The Aesthete and the Amateur reviews Mantis Oh
by Eleanor Medier, edited by Heavy Writer
Review of 3D immersive installation for The Linden Endowment for the Arts by an unlikely fictitious couple—a professional art critic and her wise fool truck-driver husband.
(Please see the in-world release or download Sim Street Journal #3 for more photographs, articles, and functionality. Also available on MARKETPLACE).
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Giving into Heavy’s desire for literal content is not Eleanor’s favorite way to placate her husband. Rather, dedicated to expanding his poor visual education, she first discusses the paintings of Josef Albers when she acquires a few masterpieces for their living room [please read “Arguing Abstraction”]. This was in preparation to take him to several 3d immersive installations in her review of The Linden Endowment for the Arts development grant recipients. They visit Nino Vichan’s ‘When the Mind’s Eye Listens’ and Cica Ghost‘s ‘Rust.’ Finally, she hopes to blend what they have observed in the other two when discussing Mantis Oh’s ‘Ascension.’
Eleanor: “Compare Mantis Oh’s piece with the dead place we just saw. Maybe this is where those people started over!”
Heavy: “A good setup for Star Wars.”
Eleanor: “At first, this looks like a game or a puzzle. There are recognizable shapes. Here is a molecular structure on Level 2. The levels don’t feel random and the titles matter. For example, this one is ‘LOVE.’”
Heavy grins: “Where there is a garden, there is germination of seeds. Seeds are made of love.”
Eleanor: “Why those keyboards? You sit there like you are in command. Is love controlling things?”
Heavy: “In this futuristic setup maybe. They use genetics for selection and will create the perfect creatures. Robots control the conditions. But then they lose the diversity that exists in nature. At some point, this place will be like making love with your relatives that will make room for deformed genetic accidents or maybe will end up with sterility.”
Eleanor: “Why is that? This place looks like it is flourishing. Look at these huge plants everywhere!”
Heavy: “This is a garden with only a few types of plants, repeated all over. And those things flying—I don’t think they make love.”
Eleanor: “They don’t look too friendly—there are these weird waves underneath, like energy pulsating This is visually appealing. Well done and makes us ask these questions about potential and relationships.”
Eleanor: “The Communication Level has a lot of components, from this data stream to these blue waves of energy. It first seems chaotic. But watch it for a while and it makes sense. I didn’t need the title to figure it out either. The action here is like the heart of the internet—where all the data and media come together. These balls are satellites.”
Heavy: “This can be how they do a CT scan in the future! Read the notes that are on the walls. After reading a couple, it seems the future art will be standardized according to math formulas.”
Eleanor: “This level stands alone and doesn’t need the others. Perhaps each is an independent statement.”
Heavy: “They are basic rules for the creation of art.”
Eleanor: “’Roots,’ ‘Creation,’ ‘Force,’ ‘Love,’ ‘Communication’—what connects? Use resources—find strength and share it. You need depth of caring and belief to do anything meaningful. So this sculpture so far is about finding your voice and this level is about using it. Let’s see what the next two levels do.”
Heavy: “This is like being part of a generation growing in a petri dish and observed by machines. Tech achievements are supposed to be beneficial for humans, but are they?”
Eleanor: “Who knows where your messages go these days?? Those balls bounce off the data streams dear—they hit them like walls. There are all these collisions, but that doesn’t feel so dangerous—more like spreading data—dandelion seeds in the wind. There is even a logic to these movements, though they at first feel random.”
Heavy: “It doesn’t look dangerous but is. This is a controlled place. You are scanned every second and watched closely. Do something wrong and you’ll get electroshocks. All is programmed to reduce mankind to uniformity.”
Eleanor: “To uniformity, or to not mattering anymore? This place goes on without people. It has its own perpetual momentum.”
Heavy: “People will be dressed the same, meals will be made out of pills. They will consume certain amount of calories, drink certain amounts of water, etc. This is worse than communism. It is a totalitarian society. They are control freaks. All of this is designed to follow certain rules they developed.”
Eleanor: “You mean everything regimented? It seems to have a vitality—one dependent on a permanent structure.”
Heavy: “They are at their peak of development. Fact is, at some point, humans will go down and machines will run everything.”
Eleanor: “Unless it blows up first. I sense at the steampunk place, things did not work well. Here, they seem to work too well!”
Heavy: “The machines will have no purpose since they don’t serve humans.”
Eleanor: “Or maybe we are like Gulliver’s Travels, where we are tiny inside a bigger world.”
Heavy: “Once humans are gone, bugs and errors in programming will start cascading mistakes.”
Eleanor: “This place hasn’t made mistakes yet, it feels like it is working as designed. Even those explosions are controlled.”
Heavy: “In the end everything will get rusty like we have seen happening before centuries ago in that steampunk setup.”
Eleanor: “The big INFO signs are obtrusive. Maybe when you click on them and get the instructions, they can go away. Each level needs time to discover all the interactive objects.”
Heavy: “Instructions are given in local when you touch the info sign.”
Eleanor: “Level 7: ‘SPIRIT’ hides the sign inside the central phantom shape!”
Eleanor: “Level 6: ‘PSY’ integrates the sound more than in the Nino Vichan sculpture we saw. This one has aspects of the other two we visited—like they are combined. Maybe this is a good trio then.”
Heavy: “Music here is just few notes played all over again in a so-called electronic symphony based on scientific formulas of frequencies. You can’t really call this music. But it seems additive by touching the balls, and the orange one resets them.”
Eleanor: “I can make my own combinations? I don’t understand this structure above us. It is a blend of abstract, symbolic, and fantasy.”
Heavy: “Those can be maintenance robots, or just shuttles ready to defend the mothership in case of attack, who knows? This tech is too advanced for us.”
Eleanor: “We are a bit lost here. There is a mechanized voice now and then, too.”
Heavy: “The voice says ‘I come in peace.’”
Eleanor: “Who comes in peace?”
Heavy: “The work is impressive, detailed, and well defined. It is a show off of building skills. If we go back to Level 1, we find the mystery of the levels.”
Eleanor: “I see a repetition of forms like characters—these probes flying around randomly, the balls orbiting, the sounds coordinating.”
Heavy: “It is all about Yoga shaqras, or whatever they are called. When you open all seven shakras, you ascend. This is not art—it is yoga!”
Eleanor: “How functional. I liked it better visually—not knowing this yoga stuff.”
Heavy: “I have a friend who was frenzied on yoga, until he ended up with ulcer. He told me when you open all those shakras, you don’t need food or water or anything. You are fed by universal energy—such bullshit for naive people!”
Eleanor: “That sounds foolish to me. We are organic creatures. Facts are facts.”
Heavy: “I told him that. He didn’t listen and ended up on a surgery table. He is done with all the yoga stuff now.”
Eleanor: “It is crazy to be so out of balance while trying to get in balance!!!! Well, this artist has set up a visual/symbolic language—the repetition of features between the levels.”
Heavy: “In India there are gurus that claim they can be in several places at the same time. When they open all the shakras, they become a superhuman—they say entity. Yoga is not bad. It is a way to improve yourself—but not to make you superhuman.”
Eleanor: “I puzzled at the relationship between the levels, but I was starting to get it without that yoga logic. I think this work is very successful—because it is stronger even than the theme intended.”
Heavy: “It is, part of universe. Once you get to level 7, time and space mean nothing. Be in a thousand places at the same time. Reach such level of sensitivity and knowledge where all secrets are revealed, all questions have answers. I’m not expert, but it is what I figured from what that friend told me.”
Eleanor: “Everything here seems to work right. There are reoccurring forms that have a continuity.”
Heavy: “Ultimately control light and colors and sounds. Become one with everything”
Eleanor: “So it is all about control?? Isn’t it really about the loss of control? To get so controlled you give it up?”
Heavy: “They say a beam of light can travel forever. Is time important to a beam of light? Still a black hole can absorb light, too. So, even at that level there is still life and death, matter and antimatter, yin and yang.”
Eleanor: “Even if the law of physics don’t hold up, yin and yang can still apply. Compare this with the tarot pieces we saw last month. Those didn’t hold up without their theme—I think this one is stronger than its theme.”
Heavy: “Level 6 was my favorite. It has the cool to interact with. And I just like the blue—it matches my jeans.”
Eleanor: “Level 5 Communication is my favorite. Overall, I would leave the yoga influence to subtlety. A theme should not be a crutch.”
This series has continued from the previous issue as Eleanor and Heavy continue to make their way through the virtual cultural landscape.
From Sim Street Journal: Issue #3 • Please click here to see contents.
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© 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.