Saturday, January 26, 2013

Aether Salon - LEA

This month's Aether Salon featured a field trip! Dr. Rowan Derryth led the Salon in a tour of a new exhibit sponsored by the Linden Endowment for the Arts, entitled "A Rusted Development."

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Rowan Derryth

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The audience gathers

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A billboard for the exhibit

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More of the audience
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Still others in attendance 

Miss Bookworm Hienrichs introduced the speaker: "Rowan Derryth is the virtual persona of an actual art & design historian based in the UK. She writes regularly on virtual art in Second Life in her column ‘Ekphrasis’, available on the Prim Perfect blog. She is also the Curator for Avalon Arts Community, is a judge for the University of Western Australia (UWA) 3D Art Challenge, and is currently an advisor for the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA). She has spoken at the Aether Salon before, regaling us in November of 2010 with a wonderful discussion of Aestheticism. Welcome, Rowan!"

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Dr. Derryth replied, "I’d like to thank you all for escaping the relative safety of New Babbage today, to take part on this little field trip adventure to our abandoned city here. I do think our journey should be relatively safe though... I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, this talk/visit will be a bit different because I’ll be talking about this in a mostly ‘OOC’ manner. While many artists here take on virtual personas, we do consider the art that is made here ‘real’, even it cannot be touched. So what I thought we could do is I’ll briefly explain a bit about how this exhibit came to be, then we will do a quick whistle-stop tour down to PJ’s lovely underwater gallery where we can pause and I’ll tell you a little bit about the LEA, then have a question-answer session….I do not fully participate in the Steampunk communities - although as many of you know I like to ‘dip my boot in’ - but it is an aesthetic I very much enjoy.... These themes relate to my academic research interests in 19th century art and design (some of which I’ve talked about at previous Salons and events), alongside those of urban renewal, and dystopic/utopic narratives. As such, I envisioned an installation where there exists a main build – a ‘development’ – that had fallen into ruin. It is subsequently rescued and repopulated by a selection of artists whose work loosely embraces similar themes. I knew I wanted to curate a group show, and I loved the idea of a kind of abandoned space that could be occupied, populated even, by some of my favourite artists. …. It is also a credit to Haveit [Neox] that some of the very finest jumped at the chance to be part of this work. Our ‘Rusted Artists’ are an impressive list: Rose Borchovski, Artistide Despres, Claudia222 Jewell, Bryn Oh, Scottius Polke, Ziki Questi, PJ Trenton, Blue Tsuki, Stephen Venkman, Eliza Wierwight, and Trill Zapatero."

Mr. Neox was introduced. He said, "Rowan Derryth truly surprised me with an invitation to build a sim for an exhibit. Her idea was to present a rusted environment that spoke of an abandoned city: a place where artists would come to revitalize it. I was immediately hooked by the idea and very excited because a passion of mine is constructing cities. Expanding on Rowan’s premise, I wrote a background story to give it a history. The fabled merchant city that rode atop the back of a gigantic whale met with a calamity that ended its existence abruptly. In the middle of the ocean, a horrific storm caused two huge ships carrying toxic chemicals to collide into the swimming whale city. The whale and all the populace died in the flood of chemicals that saturated the waves. The whale turned to bones, and the city to rust, it was nearly half a century before this city adrift was discovered. An expedition of artists, searching for land to build an art colony, came upon the decomposing city. With the intent to regenerate the place, they set to work by first towing to safe harbor the floating mass. Each artist then undertook their vision. The empty shell of the city suddenly filled in and expanded as each artist found their niche in the Rusted Development. No longer at the mercy of invisibility, the city humbles its rusted fa├žade to the highlights of the art within."

Dr. Derryth again: "So basically all the artists were given the theme idea, then left to make whatever they like. When Haveit had the build largely done, they came over and scouted for spots to put their work. It was definitely a challenge, but they group worked beautifully together. I think the result is a bit chaotic, but in a way that really works for our idea."

We saw a few pieces of the exhibit: Scottius Polke’s ‘Eden Oxide’, Eliza Wierwight's 'A Fractured Fairytale,' and PJ Trenton's exhibit, 'Sunken Treasure,' consisting, as he said, of "images of places that are no longer around...lost as the inhabitants of the city were."

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I did not have enough time to explore the exhibit (and the lag was a formidable obstacle in any event!), so I will be sure to return.

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