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

one family and art

Having an art sim I am fortunate enough to get to know the people who exhibit their work there. Everybody has a story and for a short moment we become part of each others’ stories. Some of the stories linger, or come to an end, others keep evolving. As of late, I find myself becoming a small part of a story so rich and meaningful that I want to share a part of it here. This is the story of a Portuguese family consisting of Meilo Minotaur, CapCat Ragu, Takio Ra and Rita Eustáquio. Meilo, in the middle in photo above, is the mother of CapCat, left in the photo. CapCat and Takio (right in the photo) are married and have a daughter, Rita. Rita does not yet have an avatar, and is not depicted above, but rumor has it that she is thinking about creating one soon. Meilo  and CapCat have been producing art in Second Life since 2008. Most of you probably know them as the creators of the sim Delicatessen. As of this year, they are also permanent resident artists at Berg by Nordan Art. Their first installation, in January 2017, was Penumbra and opening tomorrow, The Swamp. Remarkably, all four contribute to these installations. It is a joint family art project. While CapCat and Meilo create the visible work (terraforming, building, avatars, etc.), Takio is responsible for the sound and Rita does voice. The Swamp is dark and unsettling, a powerful metaphor for fascism inspired by Cap’s and Meilo’s first hand revolution and post-revolution experiences in Portugal; I’ve been told that sound and voice are a particularly important aspect of this work, so when you visit, please make sure to turn it on.

CapCat (Catarina Carneiro de Sousa) successfully defended her thesis Virtual Corporeality and Shared Creativity and received her PhD in April this year. She also published an article, Mom and Me Through the Looking Glass, in Metaverse Creativity in 2012. Her article examines the collaborative work of CapCat and Meilo in Second Life, integrating the notion of shared creativity; [t]he aim is to describe and analyse their cooperative creative process from the perspective of one of the artists/authors, walking through three artistic works that were made in the Second Life® region of Delicatessen: ‘de Maria, de Mariana, de Madalena…’, ‘Petrified’ and ‘Meta_Body’. These projects reflect two aspects of the artists’ work on the one hand avatar art, and on the other the creation of virtual environments. The text also reflects on the concept of shared creativity, which the artists propose through their avatar creations. The article is worth reading in its entity as it is a great source of information for Second Life residents, artist and non-artists alike. It is also beautifully written and in so many ways mirrors the work by Cap and Meilo that we see in-world.  To me, the work of these two women (and Takio and Rita) reflects the essence of metaverse creativity and, no doubt, they are virtual world artist pioneers. I leave you here with a quote from the first part of CapCat’s article:

We are two metaverse avatars. We are also mother and daughter; I am CapCat Ragu and Meilo Minotaur is my mother in real life. We are both artists, and as artists it seems that all through our lives we have been dealing with the same issues that we are now working on together in the Metaverse. When I was a little girl I used to love the Carnival holiday. In Portugal this is a time to dress up, and to imagine ourselves as the other… I remember my mother staying up all night working on these amazing seethrough butterfly wings for me. I think that these were the first avatars we ever made together.

 

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf