phabolaois strain

There is a new destination, Phabolaois strain, by the designer duo Miuccia Klaar and Squonk Levenque. This is a mostly flat space, but with a few hills, consisting of water and rain. Trees, boats, docks, benches, houses, seagulls, ruins, a light house and a large air balloon, as well as other objects, are dispersed throughout. The sim derives it’s theme from the island Phabolaois strain, founded in 1578: The discovery of large amounts of hephaestium due to the great meteor shower of 1862 made the island interesting to neighboring countries such as France that was not blessed in receiving this new and revolutionary mineral. After the failure of diplomacy France sent its troops in march 1865. A task force invaded Phabolaois stran finding only little resistance by the natives. The 1st batallion legionaires and the 4th senegalese tirailleurs occupied and ruled the land for a short period of time. Britain did not respond as most of the troops were involved in the African campain (1865-1877) which ended with the battle of Tripoli and with the Border and Sea Protection Act issued 1864 to respond to the threat of Germany and Austro-Hungarian naval forces. Indiscipline and boredom drove the french occupying troops out of Phabolaois stran to join the Belgian army as mercenaries. The island remained inhabited until 1928 when Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, one of King James political enemies, arrived and established himself in a little surviving property, seeking refuge from the king’s men and Dr. Hardquannone and his ”comprachicos” (pirates scavenging the coast). Due to his disfigurement, Gwynplaine sought isolation and peace together with his blind girlfriend Dea, his friend Ursus and his beloved dog Homo. Only the mansion, a few wrecks from the french invasion and the remains of an unknown ancient city are still to be seen. Seagulls and a deadly and deceiving tide protects Phabolaois strain today.

Phabolaois strain has a set region WL, which I strongly suggest to use as it makes all the difference in the world. It lends the sim the foggy, misty and generally wet ambience I believe it was meant to have. While the theme of the sim at first glance is of course about the old island, to me the meaning of it also extends beyond that; the places created by Miuccia and Squonk are generally all about the inside and the outside. The outside, with  rain, grim, bare, cold, leaves the visitor feeling lost or, perhaps forlorn. The inside, which usually consists of interiors of decaying builds, piles of thrown together old stuff, but a perfect mess really, suggests belonging, warmth and comfort. The visitor’s experience of the interior and exterior spaces combined is a sense of poetic melancholy.

Let me also note here that there is no doubt in mind that this designer pair has found the perfect virtual rain. It is heavy and strong, pouring and wet, with just the right amount of feeling of wind. I am also in awe about the objects that are repeatedly used by them, mostly refurbished, scruffy old stuff. These are things that have been found in a virtual attic or flee-market, no doubt. Head over and take a look and make sure to post your pics in the Phabolaois strain Flickr group.

Addendum: Here are a few things I neglected to include: As of today, the sim is not yet open to the public, but it will be soon. Also, there will be moments, and I suspect this is dependent upon the tide, when it will not rain! Finally, and so glad to hear this, the cool space Le Petit Japon will still be accessible.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

the validity of virtual photography

I generally believe that misperceptions, or even conflicts, are not bad. If dealt with in a constructive manner they in fact often demystify things. In this post then, I address the common misperception that “real life” photography is more valid than virtual world photography. I look at some of the criteria that overlap in both. I address the difficulty of some critics to accept virtual photography as legitimate. I talk about virtual photography as the same and as different, and as a means of communication between people in Second Life. I consider that virtual photography, especially as perceived on Flickr, may in fact be a new form of art.

I am not a photographer by profession, merely a novice snapping pictures in the virtual world. But regardless, and again, as mentioned in my Le serpent qui danse May 11, 2017 blog entry, it seems to me a photograph is a photograph whether it is taken in real or virtual worlds. If not, would someone please explain to me what is actually the difference?

One of the reasons that I care about the meaning of virtual photography is because I am getting fed up with it being thought of as second best to “real life” photography. It just doesn’t make sense to me. In fact, there are many criteria that overlap when it comes to virtual and “real life” photography. There are virtual images that are of better quality than others, just as it is the case with “real life” photography. The question of what is art pertains to virtual and “real life” photography alike. The thinking involved in the creative process of virtual and “real life” photographs is the same. And so on.

Probably certain critics of virtual world photography, and of SL Flickr, have a hard time consolidating the fact that virtual photography is legitimate because they experience it as a threat. In their minds, this kind of photography must not be real because these days any novice has access to editing tools required to produce an image. But isn’t that great? Why condemn people who experiment creatively with photography? Shouldn’t we be open to creativity in all its forms? Why so frightened of the new and the undefined?

I firmly believe that a virtual photograph is just like a “real life” photograph. But I also believe that it is much more than simply an image; it is a tool for people in Second Life to communicate with each other about their virtual experiences in a virtual community space (Flickr). When we are part of a virtual world like Second Life, we communicate in-world via IM, voice, poses, profiles, and with our choice of avatar appearance. A big part of our communication with each other is also expressed creatively with our photos on Flickr. There are virtual photographers on Flickr who I have never met but I feel I know them because I know their photographs. They have become familiar to me.

Lastly, and boldly, I would go as far as suggesting that virtual photography as we see it and experience it on Flickr is art. So while the virtual photograph is just like the “real life” photograph, it is also not. It represents a new form of art with categories and criteria of its own. I will not go into this too much here because it is something that Tutsy Navarathna and myself discussed at length in the past and even considered putting together a publication about. We may still. It was during these discussions about virtual art and Flickr that Tutsy cleverly coined the term Flickrism.

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that a virtual photograph is the same as a “real life” photograph. In addition it also serves as a communication tool for creative people occupying the virtual world. And we may want to start considering virtual Flickr photography a new virtual art movement in its own right. Virtual photography is not only the same as “real life” photography it is also different. Different is a usually a good thing, at least in my book.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

art in may

34527864671_d61c71edeb_o.png

As always when it comes to new art in Second Life, there’s plenty to see. There are at least three photograph exhibits that opened this month. We also have a new installation, Fade Away, by the ever-productive and talented Cica Ghost that opened on May 5. Cica offers a quote by Bob Dylan as a theme: Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all. As so often when it comes to Cica’s work, we are not provided with any kind of extended artist statement from her end. But it doesn’t really matter, of course, as we can certainly derive our own interpretations from what we see. Fade Away comes in various shades of grey. Almost completely black trees, other kinds of dark vegetation, massive grey rock formations, as well as groups of solemn, hooded figures that are dispersed throughout, lending this space a feeling of hopelessness. There are single figures standing around too, some of them appear close to transparent, perhaps hinting at the passing of life. There are clocks dispersed throughout, indicating time, or, a loss or lack of time. Segments of fences are placed throughout, maybe suggesting a division of sorts. As commonly seen in Cica’s work, we also have little scenes scattered throughout, inviting us to take a closer look in order to find meaning. It seems this installation deals with questions about mortality and relationships, the passing of time perhaps, but I am not sure. These are just some feeble attempts from my part to make sense of it. Head over and take a look for yourself at this dark and very beautiful exhibit.

There’s a new exhibit, a Romance in Brooklyn, by Isa Messioptra, at Mirage Gallery, that opened yesterday and will be open for the next month. This is a great little gallery, set on the sim Mirage, owned and curated by Nicasio Ansar. The space itself consist of a maze-like set up of metal structures with divisions, a great back-drop for this playful exhibit by Isa. There are twelve large color images part of this show; with names like let him do the guessing, ….“only one drink though,” share a cab, and ok 3 drinks, each and every one of these photographs is subtly seductive and only leaves the viewer wanting more. Bravo Isa, a cool and sexy exhibit with great energy. A breath of fresh air for sure!

One of my all-time favorite Second Life artists, Sina Souza, has a new exhibit, Mental Levels, at MetaLES, curated by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar. Sina, who started producing art in the virtual world in 2012, also has her own gallery, Mind Factory. The images in the current exhibit at MetaLES are displayed in large black boxes, all positioned on different levels. I counted eleven boxes altogether and each level connects with stairs. The photographs contained in them are bold and strong. To me they feel like they have been painted, but they have not. This artist often addresses in her work societal issues and we see some examples of this here with works like democratic suicide or in the tact of society. A wonderful exhibit Sina, and it is great to see you work in-world again.

Finally, I just had to make a last stop to check out the exhibit by Magic Marker, curated by Sorcha Tyles, at the Artful Expressions Gallery. I believe this is the first exhibit by the talented Miss Marker. This show consists of nine photographs; one in black and white and the rest in color. Magic uses in her photographs vibrant colors, captivating poses and props which she combines to achieve a unique expression that is easily recognizable as hers. Her work is energetic, fun, and full of passion.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

Le serpent qui dance

For the past few weeks I’ve been completely caught up in finishing a collection of photographs for an upcoming exhibit at the Itakos Gallery. The exhibit, The Dancing Serpent, inspired by the poem with the same name by Charles Baudelaire (Fleurs du Mal, 1857), is curated by Akim Alonzo. The opening is this Sunday, May 14, at 1:30PM SLT.

Baudelaire’s poem Le serpent qui dance is playful, filled with erotic symbolism and metaphor; it is an ode to desire and longing, no doubt, sexual and otherwise. It consist of nine parts. As the themes for my ten photographs I picked one sentence from each part, as well as the name of the poem itself. There are at least twenty translations of Le serpent qui dance; I ended up choosing the version by William Aggeler, translated in 1954.

Putting together this exhibit led me down a path of self-examination. I came up against content issues where I questioned my use of the female subject as a nude. I realized finally that adding a male subject in some of the images would add a much-needed tension. Also, during the weeks that I worked on this virtual world project I simultaneously had several deadlines in real life that needed to be met. I had to seriously consider the importance of time and how it was spent. I reached the conclusion that the process of creativity, regardless if in real life or virtual life, could only aid me in the sense that it provided a welcomed escape from too much thinking. Lastly, I questioned the meaning of the virtual world Flickr photography itself.

About virtual world Flickr photography then. I showed my ten completed photographs to several friends, all of whom I respect in part because they are talented virtual world photographers who I know will not hesitate to offer constructive criticism. I was pleased with their feedback and, yes, relieved, because like so many others, I never really know if my work is any good. I then showed the images to a friend who is a real life photographer, but does not himself have a Second Life Flickr account. He simply refused to comment. Once I got over his frustrating lack of response, I started pondering what some of his reasons for not commenting may have been. He did not want to offend me with negative feedback, could it be that simple? His only observation, which was something like “everybody on Flickr will love it,” referred to the fact that nude virtual world images receive a disproportionate amount of attention on Flickr? Or could it be that he had actually failed to comprehend that a photograph is a photograph, regardless if taken in real or virtual life? I don’t think I will ever know, but I believe this perhaps nicely illustrates a common reluctance of “real life” photographers to embrace and accept the newness and, yes, modernity, of virtual world Flickr photography. If I sound defensive, it is because I am. But it is not about my work, it is about feeling protective of virtual world Flickr itself. Because rarely in my life have I seen as much creative talent in one place as I have seen there.

This post ended up being much longer than I thought, lots of rambling here. Thank for reading all the way through if you did. Also, and finally, thanks to Akim, an excellent curator, for asking me to show at your beautiful gallery. Thank you also very much to Tutsy Navarathna and Huck Hax for posing; I honestly can’t think of two more patient posers. Thanks to pose makers Del May (Del May Poses) and Olivia LaLonde (Le Poppycock) for your incredible poses, without them, these images could never have been produced.

Poster created by Akim Alonzo

L’intangible

I told my friend this morning that I will cut down on blogging. I just don’t have the time for it anymore. But here I am again, writing the second post for today. Oh well. Inspired by an incredible photo posted on Flickr, go! go! little ship! by Sare, I headed over to L’intangable Reve. I am not sure who created it, but believe most likely Iska Poppies in collaboration with Sighwatr Crowbone. This is such a lovely place. You will find here country houses clustered amongst rolling hills, rivers, winding paths, swaying trees, and flowers of all kind. I fell in love especially with the sunflower field and the groups of little red poppies. The interiors of the houses are elegant and inviting. I wanted to stay. Head over and take a look and don’t forget to post your photos in the Field of Dreams & L’intangible Reve Flickr group.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

two exhibits

There are two excellent exhibits on the grid, both opening later today. The first one at dathuil, me_you, by moon Edenbaum with Hillany Scofield, curated by Lucy Butoh and Max Butoh (and a little bit by me), takes place at 12 PM SLT. We find here thirteen large photographs in color depicting subjects in various scenes that offer a glimpse into the lives of three characters in a story. moon notes about the exhibit that [a] woman and a man meet. they get closer, eventually they become lovers, but soon their inability to communicate leads to their split. The exhibit is a collaboration between hill.s and moon and next month we will see hill.s’ perspective at dathuil as well. This is a great, fresh concept; the images pull the viewers in and leave us wanting more. The photographs are gorgeous and in the typical, and at this point so recognizable, Edenbaum-style; realism at its best. Come join the opening today, and if not possible makes sure to visit before the exhibit closes at the end of the month.

The second outstanding exhibit opening today is at the Itakos Gallery, Subtle Scents of Solitute, by Imani Nayar and curated by Akim Alonzo. It opens at 1:30PM SLT. Let me just mention here again how much I enjoy the layout of this gallery; the austere and non-intrusive space is incredibly suitable for the display of photography (read more here). The exhibit itself consists of thirteen color as well as black and white photographs depicting single subjects. The talented Imani succeeds in combining composition, avatar posing, hues of color and shades, as well as blur, to create a tangible sense of loneliness and/or of solitude in every single image here. Describing her exhibit, she quotes the author Kent Nerburnloneliness is like sitting in an empty room and being aware of the space around you. it is a condition of separateness. solitude is becoming one with the space around you. it is a condition of union. loneliness is small, solitude is large. loneliness closes in around you, solitude expands toward the infinite. loneliness has its root in words, in an internal conversation nobody answers. solitude has its roots in the great silence of eternity. I don’t think I am alone feeling touched by Imani’s work. Her photographs just feels so acutely real.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

two installations

There are two excellent installations to be seen in SL presently; Duality, by Igor Ballyhoo, at Blue Orange, and Empty Minds, by Romy Nayar, on MetaLES. The former just recently opened, the latter has been up for a few weeks already. Let me just comment briefly here on the art venues as well. MetaLES, an old-timer by now in the SL art world, continues to consistently present us with excellent art. Spearheaded by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar, this virtual art space has become a SL classic. I always find myself looking forward what they will show next. Blue Orange, the newish kid on the block, has succeeded to set and maintain high standards for their exhibits as well. I wandered through the gallery today and was impressed by the variety and quality of the art of the current exhibitors Theda Tammas, Igor Ballyhoo, Cica Ghost, Rebeca Bashly, Jarla Capalini, Gitu Aura, NicoleX Moonwall, and Ini Inaka. Bravo to the talented Blue Orange curator Ini Inaka for an art space so beautifully and creatively put together.

Igor invited me to stop by yesterday to check out Duality. A glass stair way leads up to a large build of hollowed-out cement cubes connected by metal pipes.  Contained in this construct is a pair of avatar-sized figures. Surrounding all this is a flow of moving neon text. Igor is a stellar builder, self-taught as many of us in the virtual world, who at this point has reached level of mastery that is hard to surpass. He uses his building skills to express symbolically thoughts about things, often controversial in nature, but not always. The build Duality expresses our conflicting experiences with the virtual and the real. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:

[2017/04/26 12:18] Igor Ballyhoo: it is contemplation of our two existances
[2017/04/26 12:18] Igor Ballyhoo: RL and SL
[2017/04/26 12:19] Igor Ballyhoo: we are one being in our minds
[2017/04/26 12:19] Igor Ballyhoo: yet our common sense make us keep this two worlds separated
[2017/04/26 12:19] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): yeah
[2017/04/26 12:19] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): so it is about the virtual and the real
[2017/04/26 12:19] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): and the two and the one
[2017/04/26 12:20] Igor Ballyhoo: so we are struggling to get out and keep reality
[2017/04/26 12:20] Igor Ballyhoo: yes, it is duality
[2017/04/26 12:20] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): it is and it isn’t though
[2017/04/26 12:20] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): that is why we are so preoccupied with it, no?
[2017/04/26 12:20] Igor Ballyhoo: what do you mean
[2017/04/26 12:21] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): i often find myself thinking both
[2017/04/26 12:21] Igor Ballyhoo: we are struggling to keep two realities separated
[2017/04/26 12:21] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): that the virtual and real world lives are separate
[2017/04/26 12:21] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): but also the same
[2017/04/26 12:21] Kate Bergdorf (KateBergdorf Resident): i think we might be talking about the same thing lol
[2017/04/26 12:22] Igor Ballyhoo: yes, work is pretty obvious I think

Head over and check out Igor’s and the other artist’s work at Blue Orange (make sure to set to Midnight and Ultra when viewing Duality). All these exhibits are a feast for the eye.

I revisited Empty Minds today. I had been already when it first opened, but didn’t have time to blog about it then. This is another gorgeous work by Romy; I recognize the set-up, the little scenes with stories, from her previous works. Throughout the hilly, sim-sized layout we find here figures in groups, sometimes by themselves, with large empty bubble heads. They are involved in all kinds of activities, some carry with them lanterns, perhaps to shed light on which path to take next. Romy notes about her work that [i]t is made known that if an idea is born in your empty mind, you must come to disregard it. Nobody knows why. The origin of that idea was lost. Maybe you’ll be the first to have the idea to not to discard your ideas.  This is once again a sublime installation by this talented artist. Head over and take a look and make sure to grab one of the free avatars before you leave.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

Hot off the press: Berg by Nordan Art 2016

I am pleased to report here that we finally finished the new Berg by Nordan Art gallery retrospective book, Berg by Nordan Art 2016. This work would not have been possible without invaluable help by the ever so patient Huck Hax. It is always great when done with a big project like this and then spend time looking though what one has accomplished. Reflecting on the past year, I am so proud of what we have achieved with the gallery. The outstanding artistic contributions by Igor Ballyhoo, Livio Korobase, ◦⊱ Mi ⊰◦, Imani Nayar, Haveit Neox, Mich Michabo, and Maloe Vansant speak for themselves. Thank you also to some of the many photographers who visited the gallery and took pictures of the art and let us use them for the book; Bay Addens, Midwinter’s Art, NawtyBiker, ◦⊱ Mi ⊰◦, Miles Cantalou, and neko Makamori. A special thank you to Tutsy Navarathna who also contributed the beautiful cover photos. We hope you will enjoy the new publication Berg by Nordan Art 2016 as much as we have. You can read it by clicking the link above or visit Berg by Nordan Art in-world where you will find it on the table on the gallery ground floor together with our two previous retrospective publications from 2010-2011 and 2015.

Book cover photograph by Tutsy Navarathna; cover design by Huckleberry Hax

Art in April

In addition to our own exhibits at Berg by Nordan Art, Penumbra, by CapCat Ragu and Meilo Minotaur; MYdigliani by daze Landar and The Other, by Mich Michabo, we have lots of stuff going on as usual in our virtual art world this month. But I will start of with work created outside Second Life in this post, namely the fine art by talented painter and photographer Indigo Claire. I usually don’t blog about non-virtual art here, but I am making an exception because I fell in love with Claire’s pictures. I am so glad she decided to open her own little gallery, .indigo box, in Second Life. Its a very dreamy two-floor exhibit space in a white box, showing 20 images, containing in the center a few clouds with rain, seating, a few poses and some Queen Ann’s lace bunches of flowers. Congratulations Claire, really well done, everybody should head over and visit!

We have a great new group exhibit, The Endless, at Daphne Arts, curated by Angelika Corall and Sheldon BeRgman, that opened on April 8, 2017. Angelika notes about the theme of the show that The Endless are a group of fictional beings appearing in the comic book series The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman, and published by DC Comics. The characters (Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium) embody powerful forces or aspects of the universe. The outstanding group of artists contributing to this show are Ariel Brearly, Awesome Fallen, kiki, Maloe Vansant, Nevereux, Paola Mills, and Whiskey Monday. Let me also say here that the gallery space itself gets better and better. I just love the way this pair of curators continuously evolve in the way they consider art display. Great work.

Then we have once again a stellar exhibit at dathuil, this time by Lulu Jameson, as usual curated by Lucy Diamond and Max Butoh, that opened on April 9. I love everything about this show, the images, as well as the set-up. We find here 30 photographs by the talented Lulu, a mix of color and black and white, a selection of studies of avatars and portraits. Lulu provides a quote by Roald Dahl that captures the dreamy quality of his exhibit; And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. The images in this show are carefully displayed, they come in various sizes, all beautifully framed with the title of the photograph noted separately below. Great ambience here, really well done. Head over and take a look before the show closes on May 5.

Last, but certainly not least, we have a new installation, Glass Jars, by Art Oluja, displayed on LEA11. This is a large underwater installation, filled with places to explore. Art describes this work as follows: This is an experiment in containing thoughts, emotions, and memories into visual and aural landscapes for you to explore. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I have creating it. Much of the inspiration for Glass Jars comes from G. Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space,” R. Grudin’s Time and The Art of Living,” and a short animation film called “The House of Small Cubes.” Sound is an important aspect at Glass Jars, so please turn your sounds on (and up). All of the soundscaping and musical effects you hear around the region are the result of a collaborative experiment with Klaus Bereznyak, who uses percussion and woodwind to creatively reflect the vision and concept of Glass Jars. We used Audacity, a free open source digital audio editor, to manipulate the sounds before uploading them inworld. They are layered across the landscape in a way that the experience becomes uniquely different to each person, depending on how you explore the installation. These organic expressions literally echo the metaphors and emotions of the work. The rain washes over you, tapping away your thoughts, the wind inhales your uncertainties. Take a deep breath, dip into the water. and drift away under the tides. Head over and take a look and be prepared to spend some time exploring this underwater space. Region windlight is suggested for optimal experience.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

The Last Forever

The Last Forever is a new destination inspired by Marfa, TX from the creators of West of the Rain , Oobleck Alagash and Nodnol Jameson (KraftWork), along with the creative team of Kai Mannequin, Brooke Barmy, Rooky Yootz, Triin, Misty and Jack Hanby. It has been immensely popular amongst Flickr photographers lately, and I headed over earlier in the week to see what the hype was all about. This is such a cool desert place! There is, amongst other things a shabby-looking town (including a shopping center), railroad tracks, asphalt roads, all kinds of desert vegetation, as well as an incredibly well-made camp site. Also, close to the camping site is a laundry/wash room facility. Those of you who know me a little better are aware of my weakness for all things domestic in SL, so you can imagine my delight. This is a really a great place, with wonderful attention to detail and a superb ambience. Head over and take a look and don’t forget to post your photos in The Last Forever Flickr group.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf