Posted by Alpha Auer
I have searched for an artist's statement both inside the construct as well as online, particularly on the artist's own website, but have not been able to find one, from which I infer that DB Bailey is leaving the viewer open to come to his/her own conclusions...
So, why is it that when I enter this remarkable structure of DB Bailey's, currently rezed at the Cetus Institute, I am immediately transported into a certain kind of architectural space that I cannot help but love? The opulent lobbies of the commercial enterprises of the 1930's, epitomized of course, inside the Chrysler Building, but countless other breathtakingly beautiful samples of the genre abound throughout Northern America and to a lesser extent in other parts of the world as well. This connection is perpetuated by groupings of masterfully integrated photographs, which too hearken back to that period. And then, the very title "Urban Spectre" as well as the line "the sad intangible who grieve and yearn", placed prominently on the entry level seem to somehow further the association.
It is an era long gone and the remnants of it may well have turned into urban specters since it seems to me that that not only is the era gone but also the entire mindset that surrounded it: These magnificent shrines to mammon were created during the Great Depression. And yet, to judge by the output of its popular culture (such as the Hollywood movie), the period between the two great wars was still one of staunch, unquestioning belief in capitalism, in enterprise, in human endeavor. Do we still believe in these things today with the same optimism and naivete in the way in which our grandparents did back then? Has the whole gilding not been quite severely tarnished in the interim? Do we still believe in a golden future where healthy maidens will dance in a frieze and yet others soar into a golden sky of everlasting affluence?
And sure enough, once we reach the upper levels of the structure, the dancing maidens are replaced by plaintive, sad hands reaching out into the sky... Not to mention that on the level just below them we have the sudden appearance of a quizzical "contemporary" full on portrait, one which to me is quite clearly no longer the glorified face of eternal trust and optimism.
Urban Spectre asks a question. An uneasy question to which the artist does not provide an answer. And in the end, for me, this is what the true artistic process should do: Ask uneasy questions to which there are no easy answers, indeed maybe no answers at all.
You can view Urban Spectre, which has also benefited from the input of Desdemona Enfield, Douglas Story and Dizzy Banjo, at the Cetus Institute by teleporting directly from here.
Note: Although, from what I could gather from comments online, there seems to have been a sound installation with this work, sadly, I missed it: I was there for a very long time but heard nothing.
And finally, there is one small criticism that I feel compelled to make, especially given how very deeply I was impressed by the work. The red typography with which the creators of the piece were credited: Not to put too fine a point on it, this is clumsy. I was so taken by Urban Spectre that in this particular case this typographic mishap has not stopped me from thoroughly becoming immersed in the work. Thankfully it stands somewhat out of harms way, at the very top of the building - but it is very much there nonetheless. I am not sure if a considerable number of artists in Second Life® realize how gravely distracting, indeed obstructive, these big and often completely incongruous typographic additions, usually rendered in strong primary colors for enhanced visibility, are to their work? Wouldn't it be much better to put a notecard with the title and credits of the piece in a small, well designed notecard dispenser, placed at the entrance of the installation?
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Posted by Alpha Auer