Category: Art

Minecraft as an Artistic Medium

As Second Life residents, we repeatedly come up against the Second Life platform being old and obsolete. We complain amongst ourselves that Linden Lab does not invest enough in making it into something unique and more manageable. Nonetheless, the SL diehards amongst us plug along and make the best of it. It seems we simply become more creative and use the limited tools we already have to our disposal. There are other platforms, of course. Recently a friend made me aware of Minecraft, not the gaming aspect of it, but how people use it as an artistic medium. Not for me really, but nonetheless interesting and perhaps worth checking out. Take a look.

Revisiting the G.B.T.H.

The Chinese dress

I am back to writing The Bergdorf Reports again after a hiatus since March. I can’t think of a better way to gradually return to blogging than with a report about the G.B.T.H. (Grab By The Horns), the inspiring virtual art project by my dear friend Marina Münter. Marina and I were introduced by a mutual friend in August 2017.  It turns out we had a lot in common, not merely our fascination with the virtual world and art. More than anything else, I think we realized we shared a devotion to what is meaningful and real in Second Life. I am in awe of Marina’s vision when it comes to the G.B.T.H., her choosing together with her co-collaborator Megan unique art and then finding ways to properly display it in the virtual space. It takes an enormous amount of effort, devotion and time to do this the right way.

Marina came up with the G.B.T.H. together with Megan Prumier, starting with one of two Mutual Respect exhibits in October 2017. We had a panel discussion inspired by those two exhibits, A Talk About Mutual Respect: Perspectives on Empathy, in December. I left Second Life from March to June 2018, and when I returned, the G.B.T.H. had continued to flourish, now housed on its own parcel, showing carefully planned, month-long exhibits continuously curated by Marina and Megan. The G.B.T.H. has shown, in chronological order since May 2018,  Contact, by Megan Prumier; HIKARI, by Amelie Marcoud; Concrete Diorama, by Mistero Hilfeng; 50mg, by Nath Baxton; and ARTEFATOS-Fragments of Things Past, by Ash.

The most recent exhibit, ARTEFATOS-Fragments of Things Past, by Ash, opened today and will be open for about a month. This installation by Ash incorporates stories of love and lust told by evocative objects trapped in hotel rooms. The visitor is encouraged to explore the various rooms, making sure to set to “advanced lightning” and turn up sound. I only got a quick peek of this installation, but was deeply moved by the first room themed The Chinese Dress. The placement of the objects in conjunction with the reading experience of the text is incredibly poetic. Below the text for The Chinese Dress, by Ash.

I arrived two hours before you. That was my plan from the start. I was coming from the most important business meeting of my life, straight into your arms. My dress smelled like airplane food, and I wasn’t wearing my best shoes. No matter how hard you protested, I had to change my panties. I took a long shower, washed and brushed my hair with the calm of a woman who had already waited too long. We are all Penelopes here, a friend once said.

My suitcase was modest, at least in matter of clothes, but filled with more lingerie than I could possibly wear in those few days. The huge, heavy hair dryer seemed indispensable when I was packing. Does that make any sense? For some strange reason, my plan was to take a long shower and make my hair look and smell good for you. I wore my Chinese dress, just like the one I was wearing when we first met. Not the same, obviously, but the closest match I could find. Short enough to let you notice the strings of the garter holding my stockings. The fabric was silky, shiny and soft. The dress had these small buttons, so many and so small, perfect to make you wait. A little revenge for having waited so long myself.

You probably didn’t notice the Chinese dress. You probably didn’t see any connection between that dress and the other. But it doesn’t really matter. I knew it, and that was enough. I would forever know and remember I was wearing a Chinese dress when I met you, not the same but just like the one I wore when we first met. We first met at a movie theater that no longer exists. Actually, I think you were at the café, but the café is gone now, too. We spoke the few silly lines we repeated so often during the years preceding that day. I wish I could remember the name of the silent black and white movie I was watching.

While I was waiting you I had an espresso. Or two. Or five. The coffee tasted like vanilla. You know how much I hate sugar in my coffee. But even without sugar the coffee was sweet, unlike any other I had tasted before. So good and so addictive. I probably consumed all the coffee in that small kitchen where, hours later, I would be on my knees. You would be trying to remove my corset. I was angry with you, so many hours spent choosing it, lacing it. I had bought it especially for you, and as soon as you started kissing me, you were already trying to get rid of it. I thought you knew nothing about sex. So raw, so natural, so straight to the point. But that also doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was on my knees, at the little kitchen. You body was leaning against the wall, against the ugliest painting I have ever seen, horrible but so eloquent “a new adventure”. And then I tasted you for the first time. And your taste was the inverse of everything else you are, the raw and natural you. Koffie verkeerd. I couldn’t even understand, the first time, if you came or not. With my mouth filled of you, I couldn’t understand. Because that taste, your taste, was so incredibly sweet, unlike any other I had tasted before.

Waiting for you, I opened all the windows, letting in the sunny summer day. I sat next to the window, watching the passer-bys cross the little pedestrian street. I still have no idea how I found that place, so charming and unexpected, like out of a dream, like out of a French movie. Every person who passed in front of the big window gave me shivers. Could have been you. For more than an hour, every one of them could have been you. Until one guy appeared with his big backpack and a map in his hands. He could have been Waldo, or he could have been you. No third option. He passed in front of the window, passed the door, passed the building, almost passed the little street. You couldn’t find the number, and I was observing you through the window. I smiled. My legs were shaking, but I never felt so strong and so brave. I opened the old wooden door and crossed the tiny garden, our tiny night garden of wine, bread and cigarettes. I opened the heavy metal gate. You were there, finally. I didn’t kiss you. I pinched your arm, and I bit you. Just like I did when I said goodbye.

Make sure not to miss this beautifully sensual installation before it closes on November 8, here is the landmark: The G.B.T.H. Project. Please also check out and join the G.B.T.H. Project website and the G.B.T.H. Flickr group for updates and announcements about the G.B.T.H.

Photograph above from the G.B.T.H exhibit ARTEFATOS-Fragments of Things Past (by Ash) by Kate Bergdorf

Je n’aime pas

The two-day opening of Je n’aime pas, a concept and performance exhibit by Nur Moo and Hern Worsley, curated by Sheldon Bergman and Angelika Corall at DaphneArts, took place on February 9 and 10, 2018. The exhibit will remain open for at least another month. This is a large installation, spanning over three levels, containing virtual imagery, video screenings, floating pac mans, interactive poses, as well as larger constructs like metal scaffolding and a small house. We had gone to a very vibrant opening on February 9 and headed over again to take a look today.

[2018/02/19 11:41] Axiom: I was thinking about this place, we have seen much of it plus the music event the other night, which was interesting, techno and whatnot. And Oyo’s yellow dress, I remember that. And a dead man on the floor who was in some way trying to grab the dancer’s feet.
[2018/02/19 11:41] Axiom: This is very eclectic, in a very Italian way
[2018/02/19 11:42] Kate: it is
[2018/02/19 11:42] Kate: there are three levels?
[2018/02/19 11:42] Axiom: yes
[2018/02/19 11:42] Axiom: but as you can see the structure is built on a rock, an asteroid
[2018/02/19 11:43] Kate: i see
[2018/02/19 11:43] Axiom: with metal structures either keeping it together or hanging on it
[2018/02/19 11:44] Kate: a multilevel, multi dimensional work consisting of various structures, interactive objects as well as virtual images
[2018/02/19 11:44] Axiom: The huge robotic crow on top seems to confirm that whatever is left of nature has been duplicated in mechanical form
[2018/02/19 11:44] Kate: ahahah
[2018/02/19 11:44] Axiom: yes
[2018/02/19 11:44] Axiom: but the pictures are presented in all sort of way
[2018/02/19 11:45] Axiom: one can’t say they are presented in a futuristic context unless for Nur the context of the future is a mix of everything
[2018/02/19 11:45] Kate: yeah i like the way its done, feels random
[2018/02/19 11:45] Kate: agreed
[2018/02/19 11:46] Axiom: on one column the pictures, a portrait of her, are replicated along the height, on another the pics are dripping down, to your right, where the two soft chairs are
[2018/02/19 11:46] Kate: and then there are a few places where they are mounted in a more traditional way
[2018/02/19 11:46] Kate: some are very beautiful
[2018/02/19 11:46] Axiom: yes, I think she feels a need to balance it

[2018/02/19 11:47] Kate: there is a balance here that feels unorthodox and alive
[2018/02/19 11:48] Axiom: Nur has always been… she has been around a long time in SL… very humanistic just like Paola Tauber but at the same time infused with a futuristic if somewhat ironic enthusiasm
[2018/02/19 11:48] Axiom: this sounds post-modern, doesn’t it
[2018/02/19 11:48] Kate: yes dear lol
[2018/02/19 11:48] Kate: but i think it captures what we see here
[2018/02/19 11:49] Kate: a quiet, contained, futuristic chaos
[2018/02/19 11:49] Axiom: I think the event being enveloped inside dance act the opening night [and a subsequent night] says everything about the mood: strobo flashing of past and future, a flexible soul, a human mixer
[2018/02/19 11:50] Kate: nods
[2018/02/19 11:50] Axiom: to the right of this picture here she puts the generator
[2018/02/19 11:50] Kate: what do you make of it?
[2018/02/19 11:50] Axiom: I don’t know if you can see it
[2018/02/19 11:50] Kate: i can
[2018/02/19 11:51] Axiom: what I make of it is that there is no more order, no more values… all that is left are games of juxtaposition, everything is a game
[2018/02/19 11:51] Axiom: new values come out of old games
[2018/02/19 11:52] Kate: but doesn’t seem that the new values are yet defined, but still in the making
[2018/02/19 11:52] Kate: hence the sense of chaos
[2018/02/19 11:52] Axiom: yes


Photograph 1 by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2, 3, 4 by Axiomatic Clarity

Tell Me a Story

It gives me great pleasure to write here about the new Delicatessen installation, Tell Me a Story, by Meilo Minotaur. The Delicatessen art sim, by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, will re-open this Saturday, January 13, after having been closed for a while. Tell Me a Story is an interactive installation in the sense that visitors are encouraged to participate by telling their own stories and in doing so connecting various parts of the exhibit. Meilo explains that I ask you to tell me a story that links the various scenes of the installation. The characters of the island have their correspondence in avatars. They do not have names, you can give any name you think fit them. It will not be necessary to use all the characters or scenes, you will use those that you understand. The stories will be told as you please: only with text, text and image, video or whatever you wantTen avatars are available for free at the landing point, they can also be observed as part of the installation throughout the island. As with previous avatars created by Meilo, these are magical fantasy avatars (mythical animals, girls and boys, birds) that inspire the users who wear them to play and create.

[2018/01/10 10:50] Kate: look at the first one, the animal avatar, so stoic
[2018/01/10 10:50] Axiom: a king of an ancient saga
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: I like the red one, next, the second
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: so abstract
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: amazing
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: the third is so Max Ernst
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: i often get choked up when i see their stuff for the first time
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: it’s so beautiful
[2018/01/10 10:51] Axiom: it’s all very surreal
[2018/01/10 10:51] Kate: yes

The installation is like an island, the ground surface sand-like, and parts are quite steep and hilly. There are black, bushy trees with thorns extending from small water pools and two groups of buildings; one is a cluster of small wooden houses up in the sky, the other a solemn, dark city, consisting of tall towers and spires, is nested into the hills. Placed on another part of the island is a thick, web-like, white fog, lending a misty and mysterious atmosphere. Disbursed throughout are small scenes consisting of avatars, figures and other objects. Wild geese glide low over shallow waters (click the water to ride a goose).

[2018/01/10 11:18] Kate: one really has to look at all levels, low and high, not to miss anything
[2018/01/10 11:19] Axiom: not a funny place this city
[2018/01/10 11:19] Kate: no, very dark
[2018/01/10 11:20] Axiom: perhaps she [Meilo] put a reference to the contemporary with this, or the future as she sees it, this town
[2018/01/10 11:20] Kate: could be, would make sense
[2018/01/10 11:21] Kate: these other little houses here, clustered together in a very uniform way, feel more ordinary
[2018/01/10 11:24] Axiom: one of the houses is different
[2018/01/10 11:24] Axiom: and the girl is there, she is looking into the flower
[2018/01/10 11:25] Axiom: maybe this whole thing really is inside the flower
[2018/01/10 11:25] Axiom: what she sees
[2018/01/10 11:25] Kate: that’s an incredible way of thinking about it 🙂
[2018/01/10 11:25] Axiom: this surely is complex
[2018/01/10 11:25] Kate: i think we have our story, it’s about a girl with a red flower

About a Girl With a Red Flower:
A story inspired by the Tell Me a Story installation, written by Axi and Kate

The girl with the red flower is not an ordinary girl and her flower is no ordinary flower either. Iris, her name, the girl is on stilt-like legs like everybody dwelling at her island-kingdom, to remain safe and protect herself from the zombie-like creatures that like the proverbial quixotic windmills keep attacking the waters that surround her. She wears a red and black dress, has the bluest of eyes and a curious little round, pale face. Iris owns a bright red poppy flower which she has planted on the ground at one of the far-most tree houses her family owns. She nurtures it secretly, with jealousy. Unlike any other flower in the island-kingdom, her flower does not die. The poppy flower contains little black seeds and every time she blows at them they turn into fluffy little seed balls and are carried away in all directions by the wind. Legend has it, that it is only the sweet breath of Iris that can turn a poppy-seed into a fluffy seed ball. Iris stands next to her wooden house in the sky all day long, arms extended in a perfect angle, dreamy, blowing her breath on the poppy flower seeds and watch them sail away. As the seeds touch land at various locations around the island-kingdom, they carry her imagination, her fears and her dreams. It is said that wherever the seeds catch good land, for days a translucent picture grows with characters from Iris’s lonely and imaginative life and it is made real for all to see.

Just like with any other Meilo installation before it, Tell Me a Story, will surely stimulate the visitor in many ways. This is one in particular captivated us to such an extent that we got completely caught up in creativity. Thank you Meilo for sharing your incredible magic with us, for inspiring us to dream a little and play.

Photograph 1 by Kate Bergdorf
Photograph 2, 3, 4, 5 by Axiomatic Clarity

The Gallery

As readers of this blog are aware, my gallery Berg by Nordan Art will close tomorrow. It has been an amazing seven years (on and off, mostly on) with exposure to all kinds of art and, no doubt, it has been an experience that has enriched my life. One of the reasons I am discontinuing the gallery is that I want to shift gears and the other is that it has taken up too much of my time. But while my sim North is now my focus of attention, a part of me clearly also doesn’t want to let go of the gallery. I realized recently, I actually don’t have to and decided to open a much smaller version of it on North. The ground level of the Apple Fall corner store will be used for the new gallery, named Nordan Art (the original name of my gallery before I reopened it as Berg by Nordan Art). There will be four Nordan Art exhibits per year, each photographer will show for three months. Stay put for updates!

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

 

A Male Eye. John Berger; a video by Marina Trigueros

Special art film correspondent for this blog, moon Edenbaum, made me aware of the video A Male Eye. John Berger, created by Mariana Trigueros. This film speaks to the male gaze and female objectification, a topic obviously just as relevant in our virtual world as in the real world. Ms. Trigueros, a Spanish researcher, audiovisual producer and archivist, notes about her work that [m]ost pictures are meant to be seen by a male. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. John Berger wrote his book ‘Ways of Seeing’ (1972) on this premise, which has been used as the script for this video essay aimed to be a tribute to his work. Take a look at this video, its beautifully put together, visuals, editing and music are a perfect fit. A feast both for the mind and for the senses.

A Talk About Mutual Respect: Perspectives on Empathy

There is a talk coming up, A Talk About Mutual Respect: Perspectives on Empathy, addressing the themes of the two Mutual Respect exhibits, both part of The G.B.T.H. Project, both curated by Marina Münter. The event will take place tomorrow, Saturday, December 23, at 3 PM SLT with discussants Huck Hax, Marina Münter, moon Edenbaum and myself as moderator, and will be held in voice. We will start with an introduction about the collective exhibits Mutual Respect, and also address the meaning of the talk itself, followed by discussions by the guest speakers and then open up for Q&A. The purpose of this talk is to make people in Second Life think, challenge themselves and for a moment ignore stereotypical societal rules when it comes to the opposite sex, with a focus on embracing flaws and empathy. Come join us, we look forward to your questions and comments!

Poster by Marina Münter

Private Sphere III

There is a new exhibit, Private Sphere III A Retroactive Installation, by artist Prairie Kawashima, curated by Toodles Telling, that opened on December 1. This is one of the most remarkable interactive installations that I have seen in Second Life in recent years and a must see. One teleports in to the landing point on a platform in the sky and stands in front of an apartment building created by Soy (many other items in the exhibit are also by the talented Soy). The two-story house contains several rooms, each consisting of various objects that fit into each particular room, as well as images by Prairie, taped on the wall or scattered on the floor. There are objects placed on the outside of the house as well. The attention to detail here is remarkable and one is left with the sense of having visited someone’s lived in home. Aran M. June, one of our most esteemed image creators, notes about the exhibit that having it seen it I know one thing for sure: Prairie is not an imaginary person. She actually lives there but has just gone outside to get some groceries. The installation is an open, interactive and very intimate space for visitors to take part in. From the exhibit note card we learn that [t]hrough this microscopic look on contemporary urban life, dissecting loneliness, isolation and desire, her [Prairie’s] work almost painfully unveils issues of female identity, sexuality, and psychology, placing her in the newly awakened feminist discourse of recent years. Head over and take a look before this work closes on December 17.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

the plant

There is a new installation, The Plant, spearheaded by Eupalinos Ugajin, that opens on November 1. The exact opening time is still to be determined. This is a remarkable project for several reasons. One, Eupa only rarely puts together projects like this and every time it happens, we know we are in for a treat. Further, the group of artists participating are a fantastic mix of talented creators, some of whos’ work we have not seen in a very, very long time. The artists, in no particular order, are Penumbra Carter, Dekka Raymaker, Suzanne Graves, Haveit Neox, Kikas Babenco and Marmaduke Arado, Art Oluja, Igor Ballyhoo, Meilo Minotaur, CapCat Ragu, Moewe Winkler and Artistide Despres. This multi-level work addresses technology and its impact on humanity and earth. Upon arrival one finds oneself on a platform, surrounded by posters with information as well as quotes (see below). Please read the instructions as they will be helpful to optimize viewer experience. Also make sure to turn up sound as its an integral part of this. There are gifts distributed throughout, see if you can find them! Teleports are available to each of the levels that display works by aforementioned artists.

Untitled

I will not go into detail here about each installation, but I assure you taking it all in is a delightful experience. What awaits the visitor is at first glance a whimsical and even messy, yet also organized, chaos. Delving further into this installation, however, one is struck by the masterful executions and intricacies of each individual’s work (above contribution by Haveit Neox). Eupa notes about this work that [t]hey were brought up believing technology could solve any problem facing Humanity. The right glasses would restore the sight of the Blind Locomotive. Being a . . . (fill) specialist you were invited at today’s meeting at “The Plant.” Please make sure to attend the opening if you can and if not visit later, this important work should not be missed. Sim will be accessible to the public at the day of the opening.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

The Dreamers

The opening of the final Berg by Nordan Art installation, The Dreamers, by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu will take place on Saturday, October 21, at 1PM SLT. The exhibit will be up until the last day of December, which is also the last opening day of the gallery. Like the preceding work by these talented artists, this promises to be extraordinary. To me, the description of this work alone reads like poetry.

Because violence will not take away our ability to dream!

When we were just beginning to create this project, the events of Charlottesville happened. Our hearts stopped. We cannot do this – we thought – we must alert to the political situation we live in! The danger of tyranny. The danger of environmental disaster. The danger of xenophobia, sexism, homophobia. The danger of hate! But then we stopped.

From within us came this beach, this horizon. This sea, this lake, these white clouds grew. No! We will not give up on The Dreamers. We will not give up on beauty. They will not steal the beauty of the world. They will not steal tenderness. They will not steal the life we have left. And so, our beach is our resistance!

Meilo and CapCat are again generously offering free gift avatars available at the landing. The gallery is temporarily closed now for installation until the opening and we will then provide the exhibit landmark via group announcements and Flickr.

Poster by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu