Cameron Cove is a Second Life artist and explorer who finds inspiration in the dark and murky shadows of the virtual world. I had the good fortune to chat with Cameron and learn more about his attempts to "capture the horrific atrocity of imagination.”
Dean : Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Cameron Cove : I'm a real life photographer and graphic artist. I joined Second Life out of curiosity. At first I thought it was an RP game but with no clear objective I was about to quit when I discovered the snapshot application. After taking snapshots in Second Life I began to look for work as a Second Life photographer which was very difficult because there are a lot of SL Photographers and most of them have a lot more experience with Second Life photography than I.
Dean : Your blog is titled “Second Life Portraits by Cameron Cove” but most of your images are landscapes with your avatar appearing almost inconspicuously as part of the background. Is this intended to be ironic?
Cameron Cove : It wasn't my intention to be ironic. The reason why I refer to my collection of Second Life images as "Portraits" is because the places I explore and find interesting enough to photograph is more an expression of who I am than the appearance of my avatar. I include my avatar in the snapshots to provide a subject or, in some cases, to provide context for the scale of other objects in the frame but the true subject of the image is the moment or memory that is captured by the snapshot. In this sense, the word "Portrait" is a portrayal of my spiritual self more so than my physical which, of course, doesn't exist in Second Life.
Dean : Most of your images are engulfed in shadow with your avatar’s back to the viewer, is this intended to create an enigmatic impression?
Cameron Cove : I use one of the generic avatars that people can choose when they first register with Second Life. I added spectacles and, in some snapshots, the avatar is carrying a flashlight but, because the focus of my images are the different locations I visit as opposed to my avatar, I frequently face the avatar away from the viewer to create a sense of anonymity, as if to say, the individual is less important than the environment. I consider my images to be a collaboration between myself, the people who create the sim and the people who create the objects within the sim.
Dean : The depth of shadows in your images reminds me of the paintings of Carravagio, what are some of your artistic influences?
Cameron Cove : Thanks for the compliment. Michelangelo da Carravagio is definitely an influence. I think he is a master of creating shadows within shadows. The Spanish painter Francisco Goya is another big influence when it comes to the way I try to capture details within the shadows. Another influence is the French Iranian cinematographer Darius Khondji who worked on the films Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, Alien Resurrection, In Dreams, The Beach and Panic Room. His work on the movie "Seven" is probably the most influential as this is visually a dark and moody film that spends a lot of time in the shadows.
Dean : Some of your work has been featured in MAGE Magazine. How did you get involved with this group?
Cameron Cove : I posted an announcement in the SL Creation Forum asking if there were any Second Life photography groups I could join that would help me learn about the different techniques used to create great images. I had visited some art galleries and seen some images that were truly incredible and realized I had a lot to learn but the only person who responded to my questions was Othella, who is the editor of MAGE Magazine. After becoming friends with Othella I joined the MAGE Magazine group and found the creative team was very helpful. Andressa, Sizzelle and Ozymandius were surprisingly generous with advice and would even give me things like a green screen studio, props, accessories and different lighting equipment to help improve the quality of my work. Out of gratitude for their help and support I've contributed some of my images to MAGE Magazine which can be seen in the SL Perspectives section.