OMG! It’s so exciting eberybobies! Mommy started terraforming the coral atoll for Medici University: Herculini Crater last night!
Okies, eberybobies, I’m warneded you. Mommy sez I have to include all her “important” press release info in this blog post. It’s super boring! Please don’t unsub from my blawg just because mommy is boring! If you ever need help falling asleep – I never do! But if you do – just axe mommy to splain her whole project concept to you. You’ll be out before she finishes 3 sentences. Pwomize! Oh, but before you start falling asleeps… could you run by Costco and buy me a ginormous box of Cheerios? Mommy’s obsessed with her new project and sometimes she forgets to feed me.
Okies, now for the boring part… I warned you…
Many of you are familiar with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy, in 79ce. The eruption buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under rock and ash. If you’ve ever been to the Getty Villa in California, that building is a recreation of the partially excavated Villa dei Papiri (House of the Scrolls) in Herculaneum. The Villa dei Papiri is believed to have been the summer home of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.
Less well known is that 30 million years earlier, the thermal vent that brought magma from the earth’s core to Vesuvius was then located at an ocean site in the Gulf of Naples. Over time an underwater “seamount” formed. With the continued flow of magma this site eventually broke the surface to form a mid-ocean island. As tectonic plate shifts moved the vent from the ocean location to the land, and eventually to the site of Vesuvius, the mid-ocean island-volcano became dormant.
As the millennia passed, the island sank under it’s own weight and with erosion from the ocean. This process eventually led to the coral atoll today known as Herculini Crater.
Medici University: Herculini Crater
For Spring 2021 the faculty, staff, and students of Medici University are packing up and moving 500 km SE of our main campus in Florence in order to open Medici University: Herculini Crater (“MUHC” – pronounced moo-huck).
Those familiar with MU will know that I only use the terms “faculty, staff & students” euphemistically. In actuality, MU has no faculty, staff, or students at all. We only have learners. Everyone teaches what they know, learns what they are passionate about, and shares as much as possible.
Flash Fiction Island
The primary project at MUHC will be Flash Fiction Island. Full details on Flash Fiction Island are here: vanessablaylock.xyz/blog/flash-fiction-island
Diaspora @ GXHC
In my catalog essay for Connie Arida’s 14-year photography retrospective, I discussed the idea of a future Second Life Diaspora. I am pleased to announce that the inaugural exhibition at Gallery Xue: Herculini Crater (GXHC) will be Diaspora.
Curator Xue Faith will soon be sending empty suitcases to SL residents and asking them the question,
Imagine an announcement that Second Life is shutting down. You have only a few hours to collect the memories and bits of SL culture that mean the most to you. What do you pack? What do you squeeze into your suitcase to remember the world, the people, and the activities that once were your life in Second Life?
Diaspora, a collection of suitcases filled by SL residents will be on exhibition at GXHC beginning Sunday, 3 January 2021.
As an opening performance for the exhibition Diaspora at GXHC, all the SL Residents who decorate suitcases are invited to participate in Diaspora, a tableaux vivant performance at MUHC. Avatar residents will stand, suitcases in hand, on the cliffs of Herculini Crater, overlooking the outer deep waters of The Gulf of Naples, and the shallow, life-filled reefs inside Herculini Crater.
I hope it will feel just a little like Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #48 meeting up with George Maciunas’ Fluxkit, Marcel Duchamp’s La Boîte-en-valise, or Joseph Cornell’s magical boxworlds.
Dressed for the possibilities of an uncertain future, we will stand with our suitcases, motionless, for one hour. At the conclusion of the hour, participants will place their suitcases on pedestals at GXHC and open them for the exhibition.
- Sunday 3 January 2021
- 10-11 am PST/SLT
- 19:00-20:00 CET
- 2-3 am Monday HKT
- 5-6 am Monday AEDT
13 Most Beautiful Avatars
In 1964 Andy Warhol spliced together two compilation films from his 16mm Screen Tests. Thirteen Most Beautiful Women and Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys. In 2007 Eva & Franco Mattes (SL Pai Twang & Pai May) exhibited large prints of SL avatars in an RL gallery as 13 Most Beautiful Avatars. (the Warhol films may have been inspired by his 1964 NY World’s Fair installation 13 Most Wanted Men, which itself was inspired by the NYPD’s 1962 booklet The Thirteen Most Wanted, which consisted of mug shots of 22 wanted men)
These projects were interesting investigations. Two aspects that stand out are the use of cameras to capture the alleged beauty, and the use of the term “beautiful”.
Like most all art, RL or SL, these were mediated presentations. For almost all of art history we have experienced subjects through the artist’s eye, hand, brush, and camera. It may be the presence of Victorine Meurent, but only as mediated through the brush and hand of Edouard Manet.
In this new 13 Most Beautiful Avatars, avatars will be presented directly, as unmediated works of art. They will stand as a tableaux vivant (living sculpture) for an hour. Standing on the gentle slopes of Herculini Crater @SLEA2, viewers will be able to experience the avatars they have become without the obfuscating mediation of an artist’s “talented hands” or “all-seeing lens.”
- Sunday 24 January 2021
- Noon-1 pm PST/SLT
- 21:00-22:00 CET
- 4-5 am Monday HKT
- 7-8 am Monday AEDT
A Conversation on Beauty
Even in 2007 there was surprisingly little push back on the Mattes’ use of the term “Most Beautiful”. For some people today, “beauty” is a capitalist instrument of control. A tool of cultural oppression. While “beauty” has been long critiqued IRL, the bulk of the underlying issues and problems continue unresolved. In spite of the critique, the problems, and the subjectivity, I think we have always cared about “beauty”. What exactly “beauty” is, is slippery. Plato, Aristotle, and Kant all had different conceptions. As do many of my friends.
The word “beauty” is so problematic, as is the obviously ridiculous term “most beautiful” that I’ve thought a lot about either canceling this performance, or changing the title to simply 13 Avatars. I’ve ultimately chosen to continue with the problematic title, 13 Most Beautiful Avatars.
The hour after the performance we will walk a few steps from the summit of Herculini Crater to the nearby coffee shop, Vanessa’s Place Herculini Crater. There everyone is invited to have a bit of holiday mulled wine and cherry pie and have a conversation on beauty. We can explore the SL experiences of different avatars. Have you felt empowered? Oppressed? Is the experience of “beauty” different in SL vs RL?
- Sunday 24 January 2021
- 1-2 pm PST/SLT
- 22:00-23:00 CET
- 5-6 am Monday HKT
- 8-9 am Monday AEDT
Love in the Time of Corona
MU Professor of Micronations, Agnes Sharple will lead Love in the Time of Corona, a story sharing project. Professor Sharple is herself a citizen of 3 micronations: Ladonia, Nutopia, and Sealand.
SL Street Photography
I’ve been facilitating the “SL Street Photography” group on flickr for a few years now. It’s past time to have an in-world exhibition of the many wonderful decisive moments residents have captured of life around the grid.
I’m pleased to announce that SL Street Photography 2015-2020 will be the inaugural exhibition at Vanessa’s Place: Herculini Crater (VPHC). Vanessa’s Place: coffee + conversation – come for the caffeine, stay for the creativity!
Izzy’s Gym: Herculini Crater
Everyone will be pleased to know that our beloved provost, Isabella Medici, in addition to seeing to the academic and overall health of all MUHC participants, will also be opening a new branch of her legendary Treadmill Gymnasium, Izzy’s Gym Herculini Crater (IGHC)! As you build scenes and write stories at MUHC your avatar won’t have to sit on its butt! You can keep those pixels trim by working on an IGHC treadmill desk!
Flash Fiction Island, GXHC, Love in the Time of Corona, VPHC, and IGHC are a few of the many programing opportunities at MUHC this Spring. Please join us! Participate! Send Vanessa your ideas for other participatory project ideas. See you in 2021!
If you made it this far, you’re more awake than me! Sowii mommy has to be so boring. I guess it’s what mommys do. She’ll never make it on TikTok. Or VRchat! 😛 Anyways, thanks for reading and not unsubscribing me!
Medici University Herculini Crater opens on 1 January 2021. I can’t wait to see you here! Please bring cheerios!