Thursday, July 24, 2008

Edward Gorey's alphabet gets Steampunk'd

A few weeks ago, architect and publisher KK Jewell (aka Kirsten Kiser) and her arcspace were in the middle of sponsoring an international competition within Second Life® for the design of an eco-friendly community, together with, and in collaboration with the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). Then the May 12 Sichuan earthquake in China struck, killing over 69,000 people and forcing the re-prioritization of resources and time for millions.

While there will be a greater need than ever before for the bamboo structures that the competition is striving to foster, the project is on hold now until China can come to grips with its situation. KK began looking for a good project to take on in the meantime.

Not too long before that, I kept finding five or six extraordinary shadow boxes at a time by Bryn Oh at the IBM and Rezzable sandboxes, featuring her take on Edward Gorey's alphabet, or as it is officially known: The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

These rhyming and macabre couplets, accompanied by outrageous - and hilarious - illustrations of children being killed in a myriad of ways (as many as there are letters in the alphabet) were seriously controversial at the time of their publication, but children the world over clamor for Gorey's works today.

H is for Hector done in by a thug

Amy Benfer at aptly described Gorey in a spicey and fun-to-read article, saying, "no one sheds light on darkness from quite the same perspective as this Cape Cod specialist in morbid, fine-lined jocularity."

M is for Maud who was swept out to sea

But now we have Bryn to make us grin sheepishly over such notions as "L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks," rendered in her signature Steampunk style, and thanks to KK Jewell and arcspace, we can see all twenty-six of the shadowboxes rezzed together in one place at an arcspace show that opened today. And what an assembly it is!

This clever spiral layout combines terraforming with train tracks, and yes, I am still playing with Torley's Windlight presets (they are addictive!)

Says Bryn, a professional oil-painter from Toronto, Canada, "Its actually quite fun to try and create a sound compostion in a 3D environment where everything can be viewed from every angle. How to lead the viewer around the composition and how to discourage focus on certain areas are both challenges not found to the same degree in a relatively flat oil painting which is generally viewed from one angle."

Teleport directly from here.


Unknown said...

Wow! I love Edward Gorey -- and this was such a beautiful take on those morbid images. As an art historian I can appreciate the complicated issues involved in translated the 2d to 3d. But think of how complicated this is! I loved moving my camera into the space where the figures are to look more closely at them, but the view from outside the frame was beautiful as well. How thrilling that we can look at a work of art in a virtual 3d world, on our flat computer screens, a work that was originally flat, but has been translated into 3d, but looks like 2d from outside the box-like frame that contains it, but then can be entered by my avatar.

What a thrill! Thanks Bryn!