The new ArtSpace gallery has opened recently in Second Life and I took some time to visit its first exhibition and the surrounding sim where it is located: TejanoTech, kept by the University of Texas at San Antonio. Both the gallery and the sim actually fit each other and feel like a coherent environment, because not only their purposes but also their architectural aspects are somewhat complementary.
ArtSpace’s first exhibition brings photo-based pieces, sculptures and installations by Bryn Oh, Eupalinos Ugajin, Igor Ballyhoo, In Inaka, and Rebeca Bashly. It opened on June 5 and runs for two months. I won’t even try to review their works as an art critic. I would notice, though, that their experience in SL and their reputation should be enough at least for those who are interested in art on the grid to go check the gallery.
To visit the gallery would be already reason enough to go to UTSA’s sim in Second Life. Nonetheless, TejanoTech, as a whole, is also worth exploring. It has a number of buildings by Igor Ballyhoo and Rebeca Bashly and combines some artistic creations by them and by other artists with meeting and teaching areas, most of which exhibit a remarkable contemporary architecture.
As it is now, there are some DNA structures under construction that lead to domes that celebrate art, such as the one that displays a 3D version of Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory, evolution, at the Allosaurus platform, and humanity’s accomplishments, with the series that goes from the Wright brothers to the launching of Sputnik 2 into Earth orbit carrying Laika onboard and the arrival of Apollo 11 to the Moon.
Among other buildings, I would also call attention to Rebeca Bashly’s Mobius Build – in which the walls are converted into the ceiling and then become the floor, in a continuum that envelopes the visitors – meeting center and library – carved in a mountain – and Igor Balyhoo’s teaching arena. Also, below the water level, one can find some hidden pearls, such as Igor Balyhoo’s Cybershark and Cog’s Fading Time sculpture.
It is worth noticing that UTSA’s sim seems to be flourishing, after so many educational initiatives left Second Life or just went abandoned, like some other regions kept by universities that are still on the grid but don’t seem to hold any activity. In fact, as constructivIST Solo, a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Educator at UTSA, explained to me, “since its first incarnation in 2009”, the virtual campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio “has hosted a number of course-related events, including entire courses and collaborations with educational institutions on other continents, served as an administrative meeting space for different entities and hosted art-related events”. Today, UTSA’s presence in SL also contributes to different academic activities, including doctoral researches. “From the beginning”, added constructivIST, “it was intended to provide holistic opportunities for experiencing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as embedded in cultural settings”.
She told me that, at first, UTSA’s initiative in SL encompassed a number of sims, among which the original ArtSpace standed as a whole region fully dedicated to art. The university’s presence in Second Life was scaled down, but the virtual campus is still alive and now ArtSpace was brought into TejanoTech. The gallery is listed on SL’s Destination Guide and I hope we can keep benefitting from it and from UTSA’s virtual projects.