13 February 2011

Heartseed Wonderland

The following is an article I just published in Scruplz. The photos in that version were taken by a professional, and they look it. But I'm publishing it here anyway. Plus, I'm able to make some updates, corrections and web-only adjustments that I couldn't get into the Scruplz version because of the publishing deadline.

Jedda Zenovka
To visit Jedda Zenovka’s Heartseed is to be splashed head to toe with the colors of wild plants; bathed by mysterious lights in deep waters; immersed in the soft glow of some ancient shrine that echoes with dancers’ footsteps.

Jedda’s profile says that her work is inspired by the Australian rainforest. One can well believe it.  Although she grew up in London, after many travels she made her home in the rainforest of northern New South Wales, Australia. (An area which fortunately is accustomed to floods.) “When I discovered this place,” she told me, “I sat in the valley and looked up at the twin waterfalls, and said to the people I was with, ‘I think I will be here for a long time.’  Still here years later!” Her house in her adopted homeland is “in a forest by a creek, surrounded by green and water—landscape where you’d almost not be surprised to see a dinosaur wander through.”

There are no dinosaurs in Heartseed, nor even large lizards (like the goanna she photographed in her RL garden). But the land is lush with beautiful, variegated plants—some brightly colored, some more subtly shaded, some with glowing bulbs, some with large faces, some apparently with flickering flames, some curving overhead like enormous tree trunks. The oversized mushrooms are easily large enough for a hookah-smoking caterpillar. An archway bears the huge head of a horned gorilla with a nose ring.  In one area there seem to be loudspeakers, and what appears to be a spaceship partly overgrown with plants and containing a video player screening videos she likes, including some of her own.

Overhead there is a large sparkling starburst, along with various other creations.  Under the swirling water there are several sea creatures, among them a large translucent shark (by Igor Ballyhoo), as well as a further range of spectacular plant life. Three sky levels complete Heartseed: one with a huge plant issuing seeds; another setting coral in the rain where at the top of another gigantic plant one can float with visions, fantasies, and imagination; and very recently Jedda added the TerraBioStarCraft, a sort of living spaceship.

“I think you’ve created some new spaces here in the past several months,” I remarked. “A couple,” Jedda answered. “Deleted a few too—ran out of prims. I’m always trying to expand on things.  Also as my skills improve, I try to do things again but better, and they evolve.”

“Spirituality seems to be an important part of your work,” I observed. Jedda replied, “I build with intent.  A lot of futuristic builds are based on Armageddon, the end of it all, etc. I am not a nihilist—I prefer to think of something more positive, and try to convey that. A world filled with beauty, magic. I don’t want to concentrate on doom and gloom. Ask and ye shall receive, you get what you give, etc.”

“You connect it also with the world of the original Australians.”

“There is a certain magical earthiness about them. I have used the didge [didgeridoo] in my installation, where the heart is. It connects earth and breath. I like to use sound in my builds. I linked the didge with a heart beat, breath and heart and earth. Water is also important in my builds.  Love is like water—such a powerful yet gentle force, gets in everywhere, and can shape worlds.”

“Are there particular ideas from the original Australians that you work with?” I asked her.

“I think it’s a basic tribal element,” she said, “from dancing in the forests.” And in fact Heartseed has many figures of dancers.

The heart that Jedda referred to is a large, glowing, pulsing heart crowning a tree, or perhaps it’s a giant flower, in the middle of a sort of temple.  It incorporates a poseball which places one at the center of the heart, curled into the fetal position.  Jedda places various anims in Heartseed, such as the floating anims in one of the sky levels, and a couple anim in which one person snatches something from another, and teases her by pulling it out of reach as she tries to grab it back.  I asked her about the inclusion of anims in her builds.

“I’d love to do it more, but its hard to find the right anims. I have been trying to make some. So many couples anims are romantic. That’s why I like this one [in which the girl tries to recapture whatever it was that was swiped from her]: it’s just fun. I’d love to have more anims a round, they make people want to stay and play.  So if anyone reads this who makes anims: more fun please!”

I noted that Jedda works mainly with sculpties. “Yes,” she said, “but I’m going to have to rethink that soon though, with mesh on the way. Dammit—I’m just getting my head around sculpties and something new comes round!”

Because the advent of mesh (an upcoming feature that enables creators to model objects using external software such as Blender and import them into Second Life) has stirred controversy among content creators, including artists, I asked, “Do you think mesh will be useful for you?”

“It’s going to be amazing,” Jedda said. “I had a look in the test mesh grid, and it will really up the ante here.  I am apprehensive,” she admitted, “but mainly for selfish reasons, because it means I have to relearn a load of stuff and be a noob again.” Despite her apprehensions, I’m sure we have much to look forward to.

Jedda has a small store in Heartseed as well, for her brand Wild Designs. There you can buy several of her plants, as well as a cheekily large penis sculpture to carry under your arm (a collaboration with Del May, modeled on a photo of Louise Bourgeois taken by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1982).

If you use Phoenix, note that Heartseed has a local Windlight setting you can use; if you use another viewer, you can change your Windlight setting to [TOR] SCIFI - Evocrads'lime (Torley's Windlight settings are available here). Some of my photos use the Windlight presets.

Jedda has photos and machinima on Flickr and YouTube.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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