Thursday, January 12, 2006

Grignano Art Museum

[Images Redacted]

Further to that bit of navel gazing in the previous post, Lordfly Digeridoo's Public Art Museum in Grignano (111, 79, 31) is an excellent focal point to explore just what it is that makes for architecture appropriate for a virtual world. It was seemingly poo-pooed by the jury at the State of Play Conference last fall because it had too much stylistic resemblance to structures one might find in the real world and lacked any sense of ephemeral abstraction critical to an architecture of the ethereal...This was a common criticism of the panel, and while it doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to at least understand where they might be coming from they may have been a little quick to dismiss Lordfly's creation.

The Museum does indeed provide a healthy jab of classicist and beaux-arts elements in a manner that attempts to impart a sense of importance and permanence to the museum as an important cultural institution. The manner in which these elements are employed, however, is where the build begins to depart from the logic and limitations to which these conventions are normally subject in the real world. The result is a build that is ethereal, that is an abstraction, by virtue of its paradoxical relationship to virtual space. Huh?

First off, the thing is MASSIVE. The more your brain tries to tell you it isn't, that its just prims, the more this build pummels you with its overwhelming sense of scale.

Secondly, its size is enabled by an apparent defiance of the structural logic that would typically dictate how the classical orders enable buildings to get higher by thinning out, employing buttresses, etc. The experience is the exact opposite of the depression induced by yet another overblown stucco keystone atop the entrance vestibule to your local (insert name of big box retail outlet here), instead imparting a sense of the surreal, where the elements to which we are familiar are merely the jumping off point for something entirely more memorable.

Thirdly, it this sense of mass and structure is juxtaposed against a sensitive response to the surrounding urban context, via an arcade that faces the street and tree-lined promenades that interface with the adjacent waterfront. As well, once inside, the space does not appear entirely congruent with the form as it is skewered by multiple floor plates that actually make certain aspects of the build seem quite intimate. One might almost think Lordfly to be running out of space if his curatorial sensibilities are any indication. The floors are sprinkled with a sampling of sublime sculptures by Seifert Surface, while the walls on the other hand are crammed with scans in a manner suggestive of the deviantART database server after a hard night of White Russians and Boney M.

Finally, no museum worth its enormously non-existent weight in non-existent gold would be complete without its gift shop, currently featuring a collection of prefabs from some of Second Life's most prolific builders.

So, for both the right and the wrong reasons, the Grignano Art Museum is a genuine institution, an authentic landmark, a public place in the public psyche, and in my mind, a winner. You should go.


At 1/18/2006 9:16 PM, Blogger Barnes said...

One of my favorite spots in the city sims! Great review


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