- Posted February 13, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stories from Second Life
Fine Fractal Art In SL Temples Exhibition
Following the blue neon line of light at floor level, we entered a dark chamber with an exquisitely detailed picture of a mysterious looking building displayed on the far wall. Nearby there was sign, written in both French and English, telling the artist’s thoughts about the temple shown in the picture. This is an exhibition, featuring temples, in Second Life; We followed the blue line from chamber to chamber as the heavy damp looking walls in front of us slid sideways, down into the floor, or up into the ceiling, allowing access into the next room, which brought into view yet another fabulous piece of temple artwork by French artist Gem Preiz. I went to the exhibition with friends Drax Ember and Hibiscus Hastings, and we really enjoyed the experience. The virtual gallery itself gave you the feeling of exploring a real temple with its cold dark walls and flooded floors, the water getting waist high in some places. One picture entitled the Coral Temple, was explained as ‘A temple with a human looking summit, which all the refinements of its builders did not prevent from being submerged. Even the hugest human construction is nothing compared to Nature.’ So you are not only viewing the beautiful artwork, you are also glimpsing into the artist’s thoughts about human behaviour and nature.
I had heard about Gem’s work through friend Dreamy Barbosa, Dreamy had told me that the artist specialised in fractals, a fascinating image or pattern that repeats itself over and over again in larger or smaller fragments of the overall image. Fractals are seen in nature as well as used as an art form. I talked to Gem and he kindly answered some of my questions about his work and also about being an artist in SL.
Why an exhibition about temples? I asked Gem (pronounced J’aime), he told me “My most favourite spots of interest in the real world are science, economics, sociology, and domains related to these ones, especially the ones which connect mankind to its environment, meaning the planet. Among these, I am strongly interested in the relation between biology and sociology (for example Henri Laborit's works) and the part of science which tries to explain some human behaviours through basic physics rules. However I fully acknowledge how powerful is the human being, as a thinking creature, able to think, understand, innovate, create.
“A temple is at the crossroads of mankind technical and artistical genius, and of one of its completely irrational behaviour, and it's the reason why they have always fascinated me, as they raise so many questions about mankind’s deep levers for acting. I can spend hours visiting a cathedral admiring architecture, stained glass and sculptures, and wondering at the same time "how it was possible, the sum of faith and energy consumed, for that which seems nowadays so useless !!!". you have to understand that I am not a believer, though very respectful of anyone's faith, simply because I am conscious of what and how this faith has been able to achieve (in good, and unfortunately in bad). Thus a deep fascination for temples, which was for the "Temples" exhibition, the starting point of a reflexion about Mankind's future”
I wanted Gem to tell me more about fractals, he said “Nature is governed by physical rules which apply everywhere, regardless of the size of things. On Earth, they design landscapes, repeating shapes or motions from the huge size to the tiny detail: dunes, waves, branches, clouds, rivers ... The world of fractals is, in the same way, ruled by Mathematics functions which, as Physics do in Nature, enabling the creation of objects whose features repeat themselves at every scale. There lies my passion for fractals: create thanks to the power and pureness of the Mathematical concept, images the complexity of which can suggest Nature beings, objects or sceneries."
“All the complexity of Nature lies in a very little number of "things": 4 main forces, few elementary particles, combined in roughly 100 atoms, life is based on 20 aminate acids, and 4 molecules are enough to design a DNA chain. But when Nature designs something, it makes it in the most efficient way. and as the Nature forces apply everywhere, there is no reason not to replicate an efficient process at all scales. It is this efficiency principle, as I call it, which is at work and seems to give a fractal aspect to Nature. The fractal functions have the characteristics to create objects with repeated features. Not all the mathematical functions do that, only some, on which fractal are based. This explains why some fractal images are so suggestive or look real. They enable to create, with very few functions combined together, a very diverse world of conceptual 3D objects. But as the forces who rule the Universe are NOT mathematically fractal, I think fractal concepts are not a key to understanding the universe. they just offer a nice way to simulate or evoke it. But they are fascinating.”
Gem explained about his work as a whole “My digital work is the expression of my imagination. Many of the images I produce are suggesting sceneries or landscapes, or connected with some of my preferred themes and strongest concerns. They are generally colourful and that comes from the enjoyment of working on colours in my photographs. I work on a broad range going from the pure abstracts to the very realistic sceneries or objects. As many fractal artists, I love to work with complexity, with the profusion of details. I love to give to the spectator unlimited material to watch, to capture his attention and gaze and then not to leave him in peace. Complexity in the details, but in a overall well balanced image. As in the real world, I aim at showing detailed but harmonious pictures.
So what inspired Gem to use fractals in his art? Where did he first see them? He said “I am educated in sciences, (Gem had a career as an engineer in real life), and I have been keeping that taste for sciences until now. I knew about fractals from a mathematical point of view, but didn't know there was software available in the public domain to create some. Accidentally, I saw one of my contacts on flickr publishing some of her works, and that gave me the idea to try as well. It fulfilled all my expectations! I was understanding what I was doing thanks to my technical background, and I was provided with a fantastic tool for creation, and above all for creating something strongly resonating with my imagination, because I am a very rationale man, but I am also a dreamer. So it has been a serendipity. Everyone needs some in one's life!” Gem had in fact given up his career in real life as a successful engineer to go travelling and pursue artistic activities. He told me “3 years ago, I had an opportunity to leave my job after having had a wonderful career full of satisfaction. I simply felt that it was time for it, and since I left, I never had any regret.”
The sciences have always been a passion for Gem, he tells me that for as long as he could remember he had been crazy for astronomy, having his first telescope at 13, he said “Living in a big city, it is not the best place, so I satisfied my passion with readings. I kept that dreaming attitude in front of dark skies full of stars, but I had also a more scientific approach, moving step by step towards cosmology. Besides the big question of the origins, one of the most interesting things for me is the question of life in Universe. Astronomers find more and more exo-planets of which, no doubt, we will find some with appropriate conditions for life’s beginnings.
To me Gem’s temple pictures are very meaningful, in my view they cross the paths of time, although you feel you are looking at some heavy solid stone structure of an almost primitive era, the temples also seem to have a ‘science fiction’ style eye-view of the future. In fact the fiction part is rapidly becoming a reality in so many sciences, and one gets the feeling that these buildings are a reminder that similar structures in real life may be the only permanent items to last in the universe long after human beings have ceased to exist, if man doesn’t resort to a peaceful planet that is.
On this note I asked Gem if his work had anything political to say, he explained “I wouldn't say political. I think anyone is now provided constantly with such an amount of detailed information, and at the same time has one's energy so consumed so intensively by modern times frenzy, that we don't have very often an opportunity to step back and think to what is happening. The fractal images exhibited are so much detailed that if you watch them from too close, you see lot of things, but not realizing what you are looking at as a whole. to get the complete understanding, you must step back. then only, you can zoom forward and enjoy the details. To analyse the present time as the current step of a very long run process starting in the past, helps a lot to understand what we are living, and towards what we are heading. I do not pretend to teach people, I just explain what is my way of thinking. I am not trying to deduct absolute truths, I just invite the spectator to take time and step back to think ... “
I wanted to know if the rapidly changing world affected his art. He said “My feeling is that the world has always been changing and evolving. However in the past, the changes were slow, except at certain precise moments when big innovations or discoveries changed minds and habits, but it was seldom. The consequence is that I believe the further we go in the past, the less anyone should have the feeling of a world evolving faster than him. I think the world changes are speeding up. The world is changing faster and faster, and now we have reached a time when it becomes tangible that the world evolves much faster than any of its individual components. No one is, or will be able anymore to catch up with all the world changes along his lifetime. Look at how much we must spend in education, not only when people are young, but all along their life for job reconversions. And the likelihood of success is dramatically decreasing with the age. This is the problem that faces any company. This will be one of the biggest challenges of mankind in the future. On another hand, this phenomena illustrates how performing can be a collectivity compared to an individual, though creating tensions which must be well managed to avoid problems. As I am convinced that men are naturally, almost physically, urged to efficiency, this movement has no reason to slow down, in my opinion.
“As an artist, I am recovering my individuality, and that's maybe a reason why I have been heading into art, when I cut some connections with business life. Now, when I am evoking life questions in my exhibitions, yes it influences me.”
Gem first joined SL in 2007, he says that SL is a fantastic way of communicating and creating friendships with people abroad “this is for me the main interest of it” he stated. He continued “it is much more than a simple tool. It is really an environment to develop one's own personality, provided you use it with intelligence.” Gem has certainly used SL brilliantly to show off his Temples exhibition. The sim and the gallery, where the Temples exhibition is, called The Guild of ’Lys Noir’, is owned by Lys Seriman, Lys created the scenery in the gallery, and she did a really fantastic job. Gem said “She organised a former exhibition "Science and Future" for which we used a beautiful space station that she had built.” Gem continued “If I had to thank someone, beyond Lys, it would be Milly Sharple who has always been very kind and helpful to me and encouraged me a lot to exhibit my works, and Aneli Abeyante, a French gallery owner who organized an exhibition for me at my beginnings and has been supporting me a lot since I am in arts on SL. Both of them are very well known in SL art community.”
And I’ve no doubt that Gem is becoming very well known in the SL Art Community too as his work is absolutely stunning! Gem has his own Art Gallery in SL, so go over and take a look at the rest of his artwork as well as the magnificent Temples exhibition. Many thanks for this interview Gem.
Temples Exhibition (The Guild of ’Lys Noir’ )
Gem’s Art Gallery