26 December 2012

A conversation with FreeWee Ling about the nature and impermanence of Second Life art

A few nights ago I contacted FreeWee Ling (art curator for the University of Western Australia's Second Life sims) about a couple of minor topics. Our conversation drifted onto the subject of ArtGyro (FreeWee's group for open discussion of various issues in SL art aimed at arts stabilization and collaboration), UWA, and then the preservation, sustainability, and nature of SL art itself. Like all conversations it wanders from topic to topic, sometimes modulating ideas or not completing them, but it occurred to me that other people might find it thought-provoking. So with Free's permission I've copied part of our conversation below (with edits for typos, clarifications, etc).

FreeWee Ling's profile photo,
much in need of updating
FreeWee Ling: [UWA is] starting another big money competition like the Centenary show last year. That'll be the first few months. Starting Feb.

Dividni Shostakovich: Open submission again?

FreeWee: Yes. I'd like to have some [ArtGyro] sessions to talk about what it all means. Is what we're doing here important? Is it good? Does it have lasting value? Art with a capital A? That kind of thing. The ephemeral nature of art here defines its legacy in some ways.

Dividni: Yes -- there are complicated feelings about that issue, not surprisingly.

FreeWee: Of course. People who value the work, whether their own or not, feel like it should be preserved. I think so, too, but maybe for other reasons.

Dividni: I think it should at least be documented, but even doing that can be a challenge.

FreeWee: Right. That's why I document every show we do here. But the difficulty is preserving the idea of the work, not the work itself.

Dividni: Yes. But defining what "preservation" means is actually not so simple.

FreeWee: I feel pretty strongly that the strength of art in virtual worlds is the ability to do a rapid prototype of an idea. The actual technical quality [of the SL platform] is pretty much crap. Even the best of it. But it's so easy to express compelling ideas despite the limitations.

Dividni: Hm, but how does the experience of immersion and interaction fit into that view?

FreeWee: That's what makes it easy. I think of it like Picasso sitting in the Lapin Agile, talking about art and sketching ideas on a napkin.

Dividni: But a sketch of an interaction isn't an interaction: that's a real experience (so to speak, given we're in a virtual world). Regardless of technical quality, psychologically we project ourselves into the virtual space.

FreeWee: The sketch is the idea. An illustration of an idea. But not a fully fledged artwork.

FreeWee: SL is a napkin ... heehee.

FreeWee: No... SL is the Lapin Agile... ideally.

Dividni: Yes, I understand your analogy, but I'm questioning it.

FreeWee: The interaction is the interaction. The others at the table. My point is SL is a place to gather and exchange ideas. The technology is crude, but highly effective because it's easy. It's accessible.

Dividni: So in RL it would be an interaction through the medium of the napkin?

FreeWee: So we can't necessarily critique work here the same as we would in a formal gallery with finished works that are complete unto themselves. We have to see beyond the form to the idea. We make allowances for technical weaknesses if the idea is compelling enough. A lot of the winning entries at UWA are far from the strongest technically. I think there's a consensus that the idea is implicitly transcendent over form.
          This is a different observation than a gallery curator would get. I'm observing a larger population making specific judgments. And I see trends in that. The Artists Choice series reflects the temperaments of artists. The UWA challenges reflects the temperaments of a different type of judging population. But in all cases, they tend to support the rendition of a compelling idea over technical quality.

Dividni: I agree that technically SL doesn't present what many artists have in mind, but I don't think that "draft" quality applies to interaction and immersion. I think that stands more clearly, even if still not precisely what an artist might dream of. But that issue applies in RL too.

FreeWee: Well the question might be, then, what is the quality of the interaction? Is it comparable to RL? Better even? Or is it the facility? The opportunity? Again, it's a matter of simplicity over technical quality that allows interaction to take place on a global stage with few barriers.

Dividni: Why can't the quality of SL art -- including technical -- be exactly what the artist wants? Cartoons can be art after all.

FreeWee: If the artist is satisfied with it, that's fine. What makes a cartoon effective is not its artistic merit but the ability to convey an idea in a simple way. Certainly it's art. And it can be a complete expression. But there's a difference between a cartoon and a Rembrandt. There is depth that can't be achieved simply. A novel instead of a limerick. A symphony instead of a folk song. All have their merits. It's good to be able to use this platform to express ideas, but some people have the illusion that it will last.

Dividni: Yes -- but perhaps the problem there is that they expect RL art to be more permanent than it necessarily is. Some arts are always evanescent, like theater, dance, and music. Oil paintings crack, corrode, etc.

FreeWee: I'm not talking about erosion. I'm talking about this work that we see every day no longer existing. The world itself is evolving away from this technology and there will be no retrieval.

Dividni: There's no retrieval of a theater performance either -- just documentation.

FreeWee: Imagine if oil paint suddenly started to evaporate off all the paintings in the world.

Dividni: See, that's the analogy that people shouldn't be using. Performance is more accurate.

FreeWee: But doesn't performance have temporal and social elements that are lacking in visual art? [ADDENDUM: What I wanted to say here about performance is that when the music is over, there are scores and recordings. When a play is done, the script remains. It doesn't vanish forever. The essential element of an art performance can be recorded or the instructions retained so it can be reproduced. The art in SL is often site- and platform-specific. Very often when a show is over, the work is removed and cannot ever be retrieved. And there is so little "legitimate" criticism by journalists, its memory will also be lost to the future.]

Dividni: Yes -- as does immersive & interactive art in SL.

FreeWee: Of course you're right in certain cases. It's hard to generalize.

Dividni: Yes, which perhaps where this conversation is stumbling! lol

FreeWee: Heehee. Yes. We can always cite exceptions. There are no absolutes. But I do see trends.

Dividni: OK, flesh out what trends you're seeing.

FreeWee: I think we're in for a massive change in technology over the next year or two that will make SL untenable. The core issue being mobility. The real estate model for SL can't survive.

Dividni: Yes, that's a big issue.

FreeWee: I see this where I work. A university. They're pushing hard to get more and more classes online. But what they aren't talking about is what happens to the campus when students don't have to be there? And if a student can get a history class from Oxford and an engineering class from MIT, why should he be in a degree program at the University of Kentucky? And he'll be competing with a class that is global in scope. It's a sea change.

Dividni: Yes, true. What implications does that have for SL art?

FreeWee: Everything is being delivered to portable devices. People are less willing to sit at a computer desk.

Dividni: People are watching whole movies on their iPhone.

FreeWee: SL won't work on a tablet, even if the technology is supported. The bandwidth used by SL is relentless. Significantly greater than downloading a movie. And ultimately, the immersion doesn't happen on a small screen.

Dividni: I haven't tried Cloud Party, but there've been some experiments with browser-based SL, I think.

FreeWee: I've been to Cloud Party. It's basically the same as SL, except that everything is mesh. Harder to create content, but much easier to socialize.

Dividni: I'm not sure I agree with you about the size of the screen impeding immersion -- one can compare it to watching a play from a back row: you still get immersed and can usually read faces even though they're small.

FreeWee: I'm sitting at a desk in my home with 3 monitors in front of me. About 4.5 feet wide altogether and I can spread SL across all three to get phenomenal peripheral immersion.

Dividni: Spoiled brat :-D

FreeWee: I spend enough time doing this there seemed to be justification ... heehee. I still get lagged and pissed about how slow it is. Spent a bunch of money on the graphics card.

Dividni: Yeah, SL is a systems hog.

Dividni: Gaah I need to go to sleep!

FreeWee: Good talking as always.

Dividni: You too, have a good night, and enjoy the holidays & break.

FreeWee: Gnite!

Since this is my blog, I'm going to add some thoughts, just to elaborate some points I raised briefly in my conversation with Free, primarily on SL art as a prototype (sketch, draft) and on its impermanence. I just want to flesh out some thoughts to which she and other readers may want to respond.

I don't actually know any SL artists who view their work as a prototype of something they'd like to do in the physical world, or wish that it could be, but perhaps I just haven't had those conversations. Plenty have complained about the limitations of SL's tools, but that doesn't seem to be what Free has in mind. Some artists (in SL or RL) do attempt to represent particular ideas through their works. For example, when sunflower Aichi talked about her contribution to the recent festival at the Odyssey sim, she said, "this sculpture represents the rebirth of man." So perhaps that artwork was a draft or illustration of the artist's ideas. I suppose Artistide Despres's Let These Facts Be Known (at Split Screen in December 2011 and then incorporated into other works) could similarly be described as representing her feeling about the power and importance of the Occupy movement.

But that latter example seems to stretch the idea. In my view, the artwork often is the thought. In these cases the relationship of draft and artwork is the reverse of Free's analysis. The artist's initial, conscious ideas are the draft; the final work constitutes the ideas' eventual form, the result of wherever the building process took her -- much in the way that a novelist can start off with a plot-line in mind and then discover that the characters somehow obtain a life of their own, pushing the story in unexpected directions. An artist certainly can be frustrated with the limitations of Second Life's tools, but that doesn't make the artwork a draft of something yet-to-be-achieved: it is still a completed expression, even if the articulation isn't what the artist would accomplish with better tools. In many other cases, however, SL provides the artist with excellent resources that the molecular world cannot offer. Because the artwork is the thought itself, it's often useless to ask an artist what her work "means" or what she "intends": at the end of the day, what she intends is the artwork. At that point the artwork just is, in all its (virtual) materiality, for its audience to receive and understand in whatever way it does.

The point is especially true for art with a strong narrative element. Bryn Oh's Rabbicorn story is about an orphaned robot-girl and the robot-rabbicorn who eventually saves her from attack; Rose Borchovski tells stories about Susa Bubble, "who went to bed single and woke up double"; and Artée's Let These Facts Be Known has an implicit narrative about the Occupy movement. (The stories, of course, are also about themes like loneliness, fear, and liberty.) But the story is the story. The fact that it was developed and expressed in a virtual world doesn't makes it a prototype of some idea: it is the idea.

I'd like to tie the issue to the problem of preserving Second Life art. At some point, nearly all artworks in Second Life have to be removed, but often we wish they could continue to be available. However, preservation confronts all sorts of pragmatic problems such as who would pay for the sims, and technical problems such as the eventual extinction of operating systems and hardware.

In my view, people should think about SL art not on the model of paintings and sculptures in the molecular world, but on the model of performance. Let's face it: art in Second Life is evanescent. In a sense, all art in Second Life is narrative: not a narrative about something, but instead, a narrative in itself. It came, we saw (or we didn't), it went away ... end of story. That's how arts like music, dance, and theater exist. I wish I could have seen David Tennant as Hamlet (a very good production, I've heard), but I'm out of luck. One can have scripts and scores and recordings of performances -- documents of various types -- but the performances themselves vanish.

Stop wishing that SL art could exist permanently. It doesn't, it can't, and maybe it shouldn't:  maybe trying to make it permanent would simply freeze it to death. The fact that it disappears is part of what makes experiencing it valuable, fascinating, and in every sense immediate. On the other hand, everybody should document!

FreeWee may see the issues differently; or maybe I'm misconstruing her argument; or maybe she'll find she agrees with me on some points. Who knows, maybe I can be persuaded to see things differently.

I'm not going to get into the issues of immersive and interactive art, where immediacy is even more crucial; or the related matter of our psychological projection into such environments, which is being increasingly illuminated by cognitive science. These topics are actually more important to me than the issue of impermanence; however, my impression is that currently impermanence is on more people's minds. So possibly I'll discuss immersiveness and interactivity some other day.

21 December 2012

Advice to Second Life Artists from Quan Lavender

One of the great challenges confronting Second Life artists is how to increase the value and significance of their work. Much like any other market, Second Life art obeys a version of the law of supply and demand: the less available or accessible the art is, the better it is. Popular work is always of low quality (just like the masses who like it), and conversely, rare and obscure art meets the highest standards. But there's also an opposite problem, because people need to have heard of an artist's work, even (or especially) if they've never seen it, in order to perceive its value. Artists face a difficult problem in balancing these two forces.

But help is here. In How to Avoid Visitors - A Guideline for Artists...., Quan Lavender had provided artists with excellent pointers on how they can make visitors and curators understand the excellence of their work. Her recommendations cover dealing with visitors, the press, opening events, curators, and other aspects of obtaining recognition for the best art that Second Life can offer. She also provides advice to art galleries, some of which applies to installation spaces, and so I am taking those suggestions to heart. And for people who have difficulty grasping her point, at the end of her post she even provides a bit of sodium chloride.

I'm dismayed to add that only one or two of the artists who have shown their work at Split Screen have followed Quan's recommendations, which (alas) tells you something about the quality of the work I'm able to obtain. I have tried to arrange for installations by superb artists, ones who clearly do follow Quan's wise advice, and as a perfect demonstration of how accurate her guidelines are, I have been unable to do so -- proving the excellence of these artists' work.

I urge everyone in the Second Life art world to read and heed Quan's words.

16 December 2012

Yet another installation space gone

Apparently I'm way behind the times: I just learned that at the end of October, the Art Screamer sim closed. Its curators Zachh Cale, Chestnut Rau, and Amase Levasseur did a spectacular job, and between their own sim and LEA sims they obtained, they made six major installations possible and reached a huge audience in SL -- there were tens of thousands of visitors to Claudia222 Jewell's "Spirit" alone. The curators cite a lack of resources, which is not surprising when a sim has no commercial or residential activities on it: aside from the occasional tip, tier is all out of pocket, and full sims are far from cheap. Art Screamer's existence was a huge contribution to the Second Life art scene, and after the closure of so many other art spaces (see my posts herehere and here), the loss is especially large. I for one will miss it deeply, and I thank Chestnut, Amase and Zachh for all they did.

10 December 2012

Article and Interview with Cherry Manga by Quan Lavender

Quan Lavendar has an excellent article in Avenue incorporating parts of her interview with Cherry Manga about Danse Macabre. The article includes photos by Piedra Lubitsch. Definitely worth reading! See:

http://issuu.com/avenue/docs/avenue.december2012/318 (direct link -- you have to find page 318 if you use the embedded viewer below, which isn't hard since it's the last article)

01 December 2012

Another Machinima of Cherry Manga's "Danse Macabre"

Boa Tatuagem created this machinima on Danse Macabre:

Nicely done! I don't know who Boa Tatuagem is and the name doesn't seem to be listed in SL, but thanks anyway!

Update: The machinima is by Maxim Ouachita.  Thanks again!

28 November 2012

Cherry Manga's "Danse Macabre" at Split Screen (and 2nd anniversary)

From now through the end of December, Split Screen presents Danse Macabre by Cherry Manga. Well known for her surrealistic imagery, such as women with bird heads, recently Cherry's imagery has had a more symbolic character. Danse Macabre is a further step in that direction. It has three parts or levels. The first is a revision of Chess-Cherry (now on view at the torno Kohime Foundation). As Ziki Questi hints in her blog, Chess-Cherry brings a startling and vulnerable eroticism to the chessboard, because on each of the chess pieces poses a nude woman. (I am reminded of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, in a young couple are revealed in the act of playing chess: the game becomes a metaphor for sexuality.) But death also lurks here, as the women's skeletons show on or through their skins. In Danse Macabre, Cherry alters the scene in several ways: the entire installation is now in the air, a grey sky surrounding it (the windlight Shadow1), the squares of the chessboard, which are textured with old newspaper classified advertisements, have the words Danse Macabre overlaid on them; a chessboard floating above like a roof is gone; and most prominently, the board is now dominated by a strange spider-woman, fly wings springing from her back, a cigarette dangling from her lips, and dressed like Pierrot. Notice when you walk on the board that the squares light up and issue a sound (also new to this version).

One reaches the smaller second level by walked up a ramp of bones (femurs, to be precise). Again we have a chessboard, but rather than chess pieces, it has floating spheres with skulls on them, while the words Danse Macabre swing about the space. The spheres contain poses -- dance-like, appropriately enough -- so be sure to sit on them. Music plays in the background.

Another bone ramp takes one up to the third level, where the actual danse macabre is located. A danse macabre is a medieval portrayal of the fact that all of us will ultimately die. In Cherry's Danse Macabre, first one sees a thicket of the words "Danse Macabre." Past that there is a ring of dancers, all hooded women, their skeletons on their skins, circling around a tower. The latter consists of a spiral staircase made first of legs with skeletons on them, and then more femurs. Posed women float on spheres. And all of it is placed on a dark hemisphere, above which another hemisphere has opened like a hatch, but also exploded out to the sky. Intense music plays ominously.

When you arrive, be sure to pick up the avatar skin and attachments in the spider woman!

Cherry made a machinima of Danse Macabre:

Danse Macabre is showing at Split Screen through 31 Dec. Misprint Thursday's terraform installation, which opened in October, continues at ground level.

SLURL to the Split Screen entrance: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Beleza/36/219/1501.

Also, this work marks two years of installations at Split Screen!

04 October 2012

Rose Borchovski, Simotron Aquila, and Misprint Thursday at Split Screen During October

During October, Split Screen has three installations, by Rose Borchovski, Simotron Aquila, and Misprint Thursday.

Rose's Echoes in the Garden is a contribution to her Susa Bubble story:

Her installation includes golden teardrops with poses and dances. A poem accompanies the installation:
I hear echoes in the garden.
Is anybody listening?
I hear lost echoes in the garden!
Is anybody listening?
And they whisper:
“The ones who are only living,
are the ones who are only dying.”
Simotron created Conditioned Actions, which she describes this way:
"Conditioned Actions" investigates the thin line that separates the order meant as a tool of organization and efficiency, from the order meant as tool of conditioning and social control. It is a run studded with barriers, prohibitions, directional indications, forced waits, that seems to have as its aim simply the exercise to the submission.

Finally, at ground level Misprint terraformed Ile de Coeur (Island of the Heart, or Heart Island):

As part of the installation she provides an attachment and HUD that lets you float and emit your choice of particles.

SLURL to the Split Screen entrance: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Beleza/36/219/1501

Sorry, I don't have time to write more! But I've already gotten lots of positive responses to the three installations, so go see them!

26 September 2012

Farewell, PiRats

Last January the art gallery PiRats announced that it was going to close. A flurry of efforts, including crowd-funding and the allocation of a LEA sim, kept it going for a while. But a few days ago Merlina Rokocoko, one of its curators, announced the gallery's end, although they hope to continue PiRats with occasional once-off projects.

Flora Nordenskiold, who ran the Norden Art Gallery and left SL entirely for a while, returned to Second Life and now blogs about SL art and other activities, but I haven't heard anything to suggest she'd thinking of re-opening her gallery.

So, the contraction of major independent art spaces continues (see my earlier discussion of the issue).

14 August 2012

13 August 2012

Split Screen ranks in Levity Magazine's Top 10

Levity Magazine's writer Lady Victoria Lenoirre wrote a list of her Top 10 Galleries in Second Life, and she included Split Screen, in fact it came in 3rd after the University of Western Australia and PiRats. The article starts on page 46, I think this link will get you there directly. Regrettably someone at the magazine mixed up the photos -- the one on the Split Screen page looks like it's for UWA, and the Split Screen photo was used for Claudia Jewell's Spirit at Art Screamer. Oops. But it's great to be considered so highly!

02 August 2012

Giovanna Cerise, and Jo Ellsmere & Pyewacket Kazyanenko at Split Screen in August

During August, Split Screen presents Giovanna Cerise's Synesthesia (opening 1 Aug) and a performance piece by Jo Ellsmere & Pyewacket Kazyanenko titled Pardon Our Zeitgeist (opening 5 Aug).

Synesthesia is when one sort of sensation is perceived as another. Most often a sound is also experienced as a color (or vice versa). Composer Alexander Scriabin and painter Wassily Kandinsky both explored synesthesia, and Giovanna's work builds (literally) on their ideas. Quan Lavender has written an excellent blog post about Giovanna installation, which I can't improve upon, so go read it. Synesthesia uses a special windlight setting, which should turn on automatically if you use Firestorm or Phoenix.  Otherwise, switch to "Sheer Surreality."  Be sure to have sounds all the way up.

Synesthesia (click photos to enlarge)

Pardon Our Zeitgeist, by Jo Ellsmere and Pyewacket Kazyanenko, is a performance piece. They call it a "Second Life painting in 4 dimensions," about online communication and relationships. It's a bit hard to describe right now because it isn't ready yet -- it'll open on the 5th. Turn on media as well as local sounds.

Pardon Our Zeitgeist (click photo to enlarge)

18 July 2012

"Virginia Alone" by Bryn Oh

It's curious that with all the reviews of work at the LEA sims and various other builds around the grid, there don't seem to be any commentaries on Bryn Oh's new installation at Immersiva, Virginia Alone, which was part of the Santa Fe New Media Festival -- or if there have been, they've passed me by.  Maybe people feel she's popular enough not to need advertisement, or they assume her popularity is somehow a reason to ignore her, or they haven't bothered to check out her work thinking it's more of the same, or they're afraid to comment critically on such a major figure, or who knows what the reasons are. Anyway I think she should be treated like any other artist in SL, and given that I'm quite willing to yell at her ("Bryn, get your gray ass over to Split Screen!"), I don't mind taking a stab at Virginia Alone, just to offer a starting point.

The problem is, my thoughts about it refuse to gel. And I'm willing to consider the possibility that they won't gel because the Virginia Alone exists in a state of indeterminacy. As most readers probably already know, it's about an elderly woman (over 80 years old), blinded by cataracts, who lived by herself in a remote farm house in the Canadian countryside, and later was moved to a nursing home. (See Bryn's full account of Virginia's background.) According to Bryn she suffers from schizophrenia, but I don't know if that's an actual diagnosis or Bryn's own best guess; be that as it may, it's clear that Virginia has delusions that she herself sometimes recognizes as departures from reality.

Over the years Virginia recorded hundreds of cassette tapes about her activities, thoughts and experiences. From the cassettes Bryn culled over an hour's worth of material, coupled it with machinima and real-world video recordings, and turned it into nine YouTubes which one accesses by clicking on cassette players scattered (sometimes hidden) around Bryn's simulacrum of Virginia's house. Thus the cassettes -- indirectly, Virginia herself -- form the basis of Virginia Alone.

What this means, and one of the things that I think makes the work strangely indeterminate, is that Virginia Alone is a Second Life installation dominated by the material Bryn has placed outside SL. The work constantly takes us out of itself, or rather, into a different-world part of itself. One of the YouTubes even blurs the difference: one scene focuses on a handwritten letter, and then cams backward and down the hall, at which point you realize that the letter is actually an image imported into SL and the entire scene is machinima. At the risk of sounding too cute, it seems that Virginia Alone, like Virginia herself, exists in multiple realities, both equally real and unreal. This interpretation is underscored by the cassette tapes made at the nursing home, in which the background sounds -- people talking or yelling or screaming, and various other noises -- are at least as compelling as Virginia's voice calmly talking in its midst (in fact for me, sometimes more compelling), giving the real-world recording a sense of unreality.

Click on photos to enlarge

One obvious difference between Virginia Alone and Bryn's well-known older installations, such as the Rabbicorn trilogy, is that she has more or less departed from the arena of robot girls and robot animals. As she has done in many of her recent builds, the main lines her approach is more or less naturalistic: an isolated island with trees, rocks, a water-logged boat, a house modeled after Virginia's actual house, cobwebs and so forth. It's more like her oil paintings, which Bryn occasionally imports into SL, and you'll find one in Virginia Alone. Admittedly I'm usually not enthusiastic about art in SL that attempts to reproduce RL, but Bryn makes it work by her inclusions of the strange or uncanny, and anyway, Bryn has the right and need to take new approaches. (One thing that has not changed is her obsession with insects, of which there are quite a few in the YouTubes.)

And I did say, "more or less." The basement plumbing is a chaotic network of pipes that seems characteristically Bryn, and not a bad way to image Virginia's thought patterns. More to the point, she has placed a number of her signature motifs (such as poems, piles of shopping carts, and a robot rabbit) in the house and on the island, and she has a bit of cam build as well, so be sure to look around closely.

Click photos to enlarge

You may notice that I haven't addressed the emotional impact of Virginia's tapes. Basically I think that would be redundant, visitors will naturally focus on it themselves. The question I wanted to ask (or ask myself) is how Virginia Alone works, what aspects contribute to its impacts and meanings.

Unless you're blessed with lots of free time, you'll have to visit Virginia Alone several times in order to watch all of YouTubes and explore the house and the island. When I was in the upstairs I happened to visit the rooms left to right, which turned out to have a very good effect.

SLURL to Virginia Alone: secondlife://Immersiva/16/157/21

19 June 2012

She's baaaaaack!

My friend Kara, who left SL about a month ago, has decided to come back! She talks about it in her blog. She's been a great supporter of the arts in SL, and a great source of news about activities if you want to go to something fun. Plus she's a wonderful friend and great to joke around with. Welcome back, Kara! Yay!*

*In case you're wondering why I'm not teasing her mercilessly, I am -- but that's more fun to do privately, where I can make better jokes! :-D

07 June 2012

Rose Borchovski: The Inevitability of Fate

• I like words. Sometimes I know not to use them. I'm going to keep this simple.

• The photos below are small because I want you to click on them to see them larger. They are no substitute for going there.

• Use the recommended windlight settings.

• Turn local sounds all the way up. Turn your master volume up.

• Click on everything you can find to click on.

• Cam everywhere, including from above, around corners, and close up.

• Give yourself at least 45 minutes.

• Yes. It's that good.


02 June 2012

Betty Tureaud and Trill Zapatero at Split Screen

During June, Split Screen is hosting Betty Tureaud's Liquid Crystals and Trill Zapatero's The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised.  They are thoroughly immersive installations of completely different kinds.

In Liquid Crystals, Betty expresses her fascination with crystals and their use in technology. It has three levels. The landing point is breathtaking and magnificent: a vast field of color that spreads to the horizon. On a black platform are two small spheres. Sitting on them brings you down into a large cylinder where you float within Betty's bright colors. Standing up from there, you tumble down to the base of the cylinder, where you walk amid cubical and conical crystals, some in a pile in the middle.

Betty Tureaud, Liquid Crystals

In contrast to Betty's highly abstract piece, Trill's Apocalypse is concrete and narrative. There's been a run of apocalyptic work lately (including, at Split Screen alone, shellina Winkler's Apocalypse 2012 and Alizarin Goldflake's Acquarella: After the Apocalypse). Trill's installation is unusual for its optimism. We see the destruction, but also reconstruction. The installation is designed to lead us along a path through ruins occupied by ghosts and rats, and still crumbling around us. However, many of the walls have graffiti (among them, images by Hieronymus Bosch), a few with clues to the background to the disaster. Eventually the path takes us to a paddleboat, the beginning of the salvaging of materials. The boat brings us to an oil rig that has been wholly re-purposed, and now boasts a garden, chairs and lamps made from various types of detritus, and a small house powered by a wind turbine.

Trill Zapatero, The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised

Showing June only, so go see them!