Cohesive Collaboration: “Paradise of CyberPolis”

Art critic Eleanor Medier is not easy to please. She regularly follows the Linden Endowment of the Arts (LEA) installations because they exemplify some of the most active artists in Second Life®. Changing every few months, this series gives full sim awards to individual artists (or groups) and (what must feel like) unlimited prims (memory) with which to build. It is freedom! Space! And visibility!

Yet there is art within art. Most who read this article may not actually visit the sites (and there is a time-limit). Rather, the photographs support some of the aesthetic issues considered. Individual images convey a glimpse—one to contemplate.

Asmita Duranjaya and Sable (snakeappletree) push the virtual elements as far as they can, making use of integrated concepts in “Paradise of CyberPolis.” There is a game, individual sculptures, activities, and most importantly, there is a world of contrast and intrigue.

Eleanor arrived at the LEA landing spot with husband Heavy Writer in tow—well, he was piloting their sailboat. But she was a woman with a mission, as she read that the artist she judged as first place in the UWA Competition, Mistero Hifeng, was presenting [see upcoming review in the issue about to be released]. She knew that Heavy would have a lot say about these pieces, so she distracted him with that show while she chose the subject of her Critic’s Choice. Sharpening her pencil, she wrote of her journey in “Paradise of CyberPolis.”

Cohesive Collaboration by Eleanor Medier, art critic

Armed with the expectations of an artistic game (as the group notices announced), I visited Asmita’s and Sable’s LEA installation. Landing at the starting point, I immediately headed to the Fook Hing Restaurant, the first station, as instructed in the notecard. But, on the way, I got distracted by camming around this mysterious black and white environment. Striking in its visual wealth, even with great complexity, the overall effect held together as an adventure—both visually, and experientially.

SSJ#15online-CyberPolis-A

Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed. The visuals were captivating! Though I was assigned, as part of the game, to look for a letter in this restaurant, though I spent a little time trying to guess, it eluded me. Rather, I went on to the next station, as listed in the notecard. At each one on the list, I was to collect a letter, and assemble them at the end into a word, and thus unlock something very special.

The problem was, I already felt like I was in something very special! I became more curious to see what was next on the list, or around the next corner, than I was to look for letters. The design for each station contrasted the little red buildings against the bigger space of black and white corridors, levels, hidden places, things to discover, and visual goodies all over the place!

SSJ#15online-CyberPolis-B

OK, I got distracted from the goal. But, even without finding the letters, I soldiered on. The next location placed me near a captivating boat on a lake. My photographic-compulsion took over, and I spent more time shooting the boat (I have a boat series of photos) than following directions. Feeling a bit neglectful, I dutifully looked for another letter, but again, was unsuccessful. I can hear the artists saying under their collective breath as they read this: “it was obvious!!! How could she miss it?” So I apologize.

SSJ#15online-CyberPolis-C

But then the artists threw me the biggest distraction of all: they had requested the contributions from another dozen artists who each created a small piece around the theme of…. now what was the theme? No matter. The pieces were really fun!!!!

Yet, apparently this was not enough activity for the creators to infuse. They also added a voting kiosk next to each of the smaller sculptures, where I was asked to evaluate each against a criteria of checkboxes. Call it the rebelliousness in me, but I took a pass on that one. I wished to just appreciate each creation for what it is. As a critic, I have my favorites and it is my job to tell you my opinion. I do hope, however, that others enjoy the voting process. Here is the mini-sculpture that offered me the most visually mesmerizing action.

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Not finding any letters so far (I do hope others do), I was no less compelled to continue on the notecard-directed journey. (I always appreciate how well Asmita and friends assemble notecards, which are necessary for directed adventures, but unnecessary to view visual art.)

Advancing through the stations, I got to one where the letter “R” was totally obvious. That made me feel good. Getting one on the list at least was something! And, I was happy to sit in a Zen position at the last stop. All the pretty crystal shapes kept my eyes busy for at least fifteen minutes!

SSJ#15online-CyberPolis-E

At the last station sat a little computer. I was instructed to enter the word I was supposed to have gathered, which I didn’t. So, I missed the payoff. But, did I? I found this piece so visually enthralling that I really didn’t worry about the game or the voting. Although I appreciate the layers of involvement designed into this work, its greatest achievement is as a visual whole.

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From the notecard: “We see our LEA 12 as a research project and would like to find out more about the term CYBER. In preparation of our application we had organized a discussion panel and different points of view from various angles have been exchanged concerning the definition of that term.” http://www.ethnomusicscape.de/cyberart/cyberpage.htm

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QUICK LINKS TO ISSUES
INDEX for all contributors and articles
Sim Street Journal #1: Virtual Reveals Real
Sim Street Journal #2: The Old in the New
Sim Street Journal #3: Magicians of Meaning
Sim Street Journal #4: Telling Stories
Sim Street Journal #5: Champions of Expression
Sim Street Journal #6: Overlapping Realities
Sim Street Journal #7: Luck Created
Sim Street Journal #8: Facing the Inevitable
Sim Street Journal #9: Motivated Learning
Sim Street Journal #10: Serious Fun
Sim Street Journal #11: Fantasy Fulfillment
Sim Street Journal #12: Insights from Extremes
Sim Street Journal #13: Bridging Boundaries
Sim Street Journal #14Realities Blend

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Eleanor Medier (avatar of Liane Sebastian)

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Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.

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