Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Garden

UPDATE (June 24, 2008) - After a spectacular two month run, the Garden of NPIRL Delights - produced by Not Possible in Real Life and sponsored by Rezzable Productions - has ended. Thank you to everyone who made it possible and to all who enjoyed it.

by Alpha Auer (aka Elif Ayiter)

I have been taking walks around the four sims that constitute the Garden of NPIRL Delights, and as I have been looking at the displayed art work it has begun to dawn upon me that Garden itself is the really important thing that is going on here. It transcends its content.

What hits you the moment you land inside is the spontaneity, the gaiety, the total "joie de vivre," of the work that stands here. And the companionship: Newbie builder stands here shoulder to shoulder with seasoned veteran - no competitions, no awards. All equals in one huge playground. With a total freedom that even includes terraforming privileges! In effect, quite different from what would have been par for the course under Real Life conditions.

True, there is a theme: The Bosch triptych. One that certainly gives you plenty of rope to hang yourself with if you choose to do so. And admittedly, some of us have in fact done exactly that: I would be lying if I said that I am perfectly OK with everything that is on display in there. But conversely (and much more importantly) there are pieces in there that had me quite breathless with their energy, their imagination, their narrative ability - and above all else... their individuality. And if that utter freedom of expression had not been fostered in the first place, these art works would simply not have materialized.

And here is the divine irony (and I love it!): The Garden has achieved cohesiveness, has managed to become bigger than the sum total of its content. This is, of course, precisely the sort of thing that any curator worth his or her salt shoots for - to achieve this kind of Gestalt. Now, I do have this rather wicked theory that in quite a few curated exhibitions in Real Life, certain kinds of artistic output tend to get turned down simply because they go off too much on their own; they are too difficult to categorize and to fit within a mainframe. So, you may end up with this dreary monotony of unindividuated output in rank and file. But hey!!! Who cares? It's a strong theme, forget the individual art work please!

Bettina Tizzy has not forgotten about the individual art work. She has put the individual first, to the point where not everything on display in the Garden passes full muster when viewed with a gimlet eye. That is the chance that you take when you allow full freedom, do not set up tight boundaries, do not shoot for a particular "look" or a "concept." And, am I glad that she did take this chance... What is exquisite more than makes up for what isn't fully up to scratch. But exquisite or not - all is individuated to a truly remarkable degree: Gutsy in its individuality is the phrase that I think that I am looking for.

I think the way that the Garden pulls its manifold content together is by virtue of its landscape. I have to say that I find this landscape and the way it has been conceived of and implemented by Littletoe Bartlett nothing less than inspired. The hills are there for a good practical reason: They function very much as separators between art installations, much as walls in a Real Life gallery space would do. But there is much more going on here, in that the entire landscape transports me directly into one of my favorite worlds, the world of the late Gothic illuminated manuscript.

This is very similar to the detailed, ornate, velvety and yet touchingly naive backdrops of those medieval scenes, that can be glimpsed through narrow windows in front of which wimpled ladies exchange devotional books with chivalrous gentlemen. Didn't the Limbourg brothers paint this very landscape into all of those Books of Hours that they designed for their patron, the Duc de Berry?

The Apostles going forth to preach from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry

Of course, I have no idea that this was, in fact, the effect that the landscapers of the Garden were after but this is definitely the feeling that the rich, soft ground textures (again by LittleToe Bartlett and Pavig Lok) and the hills and hillocks, all rolling into a gentle sea give me. And then comes the foliage, the trees of artoo Magneto that share the space with those of soror Nishi. The delicate touches of Ravenelle Zugzwang and Bettina herself.

All told, I am very glad to have been part of this show... to have been able to wander inside the Garden of NPIRL Delights as one of its content creators.


Mer Aridian said...

The terraforming at the Garden is medieval for sure. Do you know if Littletoe created the texture? I will miss the Garden very much. I am still working my way through and have not experienced it all, but it is one of the best things about sl. The trees are my favorites, they are awesome.

Alpha Auer said...

Yes, the texture is LittleToe's as well - together with Pavig Lok.