A Conversation Between the Artists On Opening Day in INTERMUNDIA

INTERMUNDIA’s first guest artist is Sowa Mai (RL artist Stephen Beveridge).  Today, as of 10 AM PST we are officially open.  As we arrived, we had the chance to chat & catch up before guests arrived. We’ve worked together before, but it has been many years since we’ve been able to do so, since I haven’t been able to log into Second Life much in the past two and a half years.  In this session, we chat about the nature of art in SL: inspiration, methods, and the recent art climate — including the newly-opened Museo del Metaverso. Later, we are briefly joined by Banrion Constantine, another Second Life artist with a lot of metaverse art under her belt. With permission, I am posting excerpts of our conversation here. (*edited for conciseness & clarity)

intermundia opening_002

Nebulosus and Sowa at Intermundia

Nebulosus Severine: Ahoy there!
Sowa Mai: Hiya.
NS: [Your art installation] Looks great up there, by the way!
SM: Thank you. Looking pretty cool here.
NS: Hey thanks, I did [the main gallery space] all a couple days ago. (laughs)  I started and restarted a few times, but kept scrapping it.
SM: You really have a lot of skill with this SL stuff and an eye to make use of it. It’s good to see you making stuff.

intermundia opening_001

Shootin’ the shit

NS: Thank you. I’m really happy to have had some time here lately. I don’t know why I connect so easily to creating here, as opposed to say, drawing or whatever. Drawing I only feel like doing occasionally, but this kind of art, I want to make all the time. I feel like it sort of unites all of the various art disciplines.
SM: It sure does, and it uses both sides of the brain because you’ve got to figure stuff out, too. The best part is we can make a lot of stuff on the cheap, we don’t have to store it, and we can find an audience for it.
NS: Yeah. Like, to use SL effectively, I need to know how to draw, how to use color theory, composition, sculpture, etc. This is the sort of art I would do in real-life if I had a grant for it. (laughs)
SM: Yeah, but if you did, one piece would take so long that you would get tired of it and impatient — unless you had minions.
NS: Right, of course.  Well, if I was getting grant money anyway, I’d hire some.
SM: Then you could build it here and tell them, “Go build it in real life, and I’ll come to the opening.”
NS: (laughs) Exactly, I think that’s how it works for many big time artists. I don’t think I could ever completely leave it in anyone else’s hands, no way. I’d have to at least be there.
SM: I don’t think I could. The point for me is the healing space during the creation process. The final piece is always just a shadow of the idea. Each painting builds on the last one and each build has elements of the others
NS: Exactly. It always, always evolves & changes. [We build upon] elements of others’ art too, even. We are all connected. I’ve never really felt like I was ‘part’ of any group before I discovered I was an artist.
SM: I got one of those digital photo frames and put my digital drawings in it, so now I see them every day and it helps me see where I am going. I can’t have all my paintings out like that, and I can lose the path.
NS: Ohhhh, that is a great idea.
SM: Yes, the art tribe has its own perception, and the other tribes look downright wrong from here.
NS: (laughs) Yeah.
SM: A lot of artists left Second Life.
NS: Yeah, they seem to have. Some are coming back it seems — at least occasionally.
SM: There was the opening of [Museo del Metaverso] yesterday on [the Craft grid].
NS: Oh right, that was on another grid then.
SM: It was surprisingly stable with 60 avatars.
NS: Wow, that is awesome. I see, I haven’t heard of that [grid]. Did you go?
SM: Yeah, I have a piece in the museum.
NS: Congratulations!
SM: It was cool.
NS: That is the sort of event I miss so much. I really would have loved to be involved with that show.
SM: It’s the Italians, and they take virtual art seriously.
NS: Yeah, they do seem to. That’s fantastic.
SM: There were speeches and stuff from notables in Italian art.
NS: So exciting.
SM: They talked about how, when we started here, the public was way out of the loop. But now most people are familiar with social networking, and virtual worlds aren’t so strange. Basically saying, the stage is set for virtual art.
NS: I’ve really been bummed to miss so much over the last couple of years. I would have stayed active for most of that time.  I did have school for awhile, so that would have caused me to log in a bit less, but still.
SM: I haven’t been coming in so much, but I get excited about it every few months, and [then I] get some project to build. I did the LEA 6 month land grant thing three times now. So that is a commitment.
NS: Whenever I get back [to being in Second Life regularly], I want to apply for a sim.
SM: You should, I bet you would do a great job.
NS: Thank you. I had a sim once before, but it was before the days of the LEA.

intermundia opening_004

Sowa Mai’s installation, Ars Ludus

SM: Most of my stuff is reactionary. I get so judgmental about decorative art with no soul that I find myself pointing it out and making fun.
Banrion  Constantine: Hi, Neb.
NS: Hi hi Banrion!
SM: Hi Banrion.
SM: I was collecting Hans Hoffman quotes last night:

My aim in painting is to create pulsating, luminous, and open surfaces that emanate a mystic light, in accordance with my deepest insight into the experience of life and nature.

One must realize that, apart from considerations of color and form, there are two fundamentally different ways of regarding a medium of expression: one is based on taste only — an approach in which the external physical elements of expression are merely pleasingly arranged. This way results in decoration with no spiritual reaction. Arrangement is not art. The second way is based on the artist’s power of empathy, to feel the intrinsic qualities of the medium of expression. Through these qualities the medium comes to life. … In this life, an intuitive artist discovers the emotive and vital substance which makes a work of art.  — “Search for the Real in the Visual Arts”, p. 46

BC: That’s a good one.
NS: Oh, that quote is brilliant.
NS: I normally would have had music & a party sort of thing for a gallery opening, but I felt that the subject matter of [Too Many Flowers] was a bit too dark for it – or, rather, that a party would be too light-hearted for the dark subject matter.
BC: Makes sense, Neb.
NS: Although when I can reliably be back in SL [after] next week, I was thinking of creating a performance art piece related to it.
SM: That’s a good idea. These textures are amazing, did you get a chance to do the new materials? I wanted to share a tool.
NS: That’s what i used, yes. Materials is new to me.
SM: Crazy Bump is an app [that] you put an image [into], and it breaks it down, giving you the bump map, the diffuse map, and the specularity map.
BC: http://www.crazybump.com/
NS: That is amazing, thank you, I was looking for something like that.
SM: You’re welcome. You have to catch up.
NS: I know, right? (laughs)
SM: It’s like you were frozen and have just been unearthed. Now you gotta catch up.
NS: That’s how it feels – like i was in some meta-coma.
SM: But you can bring all these skills lost to man in from the past to enrich our frantic lives. (laughs) Sorry, get carried away.
BC: You have a weird advantage though. You’ve been dropped in the middle so instead of this linear understanding of how things have evolved, you get to see it with new eyes and bring new insight.
SM: The whole learning blender thing takes forever. But its easier than object communications.
BC: (laughs)
NS: Yeah, I tried teaching myself Blender for a bit, but didn’t get too far.
SM: I think with all the new skills, there is a period of mastery before we can easily or effectively use them to further our vision. In the meantime we are subjected to decoration. It has to be second nature before we can relax enough to let the muse out. Congratulations on the opening Neb, I hope we see a lot more of you.
NS: Thanks for being part of my gallery, Sowa! Congrats to you as well, glad to see you, and you too, Banrion!
SM: Thanks for having me.
BC: Thanks. It’s good to have you back, Neb. I look forward to seeing what develops. Cheers.

INTERMUNDIA is officially open to the public.  Teleport here. —> CLICK

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