Saturday, May 31, 2008

Syncretia revisited - Exhuberant elegance

Is it possible to get to know a person only via email and the rare IMs and even rarer conversations? Historically, people who were geographically distanced from each other only had letters to go by and none of the social cues communicated through voice, facial expressions and body language. Somehow they muddled through, many of them admirably, as can be appreciated by reading old corresondence between the likes of Virginia Woolf, Rainer Maria Rilke and Jorge Luis Borjes.

Today, and even though I live 6,861 miles or 11,042 kilometers or a non-stop 14 hour flight away from Istanbul-based artist and designer and educator Alpha Auer (aka Elif Ayiter) - and thanks to virtual worlds - I can "inhabit" her space - Syncretia - and watch it progress in a very direct and personal way, almost as if I had an extra key to her Real Life studio, but was only allowed in when she was not there.

Syncretia continues to evolve and grow richer with each passing week. It is certainly quite different since I blogged about it three months ago. In the five months that I have known her - ever so virtually - I have rarely communicated with Alpha about Syncretia, but she knows I watch over it. Instead, we talk about everything else! Just this week she was a guest blogger here, reviewing the three new Konica Minolta sims.

I mostly learn what Alpha has on her mind via her Flickr journal, where she has written: "Please note that the north shore of Syncretia is subject to highly inclement weather conditions, due to the personal proclivities of Alpha Auer, who has a marked preference for rain, storm and snow over sunlight."

Syncretia is an intensely elegant manifestation of Alpha's investigations in the new media wedding of the year, where her research in virtual worlds is coupled with art and design. Importantly, Second Life® is central to Alpha's PhD coursework.

"Above water, suspended in the air are three huge spheres which are home to an endless army of lizards and other strange and inexplicable creatures"

"The basin has also been the scene to a plane crash, the debris of which can still be seen and heard clearly throughout the southern shore"

While it is one of the handsomest islands on the grid, like everything that Alpha does, Syncretia is playful. Trees and bushes are gently swaddled in ghostly wrappings. In the botanical garden, plants are suspended upside-down and sideways. Here and there, surprises: a stingray encircles a conference table in the company of a small school of tropical fish; a nuclear bomb to reminds us that everything can disappear at any moment... No music is streamed at Syncretia. Rather, a piano offers the Goldberg Variations (Johann Sebastian Bach), Mozart's Sonata in C Major, and Debussy's Clair de Lune.

"The Angry Monkey Tent, Alpha’s island retreat, (is) a tribute to her own nomadic heritage as a Turk. However, interspersed with the nomadic element are also Hobo and Steampunk interests, such as a tripod camera, a cast iron stove for those chilly island nights, a copper samovar, a Hobo bicycle and backpack. The tent further houses a big field of steaming snake plants as well as a tiny sculpty rabbit"

Is this the future of virtual meeting rooms? Where conference tables, fish, bathtubs and crashed planes share a space underwater? Bathtubs under water?! Yes, Alpha believes that "cleanliness is next to godliness" and clarifies that "the fact that they are already underwater should please, not deter avatars from taking advantage of the considerable power of the additional cleansing properties."

The ecosystem at Syncretia is oddly logical. Here, no organism or thing is an autonomous entity isolated from its surroundings.

In a notecard offered there, Alpha explains: "Citrinitas, or sometimes referred to as xanthosis is a term given by 15th and 16th century alchemists to "yellowness." It was one of the four major stages of the alchemical opus, and literally referred to "transmutation of silver into gold" or "yellowing of the lunar conscientiousness." In alchemical philosophy, citrinitas stood for the dawning of the "solar light" inherent in one's being, and that the reflective "lunar or soul light" was no longer necessary. The other three alchemical stages were nigredo (blackness), albedo (whiteness), and rubedo (redness)."

"Syncretia/Citrinitas is an alchemical power plant which utilizes the water pumped from the Black Mountain for alchemical purposes. This water is cycled through the fairy chimneys at Syncretia/Cappadocia, after which it begins its long journey across the plains of the northern shore. The acquisition of alchemical properties is initiated during this phase: As it progresses the water gains in density. In the plant proper the water is further treated to the point where it can actually turn dross to gold! The two Hobo trucks inside the huge containers are currently undergoing treatment. One unexpected byproduct is a rejuvenating elixir! Sitting inside the two spheres below the purification tanks can create wonders, not only in terms of appearance but also of state of mind!"

She goes on to explain: "Psychologist Carl Jung is credited with interpreting the pseudo-scientific alchemical process as analogous to modern-day psychoanalysis. In the Jungian archetypal schema the nigredo is the Shadow; albedo refers to the anima/animus (contrasexual soul images); citrinitas is the Wise old man (or woman) archetype; and rubedo is the Self archetype, which has achieved wholeness.

Here, Light Waves' ghostly horse and lion munch placidly on giant grape leaves

While there are seemingly unlimited new places to acquaint oneself with on the grid, and never enough time, I intend to keep using that spare key I have to visit Syncretia for as long as it is there.

Teleport to Syncretia directly from here.

All photographs taken in Blue Midday Windlight settings. No Photoshop.


Elif Ayiter said...

wow wow wow... Bett!!!
You are absolutely amazing and I am blushing like mad over here! Thank you so much for liking Syncretia, it really isn't everyone's cup of tea you know... And you really understand it/me. Means all the world to me.