“On good days, Beth is able to imagine that
Lot is flying like a bird, with her face towards the sky,
searching for the stars.
On bad days, Beth can only be angry about her loss.”
I haven’t written any posts for a while now. Blame it both on RL and on some technical difficulties I’ve been having in Second Life. It seems, though, that I can start exploring SL again – and, so, updating the blog. Excited about this, I decided to visit Cariacou, to check an installation called The Inevitability of Fate, by Rose Borchovski (with most of the scripts by Caer Balogh).
It’s not easy at all to write about such an art installation. With surreal elements and a dream-like atmosphere, The Inevitability of Fate tells a story. This is, I’d say, its main characteristic: it is not only organized as series of objects put together in a certain way to conform a scene, but also as a narrative, as a succession of scenes.
Of course, the narrative itself, to match such a dreamy visual experience, is also a bit non-conventional. The story does make sense, but, as certain dreams, it is somewhat open, not too detailed. It is, one could say, a loose narrative, which leaves room to the visitors’ own interpretations and can be considered a strategy – be it intentional or not – to foster identification by the spectator towards the art work.
But, then, what story does it tell? The Inevitability of Fate is about Beth and the child Lot, who got separated by a war and “were made the enemy”, as the notecard on the artwork explains. When the conflict was over, Beth went back home but could not find Lot. The notecard concludes by saying: “Beth’s wounds will never heal. Lot had no chance to become who she meant to be.”
The whole thing is, then, an experience of separation, fear, loneliness, desolation, anger… It is a very touching installation, a potentially moving one, but it can also be a very sad experiment if you get into its atmosphere.
It is curious how the whole story, with its dreamy elements, transforms surrealism, which is a relatively new art school, into a tool to tragedy, one of the oldest known forms of narrative in the Western world, with its apogee in Ancient Greece. After all, it is tragedy which is expressed by the work’s title: The Inevitability of Fate. There, fate is a force that cannot be avoided, cannot be defeated – such as in the old Greek plays and in more recent tragedies.
Also, among the many interesting elements and connections that can be identified while one visits Rose Borchovski’s prolific work, it is worth mentioning the conversion of anxiety into other feelings. As one can easily notice, the story itself doesn’t end up with Beth realizing that Lot is not there anymore – and won’t be there. The narrative goes beyond that, and tells us how Beth reacts to her loss.
Anxiety can be one of the worst feelings to deal with, for, generally, it is paralyzing. But Beth transforms it into sadness and anger. Of course, both can have really bad consequences, too, especially if they are overwhelming. Still, they can offer us a chance to overcome the paralysis caused by anxiety – at least we can cry or shout and express our emotions in a way that anxiety wouldn’t allow us, and by doing so we can have a chance to handle our loss. In a strange way, then, The Inevitability of Fate can also be considered a narrative of a certain hope – even if a bitter one.
In a more “technical” observation, it is also important to notice that The Inevitability of Fate is not only a visual experience. At the landing point, the visitor is told to turn volume up, with no streaming, so they can hear the sound effects prepared to the art work. To me, one of the most impressive parts regarding the sound effects is exactly when a series of rules is told to the visitor – a series of prohibitions and restrictions.
Also, the interaction by means of pose balls and other elements increases the possibilities of identification by the visitor towards the installation. By doing so, it also enhances the strength of Rose Borchovski’s work itself.
By all that, I’d recommend visiting the sim that hosts The Inevitability of Fate. It can really be a very rich experience. Nonetheless, I’d also warn the potential visitors that it may not be an easy one. But isn’t art disturbing too?