradise of CyberPolis, by Asmita Duranjaya and Sable (snakeappletree) at LEA 12. It is billed as a “a grey-scaled story and game-based art installation”, and comes with a narrative storyline visitors are asked to follow whilst exploring the installation, solving clues, with the explanatory notes reading:

Crash-landing on an urban planetary system …

A researcher is slowly awaking from unconsciousness, starting to explore the environment of an ancient, abandoned cyber-city and to solve its mysteries. Seven letters need be found to experience the last surprising solution.

The starting point is the researcher’s crashed aircraft, complete with unconscious space-suited researcher. A HUD is also offered, and you’ll need this in order to unlock (literally) the mysteries and make your way to the surprising solution.

The HUD actually takes the form of a journal (available in English or German), written by the researcher, describing their initial examinations of this world and the discoveries made. Your task is to follow the clues in the book, re-trace the researcher’s  footsteps and learn all that they have learned, and in the process find the seven letters mentioned in the introduction. Four of these will be required to unlock the gates of the cyber-city proper (your initial investigations taking place outside of the city’s core), while all seven are needed to unlock the final secret.

Along the way you’ll encounter a curious environment with mixed influences from the worlds anime, cyberpunk and dystopian sci-fi, in a story with something of a spiritual slant. Most of the landscape is a muted greys and whites, but there are splashes of colour scattered throughout, which form visual cues to places you might want to investigate more closely.

As a game, the idea almost works; you read the book, you riddle the clues, you uncover the required letters. But there is a problem. Of the seven letters to be discovered, only three actually require you investigate the city due to them requiring direct interaction with in-world objects to properly identify the letters in question; the other four can be discovered just by reading the book. Thus, it is possible for some of the visual context of the story to be lost as one simply reads ahead, identifies the letters and goes directly to things like opening the gates of the inner city; and sad to say, I’m not sure that much would be lost from the experience in doing so.

The build itself, while interesting to explore, bears a strong resonance to the NeoCyberCity both artists recently built at Asmita’s own Space4Art / Port Lyndus region (indeed, the two builds appear to share many common elements). As such, it’s actually quite hard to determine why there was a need to utilise an LEA region to produce this particular piece, rather than incorporate it into a pre-existing and similarly themed environment already operating.

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