Monday, 7 July 2008

The Triptych at Princeton North

I have a largely visual treat for you today, courtesy of Poid Mahovlich, who has produced yet another interesting piece of work on one of the growing cluster of Princeton sims. I've talked about Poid's stuff on these sims before, but I think this takes things to a new level.

Poid commenced work on Triptych around 6 months ago, and launched it at the end of June (or thereabouts). As the name would suggest, this is an immersive installation in 3 parts, accessed through a common portal. The parts are labelled 1) Gossip Death of an Avatar, 2) Binary and 3) elit-sim. At first I had a problem picking up the thread connecting them, and to be totally honest I'm not sure that there is one. But more of this anon. Let's consider each of the parts first. If you've not yet visited the sim, do be aware that it is not a mirthtastic, laugh-a-minute, rollicking roller-coaster of rumbustious fun. I do suggest you follow the advice to set your daylight settings to "midnight".

Gossip is dedicated to a friend of Poid's who was hounded out of Second Life by gossip, lies and insinuation, and whose live (both atomic and digital) was made a misery. A steady drizzle of gossip (the word actually pours down and through you) forms the backdrop to a couple of remarkable constructions. One resembles an orrery, and seems quite benign; the other is a disconcerting circle of whispers, some consuming you with incandescent fire, and all the while you are poked and probbed (and even impaled) by rods emanating from the centre of the circle.

Elit-sim is a commentary on elitism. As the accompanying notecard puts it: "Elitism - The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. There is NO room for elitism in art in any world." Both this and Gossip I suppose represent aspects of the dark side of existence, and in particular the oddly enhanced and speeded up existence to be found in virtual worlds like Second Life.

This not-so-neatly segues us into Binary, the final part of the Triptych. This is inspired by Snow Crash, which is often referenced as a key influence on the development of Second Life, and particularly "Chapter 8 - Black Sun Passport - Stepping Through the Stargate." A black room ripples and dances with noughts and ones. Aside from acting as a metaphor (and nod in the direction of The Matrix) that everything you see in virtual worlds is digital, I am not clear what this is about. But Poid does say that (if pushed at any rate) this does provide a common thread linking the other parts.

It's a great build. Sombre, certainly, but also full of texture and detail. It should be on anyone's "must see" list - though perhaps not on Day 1 of their new Second Life. Give it a few days, eh?

It is also worth mentioning 2 other people: Talia Tokugawa, who provided additional scripting for the build and Persis Trilling, responsible for Princeton's Second Life and more importantly, curator and mentor to the group of artists who have produced such fascinating works on these sims. Here's my pictures - which I hope whet your appetite:

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