27 April 2013

Ascension at LEA16

Now open at LEA16 is an installation entitled Ascension by Mantis Oh, "from the house of Hybrid Productions." If you haven't visited this place: don't. It's an appalling excuse for art and has no business taking up space on an LEA sim. Let's see, we can visit the Beach Club, the Ultra Club, the Sphinx Club (at all of which "there will be a line of parties"), or "Ascension," which the LEA blog describes as "seven levels of a cubic, tower like structure." As one of my artist friends dryly remarked, it would be "nice for some futuristic dance club the other side of Insilico...I'm not impressed with it as an artistic statement." (Please note that I really love Insilico.)

To be fair to Linden Endowment for the Arts board, they select artistic projects based on written proposals and a history of past work, and they don't own a big crystal ball. Sometimes things just don't materialize the way one would anticipate. I don't know the particulars in this case (at least not in much detail), but I do know that if I were the LEA I'd be disappointed enough to consider seeking some remedy. I don't object to the build per se (for what it is it's well built and designed—there's plenty of talent and skill behind it) and have nothing against clubs and socializing, but this just doesn't belong here. Nuff said.

Edit 4/27: My friend Quan Lavender has written a blog post on Ascension that presents some differing perspectives, and I would encourage you to read it. Regarding Kraftwerk and similar music artists, I would suggest that although there may have been significant influence from the Western classical music tradition, and although artists such as Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider studied classical music in their formative years, it's helpful to draw a distinction between composers who were working in the classical world and those working in rock or popular mediums (and who continue, in both cases, to work along different paths, although there are moments of intersection). John Cage (who was hardly a minimalist, having written some of the most complex music in the Western cannon—for example Fontana Mix, HPSCHD or the Freeman Etudes) may have been an influence for some space/trance/electronic rock artists emerging in Germany in the 1970s such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, but I would think the more powerful impact would have been from Germany and France: composers such as Pierre Schaeffer, Iannis Xenakis, and especially Karlheinz Stockhausen with his explosive work at NWDR in Cologne. The tradition of these composers is carried forward not by the bands but by other composers, a list of which would be enormous—I'll simply mention Robert Ashley, Sofia Gubaidulina, Brian Ferneyhough, George Benjamin, Alvin Lucier, Thomas Adès, Kaija Saariaho and Joji Yuasa as a wildly varied bunch.

Additional Edit 4/28: Inara Pey has also shared her thoughts on this installation, and as always her blog is a must read. She exercised considerably more patience than I did in exploring the build.


  1. Hm ... maybe it's about the music, which can be an audible artform. But I kinda doubt that modern club music comes anywhere close to art. Let's see, maybe the clubbing in itself can be seen as a physical art, kinda "happening" art like in the 60s?

    Naaaw, you're right: it's most prolly a shameless publicity stunt for the builder(s) which builds can probably be purchased soon for moon prices because they were "featured at LEA".

    Thanks for the warning, Ziki

  2. If the focus is on music—which would be entirely appropriate, and we do need more focus on time-based media art in SL (I'm not talking casual music at clubs and venues)—it was lost on me. If so, I would hope that the emphasis would be on sonic art that would truly explore new ground, not popular music for dancing. In this regard I would draw a distinction between entertainment and art (both of which I enjoy of course!).

  3. I would say, stick to the only OH that matters, SaveMe Oh!!

  4. Just popped over to see what you're up to and see we're of the same mind on this installation. I've had an alternative viewpoint posted on it, which is food for thought as well.

  5. Yes, and I linked back to your post yesterday in the edits below my post. :)