Home > Art and Culture > Giovanna Cerise interviews Merlino Mayo (English version)

Giovanna Cerise interviews Merlino Mayo (English version)

Great interest aroused in the artistic world and not of SL the final installation “Naturae” by Merlin Mayo (http://slurl.com/secondlife/MiC/204/155/40).The work, edited by Mexi Lane (Marina Bellini), is included in the project Imagin@rium, a review of individual works by which artists of Second Life will be led to the MACRO in Rome, through video installations projected on a screen.

Rather than talk about the work, inviting, however, those who didn’t do yet it, doesn’t miss the chance to go to see it, I decided to ask some questions of the artist, to know him better.

Naturae is your last creation. Will it be considered a point of arrival in your artistic production? And if you turn upside down the perspective, can you image it like a starting point?

I think Naturae is one of my most important artistic creations: it give me very big satisfactions, that including a big number of visitors in the first weeks, hundreds of unexpected hits every days. Also the surprise of an editorial selection of the Linden Lab in the Editor’s Pick of the feature on the official website of Second Life.

I really kept to this last artist project and in this case I was very honored by the invitation to show at the MiC, the island of the Museum of Capital Rome that in Second Life, by the artistic direction of Mexi Lane (aka Marina Bellini), represents an expositive location of exhibitions and installations of artist, whose works presented to network users by video reworks and photos. Something that doesn’t happen every day, including a magnificent backdrop created by the MiC’s team.

In this moment apart of the majestic installation at the MIC, you are present with other works very interesting, displaced in some land, I think, for example, about the “Silvery factory” at the PAD (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Solaris Island/33/159/285) or about “Brera Academy and Metro Milan” (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Imparafacile/134/106/1160) in the sim “Imparafacile” or about your work at “Carp Diabolus” (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Benvolio/124/128/1001), only to mention some of your works. The interactivity, naturally got in different ways and for unlike aims, is definitely one of the characteristics that unite your art works. What role has the interactivity in your production and are you always looking for new ways to allow at your public to interact with your work? Is this something wanted o casual?

Every of my works give me new experience, satisfactions and interesting contacts to collaborate for future projects. I would remember my last works at the Carp with some of the most famous artist of the metaverse of Second Life, but above in a project wider, dedicated to the Art Cybernetic’s history. We created some installations in the rebuilding of a dreamed project, but made alive by Nicolas Schöffer, the first artist and Cyber Art’s father in the 1900’s history. This project didn’t saw only the important collaboration of the widow Eleonore de Lavandeyra  Schöffer still in business, but also the insertion of the project in the manifestation sponsored by Yoko Ono “Image Festival”, that notoriously takes place in RealLife and in SecondLife.

Then another project presented at the Digital Café too, last December at the exhibition “Più Libri Più Liberi” on Rai.tv, was the project in Imparafacile’s island with the Academy of Brera, ATM transport of Milan and other entities. The realization of video interactive experimental locations in the Metropolitana of Milan, who’s the urban travelers, could to interact all the time.

The interaction happened with the works by the students also in Second Life’s virtual space projected by me.

An intense activity with the Pirates’ group that often tries to combine their events with Real Life’s, like the Carnival of Nizza with Patrick Moya and many other artists. Then the participation to the pilot event “Trough he Virtual Looking Glass” with some groups of Second Life and real galleries scattered in the entire World.

I mention this two example like sample of a research and experimentation’s reality that in Italy should be helped and increased, didn’t forget and ignore as often happen in our Country that, remember, has an economy in transformation that over the years is gradually passing from the production of things to the production of ideas.

The art in this prospective, should have a primary role in development and investment policies for the future, and it must get involved, to update, to believe in new ideas and new tools that we just have to learn to use and recognize. Bryn Oh, a great international artist, who recently received a recognition award from the Canadian government, describes an interesting parallel between the birth and development of the Photography and the digital Art of the virtual worlds.

Now the interactive is only one of the principal aspects that interesting me to explore. Usually I use it to study the origin of the natural randomness, so I search to increase the variables random, to increase the unpredictability of a finally sculptural result.

Ultimately shut out from the border and called the barrier of the net and aseptic hedge of the web, to discover manual and human hotness in the little imperfections.

Interaction allows me to involve the visitor and make him share also the creative work itself.

Usually in my works there is an apparent symmetry that explored with more attention there isn’t, because I create intentionally objects that have memory of the human imperfection. The square net decided lines, the decomposition of the structure in essential lines like a grille that decompose a fuzzy image, are for me a symbolic representation of a perfect world, towards which the humanity awnings  with the technology and the knowledge. So in my men I watch also the metaphor of a generation ideally coated with an imaginary, a shield like a plastic material, a filter that interposes between perception us, the surrounding and our similar.

In the birth and in the realization of your project, how do the wish to communicate the message that you have a mind and his visual and artistic realization can find a common sense? Do always you succeed to do it?

To find a balance between idea and practical realization should be difficult. My biggest care is exactly in the ideation of a message that has its own intrinsic strength; continued consistency in all its parts and that is never banal. The way in which this content can be made is relatively simple, when I already know what are my departure tools, my expressive alphabet, my operating procedures defined by the experience and knowledge of the technological medium of expression. The balance must be sought even considering practical factors, such as the understanding of an inexpert visitor with a way exploration so the read the work itself. I think it is important to be able to get a clear message to everyone, not just for the elite selected and prepared. Then there’s always time to articulate different levels of reading in depth.

It is first necessary to draw a fence and then go beyond it and to evolve.

Four years on SL. When you enter, did you have already a mind to try this kind of artistic creation? How can it be connected with your RL?

I was immediately enchanted, almost hypnotized by the intuition of a potential huge creative of the virtual instrument. The idea of ​​having shared spaces in real time with the world, walking in a vector field on which to create a red library, to see a Japanese to pass and to comment with an Australian on the form or the color of this object, you like being suddenly in an immense creative dream shared, changing over time dedicated ourselves, so it continues to live and become non-stop.

Many don’t realize that it is a shared world, constantly created and edited by its residents, it is a mechanism is extremely powerful, complex and sophisticated, a system of communication horizontal and no more vertical as in the old media: radio, television, cinema, a medium that has not nothing to do with a simplified two-dimensional social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Or with the videogames that are characterized by environments created, indeed already established by the producers, then nothing in common with professional 3D graphics programs that are powerful tools, but in closed and armored worlds.
The future development of virtual reality will be increasingly connected to real life, with the “augmented reality “. There are links between the two realities, that allow me to make sense of this journey, and it is important to give a tangible reality to the world of ideas, not only share but also looking for an objective memory, a permanent sign of a personal evolution.

What are the opportunities that, in your opinion, SL gives to who want to create? But, what are the limits?

Second Life is an instrument, it isn’t a purpose. After the boom in 2007, there was a crisis and a flight of professionals, of business and media attention. But it is a crisis very interesting and full of opportunities for different reasons. First there was a process of distillation of the first generations of expert users, which contrary to all articles of catastrophic predictions were extremely active, helping to consolidate a reality of experimentation, projects, group work and more.
The community of artists was the real hard core that has resisted to the crisis, despite the lack of help of the management policies, helped to support a high profile and high visibility and interest for novices and the media. Council all creative people, university students, researchers go to see for yourself and explore more or less important events organized by individual artists, universities, or very active group of art dealers gallery, to ask and to speak before getting a preconceived idea. It is a world in motion, where it’s impossible to follow or see everything and it is also difficult to learn to observe and explore seriously it; to understand the mechanisms and the actors that are part of it, without stopping for a few days of test. Many articles published in recent years were often written by distracted journalists who knew a bit these realities or, worse, only hearsay.
So there is a possibility to meet and frequent some brilliant minds, I’m talking about professionals, researchers and artists, often courageous intellectuals capable of giving vital impulse to the growth of a complex and detailed virtual community, very active.

Merlino Mayo and Xaan Allen. What are the advantages and the limits to have two avatars plainly attribute at the same artist? 


To create a second avatar was an experimental choice, exploration is that of a necessity almost obvious.
Initially, I realized that my designs could be lost. At that time my world was the public sandbox and I was always experimenting, creating and learning to sculpt; mechanisms, rudimentary script, etc… I held a lot, because they were hours and hours of learning and inspiration. The inventory was my personal diary, my real identity, that always ran the risk of being lost for various technical reasons. Hence the need to create a backup, and then the idea to create another avatar, with a new identity doesn’t correspond to the real, or with my sexual identity. For me Xaan Allen was an experiment, it was my Valentina Rosselli (G. Crepax), my female icon and muse, who was born as a clay model to learn how to mould, to draw and not to play a role. Others see in the avatar a perfect image of himself, who wants to play roles theatrically and those who see a simple aesthetic creative tool, as it creates a painting, a drawing or a picture of what lies outside you. I also found interesting to look a provocative action on the theme of the identity, to awaken the conscience of a conscious use of the instrument and not fall into the trap of the identification. The difference between the common double avatar, and my pattern of use, is the fact that I have decided not only to express the two identities joining and declaring publicly on my official blog or in their profiles, but also coined a new term “Avatar Simbionte.” I then used Xaan as a constant help to Merlin and vice versa.



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