Depicting art is an art in itself. Here are my twelve best representations of visual works reviewed in Sim Street Journal. These illustrations hope to convey, in one glance, enough of the art to intrigue, make the reader think, and wish to see more.
The Art from Art
Still images of interactive art reflect a new collaboration. The original works encompass a different experience for each viewer. But capturing the art’s essence, animation, concept, and progressions, can be encapsulated and thus symbolic. The best works of art do offer consideration on many levels, including the inspiration of more works of art: analysis, spinoffs, homages, and influences that create a cultural ripple effect.
Reviewing virtual art for Sim Street Journal really shows how the medium affects the art. The creations that most use the integrity of the medium are the more successful. The international reach and use of multi-talented skills takes virtual interactive art to a place no other medium can go. No where does the element of fantasy, superpowers, and the ability to build fast, allow more flexibility and flowering of concept potential. However, the capturing of those works into analysis and articles about them is, in itself, is an art. The task is to retain and respect the way the artist intends the work, while choosing a quintessential moment, view, or detail. Nothing is changed or threatens the artist’s copyright. All works are publicly displayed, and, according to Second Life’s Terms of Service, are allowed to be photographed and analyzed. The Fair Use Clause allows criticism for public works, so it is inevitable that some artists will not like what critics have to say.
With a large audience of readers who love virtual art, SSJ exerts some influence on the community. Proud of the response, and proud of the presentation, these reviews are totally original and impartial.
Here, I present one image from each issue of Sim Street Journal, adapted for this presentation. Publishing media also possesses integrity. The publishing artist uses as much skill with media tools as do visual artists with building tools. How best to present the editorial visuals, how much boldness is needed to convey the most intention, how to integrate the content into Facebook, all factor into an evolved hybrid, albeit removed, collaboration.
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PORTFOLIO OF THE BEST ARTISTIC DEPICTIONS:
This collection is not to say that these are the “best artists” but that these are the most successful visual representations.
As part of the University of Western Australia’s Collection, this work represents thought itself on a monumental scale. The two halves of the globe are stationary, but sparks between them travel through the connectors, giving a dynamic sense of movement within non-movement. Hauntingly realistic, the two globes have been endowed with human face features, representing the world as the source of the mind, of humanity’s dependance on nature. The digital mirrors the organic. It also evokes how often decisions can be equally balanced between options, how perhaps the right and the left half of the brain relate, and that the mind is complex. Made to be a colossal size, in overpowers the individual. Everyone is connected by the natural order. This illustration increases its drama by extending the visual setting. Though monumental, the piece is best viewed in isolation, commanding its visual shape by its profile.
A classic gallery in SL, Rose Theatre Arts Center presents eight artists each month, mostly favoring 2D exhibits. The Aesthete critic, Eleanor, prefers 3D immersive work. The Amateur, Heavy, prefers 2D works. So as in any good relationship, compromise is sought and respected. The two alternate, keeping a good balance. Five artists are discussed, each with an original vision. This illustrative composition places a single work by each into one gallery, which didn’t happen. Yes, the gallery is at Rose. But, with Photoshop tricks, a collective arrangement represents the variety. Each reviewer, true to form, has a different favorite. By presenting them in one image, it represents the variety the Galleries displayed as an overview.
Initially not knowing the topic of Mantis’ multi-level immersive progressions (a work of environments on different environmental levels), the theme became visually connecting. Yet, being constrained by such labels also colors the viewer’s perception. If the artist says “this is about twelve zodiacs” one would view the twelve items as representative of other universal relationships, inspiring other associations. But if the work can visually define a larger relationship between segments, it is strengthened. Mantis accomplishes this cohesion when participating in the LEA challenges. All of them move and present these windowed globs as if they are characters. Reocurring symbols appear on each layer, making this connective unity. The viewer stands in observance, can move around the scenes, but never can affect the action in progress. The animation, colors, changes, are expressed in the fragmented photographic technique.
Master of creating environments, Haveit brings the viewer inside every work—none are simple, all mysterious. With an undefined narrative, each is a visually rich adventure for wandering around and discovering all the various scenes and segments. There are opportunities to participate through animation, so there is a blend of movement and static images. None are easy, but rich for discussion. How the parts hold together as a whole stretches these concepts, sometimes to a point of confusion, but a fun sense of being lost. This illustration depicts how it changes with different lighting choices, and many of the complex elements to contemplate. The still image inspires a visit to learn more. It is hard to take a BAD photo in one of his exhibits!
Similar to showing a fragmentation of lightings to reflect time change as I do in this series of illustrations, Samara fragments images. fragment but have a random quality as does reality. Beautiful photographically inspired collages, these are unique. Sadly, photographic collages shown in SL are too common. A fresh approach to this technique is rare. But this series contains the personality of the artist, including sensitive color use, compositional mastery, and cubistic heritage.
Totally embracing the viewer, Ginger’s images are not complete without jumping into them. Her settings remain static though—animation is used to incorporate the participant. In several, the avatar, once inside the piece, has movement. Intrinsically, the images without participation are pleasant—the strongest work on their own without the inclusion of the viewer. When they operate on both levels, the interplay becomes part of the statement. If the backgrounds also incorporated movement, then a further integration can be achieved. This illustration does cheat. It is complete for Eleanor’s hanging there, and the side is lightened to show more of the detail. But the two friends that are hanging exemplify the change the piece has via the participant. The illustration shows clearly how the avatar is included.
As the virtual world is surreal and fantasy-inspiring, Gem takes this idea to yet some other mysterious place. His digital constructions reflect both science fiction and ancient history, giving a perceptual fusion. Majestic comprehensive, his unreal cities feel real—as if glimpsing an alien civilization. As Gem captures in stills these unworldly creations, the virtual scale of their presentation—whether smaller in a gallery or larger in thematic rooms— Gem creates worlds within worlds. The mind travels through the caverns and rooftops, feeling like this may be the First Contact. Adventurous and original, these works also exemplify the potential of the computer as a visual tool to execute what can’t be done otherwise. This gives them a greater technical integrity. My depiction is to represent the simplest of his exhibits, yet show the scale and consistency of his approach. As variations on a theme, each engages the viewer in new ways. The feeling here is one of windows and possibilities.
8- ParkArt Collaborative —ISSUE 8 in-world and in PDF sim street journal #8
Pulling the viewer down a fox hole into a created multileveled maze uses a mix of intimate and layered space, surrounded by infiniteness. This the nature of virtual space most dramatically. Thrust within levels of media images, reflections of reflections, figures of contemplation, labels elevated to form and patterns, the integrity unifies such complexity. Each direction the viewer faces has a different statement within the statement. Two of the quadrants are represented in this illustration. Sense of time here is suspended, and nothing is moving. But the variety of viewpoints, moving between the levels, and taking time to discover all the components, is a journey that will be different for each. Contemplating the four quadrants, then the relation of each to the whole, can keep the viewer busy for hours! This photograph is a tease for what can be seen. If it can convey some of the mystery of the original, it is successful enough to inspire a visit!
The digital world is modular. It is interactive. Every resident is presented with continual choices to make from constructing a home, visiting sims, choosing activities, and even deciding how to behave and what values to practice. DanCoyote represents this world of choice by reducing elements down to a few modules, setting up a sculptural structure, and allowing the viewer to create the shapes. Interaction is essential. It takes a little practice, but soon, the sense of control and planning inspires. It becomes a remote collaboration. This still image has a drama that the original possesses, yet achieved for different visual reasons. It places visual emphasis into the center and captures one moment in the sculpture’s progression. I feel I capture this better in the article illustrations, but I created this one as a visual experiment.
Time may be the most intriguing mystery of the human condition. One-directional, uncontrollable, and often regrettable, no one escapes being its victim. Louly analyzes the concept of time by presenting clocks within various atmospheres and attitudes. From holding a flower to it as a tribute, to spinning two dimensional disks, to collages of references, Louly shows a series of pieces that explore understanding. As a series, his installation has a great cohesion. But as individual pieces, that the photographer can preserve, allow for a greater contemplation. The article has stills of various sculptures in the series. This still incorporates them into one small space.
11- Harter Fall —ISSUE 11 (check back for release of the PDF)
With a mathematical precision, Harter uses 2D animation to sequence through a Mondrian-like language. His most successful pieces are simple geometric surfaces that tell an abstract story through the changes of shapes and lines. A dramatic visual dance, they are constantly moving. Watching them change does inspire the wish to stop it for a moment and study the composition. The viewer does not have that control, but the photographer does. Representing in stills some of the compositions in the sequence gives a greater insight into how the intensions are formed. The article shows several of these progressions. This still better conveys the range of Harter’s approaches. How the interactivity enhances abstraction is great for debate, but for once, the reviewers agree!
12- Rose Borchovski —ISSUE 12
Few works of art are as heart-wrenching with greater elegance. Never has war been represented with such a personally sensitive narrative. To walk through and experience the progression of what happens to the innocent victims, this image captures the impact on specific lives. With the haunting (though repetitious) soundtrack, the evolving story, the animation contrasted with a frozen stillness, and the universal symbols, all blend into feeling part of the story. The segments are works in themselves that then tie together as the portrayal of time and consequences. So tragic, yet so beautifully portrayed, this can’t help but be one of the most profound presentations in SL. The image that I chose to represent the vast installation is that final moment between mother and child of controlled tragedy. It is ethereal as they descend beyond this world. The design shows the changes, the time that has passed, and the finality.
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When first viewing these works, I did not know the artists personally, though I had seen their work before. Choosing works to review requires enough homework to know how the artist presents. We check Profiles for show listings, gallery locations, links to websites, blog, and Facebook pages. But we purposely do not read biographies or ask any questions, other than from what the work itself has to say.
The series of articles in the column The Aesthete & The Amateur also uses the interactive medium in new ways. It sets up a role play between Eleanor Medier and Heavy Writer, who visit and discuss the works of art. As context is on the attitudes and beliefs of the reviewers—why they see what they see. Each has a very different viewpoint, demonstrating how a message to one person can be very different to another. There is also the entertainment of their banter, often humorous, but always insightful. Each forever wishes to change the other, while each side is debatably valid.
The works chosen to review also represent a category or artistic approach. The larger issues of clarity, effectiveness, originality, and impact become elements that affect the community. Other similar artists may wrestle with similar issues. Other viewers agree or disagree with conclusions made. There is always more to see and more to discuss which is so dynamic in a quickly changing virtual world. Though many of these works will not be seen directly by readers, the issues and questions have greater reach and application. In that is a responsibility to not only be true to the works themselves, but help bring more to the impact.
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Please see the series of interlinking articles that express various viewpoints of INTERACT WITH ART:
• INTERACT WITH ART—The Search for More
Sim Street Journal takes a look back at the reviews of forty artists and presents the criteria for discussion.
• 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.
Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.