INTERACT WITH ART—The Search for More
Do artists say what they mean to say? With defined criteria, two reviewers discuss works from forty virtual artists, and draw conclusions. They hope to demonstrate the capabilities, discuss considerations, and inspire the audience.
The visual art reviews in Sim Street Journal are not a beauty contest. They are not about the “best” work. They are not about the story behind the story. They do not contain interviews of intention or biographies of the artists. They are ONLY about the art, and chosen for discussability. Each work needs to be distinctive. And, there needs to be the challenge of something more.
After reviewing dozens of artists in this past year, there are several universal ways most can do better in the medium. A common way of falling short of potential is when the artist does not integrate the interactivity of the medium in some way. This is the quality that sets the virtual apart from any other medium. Yet, 2D images of interactive works CAN represent the works themselves, thus showing that the aesthetics of every level should be considered. A series of stills can show movement variations in a way that watching will not, and vice versa. The more levels a work of art can satisfy, the greater it becomes. Its presentation in publishing can have greater reach than the work itself.
Above all, the art needs to speak for itself. Unlike in performance-based work, the creator disappears into the background. Unlike literary works, where the author is also in the background, the visual offers a fast initial reaction. Like a headline in an article, the first impact of a visual work must grab. The same principles of aesthetics in the real world apply in the virtual—there is no difference. But the role of the viewer is different. Some of the strongest visual works in SL:
• include the viewer in the viewing. There are no guide ropes or “do not touch” signs in a virtual exhibit—viewers can walk around, through, and even become part of the work itself. What matters as much as the piece to view is the experience of the visit. Examples of incorporating the viewer into the work itself include:
“When the Mind’s Eye Listens” by Nino Vichan
“Shadow of a Nightmare Past” by Moeuhane Sandalwood
“Jump Inside” series by Ginger Lorakeet
“Hephaestus Plantonicator” by DanCoyote.
• incorporate 3D into the 2D. Those who import real life drawings, paintings, or photographs, take them to another level by virtual techniques. They are influenced by the medium as much as influencing its use. Whether it is scale, adding multi-dimensions, setting up unique environments, or incorporating animation, the virtual is not static. Examples of taking 2D further include:
“Mother” by Rebeca Bashly
“Bladerunner City II and Rain” by Bear Silvershade
“Dinner Time” by Molly Bloom
• infuse change or variation. A series or variation on a theme becomes easier to execute. These variations give the work further dimension and show its possibilities for change instead of as one static presentation. Works that involve variations on a thematic language include:
“Ascension” by Mantis Oh
“Tarot Series: The Devil and Justice” by Bump Squeegee
“SCAAKS” by Harter Fall
• use the old in a new way. The virtual environment can offer added dimensions, even if only in presentation or scale. Some of the artist reviewed fall short here, only uploading a painting or a drawing, and placing it on a wall to imitate its real life form. Many works like this are discussed, but those that rise above to greater potential are:
Drawing series at Space 4 Art by ChapTer Kronfeld
“Caravanserai of Fractured Fairy Tales” by Eliza Wierwight
“Rust” by Cica Ghost
“Discussion” by Xirana
“Views to the Outside” by Liz Lemondrop
“Yonder” by Slatan Dryke
“Speechless Freedom” by Iskye Silverweb
• exploit the scale in the message. Doing huge works in real life takes years and thousands of dollars. The monumental can be achieved in SL as easily as the small, so the scale chosen becomes more flexible to its message. Those who utilize scale to the most advantage include:
“Lesbos” by Asmita Duranjaya
“Ariadne Spinning” by Fuschsia Nightfire
“Aliens or Ancients” by Gem Preiz
“Time” by Louly Loon
• experiment within identity. The artist constructs a visual language that contributes to a recognizable style. Sadly, most artists in SL (and real life too), don’t develop a language, but produce derivations of previous accomplishments. It is not unusual to see a show of one artist’s work that looks like it could be done by two or three. This shows a lack of conviction to delve deeper into what meaning is behind style. The visual language is successful if it opens doors of expression for the artist. It is unsuccessful if it limits imagination. Those who have developed recognizable styles include:
“The Backyard” by Haveit Neox
Collages by Janine Portal
“Berlin Montage 4” by Samara Barzane
• intention to communicate. The works of art that affect an audience the most blend both the personal expression of the artist within the framework of a universal statement. Art that is produced only for personal therapy will never reach the level of potential that a work taken beyond ego can. Most art is superficial for this reason. It is obvious when the artist is more enthralled with the act of building than in the conviction of something important to say. Those concerned to make statements culturally much greater than themselves include:
“Purgatory – Laeuterungsberg” by ChapTer Kronfeld
“Heartwood” by Fae Varriale
“Mental Prison” by Megadeus
• uses feedback to go further. Even the most talented artists need a kick in the butt of perspective. The more experienced the creator, the more a separation between feelings about the work and feelings about self worth can grow. The work stands apart from the artist who created it. The work has a momentum of its own. An artist’s potential can be measured by this realization and in the ability to absorb criticism. No examples will be given here, as reactions from the artists themselves vary. Suffice it to say that overall, the best artists are those who are inspired by critics.
• understands the importance of instruction/directions. Some artists overdo their signage and notecards to the point of visual distraction, but the visual side is not as neglected as the promotional. SSJ will no longer review artists’ work who do not have updated Profiles. The virtual world demands of publishers to use the medium—in presentation as well as in communication. Visual artists need to keep links, exhibits, and announcements current! The more presence in social media, the better. Again, no one will be singled out here, but those reviewed who do not use the tools in the best way, hopefully, know who they are. And if they don’t, they will fade away.
• don’t rely on documentation unless part of the work itself. There are some pieces where a literary context matters, like“Helping Hand” by Krystali Rabeni that incorporates a Diary, or the“Seven Deadly Sins” by ChapTer Kronfeld that has signs to read as part of the piece. But to have to read about a work of art to understand it for viewing does weaken its message. This is not the same as reading criticism or biographical backgrounds. Doing homework on the time, place, and context of where and how a work was created does matter. But if the artist needs to explain what the viewer is seeing, the work will never be strong.
The Aesthete & The Amateur, now in twelve episodes, sets the background and context of the reviewers. The “Aesthete” has a graduate degree in studio art and art history, with a long list of publishing credentials. The “Amateur” has no education in the visual arts, though has a deep entrepreneurial background, and inexhaustible curiosity. One has her head in the clouds and the other has his feet planted firmly on the ground. One says what an educator would, the other says what viewers often think but rarely, if ever, vocalize. Neither is inhibited.
In any criticism, there is the risk of hurting some feelings—as one artist adamantly objected, but was wise enough to do it in IM instead of publicly. This became a private tug-of-war, but both sides were reasonable, and more factors were taken into consideration upon the viewing of newer works. Peace and even a rapport was established. Hopefully, the work of this artist will improve.
The reviewers have two goals: bring up topics of artistic debate, and to inspire the artists to push further. What is most frustrating is to see a good idea fall short, either through poor execution or missing another possible level. There is no writer who does not need an editor. There is no visual artist who does not need feedback and inspiration to take what is good and make it great. Every single artist reviewed by A&A has the potential to make a greater impact. If this series can inspire them to ask a few more questions, spend a little more time on craft, or experiment with interactivity just a little more, then the ripple effect impacts everyone.
OVERVIEW OF SERIES:
FULL ARTIST INDEX from The Aesthete and the Amateur series:
Ama Avro —ISSUE 8 in-world and in PDF sim street journal #8
Amona Savira —ISSUE 10 in-world only and in PDF sim street journal #8
Asmita Duranjaya —ISSUE 11 (check back for release of the PDF)
Harter Fall —ISSUE 11 (check back for release of the PDF)
ParkArt Collaborative —ISSUE 8 in-world and in PDF sim street journal #8
Rose Borchovski —ISSUE 12 to be released next
Talia Sunsong —ISSUE 8 in-world and in PDF sim street journal #8
Traskin Snakeankle —ISSUE 8 in-world and in PDF sim street journal #8
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Please see the series of interlinking articles that express various viewpoints of INTERACT WITH ART:
• INTERACT WITH ART— Represent and Review
As an illustrator, Liane Sebastian discusses creativity in a new medium and shows a collection of the strongest images from the virtual art reviews.
• INTERACT WITH ART— Collaborative Continuum
The avatar, Eleanor Medier, discusses experience from the inside out with her favorites.
• INTERACT WITH ART— Evaluate the Visual
Liane Sebastian describes this publication experiment of dividing a topic among various channels.
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Enjoy different, but related, issue versions: online and in-world (available at the Second Life® SSJ office (Innu 40, 36, 1650).
Back issues are available on MARKETPLACE).
— The in-world magazine has topics that relate to those who understand the virtual context, including photographs, parallel articles. It has tabs for information landmarks, and web links.
— The online magazine expresses what the virtual world offers the real one. It is a mirror that reflects parallel articles, hot topics, and provides more links.Contributions are encouraged if covering topics relevant to real world readers.
Please see the INDEX for all contributors and articles.
Contributions are encouraged if covering topics relevant to real world readers.
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Sim Street Journal explores the relevance of virtual to real commerce and culture.
Eleanor Medier (avatar of Liane Sebastian)
Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.
Sim Street Journal explores the relevance of second to first life.
© 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.