Here's what it says in the notecard I was given:
What if a society sets progress through technology as their top priority? Perfection above everything else?
In “The Machine” by Lilia Artis and Moeuhane Sandalwood visitors are greeted by a possible result of that strife for perfection. An ethereal world that comes alive through the extensive power of the joined minds of its inhabitants.
The visitors are subsequently invited to pull out their inner archeologist and ethnologist. And go on an exploratory trip down through several sublevels of history. To unearth the secret behind that seemingly perfect world.
Because: What we see on the top floor is just a blink of an eye. It is a depiction of the everyday life of a people in a distant future.
Even though that population on the top level does not seem to care about their past, it still remains integrated into their “machine” – hidden in the lower levels. The encumbrance of the past might one day reappear to haunt them. It might just become a burden on their next generation – once it breaks through the floors of time.
How to visit the installation: On every “generation’s” level there is a spot where a former generation found its way to the new level. Sometimes it’s a bit hidden, because nobody used it anymore for decades or even centuries. Look for stairs, elevators, holes in the ground, etc.
The creatures have created a perfectly functioning world. They live in the ever present. As a sound community. With joined minds and spirits. Interconnected. Completely. They run the machine – and are run by the machine. They are the machine. The peak of innovation. The end of evolution. Their creation.
They are a society without memory. Their history a mere shadow. Because there is no need to remember. Why remember what is of no value. They are perfect.
The landing area is in an area like a courtyard. The walls are textured with a mixed violent, lavender and light blue shade. On the floor is a poster that says to click it for hints to find the four levels of the installation. Sounds like fun!
The first level is accessed by a broken elevator. You fall down through the floor and you're in the second level. A bright pink arrow directs you to step into the opening. Down, down, down you plummet until you touch the ground.
|Broken Elevator on the landing level|
The second level is a large maze. You need to find your way through it to the back wall to reach the third level. It reminds me of an engine room.The floor texture is a thick strand of wires in yellow, red, and black. The light blue animated texture on the wall makes me think of an electric current. Entry is by way of a grey staircase.
The grey staircase reminded me of a subway staircase that leads you underground to the subway station. This third level made me think of a stone quarry. Everything is grey, except for the shiny railings on the staircase. In the middle of the room is an empty chamber with bars on the window. It looks like an empty jail cell. The door is open and the hole on the ground leads you to the fourth and final level. Hand and legs cuffs are still hanging on the back wall. On the roof are two satellite dishes and antennas. The area looks so deserted and empty, devoid of life. The freight elevator's door is slightly ajar, like someone forgot to close it.
|Third level/Third generation|
So let's descend to the fourth level. You fall down a hole, a stonewalled hole, like an excavation site hole. The wall at your back is constructed with solid stone. This last level looks decrepit and decayed. A pile of bones lie to one side, on your left. You find yourself standing in brown water and wow, what is in the water? A closer look reveals that they are dead bugs. I identified dead ants and dead spiders. This level is so deadly that not even the bugs can survive.
Old, vacant houses are up ahead. The houses are squished into huge boulders. The water is now an unearthly green. It glows like toxic waste chemicals. When you walk past two of the houses, the water reverts back to the brown bug-filled water.
|Fourth level/Fourth Generation|
Here I go with my questions, but first a prelude from the artists:
- Our intent was to present the history of a society in a far away future. We decided to tell the story of that society backwards. Which means the visitor takes up the role of an archaeologist or ethnologist. On his or her journey down through the 4 levels he or she discovers more and more of the history of the mysterious society.
Our installation is basically a game of search and discovery. Like if you were an archaeologist discovering the city of Troy. The visitor is basically part of one big historic novel.
The artistic twist in our 'Troy' is the paradox that the 'futuristic' people don't care at all about their past, yet integrated their whole history fully into their 'machine'.
We worked with colors and lights to underline that paradox.
We painted the present and the early past of that society in bright colors. It could depict their view of this fantastic future - or maybe be a lure for the people to give up their lives, bodies and free will to technology.
In the lower levels - the darkness and shadows underline the problematic nature of their 'progress'.
We gave the world this monumental feeling. Every level is grand and vast. It should represent the complexity of this society, the enormous amount of achievement through technology - and also, subsequently the enormous amount of (sociological) failure.
Because in the end the visitor will discover that the 'perfection' of that people was achieved at a very high price. They ruined the environment - and took the free will of the people. Their 'perfect' society - that is depicted on the top level in such delicate and ethereal colors - in fact bases on a fascist regime.
Why would a perfect society not want to be remembered?
- Oh, it is the other way around. Because this society thinks it is perfect, the peak of evolution, it sees no point in remembering its own past. They see no point in learning from the past, because they think they don't have to progress anymore.
We, Lilia & Moe, on the other hand think it is vital to always integrate the past in the thoughts about the future. Because past mistakes might just come back to haunt you some time in the future. So this 'perfect' society might in fact run into big problems some day. But we don't know yet. When we encounter them on LEA6, they seem to be doing fine.
What happened to cause all the things like the elevator to break?
- Please think of the 4 levels as many generations of history. The ground level, which looks like a memory of our present times, presumably lies many hundred years in the past of that society's history. The people left this level behind many generations ago.
This is also true for the second and third level. And because they left these levels several generations ago - things there weren't used and not kept up anymore. So these things - like the elevator you mentioned - eventually broke.
What do your creatures wear?
- The creatures on the top level are just heads with big brains. Apparently there's no need for clothing. Through their history they first got rid of their arms and legs and replaced them with artificial ones (Level 2). Later they seem to have merged into complete cyborgs (Level 3). We cannot find any of those in level two. But the alcoves (that may remind us of the Borg-Cyborgs in the Star Trek Universe) give a hint in that direction.
On ground level - the level that may remind us most of our present time, the people probably wore clothes that were similar to ours.
Is the machine the thing that keeps the creatures alive?
- That has not been completely discovered in our story ... But yes, it seems that way. The creatures say 'the only thing left to do is to keep the machine running that keeps us running'. It is believed that they are in a kind of symbiotic relationship with the machine. Their brain-waves seem to feed the machine's energy source - at the same time the source seems to feed them back. So its kind of a self-sufficient system. But more research is needed, because the people seem to have no interest in talking to strangers (Other than the few words that are known from the poem).
What / Where is their life source?
- The machine is their life source. And it appears that the whole thing is considered as being 'the machine'. Even they themselves. They are part of it.
Will there be a destruction ceremony like we saw with Haveit Neox's Second Libations? Walking through your sim and reading about what your work is about, really reminded me of it.
- No, we're sorry, there will not be a destruction ceremony. Due to an extremely busy RL we unfortunately won't have the time to even think about such an event.
- And no, we did not have a build of another artist in our mind when we built it. In fact Moe has never visited Second Libations. Whereas Haveit's world was three different segments in one time, our build goes back through several centuries, showing four stages of its history, it gives the visitor the ability to time travel: you arrive in the future and go back in history and try to find out like an archaeologist what happened, following the hints we hid in each level. We always wanted to install a whole world giving the visitor a sense of time and space.
Where else do you have work set up for viewing?
- Moe's work is presently displayed in his own Gallery on Mainland () as well as on Timamoon, Chelsea, Kelly Yap's and is hung in many galleries and homes across the grid.
- Lilia presently shows at Timamoon. - I had to close my gallery Flapping Dog recently when due to a few very demanding months in RL we had to give up our sim half Artwood on the Space 4 Art sim. Some of my installations and pictures are shown on ACC Alpha and Sparquerry, info is available in my picks.
Both have been present at more than one SL-Burn and UWA Challenges. Moe has shown on UWA-Full-Sim before as part of the Aeonia Artist group (which doesn't exist anymore) - and has been part of many festivals and invitationals across the grid.
What are your favorite sims in SL?
- Lilia: ACC Alpha and Sparquerry. Though there are no doubt lots of wonderful and interesting sims throughout the grid, but these two are the ones where I keep coming back, where I feel connected and somehow at home.
- Moe: It's hard to name any of the countless sims by great builders I have photographed in the past. Maybe Pteron, where I always loved to wander about. But: I especially love all the short-lived projects that show great artist's talents here in SL.
Who are your favorite artists that inspire you?
- Lilia: Haveit Neox and Nessuno Myoo, Yooma Mayo, Scottius Polke and Bryn Oh. I love their imagination, their eye for details and above all that they tell stories with their art and often enough with a fine humour included. Actually there are many more artists who's work I love but naming them all would be a blogpost on its own.
- Moe: There are so many great artists in Second Life - and I can learn from almost all of them. I will settle now for the wit and playfullness of Scottius Polke, Yoa Ogee and Yeti Bing, the precision of Harter Fall, the rich colors of Fuschia Nightfire, the layerwork of Sledge Roffo, the primperfectness of Nessuno Myoo, the strong lines of Ally Aeon, the delicacy of Giovanna Cerise and the loving detail of Claudia222 Jewell.
I'll let you know if I have more questions. Thank you so much!
You are always welcome to ask in case you have more questions! Thank you for taking the time!
Moe & Lilia
Moe and Lilia would like to thank the many people who have made their work possible.
Our sincerest thanks go out to:
- Jayjay Zinfanwe and UWA for having us here
- The LEA FULL SIM ART SERIES committee for giving us the chance
- Harter Fall and Haveit Neox for their words of support, encouragement and feedback
- Derek Michelson for his mindblowing mover-script (we’d still be setting up if it were not for you!)
- Brain Machine Interface Conference 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh6Uuy8yAxI
- A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Rats – The Scientist: http://bit.ly/YKgKen (Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld_9CnH9m9I)
- A Brain-Machine Interface Enables Bimanual Arm Movements in Monkeys - Science: http://bit.ly/HI2y0h
- Menschenversuche – Eine Anthologie (1750 – 2000), Suhrkamp 2008, ISBN 978-9-518-29450-5 (http://bit.ly/u02kB3)
- Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man: http://bit.ly/17LmwE8
- Locutus of Borg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItHcsIHshhs)
- Inspector Gadget: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6SwRsLiQaw)
- Environment: Waste production must peak this century - Nature: http://bit.ly/1iv4aXd
- Greencross - The world’s worst 2013: The Top Ten Toxic Threats: http://bit.ly/177Wyds
- Trash-Textures on ground level are derived from pictures taken by Wolfgang Sterneck and shared with CC license on flickr: http://bit.ly/1dV4nCS
A great big thank you to Moeuhane Sandalwood and Lilia Artis! Come see The Machine at LEA 6 now! It comes down at the end of this month! Come visit here!
Have fun and enjoy the art!