Saturday, September 20, 2014

An interview with Mikati Slade

Mikati Slade

     Mikati is an artist whose work is very recognizable.  It is a sophisticated 8-bit cone of candyfloss, and she is herself a sweet person.  I find her work fun and playful, often lifting my
spirits with her bright colour palette.  The work reminds me of games such as Super Mario with
a soundtrack by Crystal Castles perhaps.
Hope you enjoy the interview.

Mikati Slade
Bryn Oh: Where are you from?  And who are the most renowned artists from your country in your opinion?
Mikati Slade:  I am from Japan. I think Yoko Ono is the most renowned artist who's from Japan. I saw her work titled "Freight Train" at an exhibition in my town a long time ago. It featured a real freight train with a lot of bullet holes. At night, all the bullet holes illuminated with light coming from inside the train. The theme was quite serious, but also beautiful at the same time.

Bryn Oh: Often the average person outside SL is perplexed with virtual worlds in general.  When people unfamiliar with the virtual ask you what you do how do you explain it?
Mikati Slade:  One of the unique things about virtual worlds is the various cultures that form in them. Art, fashion, music, and other creative and social pursuits give rise to different cultures. This makes virtual worlds quite a bit different from other online game products. And this is the point that I try to explain to people who are unfamiliar with virtual worlds.

Mikati Slade - Kuru Kuru World
Takashi Murakami
Bryn Oh: Who are a few of your favorite artists and why?
Mikati Slade:  In virtual world, Bryn Oh (Canada) made works of great importance in the art history of virtual worlds. Her works gave me some of the inspiration for "KURU KURU WORLD" (2011, MiC: Museums of Rome Capital) which I consider as my best work so far.  Merlino Mayo's (Italy) solid sculptures always remind me of that special Italian beauty. I learned a lot from him and he's also opened many doors for me in Second Life's art world.  SaveMe Oh (Netherlands) is the real "avant-garde" art-performer in virtual world art. She is always trying to create real happenings and get real reactions from people.  Lastly, Maya Paris (UK) and Simotron Aquila (Italy) are among my favorite artists too.

     I learned the basis of visual creation by drawing the works of ancient Greek and Rome sculptors.
In the real, atom world, I find the works of Leonardo da Vinci (Italy) to be full of information and a sort of "universe" in their own right.  I consider Takashi Murakami (Japan) to be the best Japanese contemporary pop artist. He succeeded in joining Japanese pop culture with the western art context of virtual worlds.

Bryn Oh: Whose artwork do you personally dislike the most and why?
Mikati Slade:  No comment! @_@

Bryn Oh:  Which of your own works are you most proud of?  Do you feel any failed and if so do you now know why?
Mikati Slade:  I am most proud of KURU KURU WORLD. It exhibited first at MiC: Museums of Rome Capital in 2011, and then at LEA: Linden Endowment for the Arts in 2012 (as part of PICO PICO LIFE). It was themed on the cyclical nature of human civilization. It consisted of six large areas that featured Japanese pop 8-bit pixel-style buildings. More than 50,000 people visited the two exhibits. It was a big break for me. In addition, it was the first time I ever used multiple separated areas to tell a story and I learned a lot from this.  I am also proud of BUDS (2011). This was one of my earlier works. It was themed on the Fukushima disaster of March 2011 in Japan. I made the artwork a month after the disaster. At the moment, the situation was still desperate, so I tried to express some hope for the future through it. The artwork featured bud leaves and children as symbols for a new tomorrow.
I do not feel as if any of my works failed, at least not in a big way :) I am always critical of my own past works and try to improve the next time around.

Bryn Oh:  Do you have a method when creating? If so how does it often progress?  For example do you sketch or write out ideas first for weeks or do you perhaps just jump directly into the project with little planning and adapt as you go?
Mikati Slade:  At the beginning, I try to visualize the visitors' probable view frames. What would they see when they visit and explore my artwork? This determines the scale of the artwork and the placement of its most important parts. After that, basically I start to build it right away. I care for the physical in my artwork very much and I receive good feedback when I can interact with the structure and touch its various parts. Second Life is great for seeing and experiencing the artwork while it is being worked on.

Bryn Oh:  What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work?
SL9B Cake stage

Mikati Slade:  Recently I enjoyed reading "Otaku: Japan's Database Animals" by Japanese philosopher Hiroki Azuma. The book is about Japan's otaku culture in the postmodern age - how the otaku simply play with elements from their "cultural database" without being interested in telling a bigger story. "DAICON IV Opening Animation" (1983, Japan) is one of the most important sources of material for the otaku.

Bryn Oh:  Does your work have an overall theme and if so what might that be?  If not please describe how you tend to pick your topics.  
Mikati Slade:  The overall theme of my work is simply "positive energy for life". Our world and life is merciless and disappointing many times. So I try to cheer everyone's life around the world with my work.

Bryn Oh: Have you ever had to deal with negative publicity or a disappointing rejection of your artwork?  How do you deal with it?
Mikati Slade:  Basically I had not :D The virtual world is an international place and we have people from many different cultures in here. So I have always cared to communicate with them through my art using simple and direct ways.
image by Paulina60 Loon
Bryn Oh:  Would you like to take a stab at explaining what defines virtual art?
Mikati Slade:  Ok. Virtual art is art that is made for and exhibited in a virtual world. The virtual world is a new medium for art. And it differs in many ways from other mediums. For example, in a virtual world, the concept of gravity is an optional one. You may choose to ignore it. This means that virtual worlds could offer unique contexts for object shaping. Virtual world artists can use these unique contexts to develop new artistic expressions.

Bryn Oh:  What would you say makes virtual creations unique over other art forms?
Mikati Slade:  Two reasons. First, this is a virtual world. Making and viewing art here is highly immersive. It is easy to be drawn into and absorbed by the art. Second, anyone around the world may view it. Where they live doesn't matter; there are no nations here.

image by Mexi Lane
Marcel Duchamp - The Fountain
Bryn Oh: Centuries ago there was no such thing as an "artist" just craftsmen, as time progressed superior technical ability and creativity created the elite "Master" artist whose work stood recognized above all others.  In 1917 Marcel Duchamp submitted a work entitled "Fountain" to the Society of Independent artists.    He stated "... He (the artist) CHOSE it. He took an article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view created a new thought for that object"  He wanted to shift the focus away from technical craft to more of an aesthetic intellectual interpretation.  Some say that because of him almost everything is considered art today.  From an elephant painting with its trunk, a Banksy, a child's drawing to someone vomiting paint onto a canvas.  What is your perspective on this?
Mikati Slade:  Marcel Duchamp is one of the
image by Torley Linden
biggest artists of the twentieth century. His work opened up new possibilities and started a new trend in art. Duchamp's art was regarded as something that was very different from classic art. But, really, the two are not that different. Classic painters used dye on a canvas, Duchamp used regular objects. The materials were different, but art is more than just the materials used. Observation (which leads to the acts of "choosing" and "placing" of the materials) is of the utmost importance in art. Artists have to learn through observation what will work or not, which approach will be most effective. Duchamp and other great artists were masters at that. Observation gives rise to "signs" and "meaning", the "conceptual". Duchamp's art was conceptual. Really, though, all art, both before and after Duchamp, is conceptual as it is borne out of observation. Observation is at the root of all art.

Little Bee Visits Kuru Kuru World from Little Bee on Vimeo.
Mikati Slade is a digital artist based in Japan. Studied classical sculpture and drawing at an art university in Tokyo. Earlier work includes illustration and graphic design on print media. Later work includes digital sculpture installations in the popular online virtual world of Second Life. Currently preparing to open a sim in Second Life.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Flappy emerges

 My little caterpillar friend emerged as a Monarch Butterfly.  I wonder what it must be like when they first come out.  The enter their pupa as a long slow moving caterpillar with many tiny little legs then seal themselves up and turn into a goo.  The goo reassembles itself into a completely new shape with long thin legs and with wings that, after just a few minutes of flying, have taken it further than it ever roamed as a caterpillar.  I wonder if they remember their previous life as a
caterpillar and marvel at the new long legs and then discover an instinctual urge to fly, or more likely I guess, they simply emerge knowing.  As a Monarch butterfly they now will live a few weeks and will fly as far south as they can before continuing a new generation, which will follow the same steps over and over until reaching Mexico a remarkable 3000 Kilometers away (1864 Miles for the Americans reading).
On the map to the right I live around where the upper red 2 is.   Chompy/Hangy who I shall now refer to as Flappy snuck out of his pupa and was hanging when I came to check up on him so I did miss that spot where he somehow gets out of the pupa.  Maybe they bite their way out, so I found him or her hanging off the empty pupa shell drying her damp wings.  She stayed like this for the entire night and was there the next morning.  She sat on my finger for a bit warming up and then I put her on a nice sunny leaf and when I came back from making coffee she had already started her journey to Mexico.  Good luck Flappy you can do it!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bryn Oh retrospective 2007-2014

    Starting in October there will be a full region retrospective of my work which I am setting up for a digital festival called Arts & Algorithms  running in first life from October 3-12, 2014 in Titusville, FL.  The event will also have an avatar stationed on Immersiva for the guests to use to navigate the Singularity of Kumiko.
     I have never done a retrospective of my work before so this will somehow encompass the years from 2007-2014 ... approximately 100k of work on a 15k sim (feels headache beginning).  So what I thought was to see if anyone had some favorites which they would like rezzed or perhaps portions rezzed.  Check the list, and depending on how old your av is, then you will perhaps remember some and wish to see them again or maybe there are some you missed.  Let me know in world if you have any you think I should include or leave a comment after this post.

     I have listed my works in order and have not included the smaller ones or single sculptures.  So for example the ones listed below tend to be more elaborate narratives, where I also did stand alone sculptures that didn't have, hmm, I guess duration to them.. you just looked at them as an aesthetic piece, and those I have not listed here.  Oh and I just uploaded Condos in Heaven for this retrospective as it, well my whole Blip TV account, was deleted by them without warning.  Thank you Blip arseholes.  The machinima is from 2008, so a bit dated, but I still like it.  I am fond of it as it was one of my first conceptual works with an immersive feel to it.

So if there are ones below you would like me to include let me know and I will try to fit them in.  Each has a link to its respective machinima if you need a reminder which they were.

Gashlycrumb Tinies (2008)
Condos in Heaven (2008) 
7 Backspaces (2009)
Angler Girl (2009)
Daughter of Gears (2009)
Vessel's Dream (2009)
4Jetpacks4 (2009)
Willow (2009)
The Rabbicorn Story (2009)
26 Tines (2010)
The World Expo Shanghai regions 1 (No Light) 2 (No Colour) 3 (No Sound) (2010)
Lady Carmagnolle (2010)
Format (2010)
Mayfly (2010)
Avatar Games (2011)
Rusted Gears (2011)
Box (2011)
Anna's Many Murders (2011)
The Path (2011)
Gretchen and Teddy (2011)
Family Unit (2012)
Further Along the Path (2012)
The Cube Project (2012)
Standby (2012)
Virginia Alone (2012)
Imogen and the Pigeons (2013)
Dance of Death (2013)
The Singularity of Kumiko (2014)
Golden Age of the Russian Avant Garde (2014)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hangy the pupa

     I know many of you have been rolling about sleeplessly in bed at night wondering how Chompy is doing.  Well, he has now turned into a Pupa or is it Chrysalis? anyway he is now vigorously changing into a Monarch butterfly.  He is turning into something completely different so I was thinking he deserves a new name.  I decided to name him Hangy the pupa.  I am pretty happy as I was able to get a picture of Hangy at a stage half between the caterpillar and the pupa which I have never been able to see before.  But I still missed the part just before the green hanging bit below.  It happens pretty quickly, so if you are not paying attention then they can suddenly be a pupa.  Oh well next time I will catch it, though I guess I could always Google it but I don't really want to.  In fact, now that I think of it, Google is the most anti climatic way to discover things.  I mean it is useful naturally to find out whatever you want in a moment, but instant gratification of that sort really takes the wonder out of finding things for yourself.  The internet is the Coles notes of life.  Ah Coles notes are just Canadian.. ok then the Cliffs notes of life.
     One of the most amazing things to me (besides the metamorphosis that happens inside the pupa) is the pure gold spots you can see on the pupa itself.  The pictures just cant do them justice, but they are more vibrant and beautiful than actual gold.  So if I recall correctly then it will be a few weeks before Hangy is ready to emerge as a butterfly.  Below is bug I saw which looks like a character from a Batman movie or something.

Definitely a villain though.  Look at him the sneaky little bugger. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bugs in jars

     Each year at this time, I try to find a Monarch butterfly caterpillar.  The best way to do that is to go to a field of milkweed plants and look for any showing signs of half eaten leaves.  Milkweeds are the plants with those invasion of the body snatcher pods that eventually get all crispy dry and let off their floating seeds.  In the picture to the left you can see how they got their name, the little bit of "milk" that is leaking out of it.    When I was a kid we used to dare each other to lick that milk for some reason, and let me just tell you that it tastes pretty terrible.  I expect after eating this plant for a while the caterpillars also would taste horrible to their predators, so its probably somewhat of a deterrent as well.
 This year it has been pretty hard to find any monarch caterpillars for some reason, but I did manage to find one who I have named "Chompy".  My friend just informed me that I always name things by what they do.  For example Barky the dog, Stabby the Wasp, Bitey the Mosquito and so on.  Chompy was vigorously eating a leaf last I looked at him, much like how people eat corn on the cob, anyway I stand by the name Chompy.    In a few days he should turn into a Pupa and then in a week or so he should emerge as a lovely butterfly.  Here is a film I made of one from a while ago which I was able to film and post on Flickr.  His name was Lego btw so not sure what my friend is talking about.  He sat on my finger and I was able to capture him on film just as he flew off, that was exciting.


     Later the same day I saw what I thought was a little fabric pom pom on a leaf, but when I looked closer it was this thing on the right.  I have no idea what it is, but it is now also resting in a mason jar and I will let you know if it does anything interesting.
    So wow finding two interesting things in one day you say.. well actually I went to Presqu'ile provincial park today as well and as I was hiking this massive caterpillar began crossing the road.  He was going remarkably fast and when I tried to help him cross the street (didn't want him to get squished) he got all vigorous and wiggly, not to mention he had what appears to be a spike on his bum.  Anyway, I like my caterpillars slow and docile so I left this one alone to his unnaturally rapid walking.  I did get this picture though.  I am not sure but I think he is a Horn worm.