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Saturday, September 24, 2011

A History of Gothick

Ahora que se quien soy
No puedes dejarme
Respira en mi y hazme real
Traeme a la vida
Bring Me To Life, Evanescence
If virtual artists were drinks, what would they be? Bryn Oh is the Coca-Cola of Second Life, obviously; Soror Nishi is a Long Island Green Tea, Oberon Onmura would be the shape of the place where the glass once stood, but what about the rest?
Silene Christen would be a rich, discreet Ribera del Duero, from a small yet renowned vineyard nestled beneath the walls of a forbidding castle, kissed by moonlight; and if, fair to say, not every offering is memorable, there are there are enough good vintages to keep you curious.
Not that Silene is an obscure artist, by any means. In RL her work has received recognition in museums and private collections across Murcia; in SL she's won a clutch of prizes from the
UWA, Odyssey, the Criss, and other groups.
She's active in groups like Life ArtArte Intervencionista, and Fratte Space, where she often shows her work; Silene also creates SL tutorials and collaborates one way or another with machinima-makers, like Yesikita Coppola.
Silene Christen: I started out uploading RL art, as Silene Carnell. It took me about a year to discover the world of SL "real" art. Now that's my main focus - digital art. There aren't many Spanish artists knownhere and I join competitions, because it is the only way to be known in SL art, as myself, and as a Spaniard. I was very proud of the first exhibit I made, because it was all connected in the gallery, like veins connecting the works.

Big changes in Silene's real life led to a move to the island of Menorca, and a change of avie too - and somehow in the mix, the RL art was left behind.
But there's plenty to take its place.

 Here are just some of her past installations. Most feature Silene's various female avatars, each one encapsulating, she says, a part of her personality. There's a mesmerizing sense of movement, escape, receding into oblivion on high. You want to run after it, to get an explanation, a closer glimpse; to stop time for long enough to see what's going on.
But it's Goth that really defines her.
Silene Christen: I would define myself as artist as: minimalist, conceptual, and deeply Goth.
Over the past months, Silene's  been working hard on a series of compositions expressing the subculture, somewhat under attack from the chick-flick-loving, predatory twerps of the Vampire community, with whom they share a love of red and black. Goth in Second Life has a long and rich history, with splendid builds, amazing clothes, even a working Church, St Hilda's. That is hardly surprising, Goth is perfect for SL, it's an intense yet mannerly, maudlin  lifestyle, in which dressing up is an essential ritual.

Silene uses Gothic costumes, makeup, and furniture to explore the broken doll trope, for example, without falling into that repetitious angsty-rusty look which has been done to death. Late one night, I slipped over to the Fafner gallery and immediately flaked out in this lovely Oona Eiren chair.

The pictures are large and dark, and at least at first glance, untitled. Every canvas is packed with extravagant props and poses.
The scenes meticulously put together, so much so that you imagine them all taken in the same marvellous palace. But here's the thing. SL is full of spectacular RP sims and gothic architecture. With those kind of possibilities, can a mere 2D picture, still capture the imagination?
With no explanation, I called in poet and man-about-Avgi, Sabreman Carter to see what he would make of it all. He was a bit stunned at first. That's just my personal magnetism. Happens all the time. Also I think he had lag. But then he sort of saw.
Sabre  is not much about the RP world of Second Life,  nor a big art-gallery trawler either. He prefers the voice-and-written-word world of Second Life.  (Although that involves some role-play, surely, like pretending to listen to other people's recitals, and shouting APPLAUSE into Local Chat at the strategic time.) He's to be found all over the grid, at the literary circles like The Written Word, Poet's Plunder and (picture me cringing) the Blue Angel.
He's the first to admit to being 'no goody two shoes', and he's passed through the odd fantasy sim or two in his time, so I wondered if all that 'Lord and Lady'-ing appealed, and if dramah was good for the poet's soul.
sabreman Carter: I've had my share of drama, I don't look for it, but it seems to finds me, and sometimes I think it may have killed me a little as a poet... 
No answer to that, for who can't relate, just a little. Looking or finding; the pictures seemed to crowd in on us with corsetted sympathy. They glowed darkly, full of love and loss, life and lust and death, pointing to the heart of Goth.
sabreman Carter: The picture behind you shows a lady with a dark dress and dark hair;  the guy she is crouched down looking at the floor maybe in pain, or wistfully thinking that she is ignoring him. She is cast down in herself thinking what the hell do we do now do? I want this guy, what am I doing here, and why am I with him? He is in the gloom; i'ts all about relationships and how we deal with each other. Am I making any sense to you?
I supposed that he was.
sabreman Carter: Look at the picture in front of me. A black man and a white woman relaxing, being held; she doesn't seem to be struggling. Maybe she feels comfortable, held in his strong arms, leaning against him for comfort.
Thirza Ember: ...or else, she is holding him down, preventing him from getting up and going.
I didn't really think that, I just wanted to be awkward.
sabreman Carter: That's possible, her legs are at an odd angle looking like a pair of scissors, and his hand looks like it's in the wrong place - the wrong way around.
Well, it is Second Life - awkwardness comes naturally here, said I, looking around at the other paintings. Still figures moving us, emotion without motion. You don't need to be in a pose to pose the big questions, after all; I mused. But it was no good, he wasn't listening.
sabreman Carter: I love her stockings, and the white flesh so inviting, and her eyes are cast down, so you wonder what they are thinking. And he seems to be out of place: is he looking at her stocking feet? Pity the artist has not named it, I would have liked to have seen its name ...
It was time for me to go. I left him there, as transfixed as if he were on a battlement, gazing out into a windswept wood.
How is that not immersive.

 Two days later, this arrived.
The Poisoned Apples

the mirror shows no reflexion
of this room that is full of death
and yet you see the church
which as failed her yet again

we are with the departed soul
she as eaten of her fill
and gorged on deaths bright apples
which one held the poison?

no one can really  tell
she doesn't need another bite
because one was enough to kill
who gave you this tasty morsel

when all you needed was a pill
and now your dead and gone
and we are wondering at the thrill
was it a star crossed lover?

or old joe from up the hill
maybe you took your own life
in an accidental kill
as you played Russian Ruilet

with those bright red delicious apples
that are now sat upon the floor
will another bite the dust
or is this story evermore

Sabreman Carter  © 09/09/2011

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