06 December 2013

Asterion Coen at LEA28

One of the recipients of the LEA fifth round of artists in residence was Asterion Coen, who was granted LEA28. (Fifth-round grants were awarded in mid-year 2013, sims were handed over August 1, and installations were to be completed and opened to the public by the end of November.) And if you head over to the still-unnamed sim, you'll find things such as models of Nazi military vehicles (Panzers, half tracks and so on) and anti-tank guns, a Concorde SST, a B-29 bomber, quite a few trains and locomotives, ships and nuclear submarines, all surrounded by a half-built city landscape that seems to be changing each time I visit.

I was at first quite confounded on seeing this display, looking like a collection of military toys ready for pretend battles (minus the little soldiers). But then on reflection I thought possibly the intent was to explore industrial design, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that—it's actually a subject area I can't recall being investigated in a virtual environment, and has a rich history ranging from Raymond Loewy to Jonathan Ive.

After talking a few times with Asterion, however, I had to set that premise aside: it seemed he was simply building things, taking pride in his non-mesh structures. I would love to know more about his proposal to LEA, because it appears to me as though this sim is simply a big one-person sandbox. Moreover, I notice that many of items I'm seeing on LEA28 are also available on Asterion's Marketplace store (or nearly identical copies), which sells a wide range of military and other vehicles. (For example, the Ohio class nuclear submarine here is yours for L$3,680 on the Marketplace.) I don't object at all to artists selling their work, of course, but on the other hand there's little here that strikes me as artistic or aesthetic (unless, of course, we revert to the industrial design concept).

Perhaps I have misjudged Asterion's work and installation, or perhaps I'm missing the point entirely. If that's the case, I would enjoying hearing from LEA Committee members or Asterion and would encourage them to share their perspectives.

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