- by Magellan Egoyan
I believe I encountered Pandora Wake on my second day in Second Life. Although her work does not seem to fit within my purist's idea of « Second Life Sculpture », that is, sculpture unique to the world of SL, there are a number of facets to it that make it relevant to this discussion. Pandora’s work evokes a questioning, a dialogue, a relationship between art in RL and art in SL. This dialogue is also part of what makes art in SL so interesting. I recently went to an art launching in SL consisting of New York City artists whose work was reproduced in SL (visit the GHava Center for the Arts at Haenim (11,114,550)). I was interested by the fact that the work came in all sizes. I asked one of the organizers of the show what the size relationship to the original work was. Well, the answer I got was that the relative sizes of the work were preserved, but all the work had been scaled up by a factor of three. This is a fascinating fact in itself. A given piece of work is created at a given size for all sorts of reasons, and this forms part of the work itself. In what sense is a work of art, scaled to a different size, the « same » work of art? Likewise, in what sense is a work of art « copied » into SL, the same?
Pandora’s work in SL reflects a dialogue about this question. I don’t know if this is done consciously, but I find it fascinating. Her art in RL is stained glass, that is, small pieces of coloured glass that are organized together in a frame. In SL, her stained glass pieces are low prim, that is, they are images of the stained glass pieces from RL, but they have an inherent luminosity one finds absent in RL stained glass unless one puts a light behind them. The images have the slightly « rounded » look of stained glass images. In RL this « rounded » look feels different than in SL. When RL objects are copied in SL, they often have such a « rounded » look – this follows from the way objects are built in SL. So the relationship between observer and art is different in SL for this work, than it would be in RL.
Likewise, stained glass does not serve the same relationship to the observer in SL as in RL. In SL, we occupy houses and land in ways that are quite different than in RL, despite the sometimes disconcerting similarities between homes in SL and in RL. One of the innovations in Pandora’s work I found most appealing is the development of what she calls her "drumming stools". Now, in RL I assume these are stools that African style drummers sit on when they work. Her stools are four-prim objects, again a plus in my books. But the tops of these stools have been converted into gorgeous stained glass pieces. I suspect this is different than what is done in RL – sitting on a stained glass sculpture makes little sense there. But in SL, these make gorgeous objects that are highly useful.
One of the interesting things about Pandora’s work, and her gallery, is what happens at her gazebo next door. Out of all the wonders of Second Life I have seen, I find Pandora’s gazebo and its surroundings to be one of the most beautiful spots I have seen. It changes all the time, and is filled with unusual and visually beautiful elements that work together in a harmonious whole. Some of the objects are works of art produced by friends of hers. One could say Pandora has an eye (and an ear) for beauty in Second Life. This sensitivity towards beauty is reflected in her transpositions of her RL world into SL.
Her work also has a spiritual dimension which is worth mentioning. Much of her stained glass work is inspired by spiritual images and ideas from the American Southwest, including Hopi and Anasazi images. SL needs more in the way of an opening towards a spiritual sensitivity, and Pandora brings this into her work also. Although if you ask her about energy and spirit, she'll start talking about quantum physics!
Another characteristic of much of Pandora's more recent work is that she is focussed on small and intricate things that also have a certain utilitarian role. One can already see this in the drumming stools, but she has also been developing a series of candle holders. I find this interest in the intricate small in SL refreshing, and relatively rare. Most of the time we are drawn to the fact that we can build "big" things in SL - certainly in my own work I'm drawn to the big. I recently encountered Pandora while she was working on a "music box" with a tiny ballerina inside who dances to the music. I think Pandora is exploring a niche inside SL that we could use more of... more of a focus on bringing art into utilitarian objects, more subtle recognition of the spiritual and more of a focus on the small dimensions of SL.
Visit The New Wake Gallery at Theretra (171, 248, 96).