17th Bienal de Cerveira

From now until September 14 is a major exhibition of virtual work by Second Life artists for the 17th Bienal de Cerveira, as organized by the Cerveira Biennial Foundation in Portugal. There are works by Alpha Auer, Bryn Oh, CEELeste Serra, Eupalinos Ugajin, Holala Alter, Kikas Babenko & Marmaduke Arado, Maya Paris, meilo Minotaur & CapCat Ragu, Osederatus Haven and Patrick Moya.

Art: Crisis and transformation will be the subject of debate and reflection of the oldest art biennial of the country, under the artistic direction of Augusto Canedo.

The Biennial of Cerveira, which will celebrate in its 17th edition, 35 years, keeps structured according to the model that characterized along a route which started in 1978. Thus, the event will include an International Competition, an Honoured Artist, Curatorial Projects, Guest Artists, Performances, Artist Residencies, Workshops and Children’s Ateliers, Debates and Conferences, Guided Tours to exhibitions and Concerts.

The Biennial of Cerveira, directed to the promotion of contemporary art, is an event supported by a national and international renown and reputation, combining the art in its various expressions to a territorial space characterized by its quality of life. In its 16th edition, the Biennial of Cerveira received more than 100 thousand visitors.

     One of the virtual regions they are exhibiting is my build Imogen and the Pigeons on Immersiva.  If you come across an avatar by the name of MrBienalCerveira feel free to stand in front of him and do odd gestures and dances for the amusement of those within the Museum.  Also they have a full region where the main group of artists are exhibited and there I have a small segment of Virginia Alone exhibited.

     I gave permission for the organizers to use Immersiva in the exhibition well before Imogen and the pigeons was installed, and it brings up an interesting issue in regards to introducing a novice to virtual artwork.  I am quite flattered to have had Immersiva exhibited at the event and being this years invited artist along with Patrick Moya, but wow, I can't think of a less new user friendly creation to show people.  Imogen and the pigeons is pretty much built for long time followers of my work who tend to be savvy virtual world users.  New users do figure it out as well, but often they are helped along by someone or are already well versed in 3D navigation and ideas.

     There really is little chance of someone sitting down to a computer at the museum and figuring out how Imogen works then following the entire story to its completion.  They will appreciate the 3D environment on the ground level along with the novelty of walking in a 3D space, but they likely will never realize the layering of the work itself.  This is not necessarily a bad thing as they may get intrigued enough to install SL then explore at home, but it brings up an interesting discussion point on to what degree of difficulty should a new user be introduced to.

     There are complex artworks in SL that new users may not comprehend, as well as simple traditional RL inspired works  (such as a sculpture of Michelangelos David) that they will recognize as a finished work,  but may not be overly impressed at its uniqueness within a virtual environment.   I don't have the answers as I am just thinking out loud, but as virtual art advances and perhaps becomes more complex will it distance itself and create that mythical walled garden that some believe exists between real life and the virtual environment?  I expect in the future there will be an easier transition between the two as technology evolves, but for now it is an interesting conundrum. 

   This exhibit has a nice range of art works with the always fun performance pieces by Kikas and Marmaduke, the interactive and fun oddness of Maya Paris.  Eupalinos almost surreal Dada work to Alpha Auer's great colour, composition and design work.   Lots of variety for visitors to find at least one which they can associate with.

Patrick Moya
    What I do admire is the strength of mind the organizers of this event have knowing full well the
difficulties I mentioned in presentation, yet deciding to accept the challenge regardless.  I have spoken to curators in the past from other events who have crumpled at the thought of these difficulties, deciding instead to pursue easier routes to a much less socially relevant exhibit.  I really respect curators such as those from the Bienal de Cerveira who really look at the artistic environment of our world and see things of importance affecting art history that some more simplistic curators can not grasp.  For this they deserve a great deal of credit.

     So should you, my virtual world accomplices, have a means to promote their event then please do so as often those who step forward to embrace new ideas need encouragement and the realization that what they are attempting has an audience.


Congratulations Bryn, this is really exciting. You ask a lot of compelling questions in this piece.

I forget the statistic, but the average painting hanging in a museum is looked at for something like 4 seconds. That sounds terrible at first, but I've done it myself - walked through an entire room of paintings in 60 seconds or so. I've also stared at a single painting for an hour. Zoom out even further. 4 seconds is short. But most people don't go to the museum at all. That's part of why an artist like Banksy is so powerful, he takes the art to the eyeballs instead of waiting and hoping for the eyeballs to come to the "palace of art."

When most people don't even spend 4 seconds looking at a painting, how immersed should we expect someone to be in a virtual world they've never even seen before?

For most of us who aren't Rauschenberg or Cornell et al, I think the reality is that the number of people experiencing your work on the deepest possible level is going to be small. But if the work can exist on multiple levels, then many may have access to some aspect of it, and for a few that access may be the invitation to deeper, more engaged levels of experience.
Bryn Oh said…
Great comment Vanessa. I am a big fan of Banksy, Swoon and others who put the art out there to be seen as well.

I am not really surprised at the 4 second average for painting viewing though I have not heard that number before. I think perhaps that number varies greatly depending on whether it is the first room in a museum when you arrive.. or the last room after 2 hours and a sore back. Also might change for a small gallery which has just a dozen paintings in the show. I think there is a lot of desensitization in museums due to the sheer quantity of work to view.

Great points though and I totally agree that each work has to have that initial hook regardless of the amount of layers it may possess upon greater inspection.

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