Two simultaneous photo exhibitions dedicated to the sci-fi aesthetics in Second Life: one of them features Huckleberry Hax and the universe that he created for Stömol, the first full-length movie totally filmed in Second Life, and for its sequel, Waarheid, which he has been preparing now; the other one brings the amazing photographer and creator Wicca Merlin, who kindly joined myself in order to cast different glances at the cyber-futuristic environment in SL. That’s how The 22 art space in Bellisseria will celebrate this holiday season. Opening today, both exhibitions display a great deal of new pictures, to the delight (we hope) of the public. In this post, I will concentrate on Huckleberry’s photo exhibition Waarheid: Truth Hunter – and I’ll talk about Electric Sheep, with images by Wicca Merlin and me, in another entry.
In Waarheid: Truth Hunter, Huckleberry Hax creates a totally new photographic story for the same character that will star in his next movie. Nonetheless, in terms of chronology, the events in the photo exhibition precede the events in Stömol, which, by its turn, is a prequel to Waarheid, the movie currently being prepared. Then, the exhibition that’s opening today gives the public an opportunity to learn a bit more about the heroine – played by multitalented Caitlin Tobias – of Huckleberry’s upcoming film.
Stömol is a milestone in Second Life’s history for at least two reasons. First, it is a full-length movie, the very first one, as far as I know, whose images were totally captured in SL. And, being featured in at least one real life event, the Denver-based Supernova Digital Animation Festival, the film powerfully showcases SL (alongside with a number of short machinimas already produced and shown out there) as a vehicle for cinematic (taken in a broad sense) expression.
Second, Stömol connects with themes of a cyberpunk environment, which SL itself evokes by its own vocabulary, that includes terms like metaverse and the grid (referring to its map and its geography).
While the eagerly awaited sequel to Stömol does not premiere, Waarheid: Truth Hunter works as a sample of how the new movie’s main character behaves. The pictures in the exhibition loosely tell a story. It’s a visually cohesive narrative, but which also remains open, so that the public has to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.
Elements that are common to Stomöl‘s universe are there: an urban environment and the cyberpunk aesthetics, but also the red filter under which each scene is seen as well as the granulation of images.
Granulation is a characteristic that particularly calls my attention in both Stömol and Waarheid: Truth Hunter. It suggests that the whole environment is somewhat dark and that one needs a high sensitivity optical means to capture the images (because, in analogical terms, the higher the sensitivity of, let’s say, a camera film, the more granular it is).
To a great extent, a certain kind of image production (be it in motion pictures or in photographic stills) tries to convert spectators into ghosts who observe a scene that, even being actively built, is treated as if no technical means would have interfered in it. That very common way of dealing with images requires that cameras become as unnoticed as possible. By contrast, in the pictures by Huckleberry Hax, granulation is so remarkable that one realizes that a camera mediates the relationship between the audience and the scenes being observed. In other words, it denaturalizes the images and highlights the fact that they are a product of technical intervention, which totally makes sense in a futuristic, cyberish environment (as both the one created for Waarheid, truth hunter and the one, in general, provided by Second Life).
Waarheid: Truth Hunter runs from today, December 18, 2021, until March 19, 2022, at The 22 art space. In order to see it, one can teleport straight to the skybox that holds it or to the gallery entrance, from where one can also enjoy Electric Sheep, another photo exhibition that celebrates the sci-fi universe in Second Life.