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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wear it well: Kikas Babenco

          Here's Kikas Babenco, coming to you from sunny Portugal, with impeccable English, learnt 'with the Beatles' and via many, many books. She teaches graphic arts and introduction to multimedia in real life.
           In Second Life you'll most likely know her from the joint performances – or better 'Adventures' - with her RL and SL partner Marmaduke Arado. For Kikas, art is about questioning the world around us, but from a positive point of view. She's all about hope, and good companionship, and... well, let her tell you.
Kikas Babenco: I was told of SL some years before entering, when I attended a virtual reality workshop but SL was not for Macs at that time then my daughter told me about it and I decided to try to "see" me what would I be in a different environment without knowing anyone. I tried some art places but did not feel very comfortable. I found some laggy museums, they were very well done but a bit boring. I tried building, but I needed someone who understood what I wanted and someone I trusted.
Kikas Babenco: The first art I saw in SL did not seem very interesting, too many fractals and digitized paintings. I did not search well. I know now that I spent too much time partying and looking for freebies. But I loved to build, although it was difficult to do it at public sandboxes. And I discovered a magic thing called scripting.
**Update: Kikas kindly donated a picture of that event!***
         The artistic epiphany for Kikas was Virtual Arles where, as I'm sure you remember, there was a 3D reproduction of Van Gogh's work.  A second big event was the arrival in SL of her husband, Marmaduke Arado.
Kikas Babenco: I love upside down poses
Kikas Babenco: When Marmaduke entered things got a lot better. Marma is much more focused than me, and has great weird ideas! Marma entered SL a few months after me and I think in the first week he was already making things to wear! Our art projects really got started one day when Marma wanted to show some pictures to a friend a decided to wear them.
         They often did that at Chouchou sim, a place with many fond memories for Kikas, and where we took most of these pictures.
Kikas Babenco: Our collaboration started when we met in RL centuries ago. I love wearing our adventures. Working together is greatly rewarding even when we do not agree. It's great to join our minds and efforts and do something that people enjoy. FUN is a way to not let the evil forces of boredom get us. And laughing makes us not take ourselves and the others too seriously.
Kikas Babenco: My first performance in SL was to dive into a volcano. Now I see it as a performance at that time it was a challenge I made to myself ! We were at Burn using our stuff and Sledge Roffo loved what we did and some months later he invited us to the opening of his gallery I was so nervous! And there was Rose that later invited us too … and Dekka invited us too and gave us some objects like this scissors
          Their friend and fellow SL artist, the brilliant Penumbra Carter, captured a recent performance on Youtube, here it is.

          The SL experience is not one she directly shares with her students, mostly because they are adolescents - too young for the grid. But it has made her want to help her students to make wearable art, and it keeps Kikas up-to-date with contemporary artistic trends.
Kikas Babenco: As a wearer, the idea of owning a sim, a territory, does not make sense for us, it's a bit feudal. Thank god some people don't think like us and make great sims! We create our work where we live, at a residential sim with great landlords. Our house is our sandbox and the neighbors never complained. Sometimes friends lend us space to work, but we do it mostly at home, except when we go to Aire Mille Flux, in Open Sim. As wearers for our performances we don't need to rezz prims, or sometimes just a few. We perform mainly when we are invited or when we are inspired by a place (sometimes our best performances don't have an audience!).
        Another aspect of wearable art is that it can often be huge - to great effect at times (look at Fuschia Nightfire's birthday bash, where SaveMe's onboard environments made the day). But it can also be intrusive and inappropriate when worn at other people's events. Do Kikas and Marma worry about that?
Kikas Babenco: Yes, we do. It's their place, their art and we try to respect that. Although sometimes we did not behave very well... If we are invited to perform we don't have limits, but if we just want to participate we use smaller things. Art is Art, be it RL or SL, so is the artist world, with the same dramas, egos and pettiness. But in SL you don't have the physical limitations of RL so you can create magic! 
           The thing that seems hardest about it is not building the props but getting the poses to work right. Anyone who's ever tried to position a pose on a chair knows how time consuming it can be to get right. That difficulty in making wearable art look good when there is a lot of movement has led to a majority of static poses, but that's far from a disadvantage; they convey the ironic, iconic graphic-art look to perfection. NO wonder she lists among their  influences Tintin, Mel Brooks, BD, Jacques Tati, Frank Zappa, the Sparks, and John Cleese. 
          Getting two-handed performances to gel, where the art worn by each party is in the correct position is work that requires a lot of fussing over, and it's just another way that being in the same physical space helps – they can sneak a look at each others' computers!
Kikas Babenco: I'd like our poses to be moving poses but they are more difficult to make. we only have two or three scenes with moving poses but I'm trying to make some dancing poses just for fun. First we bought poses but then we began to make them so they could be perfectly adjusted. Scripting is more Marmaduke's job, he already did it in RL, with flash and Director; I can script very little. I make the graphic textures, and others we buy or Marma makes them – he is very picky! Right now I am working on some non-realistic skins.
Kikas' house by the sea: the roof is their sandbox
           With her art background, that's not a huge surprise. When she went to art school she chose to major in painting rather than the other two options available at the beginning – architecture and sculpture. However, when the graphic art option became available, she jumped at the chance, and has been able to turn her love of publishing and typography into a real life job.
Kikas Babenco: This is one of my favorites. Marma made it after we saw some of Yips things about Magritte, and the apples and the hat are from Four Yip, while the bucket and mop are from Tooter Claxon.
          There's no place like home; would SL be the same for her if Marma had never take the decision to come inworld? (Now's the opportunity for spousal brownie points, Kikas, go for it!!)
Kikas Babenco: No, I don't think so, because then I could not spend enough time with Marma in RL! SL is great because we can do so many interesting things together. Philosophically speaking, Second Life is our Real Life mirror. Speaking of reality/unreality, we are inspired by a quote of the filmmaker Peter Greenaway: "We don't want virtual reality. We want virtual unreality". In RL sometimes it's boring, traffic, too many zombies too many money to spend... and we have really interesting friends in SL!

1 comment:

Marmaduke Arado said...

There was a comment (not made by me) to this post. Why was it deleted?