Petrified was our second project for the Delicatessen Sim in Second Life.
When the past tangles you in sweet and bitter smells
When a fly buzzing on your ear gives you shivers
When a single frame takes your breath away
When the scream on your throat doesn’t make a sound
When your dreams freeze before your eyes
When you lay roots before you can leave the ground
When your body turns to salt
When your heart stops and time swells… …you are petrified.
The region was built around a main central island with a big bay and a pointy hill. Around it smaller islands floated in the air and on the sea, lurking through the mist. In each of them a scene was depicted — a crying tree, a ghost forest, a girl playing the violin to a flamingo, a white dove carrying a human heart… While these scenes did not relate directly to each other, they were bound together by a strange feeling of crystallization.
Our process of building the islands and the clusters of digital objects that were placed within them had as much to do with dioramas. Not being standalone objects in the exact sense of the word, one could call them installations, but they were in fact much more like dioramas that helped evoke potential spaces or events. Each cluster was an open narrative conceptualization, like a snow globe or a ship in a bottle. In Second life we need the avatar to connect with the world and to see it from the insider’s perspective, but we are still situated outside of it, we see the world like a child looking at a ship in a bottle. Engaging this world takes the same effort that a child needs to muster in order to have a meaningful relation with that ship. This effort and facility requires (and is) imagination – pure and simple.
Some of these dioramas were also inspired by images from films that we related to this feeling of muffled potency. It should however be noted that these films were very different from one another and their perceived commonality was founded only in our interpretation of the material, which led us to infer that their characters, at some point, were petrified and that this was somehow connected to unfulfilled desire or shattered dreams.
One of the recaptured film scenes involved the dream scene from Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Zerkalo/Mirror.
At the bay, underwater, we had yet another female figure with loose hair, attired in a big black dress, attached by a rope from her ankle to a sunken piano was a reference to a scene from the film The Piano, by Jane Champion in which one of the protagonists, Ada, puts her foot in the middle of a coil of rope attached to her piano while it is being thrown into the sea.
The sky islands were also inhabited by dioramas, some of which were also inspired by such film scenes. In one of them, visitors could pose in bushes with a fox, while a strange couple, him human like, she a hybrid of a woman and a tree root, seemed to arise from the ground and the tree that stood above them. In this case we recalled two of the famous and controversial scenes from Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, namely the one which involves the dialogue with the fox, in which a fox eating its own bowels tells the main character that “Chaos reigns;” and secondly the scene where a couple have intercourse whilst leaning into the roots of a tree.