29 October 2016

"Monochrome" by Giovanna Cerise

Giovanna Cerise describes Monochrome, her new installation at LEA, as part of an "exploration of color in all its components and inferences." But it is not abstract art in the manner of, say, Frank Stella -- it is more representational and metaphoric, and even has a suggestion of narrative.

The installation consists of three levels, each devoted to one of three colors: black, white, and red. These are what I call the "dramatic primary colors," well-recognized for their impact and contrast. In addition, the installation principally draws on one of the most basic shapes, the cube -- Second Life's default primitive (what we all call "prims"). Strictly speaking, the forms are often rectilinear rather than strictly cubical, and there also other shapes, but cubes are the dominant visual element.  In sum, Giovanna has pared both her color palette and her structural elements almost to the minimum.

The first level is for Black. For practical reasons the colors are in fact mostly shades of gray, accented by the use of shine. Thin threads wind through the space, occasionally piercing cubes that seem to mark some type of location or distance. Toward the back of this level we find sculptures of three women, whose heads are cubes. One of them holds a cube from which the thread begins. The strand continues to the second woman, who holds it up until it reaches the third woman, whose scissors is ready to snip it short. These figures are versions of the Greek mythological beings called the Fates: Clotho, who spins the thread of life; Lachesis, who determines how long a portion each of us receives; and Atropos, who cuts it off. The eventuality of death may be associated with black, the color-theme of this level.

Black level, in Giovanna Cerise's Monochrome. (Click photos to enlarge.)

A teleport doorway at the landing point sends you to the next level, White. The entire level glows intensely. Off in the expanse is what looks like a city of translucent cubes. It is so large and so undifferentiated, one easily gets lost. In roughly every other cube hangs a large magnifying glass. Viewed from above, there seem to be some images on the surface; I couldn't make out exactly what they are, however. There is also something hanging in the air, glowing so strongly that you can't discern what it is -- but if you lower your draw distance to about 50m, you discover a flow of light. In it, two magnifying glasses intersect, and on the horizontal one you see a turning figure, perhaps dancing. Do the magnifying glasses represent the idea of examining one's life? I'm not sure.

White level, in Giovanna Cerise's Monochrome. (Click photos to enlarge.)

Through another teleport doorway one reaches the final level, Red. Here the structures of the two previous levels collide. The array of cubes from the White level have become dark red and are flying apart; wisps of the Black level's threads scatter about. Underneath them is a soft, rippling, but almost gooey surface. However, this is not altogether a scene of disaster. Out of the flying boxes, something is rising, leading to a new strand ascending to the sky. At its pinnacle there is a book -- like a wirebound notebook held together by the red thread. The rising cubes are a bit lumpy in spots, as if gathering to form shapes; a closer look reveals that they are coalescing into four human figures. Their arms are raised and flung backwards, as though some force is shooting the four figures upwards. Perhaps the book at the top of Monochrome, despite its prosaic form as a notebook, is the Book of Life. There does seem to be a thread (sic) connecting the Fates to the ideas of the examined life and the book of Life.

Red level, in Giovanna Cerise's Monochrome. (Click photos to enlarge.)

Giovanna's Monochrome rewards exploration and associations ("inferences," as Giovanna writes). It will be open until the end of December.