Friday, July 24, 2009

The Quiddity of Objects, 2 of 2

In rl I work with contemporary artists and many of them create installations. One could categorize their work as conceptual art. After a number of years working with this genre I’ve come to reappreciate more traditional arts, or, rather, craftsmanship. I’m eager to see the hard work, the time spent, illustrated in the construction of a work of art. The time an artist spends making offers insight into the working process in a way that conceptual art may often not.

As I make my way around the galleries and museums of SL, I look with a rather critical eye at both virtual art and the presentation of real life art in the virtual world. When I heard the Smithsonian was sponsoring the Latino Virtual Museum I was excited to see what they’d produced. It’s the Smithsonian after all. Curated by Olga Herrera, the museum includes selections of paintings and archives from the Archives of American Art and other Smithsonian collections. I ambled toward an oversized photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera...and squinted. I refocused, cammed back and forth. Nope, still blurry. I tried out a few other images and they were all out of focus. The technology of SL allows us to dig deep, get close, immerse, and it’s up to the curators to ensure they take full advantage of the technology. It’s not enough to throw a photograph, or other object, into the metaverse for mere presence if it’s not useful to visitors. While the LVM provided much text about the image, they seem to have forgotten about the value of the photograph alone. I’d like to see the flowers in Frida’s hair, study the works of art hanging on the wall behind her, or the food on the table in front of her. One photograph has a hundred stories to tell and the curators should allow the visitor to make their own observations.

The Smithsonian might take a look at the Dresden Gallery , a replication of a rl museum. The paintings are carefully rendered. Each is cataloged with basic, tombstone information. Almost minute details can be observed, as in this detail of a painting by Johann Thiele (The Elbe Sornewitz in Hoarfrost and Fog, 1741), making it useful for both the general browser and the scholar.

On the making of objects in SL - the real masters can be found in our 3D artists, like AM Radio, whose builds are thoughtful replications of real life things always elegantly assembled. Just look at the swirling hoses on this engine.

Or the felted platter and transparent plastic cover of a turntable, made by maclane Mills. The details observed are the fingerprints left by reality on the imagination of these artists. Both Mills and Radio capture the quiddity of an object – its “whatness”. It’s a testament to their receptivity and curiosity about objects, as well as their technical skills that make them craftsmen. Wrote Brahms, “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Freak out, part. 1 of 2

(Disclaimer: I know I've been focusing on art a lot.I can't help myself. But I will expand, I promise.) The next two posts have to do with the quality of art. I have something to say about what I see presented online. First of two entries...

I used to work for an art moving company. We’d pack and crate paintings, photographs and sculptures for collectors, galleries and museums. I remember being in a storeroom, a van Gogh painting resting on its back, thinking how lucky I was to be this close to a work of art, no alarms or guards to shoo me away. My boss said “Go ahead, touch it.” I blinked at him. “Really?” He nodded and giddily I touched the surface of the canvas, tracing my fingers over the hills and valleys of aged paint.

It was electrifying, feeling the brush strokes, and I began to get an idea of how the master worked his magic. There is a phenomena called Stendhal’s Syndrome or hyperkulturemia – the feeling of being totally overwhelmed when regarding a work of art or anything of great beauty; the heart races, you feel faint, dizzy, mad even. People have been known to react violently too. At the museum I work in, a man ran into the galleries, slashed two paintings with a knife, and ran out again. Beauty can inspire pain when it feels unattainable. There are times when I’m working with a great work of art when I feel almost besieged by beauty. I stare endlessly into a canvas and try to put myself in the artist’s mind – looking as he looked – taking in the scene before him as he transports it from eye to brain to arm to fingertip to canvas. I am overcome. I run.

Monday, July 20, 2009

patience is a virtue

waiting patiently...sort of...for internet access to resume

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Exhibition Opens!

The glint of eye, the crook of an elbow, the curl of the lips; what is it about these little parts all strung together that reveal a personality? Historically, portraits represented the authority, lineage or religiosity of a person. Within SL, a portrait is an articulation of identity in a realm where identity is more fluid than many of us are used to.

PersoNation presents the genre of portrait making with the works of ten sl artists. Some of the creators are artists in rl, some do not consider themselves artists at all. Some manipulate their images using a variety of tools, or deliberately pose their subjects, while other images were captured quickly. Each portrait expresses the unique intersection of artist and subject. PersoNation asks you, the viewer, to connect with each and discover your own story.

Come hang out on Friday night for dancing, contemplation, conversation and relaxation! The Woodget Gallery: teleport from here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Summer Valentine

Some people look at us SLifers and think we may be living in isolation – tethered as we are to our computers. We’re imagined sitting in lonely rooms, isolated, ignoring the actual world around us. Maybe that’s true for some. But for most, we spend enormous amounts of time maintaining robust online friendships that compliment our real lives.

I didn’t start SL to find friends, probably because I’d kept a skeptical eye on cyberspace. I thought I was just playing a little game like Myst. But friends happened...

When I was a kid, I had two pen pals for years (until I became a teenager and turned all my writing inward, making melodramatic entries in my diaries, pretending I was the girlfriend of Baudelaire). I still have all their letters, their photographs, and other ephemera that could be folded into an envelope and mailed under one stamp. I learned from them; each person, a gift.

Making friends in SL reminds me a bit of cultivating a pen we are finding people from around the world, throwing our energies into getting to know one another. The “getting-to-know” you part is so thrilling. I’ve been blown away by the kindness of virtual strangers willing to reveal parts of themselves, whether through their art, their ear, their heart. I’m thankful for the trust my friends have shown me by sharing themselves, and for their kindness, their goofiness and their individuality. Thank you. :)) <333