It had been chance meeting several months ago, when I'd first become acquainted with Alizarin "Ali" Goldflake (aka Martha Jane Bradford). We both had happened into a gallery at very near the same time and after a brief introduction we shared our thoughts on the exhibit. It'd been a pleasant chat and before I left, she offered me a landmark to her own gallery along with a friendship offer both of which I unhesitatingly accepted. Since that first meeting, we've had many conversations about art, virtual worlds and of the several exhibitions she has had during that timeframe. A professional artist for most of her life, she has had her work shown in prominent galleries and included in many museum, corporate, and private collections. The most recent exhibitions of her work in Second Life have been seen at; The Art Conservatory at Sapphos Commons, Virtual Treeline, Museum of Virtual Art, Ars Simulacra and PIRats Omega Gallery. She also has had at her own gallery, Atelier Alizarin, two special exhibits "Orfeo's Oratorio" and "Acquarella", where patrons were treated to the intricacy and detail of her 3D landscapes, sculpture, and immersive art pieces.
We met at her gallery for this interview, where she was both organizing her exhibit after a redesign of the space and preparing for an upcoming exhibit at PIRats Omega Gallery.
Alizarin: Do you want to look around or go sit?
Nazz: Let's look around.
Alizarin: Okay, sure … I am not fully installed yet art wise. This is my newest build a miniature Acquarella.
Nazz: The immersive environment ... why a miniature?
Alizarin: Several reasons, someone suggested it and I liked the challenge. Also not everyone has room for the big one and it is fun to see what scale does.
Nazz: It's built to scale then?
Alizarin: Yes it is 1/10th the size of the full scale aquarium. I did this for my show that is opening at PiRats tomorrow. Isn't that where we met?
Nazz: Yes it was. You were with Juanita Deharo. Were there any particular challenges in doing it to that scale?
Alizarin: Yes the fish animations didn't scale down, I have to redesign the goldfish … the invisible stuff that makes them look animated. They are done here with an expanding/contracting prim and a rotation script.
Nazz: It is amazingly detailed. Do you script as well?
Alizarin: These textures all come from real life digital drawings. I modify scripts but I don't write them. Let me show you one of the digital drawings in large scale.
Nazz: That is incredible! It looks very life like.
Alizarin: it is a digital drawing, done with Corel Painter and a Wacom tablet and stylus. It's all described in a PDF on the splash screen of my web site.
Nazz: For the exhibition at PIRats, how many pieces will you be showing?
Alizarin: The whole series of these drawings … the miniature and the regular Acquarella … an aquatic meditation garden and some fish rezzers.
Nazz: What was your inspiration for Acquarella?
Alizarin: A piece of seaweed.
Nazz: A piece of seaweed led to the Acquarella as an immersive installation … that must have been one amazing piece of seaweed.
Alizarin: There is the seaweed drawing. It is based on a piece of seaweed I photographed while in Maine. I wanted to make a build that would use the drawing so I thought of an aquarium I used to keep fish when I was a child, it was sort of my second life then. I would watch the fish and dream that I was floating with them.
Nazz: A combining of second lives?
Alizarin: An alternative reality a magical space.
Nazz: Where one can float effortlessly and imagine things that aren't possible.
Alizarin: Yes I felt the same way about my aquarium then that I felt about SL when I first logged on. Wow! I can fly!! So these drawings are an example of how my real life and second life work together. I get an idea in second life. I do a drawing for it in real life. Then I used the drawing in both places. I am very interested in the interaction between second life and real life.
Nazz: How else has second life changed your approach to art?
Alizarin: Well because of the experience of making art in second life. I started a whole new body of work in real life ... the digital collages … they are process art, a new way of working for me. I start with pieces of digital drawings and collage and color and the art just evolves by itself, formerly I did all landscapes.
Nazz: I stopped over to view them, quite extra-ordinary to see.
Alizarin: Yes I just love them! And I love working this way, I feel so free. I am also working on some crossover shows and projects. For one thing, the Art Conservatory show that is up now, all the work is available in real life on my web site, which is now transactional. I will also be showing second life photographs of my builds and videos at the Umass Show. I am also working on a project for a museum, but I can't go into specifics until it is further along. It will be an installation that introduces people to the feeling of virtual reality and hopefully we will be able to give them the virtual experience via Open SIM.
Nazz: Has there been anyone in second life who has influenced what you do more than any other?
Alizarin: In terms of other artist, not really. I kind of have my own vision, occasionally I will get a good idea from something I see. I have a lot of favorite artists, but I don't try to imitate them.
Nazz: Some of the very large installations are collaborative projects, is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with?
Alizarin: I like to collaborate with people who have entirely different skills, for example, in front of us are my Musical Kinetic builds they are a collaboration with Flivelwitz Alsop he is a musician … the music is amazing. You turn it on by walking close.
Nazz: Amazing, the sound is very much music like … a song.
Alizarin: This is all done with ten second clips. I just think it is remarkable how it sounds like a continuous piece of music. We had the theme of Asia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Tibet and India. These are all constructed with sculpties and embossed textures … for some reason they flash and sparkle when they are animated on a flat geometric sculptie. This was an ideal one for me. The other one that I have done was with Caerleon, the "Interactivity" collaboration.
Nazz: Do you see more collaborative efforts in your future?
Alizarin: If a good one comes along, I am open to it … I am not actively searching to collaborate. I always have a zillion more ideas than I can work on … you should see my second life to do list!!!
Nazz: I can imagine.
Alizarin: Digital art just comes alive in this environment and for the first time in my life, I see my digital drawings in-world the way I see them when I create them ... on a monitor lit from within. When they are output as prints, they lose a little of the magic because ink on paper doesn't glow like a monitor. The only art that doesn't lose by being printed in real life is the digital collages they look just as good in both worlds.
Nazz: So this is where your focus will be then for the seeable future.
Alizarin: I decided to try to make second life work for me real life ... so I am cross linking everything. It was a good idea of yours to walk around it brought out a lot of ideas.
Nazz: So would have two bar stools and a bottle of Merlot.
Alizarin: Well i can offer you some digital champagne in the center oasis.
With that we returned to the sitting area and chatted for another hour our about our lives, first and second, while our virtual selves perched comfortably on settees and sipped champagne … an enjoyable conversation with a delightful lady and talented artist.
Post Script: A few days after our interview, I'd received an update message from The Art Conservatory at Sapphos Commons curator, RobertSteven Smythe. "On February 13th at 3:00 pm PST/SLT, Ms Goldflake will give an artist lecture about her work in Second Life and Real Life at The Art Conservatory. It's to be just an informal gathering and Q and A at the end." He said in his message.