Travel ‘Further Along the Path’ and to ‘Wonderlands’ this weekend at the LEA

Ub Yifu’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

Two fantastic exhibits at the LEA – one opening, one soon to close – will take you on strange journeys the likes of which Lewis Carroll in his haziest of stupors would have adored.

You might want to venture to Fae Varriale’s ‘Wonderlands’ first, as it closes on the last day of the month. This wonderful immersive installation is part of the LEA Full Sim Art Series, curated by the UWA’s Jayjay Zifanwe.

Fae Varriale’s ‘Wonderlands’, photo by PJ Trenton.

Fae takes you down the rabbit hole (literally, at one point, you’ll see the Alice reference) as you tag along on an adventure through different worlds with a daughter in search of her father. Do make sure to read the letter at the start, to give you the tale, then take the time to explore the strange lands Fae has crafted – each incredibly different from the rest. In fact they are so vastly different, you would think they were different artists making each space (much like The Path, see below), which shows Fae’s incredible talent.

Fae Varriale’s ‘Wonderlands’, photo by PJ Trenton.

Fae describes her work in this way:

Wonderlands is born of a life long fascination of mine with stories about places that are entrances to other worlds. Whether it be rabbit holes, mirrors, Fairy mounds, wardrobes, secret doors, mystical forests, the interfaces to virtual reality; such stories have been born out of the human psyche for hundreds of years.
Fae Varriale’s ‘Wonderlands’, photo by PJ Trenton.
Do these worlds really exist? If they do, do they exist because we dreamed them, or do they reach out to our unconscious minds?

…Do these worlds exist because I dreamed them or did they reach out to my unconscious as, already having stepped through into a virtual world, I created doorways to wonderlands?

Fae Varriale’s ‘Wonderlands’, photo by PJ Trenton.

Don’t make the mistake I did and tp to LEA 6 via the map, you’ll want to start at the beginning of Fae’s fantastical story here.

Likewise, Bryn Oh’s sequel to The Path, aptly titled Further Along the Path, opened on Friday to a huge crowd (unsurprisingly). I had the opportunity to preview this on Thursday and chat with some of the creators, but rather than ‘Ekphrase’ too much, I’ll just briefly sketch a picture to entice readers to explore on their own.

‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

You’ll want to give this one some time, as it is yet another incredible and thought-provoking series of spaces made by some incredible artists. What I particularly love about this version is that while some very well-known SL artists have been included, Bryn has also selected some incredible contributors whose work might not be as familiar to many.

This Path begins similarly to the last, with a black-box space with information on each artist. You will also hear a phone ringing – this is the connection between each build, and your artistic journey is also a quest to find each phone to lead you to the next installation. Before you answer that phone (and tp away), I must recommend that you also take the notecard of landmarks ‘in case you get stuck.’ One or two of the phones are a bit tricky to find, and should you get frustrated, this will help you to move on and see the rest of the stunning spaces.

Eupalinos Ugajin’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

The real Path starts with a beautifully strange garden by Glyph Graves, Somnalent Repose. Though this particular work is not driven by real-time data like many of his recent works, it nonetheless displays the ongoing influence of science and evolution. As we read the book Glyph has provided, we watch earthworms transform into figures, and the garden shift and move. Somnalent Repose offers the usual complexity of Glyph’s work for the more academically-minded, and sheer beauty for those interested in aesthetic experiences.

Next, Paramparam Papp had crafted an incredible dome of light – but if your windlight isn’t set correctly, do make sure to grab the settings from the card he provides. It makes all the difference. As in all the builds, make sure to explore everywhere, even in less obvious-seeming places.

Paramparam Papp’s graceful pavilion of light at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

I normally don’t like to pick favourites, but I am too much of a typography geek not to show just a small bit of bias towards Alpha Aeur’s contribution. Text and a babbling of language (yes, DO make sure your sound is on throughout!) combine to form a swirling, hypnotic atmosphere, and one which you can become part of via the free avatar Alpha provides. Alpha’s work is a semiotic dream – though a beautiful one, as this RL graphic designer assures me she prefers Umberto Eco to Roland Barthes! If you are a fan of her work at Alphatribe like I am, you will not be disappointed!

Bryn Oh seems to fit right in with Alpha Auer’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

From here, the Path becomes frought with danger as Oberon Onmura’s genius with scripting challenges you to find the correct path to continue down. But before you take the challenge, make sure pause to admire the beauty of the space.

Oberon Onmura’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

Your journey becomes increasingly surreal in Eupalinos Ugajin’s creation, a Dadaesque assemblage which definitely gives pause. This is also possibly the most challenging space to find the telephone, but don’t give up! You’ll need to pass through a couple spaces to get to it. But you’ll enjoy the ride… er, the walk… especially if you sit on the cube provided then start walking towards the walls (AO off!). It is one of the more interesting experiences I’ve had in SL, especially in mouselook!

Eupalinos Ugajin’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

From here, Ux Hax + Romy Nayar have created another strange world, but one I personally found incredibly beautiful. It has something rather… ‘Guillermo del Toro’ about it, so I was rather delighted to hear the creators speak in Spanish when they arrived. This is another world where you must find your way from one space to another, but the pair have left some wonderful playthings along the way – don’t miss the chairs!

Ux Hax + Romy Nayar’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

The connections between the exhibits in this Path are more subtle than the previous one, but Ub Yifu does a wonderful job of bringing them all together towards the end. Here, do as the sign tells you – follow the fish! – but make sure to look around at all the pieces of the previous places you’ve visited that Ub has brilliantly included.

Ub Yifu’s work at ‘Further Along the Path’, photo by PJ Trenton.

Finally, your path will lead you to Bryn’s contribution. It’s something quite different than I’ve seen from her recently, and a piece of scripting genius. I don’t want to say more, just go, explore the house… and be prepared for what befalls you.

Don’t miss either of these wonderful adventures – the represent the very best of virtual art in their immersive, interactive facets, in concert with incredible beauty.


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