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A major exhibition of Hyperformalism in the Second Life® world at  the
New Media Consortium
May-June 2008

Kiss the Sky
by ArtWorld Market

Above: Elros Tuominen's Underconstruction city V.06 constantly changes

An exhibition that bills itself as "the definitive exhibition of Hyperformalism" opens this week at the NMC Arts Lab. Titled "Kiss the Sky," it was curated by Dancoyote Antonelli (DC Spensley), who is also represented by several works. DC coined the word Hyperformalism, and has assembled 35 pieces by 14 artists to demonstrate that the concept reflects a new art movement.

It includes works by Chance Abattoir, Vlad Bjornson, nand Nerd, Selavy Oh, Adam Ramona, Nebulosus Severine, AngryBeth Shortbread, Sasun Steinbeck, Sabine Stonebender, Seifert Surface, elros Tuominen, Juria Yoshikawa, and i7o Zhu. 

Hyperformalism takes the sort of approach that Albers did with his Homage to the Square, Kandinsky with Point and Line to Plane, or Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook. A musical equivalent would be Bach's Well Tempered Clavier. Each of these employed formal principles in the creation of art, often using mathematical relationships. 

It was natural for artists to expand this sort of methodology into the virtual realm, and this awesome exhibition presents some of the best work done using the building tools provided within the Second Life world. 


When you arrive at the landing point at NMC Arts Lab, be sure to take the notecards for all the artists. They often give clues that will help you discover what these artworks DO.  

To get from one work to the next you click on a purple cushion, which seats you and offers a menu of the exhibition. Selecting a destination starts the seat in motion and a gentle ride takes you there. When you arrive a sign expands that has information about the piece you are viewing, sometimes just the artist and title, occasionally a pedagogic message or instructions for interacting with the work.

The Creative Process Borne on the Winds of Fate by Sabine Stonebender

Sabine Stonebender's sculpture, The Creative Process Borne on the Winds of Fate, has two large units that rotate into each other like the blades of a giant eggbeater or mixer. One blade is titled "Opposition / the storm of dissolution..." and the other is "Progress / the winds of creation..."  At their intersection is a large green gem, like an emerald, titled "Intuition / the eye of the storm..."

To the right is a work by i7o Zhu, Name Unknown, a massive, dramatic sculpture that continually moves up and down disturbingly. Be careful of alt-clicking on it to change your camera angle—when I did that it caused the sculpture to stay still and the rest of the world to bounce. On my second visit I went inside it, and learned what it must feel like to be a punching bag.  

Many works in this exhibition require that you enter the work, even if it looks like nothing is there.  They may be interactive with your avatar, and change with proximity.

One such work is Adam Ramona's Blue Musical Sculpture, an apparently empty space that surrounds your avatar with dense blue rectangular solids and makes music. If you just stand on the side and look at it, or fly by it, you will not experience it at all.

Play in Adams other sound sculptures as well, and bring some friends. Several of the artists have made proximity soundworks, and the interplay of avatars provides a richer experience.



Adam Ramona's  Blue Musical Sculpture when viewed from the side (left), and when entered (right)

continue reading this review (and see many more images)


Teleport to the NMC Arts Lab

Information below is from the Kiss the Sky Press Release:

New Media Consortium and the Museum of Hyperformalism Present

"Kiss the Sky", the definitive exhibition of Hyperformalism in the virtual world of Second Life®, curated by DC Spensley (DanCoyote Antonelli in SL).

Opening Reception: May 17, 2008, at 12:00 Noon PST

Where: NMC Arts Lab (43, 135, 706)

The artists in this exhibition are Chance Abattoir, Vlad Bjornson, nand Nerd, Selavy Oh, Adam Ramona, Nebulosus Severine, AngryBeth Shortbread, Sasun Steinbeck, Sabine Stonebender, Seifert Surface, elros Tuominen, Juria Yoshikawa, and i7o Zhu.

These are among the most prominent and respected artists using Second Life as a creative platform, and are considered pioneers by their peers.

Virtual worlds are places for discovering new territories and exploring meaning outside the context of the material world. Even in virtual worlds there is an avant garde, a native artform spawned from unique conditions. "Kiss the Sky" is an exhibition of works by artists who have been wowing viewers since 2006 with indigenous art installations.

According to Artist/curator DC Spensley, Hyperformalism is non-figurative abstraction in a hyper-medium, including abstract objects arranged in simulated space, navigable on a network, as well as expressions of reactive and interactive artwork behaviors and geometric or algorithmic pattern play in 2, 3, and 4 dimensions. Because Hyperformalist works are unique created entities that are not representational, viewer relationships are less fettered by pre-existing symbolic weight and the artworks encourage fascination with form and pure relationships. The virtual world provides the ability to liberate the work from scale constraints and provides a perfect context for this post-conceptualist movement.

With a figure in the picture, nobody notices the landscape. Hyperformalist works remove the comfortable cliché of anthropocentricism and open the viewer to another class of experience. The perception of immersion and variable point of view eliminates the usual boundaries between the viewer and the work. This enables the art to resonate on a more primal level of awareness and reflect the viewer’s own humanity.

While space in virtual worlds is a simulation, place can be real. In fact, art experiences are the only thing that can be real in both the virtual and material worlds at the same time. Abstractions that exist as discoverable objects are somewhere between object and concept. It is this state of half existence that differentiates formal abstraction in virtual worlds from preceding expressions of formalism, minimalism and abstract expressionism. Hyperformalism is neither Modernism nor Post-modernism, because it is native to a continuum where only the human mind can visit and where the body and the ideological weight of the figure are not the default fixed point of view.


9 Richard Minsky