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Friday, February 28, 2014

Nine Lives: Coppelia's first year

Four 'faces' of Stelarc
          The art group Coppelia turns one this week, and they are celebrating the anniversary with an art show from 6-8pm SLT on Friday 28th February.
           Art groups are quite fascinating. Not the big message-board ones, but the guild type, where everyone's an artist. Some are free-for alls, with a mix of genuine innovators and wannabes whose talent is mostly for gallery politics. Then there are the B-List cooperatives where nobody is very good but nobody minds, because dancing and gossip are regularly available. At odds with the B-list are the pretentious collectives for 'premier artists', the kind of elitist BS that third rate academics love. You can see where they are coming from - all of us want to escape from mediocrity, but as the Anglo-Saxon proverb says, 'He that
thinketh himself hot shit shall discover himself verily a cold turde warmed over.' Groups suffer from maladies: infighting or lack of funds, the one or two dogsbodies who eventually get tired of doing all the admin, people drift back to real life, an art bully like that dreadful one over on InWorldz ruins the atmosphere.  At least it appears so from the outside. I'm unclubbable.
         Coppelia seems a little different.  Spread across the planet, these three Australians, three Europeans, two Americans and Stelarc who defies most definitions (and needs no introduction), have come together to form something rather like a time share. There is a preponderance of scriptophiles, but they all pull in different directions, which means that their Anniversary show is bound to offer a lot of variety. Performance art and the human body, minimalism, abstraction of our morphing planet and societies, poems in sounds and sight and, occasionally, words, are the norm with the Coppelia group. And another thing - mutual respect. Not just that they admire the talent of their comrades, but that they also clean up after themselves.  What's not to love.
 Oberon Onmura explains in practical terms how it works.
Oberon Onmura: The members don't interact that much on a daily basis. Occasionally we'll bump into each other and have a chat, but the understanding is that it's a working space, and all of us there are usually pretty intense about making stuff. Members can set up shows if they want, of
course, but that's something we like to discuss beforehand as a group just so everyone knows what happening. We created a "guest" status in the main group for outside artists to use if they need to rez something on the sim for shows, collaborations with a members, etc. If a guest is going to be around for a while, the understanding is they will be expected to share the cost eventually. (It's all a little loose.)
          Over Coppelia's first year, what have been the biggest ups and downs?
Oberon Onmura: The best part of this experience so far is having a place to work with others who are also serious about their art. I mean, that context is the basis of the whole project, and it's a good feeling to know that the people who are sharing the sim all have that same respect for the process of working on art. The worst part was buying the sim, getting it renamed and replaced, and setting up the finances. All of that fell on Jo!  She has been very good natured about it all, and I don't see how this could all happen without her dedication to keeping it all going.
           So what do the others think...
Pol Jarvinen: I use a platform at Coppelia to work or just find some ideas to resource. I avoid to look at others the difficulty in art is to make new things I need time to find new ideas and I need a lot of quiet moments to think it over in a way you may say I'm lazy! Jo asked me to join some months ago and I seized the opportunity to get a platform. I have a lot of respect for the resident artists there, they are very humble people. I hate snobby artists - what we do are just pixels. We must keep that in mind, but it's nice if we can make people dream a little.
Artistide Despres is another of the European cohort. Very busy creating in real life in this period,  her builds reflect her intense interest in society, and that's reflected in her choice to join the group.

Artée:  It is true I do not use Coppelia very much, because I have some other possibilities at the moment. Without our presence it will be harder for the other member to keep the sim. I know that when the time will come for me to make a bigger presentation of my work, there will be a possibility there. This is what we can call an investisment. Permitting the other to continue.  In RL iIam a photographer, and photographers generally have a small concept, which they test (trial error),(meeting randomness) and gradually the concept gets more weight. my ideas grow the same way on SL Then - let me tell you the secret: mixing the possibilities, scripting, texturing, etc.... increase the effects, or i should say the immersion of the i am not a specialist mix particules, with animated textures and video, and you will get much more than just video and it is more fun to play with then all.

Eifachfilm Vacirca 'call me Eifa' has a real life history in journalism and in Theater design - that's how he found out about SL in fact. Here, he makes machinima, art and does DJ-ing. and enjoys the freedom. how did he get on board?
Eifachfilm Vacirca: I did not join in in the beginning, I was still teaching myself. Freewee sent around messages in group, they looking for new people. Well, many of the people here I know already. We don't have limits here, everyone can do what ever he/she wants and we talk if there are conflicts as everyone is respectful here. I never have conflicts - NO DRAMA lol! I don't think that skill is mandatory to be an artist, its like a role play and I think artist should not consider themselves as something better they just do something else I would say I see myself as an artist who has the freedom to make stuff and waste his time without caring about money and success. The people here are bright, and we inspire each other and I could imagine Coppelia can grow very interesting over the years. Here in Coppelia as we pay our own thing. I think the people here have learned their lesson and want to try a different way and experiment how we can have a successful group that is stable over years. I think Coppelia has the chance to succeed.
          Glyph Graves is asking his public to question realities on a mind-bending scale. 'What is an avatar' is a theme that runs through much of his work. Imagine an avatar that's not a person, but a whole continent; think of stock exchanges making sweet music, dancing in each other's arms; think of change and form on a higher level - and a more elemental one, that's his bag, and he has made use of the Coppelia sim to explore these ideas and the complex scripts that illustrate them. Here he is close to his Somnolent Repose build, right on sim Coppelia.
          Here is Serra Quendra in her 'work clothes' - they help her concentrate, as she deconstructs umbrellas and that kind of thing, at ground level on Coppelia. But the cute avie is more than just a good way to avoid having to worry about appearances.
Serra Quendra: The Junkbot avatar I have recently started wearing fulltime represents the idea that one can be ‘self-assembling’ within the matrix of our society.  Having Web Gearbox’s backstory as my profile “identity” reveals my attraction to the cute and the punk nature of fringe life growing its own.
         She's a solitary soul when creating, but she likes the semi-public workspace - she was at Lollygagger Lane, and then had a studio close to Split Screen, which must have been inspiring.
Serra Quendra That was just great, and it has been a perfect progression to move into the co-operative studio spaces here at Coppelia. However, I do feel like I have jumped into a deep end of SL art and whilst that can be a bit nerve-wracking, it is a healthy and inspiring challenge.For me, the big challenge is to be more public with my art, to have feedback from others in my creative loop. I am equally interested in poetics as technical "mastery".
          There is toast to be had.

The gorgeous FreeWee Ling is a busy lady. She's still curating over at UWA, but Coppelia is for her own work.  She comes from a background in publishing and of course who can forget her wonderful catalogues for UWA, but Coppelia offers other possibilities.
FreeWee Ling: After Artemisia closed I heard some people I knew were opening a coop sim. It was a great opportunity to be part of something with a lot of people I greatly admire. It's a good situation, since we can use whatever space and prims we need for projects, and just share the costs equally. I think I'm by far the heaviest user of prims here. Except when one of Oberon's projects goes crazy.. I've been busy pretty much nonstop since I got here. We had a group show early on.
Then I seem to work of projects without a particular goal in mind. I was working on some very large scenes with complex effects when I had the opportunity to use a whole LEA sim in January.
So I hauled a lot of the stuff over there and made a pretty cool environment with space aliens and black helicopters flying around and so on. Much of my own work is about creating scenes for photography. Then I'm trying to create stories around the images, which I hope to publish online. So now we're near the final phase of the Freedom Project at UWA. It's a show for art by people with disabilities or chronic illness. It's turned into quite an impressive exhibition.
In and out of SL, Jo Ellsmere makes things happen. Bright, witty, wonderful experiments that need the minimum of explanation to get you thinking about the way we view bodies, motion, interaction, and shape. Her work in SL is leading to opportunities in real world art. Together with Pyewacket Kazyanenko and Fau Ferdinand, she collaborated on a project that was presented at London's Tate Modern two years ago. In December she assisted Stelarc in a presentation in Pittsburgh, and she has been invited to participate in the Greenaway/Boddeke Russian Avant Garde project. All this good stuff takes time, and that perhaps is one of the greatest advantages of Coppelia.
Jo Ellsmere: It's very difficult for me, these days, to work up much enthusiasm at all for most SL 'art'.  I still feel, though, that as a pure medium, there is great potential, but one needs to think beyond making SL art *for SL*, as it were - that's what I find crushingly boring. I love Coppelia because I enjoy associating with like-minded people who respect their own and other's time and work in SL. We basically keep out of each other's hair, so to speak. Everyone's time is precious and limited. we each have limited resources to spend, money, of course, but more importantly *time*.  I'd say that in these regards we're all quite compatible in this group, and that's not to be taken lightly.
Coppelia's anniversary celebration begins in about two hours from now. Best wishes for many more!

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