Monday, 16 April 2007

Gazira Babeli at Exhibit A

Written by Plurabelle Posthorn
This article is also posted at the Virtual Artist Alliance blog.
Monday 16th of April Gazira Babelis exhibition [Collateral Damage] opened at the Odyssey Island at the Exhibit A Gallery, in Second Life. It's a retrospective show, but there are also many brand new pieces made for this exhibition.
On the occation of this exhibition (of one of the best SL-artist according to Plurabelle Posthorn), there has been written a long and good article: Gaz', Queen of the Desert by Domenico Quaranta, where you'll find a lot of information, viewpoints of Gaziras art projects and some good links for further reading. You'll find the press release for the exhibition HERE.

Two pieces made for this exhibition are called U are here. They are exactly what my humanist friends asked for a couple of weeks ago:
Doc: Now if you could just touch the paintings and travel into their world... sort of a Third Life in Second Life.
Here you can touch the sculptures and be transported into it.
It's raining in the desert. It's because the umbrella is there.
From Domenico Quarantas article:
Created on occasion of the exhibition [Collateral Damage], U Are Here (April 2007) consists in two sculptures which violate the pact of trust implicit in the practice of teleporting. Or rather, they represent an overly-literal application of the latter. The sculptures are two simple models on pedestals: the first represents a desert with some archeological ruins, the other a room with a window we can peep into to see what’s inside: a banal-looking office with a clock, a desk and a computer. By clicking on the models we are transported into the setting in question: an arid, apparently infinite desert, or a closed room with no way out. Have we been shrunk or just taken hostage inside a “real” version of the setting represented by the two sculptures?
-excerpt from "Gaz', Queen of the Desert" by Domenico Quaranta

Below, a beautiful creature with blue wings is being deformed by one of Gaziras Avatar on Canvas, a series of three Francis Bacon paintings appropriations, where the main figure has been replaced by a three-dimensional scripted chair. I've always wished my neck was a bit longer.

Below: This is Nudes descending a staircase, also a new piece. Just recently Tasrill Sieyes made an avatar looking like Marcel Duchamps Nude descending a staircase. Gazira lets canvases with nudes fall of the wall and arrange themselves randomly as they fall down a staircase. Some of the paintings are SL nudes, and as far as I could see, it looks like Cicciolina has got a Second Life too.
Once a nude is kicked down from the wall, a new one rezzes. It's like a nightmare. Nudes, nudes, nudes. They are deposited and finally disappears, but there will always be new nudes. A never-ending stream of nudes descending staircases.

Cd_grey goo , picture above. Gaziras black full bright hat on a pedestal. Notecard tells you to click on it. You do and the whole gallery is filled with question marks or bananas (the banana created by Andy Warhol for the cover of The Velvet Underground’s first LP) or Super Marios.

In October 2006 a minor apocalypse hit a beach in Second Life, burying it under a flood of skipping Super Marios. In technical jargon this is called “grey goo”, an expression used in nanotechnology and science fiction to describe a hypothetical apocalyptic scenario in which self-replicating robots consume all living matter on the earth. Although the cataclysm did generate a certain level of anxiety, Gazira appears to be more interested in setting off a mental short circuit than a genuine system collapse. This was why she populated the three-dimensional, baroque world of Second Life with the definitive icon of the 8-bit era.
-excerpt from "Gaz', Queen of the Desert" by Domenico Quaranta
The exhibition is loaded with art and pop cultural references. Gazira is working very much with appropriations. Quaranta's article is also full of references. Namedropping? (I had my head cut of once, for namedropping. I'm still a litle sore. ) Whether it could be called namedropping in this case I can't tell for sure. If it is, is it bad? Well, I love all the reference stuff in Gaziras work. It's fun, humorous, raw.

Here comes a piece also using Andy Warhols art with a special Second Life twist to it...

-: You love Pop Art - Pop Art hates you! :-
Second Soup, performed in May 2006 (and recorded on video), sees Gazira tackling a giant can of Campbell’s soup, another pop art icon. The artist is looking at it on a poster, when all of a sudden the can leaves its paper domain and grabs hold of her. From that moment on she just can’t get rid of it. Gazira jumps, flies and runs, but the can always catches up with her. Pop art as an irksome deity, a cumbersome legacy that we just can’t seem to shed?
In [Collateral Damage], Second Soup is presented as an installation of 5 soup cans that are activated when the spectator gets too close.
- excerpt from "Gaz',Quenn of the Desert"by Domenico Quaranta
Soupcans trying to eat you, or trying to can you as Second soup. The issue of food. Food in Second Life is absurd. To eat or drink or smoke is totally without meaning. But soup we are. (Why is it so hard to do something original? Why all this reenacting of real life. Are we afraid of letting it go? Afraid of loosing contact with this thing called real life? It's like some sort of Second Life religion; believing that another life is possible, after this one is logged off. )

The "Don't say: New Media" piece...
A black cloud with form of a drop or is it a quotation mark on the floor. Hoovering text: Dont say: new media. Of couse you say: new media. Everybody say new media, new media, they write new media, say new media. I never say new media. How does it feel to say new media?
You: new media
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Don't Say NEW MEDIA!
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Say Sorry
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Say Sorry!
: Plurabelle Posthorn.. Say Sorry!
You: Sorry!
(I'm never going to say it again. Exception: I'll say it to Gaziras "Don't say: New Media" piece...)

Buy Gaz' 4 one Linden!
The full outfit that makes the Gazira Babeli avatar (minus her skin) for sale: 1L$! So if you go to a slingo, work as a window washer, or rides the steam train at the Caledon SIM, and you think you recognize this characteristic figure dressed in black with dark glasses and a flexi top hat as Gazira Babeli, it's probably not her. Not after 16th of April 2007. It could be me, it could be anybody. It might very well be me, because I felt very comfortable in the Gazira outfit, this lovely female body shape all in black.

Now, this exhibition is full of adventure and lots of inspiration for other SL artists I would think. Many of Gaziras scripts can be found on her website free for us to try out in our own art experiments.
Just some words about:

Come Together (April 2007). Picture above. If you click on one of the pose balls you will start to dance or make other movements up on the pedestal. Hopefully someone will join you and you will get very intimate, even luckier; you may experience a treesome, a fivesome... No, of course this is not about sex, it's about sculpture. You have to make the sculpture yourself, like in the Avatar on canvas, you are becoming art or a part of Gaziras art work. Come Together for a random composite sculpture. There will be no art without you. (Could also be a reference for the SL group tool called Come Together...)
Example of composite avatar sculptures below, with the creator Gazira in the midst of us somewhere. It does not hurt at all to be intersected by other avatars. And nobody even mind you letting out a fart.

Some avatars are developing their physical relationship on other terms, like Wirxli here and his adoptive avatar daughter Fwwixli.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Sunn Thunders in Wicked Witch Woods

Sunn Thunders sent me a snapshot from Wicked Witch Woods, Wicked Witch Woods (150, 104, 53). My "Not a Brancusi Sculpture" has been allowed on the island, but I have not. Wonder what's going on in that place. I guess I'm not wicked enough to be let in... Nooby Plurabelle! It hasn't opened yet. Read about The Wicked Witch Woods project HERE and HERE. "the vision of Oz alive within 5 total sims in SL" Sunn is designing and building the common areas for the brand new sim that will open very soon.

Plurabelle Posthorn

Thursday, 5 April 2007

"This is not a Brancusi Sculpture" , Plurabelle and Raspirit, 4th of April.

Plurabelle Posthorn

Raspirit Heron, my fellow norwegian, asked me to come over to Muse Island, for some advice, and I came to tell about my not a Brancusi wearable sculpture, but decided to show, not tell.

She liked it, so I gave her a pink sculpture for her to wear. She put it on and we walked along the shore where there will soon be an art walk... installed, over to where Raspirit is putting up her new exhibition. (She has one right now at Hardangerfjord.) I managed to force Aidian Hyun into a green sculpture before he flew off. Over to Virtual Artist Alliance HQ at Chiaksan, where we've just opened an exhibition showing kinetic sculpture, I wanted to show it to her.
Finaly, we went to an underwater disco called Motorati. They had a contest going for the best costume... We danced for hours. Never thought going to a virtual disco could be that fun...
"This is not a Brancusi Sculpture" dancing...

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

SL Humanism discussing art

Boythorn from the SL Humanism group, has taken this very nice initiative to warm up the humanist avatars' senses, hearts and brains before our regular sunday discussion, 2pm at ROMA Humanist Garden.
Here's a report from the field trip, Sunday, 2nd April, to a immensely huge art gallery somewhere in Second Life, and futher down some excerpts from this sunday's discussion.
Topic: Humanism & Art: Does Art Convey Knowledge? Interesting beginning point for our discussion here:

Fieldtrip: We were trying to find some humanist art... Group photo! And then we came up with some great ideas...
Doc: now if you could just touch the paintings and travel into their world... sort of a Third Life in Second Life
TZ: SL hyperlinks ! a teleporter could do that. It would be fun to make a gallery where each picture is a TP to the place it shows
Zen: imposible physics doesn't matter
Boythorn: An interactive art gallery. Would change art in the way that a web page changes a document, huh?
Then came ideas of notecards with links, imbedded tps...
TZ: maybe we could put togethter a simple version and get it exibited, yes, just like the Picks in our profiles..
Boythorn: Could even script the paintings. A real interactive experience.

I guess we were a litle frustrated because this gallery didn't exhibit interactive art. We avatars want to do things! We want action!

Doc: what about statues that walk around
Doc: oh, yeah. That's what we are :-(
Boythorn: Perhaps one painting would link to another.
TZ: we do need more statues that walk, that would be cool
Zen: walking statues.
Lludmila: Hey~
TZ: ah, PP has the right idea
I had to put on my wearable sculpture "This is not a Branscusi Sculpture". Sure Plurabelle has got the right idea. : )

More group photos...

Boythorn: Gather around Zen. (the green frog)
Ludmila: oops
Boythorn: Everyone in position?
Lludmila: I have nooo idea.
TZ: nor i !

Then we had a notice from our godfather Torin Golding to hurry over to Humanist Garden for our discussion. I decided to keep my sculpture on.
Torin Golding: lol love it plurabelle! you came as some art!
Me: hi torin, hi everybody
Torin Golding: and some rather phallic art at that ;)
Me: OMG is it?! Never thought of that...
Torin Golding: it reminds me of these statues on the Greek island of Delos that the ancient greeks made
Me: it's actually a copy of a sculpture of Constantin Brancusi from 1924. Brancusi must have seen that sculpture from Delos!

At ROMA Humanist Garden.
Me: Oh, there's my sculpture on top of the waterfall!
Torin: yep. seen for miles around now Plurabelle
(I made that blue humanist logo sculpture. Torin added the plywood box, to make it the SL Humanism logo. )

We always start our meetings with a litle this and that:
Doc: Just wanted to mention that I've submitted a machinima to the (American) competition about humanism, my video is called 'Humanism in Second Life' and is posted for your delectation (he!) at
Boythorn: I saw it - very good.
Doc: partial credit to Sibelius who wrote the musical score

Excerpt from the meeting:

Torin: k. we'll then turn to the discussion topic, which we picked to coinicide with the fieldtrip and based on a very interesting idea that has come up a bit in the past in our discussions tangentially.... We circulated the URL for an interesting article from one of the giants of American Humanist thought, Paul Kurtz at ....
where he asks, does art convey knowledge? He comments that often humanists get criticized for being overly concernd with cerebral aspect of humanism and not on aesthetic and emotional feelings..... so he investigate what is the purpose of art, and how can it fit into the humanist and freethinker world view..... which raises alot of questions on its own..... then just this week an artist got lots of publicity by making a 'chocolate christ' sculpture which received condimation from some corners..... including one of the self appointed spokesmen of american catholics Frank Dobson literally calling for the artists head...
Caron: But not as much as "Piss Christ" from a few years ago, I bet!
Torin: so what is acceptable art is also of interest to theists now as well.
Daya: Guess he should have used dark chocolate
Plurabelle Posthorn: white choclate

Torin: in the article Kurtz doesn't so much 'define' art, which we know is very difficult, but speaks on art's purpose. He says arts purpose is to 'heigten the senses, raise the level of taste and appreciation, expand the dimensions of experience."

Morgana: to an extent, art that doesn't stretch one's comfort zone in some way is just decoration.
Ralph: It seems like there are lots of things which Humanism doesn't take a stand on, Skydiving, Beer vs Wine. Why should it have any particular view of art. Isn't that an individual issue?
Pilotflame: Christ claimed bread was his body — why not chocolate?
Lludmila: Chocolate is the food of the gods.
Torin: to use kurtz non-defintion definition, it 'expands dimensions of experience', percieved in a negative way
Daya: Even the nutritionists like chocolate these days, chock full of ecg and anti-oxidants
Crasuss: Judeo-Christian philosophy dictates that pleasures of the flesh are a sin and should be avoided, so to incarnate the Christ as the ultimate in pleasure food-wise is to disgrace the ethos of that religion.
Zen: has anyone seen my chocolate easter bunny?
Morgana: ignoring the question of whether or not he existed, if you do believe he did, you have to believe he wasn't a eunach...surely that'd have been mentioned?
Doc: Depictions of Jesus reveal an unhealthy fascination with religion (and statues made of chocolate reveal an unhealthy obsession with milk chocolate)
Pilotflame: And what wine, the blood a Christ, gives no pleasure?
(Plurabelle Posthorn whispering: Worst thing about secular humanist meetings is that there is so much talk about Jesus and christianity... but the chocolate part I liked...)

Lludmila: Wine was the only safe thing to drink - and it wasn't drunk straight.
Doc: shouldn't humanist art build on positive values about humans?
Torin: another interesting point that kurtz makes touches on ralphs comment- that humanism is a big mansion with many people focusing on different areas of humaist experince- politics, service, atheism, etc- Is there something DISTINCTIVE to humanism, and is anything in art DISTINCTIVE to humanism
Morgana: per the question of why humanists might have a rationale for getting involved in the art world... art is communication. Attempts to censor or keep it all so safe that no one ever has to think or risk being offended.... that seems to me something that matters a lot to us as humanists. it's the media people object to - it's the message. And if one form of that message is censored, aren't the ideas themselves at risk?
Crasuss: To me, art is a concept which can be used as a tool to change perception by challenging it.
Doc: what about self-censorship.... should an artist accomodate the feelings of others?
Torin: and not even 'invoved in the art community'. How do we experience art in our private lives? Do we give that as much attention as the cerebral parts of Humansim? Should we?
Mickey: Do we? I don't know. Should we? Yes of course.
Sees: So there's an aspect to art that tries to tap into a 'universal' meaning. Isn't there?
Crasuss: Does Humanism rely on Idealism or Rationalism?
Sahara: the problem between Humanism and art, is that this last works more on feelings than mind and rational
Daya : Although a peice of music, such as Bach's Mass in B minor was written with a religious purpose in mind, I can certainly appreciate it for it's beauty. I don't have to be "religious" to groove on it.
Mickey: Sahara, so? feelings are part of being human as well as rationality.
Doc: which deals with 'what is human nature'
Morgana: you can be as rational as you're capable of being, but art and philosophy and everything else that triggers ideas are the ways to have a vocabulary of thought large enough to be intelligent.
Boythorn : Kurtz mentions a need to "revivify humanism by relating it more closely to the arts"; however, I think instead we must revivify the arts by relating them more closely to science.
Nexus: Art to me is the expereices that casues us to pause, to think and to feel ... to transcent the moment ...and to experience that which makes us human and call us to humanism ... the power of the human mind to create and to engage... and it is this engagement that art communicates is message .. and that message can be independent of the intention of the artist ... In this way art has a very broad definintion ... and a direct relationship to a broad definition of humanism.
Doc: art involves seduction and structure, as well as a vision
Temple: Is this discussion art?
Torin: sees the kurtz article makes an interesting refute of the idea art = truth
Daya: Here is what Wikepedia has, for what it's worth: The term art is used to describe a particular type of creative production generated by human beings, and the term usually implies some degree of aesthetic value. An artist makes a work of art for various purposes, such as creating an experience for others or as part of a ritual. There is no general agreed-upon definition of art, since defining the boundaries of "art" is subjective, but the impetus for art is often called human creativity.
Boythorn: The differences in perception demonstrates why you must define art from the vantage of the perceiver.
Boythorn: A toilet may very well be art to some, but to others it will not stimulate a change in their consciousness.
Sees: I seem to remember that DuChamp's urinal was recently voted the top piece of 20th century art.
Daya: It might be interesting to explore artistic creations as "memes".
Morgana: infact, I recall a study I read about a few years ago about annoying radio jingles in ads.... apparently, the more irritating it is, the more likely that later you remember the product, but don't associate it with the annoyance. but if you like something, you tend to remember the pleasure and forget the cause of it.
Boythorn: That is why there is a convergence between the changes that can be provoked by art and the direct changes that can be caused by a surgeon.
Ralph: A Humanist postion on Art is like a humanist position on choclate vs. vanilla.
Doc: Pissing off (or pissing on) your customers gets their attention, and they never forget you, but it's not the best approach....
Torin: I dont think there needs to be a humaist position on 'art', but how can one see and experience art as part of ones humanism.
Daya: I like the theme the Ralph has been developing here -- is it necessary for there to be a humanist perspective on every human activity?
Crasuss: I think the very notion of humanism is essentially art in and of itself.
Sees: I'm still not sure that your definition is on the right track. I think that to qualify art needs to be able to speak to more than a single person.
Ralph: I think that Humanists should feel free to disagree about every aspect of art.
Torin: its the left side of the brain that kurtz says humanists dont engage with enough, or have the reputation of not engaging with enough
Crasuss: I think "humanism" should be very careful, because if I understand correctly, humanism is essentially a "live and let live" philosophy, am I wrong?
Boythorn: Art seems very useful as a tool for humanism but I take issue with Kurtz's notion that it should be used to inspire. Inspire is the wrong word. Educate and enlighten would be better.
Torin: yes temple. kurtz makes the explicit point about Leni Reifenstahl (sp?) and her films. beautiful propaganda. Again back to an emotional response.
Doc: Was Soviet realism under Stalin art?
Torin: to some i'm sure Doc. maybe not to those living in it.
Zen: anyone up for a nude chocolate darwin?
Crasuss: I think the reason why it's so hard to define art is because it does not want to be found. The only time art is revealed is for that brief moment before it realizes it's been seen, then vanishes into obscurity. Art does not WANT to be seen. Art is the antithesis of conformity, and humans demand conformity to survive as part of our natural instincts. We demand order.
Ralph: What about Roman Catholic "art" Were those pictures and statues art?
Sees: I was thinking the same about Gothic Cathedrals. Spires reaching to the heavens, men small in the giant naves.
Crasuss: A statue is a statue. Whether that statue is art or not depends on what the perception of the person looking at it determines it to be.
Plurabelle whispers: My humanist logo sculpture is not art...
Crasuss: Yes, my back hurts. And I'm hungry.
Torin: these benches are not the most comforrtable
Sahara: actually I'm sleepy, very late my side ...
Mo: Art is also manipulative, at times.
Torin: yes mo

Torin, our good godfather, always has the meeting minutes posted to the group an hour or so after the meeting. If a member you can get the whole minutes from a notecard giver in ROMA Humanist Garden.
Freethinkers of all kinds are welcome to our group!