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Thursday, September 10, 2020

The GBTH Project Review – Zack Wonder Reporting

The art scene is vibrant on Second Life (SL), as many creators are experimenting the possibilities of creation in an ephemeral, virtual world without the actual need to go through the painstaking physical process of chipping away at rock or mixing oil pastes to paint on canvas. This process is exhibited in the GBTH Project (Grab the Bull by The Horns), curated by Marine Münter (vivresavie.resident). The GBTH Project is located at a sim organized as a cityscape, and is a piece of art in itself. A central square exhibits sculptures and leads to exhibit halls. Some exhibits can be entered from adjacent streets. Everything is organized as galleries in real-life (RL) art museums, with plaques introducing the artists and the art pieces. There are teleporters in strategic locations to guide the visitor around the sim. 
The sculptures in the central square are created by residents with an interest in art, as a collective effort titled “They: Duality of Love”. Rachel Breaker has provided the tools to create the sculptures from set pieces that the participants in the project have then assembled and textured to represent a central theme of love and duality. “Non-binary” aspects of love are also represented in the sculptures. Some of these are very political, others very innocuous representations of loving couples.
Zack admiring Rachel Breaker’s sculpture

The main exhibits in the sim are organized as individual galleries. Wide staircases lead to the entrances of four main halls, with entrance foyers introducing the artists and their works. On the side streets, “off-main” galleries can be found. Some of these are in small buildings resembling converted residences, and others have been erected on empty lots.
Sabotaged Memory by Marina Münter and Smoopa Spinotti can be found on one of the empty lots. Political, current-affairs protest posters and random junk are collected in a wire fence cage.  The posters decry current affairs with slogans witnessed in real-life (RL) urban protests in the USA: “Defund cops - prisons - military - racists”. Also, infringement on native tribes’ rights are reflected: “Stop federal invasion on indigenous lands”. The wire fence cage has, on closer look, rococo furniture, wall gobelins, vases and other artifacts from “le belle epoque” with graffiti tags written on them. Other pieces of the exhibit expound the whites’ invasion on indigenous lands, and imperialistic culture appropriating the quaint and the exotic of foreign cultures. The exhibit if an in-the-face exposition of revolutions past and present. A similar aesthetic is present in Marina’s exhibit “Non Perishable” where railroad containers are laden with junk and pieces of furniture, presenting themed views of existence, ranging from ambivalence and home, to wilderness, sea, and sin. You could spend hours examining the containers, getting new ideas on each visit.
New Years Eve by Amanda (aht1981) is one of the main exhibits, with video screens. A blue entrance staircase leads to the dark presentation room. Black and white videos of avatars talking about their New Year celebrations at the turn of 2020 are shown on the screens, by clicking on them. The concern of the virus was already present at the turn of the year, and the videos progress as interviews about the rising concern and people’s attitudes with coping with the isolation. The interviews on the screens concern the virus mostly, but the Black Lives Matter riots area also mentioned. Beautifully done, with eerie ambient music to go with the presentation, the videos have post-production effects that reflect black and white film and analog video from the VHS times.

pic of a screen

Chuanghu (Windows) by FionaFei teleprots you to the middle of an exhibit of Chinese-style calligraphic ink wash landscape in 3-D as a room with different surfaces. The viewer centrally is inside, and changing the point of view, every perspective changes the scene with the intersecting surfaces. The imagery evokes old Eastern silk screen partitions as well as modern urban structures. This exhibit is one example of an effect that a normal art gallery could never produce. It would be fascinating to experience with virtual reality eyewear.

Samira Selvey in the middle of the exhibit

“Swallow” by Vincent Priestley is an immersive space where the visitor becomes eaten, entering into a visceral body cavity with framed paintings on the walls. The paintings feature protruding organs, some are malformed surfaces with canvas texture, as well as reliefs with face-like features. Body fluids ooze from the walls as the viewer passes by the exhibited art. The exhibit is like a dungeon made of organic matter. Walking further down the body cavities, enlarged micro-organism like sculptures appear. The objets d’art are for sale in the gift shop!
Zack inside “Swallow”

“Inferno” by Noke Yuitza is a fantasy dreamscape of nightmarish proportions where a central figure is a dragon gazing on the visitor. Flowers with bulging eyes gaze on the viewer walking on a surface of multicolored crystals as well as a blanket of digital art. The eye flowers turn eerily directly at you as you walk around the space. It is possible to walk around the center of the exhibit, looking in from the outside, creating views with surreptitious effects that you can’t see from the inside.
interior of Inferno

A more traditional display of art is a collection of “furry” images by Tommy Bruce titled “Real Problems”. The central figure is a deer-like creature representing Tommy himself. The paintings hung on the walls as well as the sculptures present this deer furry in various scenes depicting different degrees of violence. The deer is the victim, with external forces imposed on him. The detailed furry texture of the sculptures is evoking realism absent in real-life art such as the Wall Street Bull.

furry deer sculpture

An upcoming exhibit by Rachel Breaker is still under construction in one of the main galleries. Rachel also has a store located on the sim, with pieces of art for sale.
The GBTH Project sim is one of the most evocative and mind-expanding sims to be encountered on Second Life. With the changing exhibits, there is something new to see on every visit, and the space cannot be completely exhausted at one go. SLE gives a “both thumbs up” for the experience, with a strong recommendation for  avatars to take the time off their busy schedules to do something different and visit.


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