An Interview with TerraMerhym Terra and Rage Darkstone
The term „art“ is related to the Latin word „ ars” meaning, art, skill, or craft. The first known use of the word comes from 13th-century manuscripts. However, the word art and its many variants (artem, eart, etc.) have probably existed since the founding of Rome.
Though there is no one universal definition of visual art, there is a general consensus that art is the conscious cretation of something beautiful or meaningful using skill and imagination.
Both of the artists I have the honour to present to you today understand their art as expression of emontional content – meaning they express and transport a definite feeling for the audience to answer to and thus evoke emotional responses from their viewers. Or, as HW Janson states „(Art is) opening our eyes almost daily to new experiences and thus forcing us to adjust our sights?“ (History of Art, 1962).
Now let’s get to my guests:
TerraMerhyem Terra is a very pleasant French woman. She has been around in Virtual Worlds for quite a while and is a resident of Craft-Word since 2021.
Rage Darkstone is an iqualy pleasant and friendly French-American who also resides in Craft since 2021.
Tosha: Terra, I have the impression that you are a very spiritual woman/artist. What does spirituality mean to you?
Terra: Spirituality… That’s a word that doesn’t appeal to me… „Mysticism” is a word that appeals to me. I am a mystic, not in the religious sense of the word, but in the sense of „intimate participation-merging with…”! And what speaks to me is the beauty, the size, the vastness, the height, the magical, the heroic, the „uncommon”… what „something else” than RL breathes and inspires… I feel drawn to it since childhood – myths, legends, heroic gods, the afterlife… Mysticism: I think it’s what makes me feel good and inspires me when I’m in a creative phase.
Tosha: Rage, I see you performances as very explosive and virile – is that a right concenption or am I on a completely wrong lane there?
Rage: Well, there are two approaches:
1) artwork is done to illustrate some idea, conception etc…
2) artwork which lets the viewers come up with their own interpretation. My work is of type 2). I want to create something evocative in which the viewers can see what they want. However, other people have had your reaction to my art.
Tosha: Rage, so you want to tell me, that it is my interpretation and has nothing to do with you and your work?
Rage: one can’t interpret anything they want from my work, but i want to let the viewer free to come up with their own interpretations. I don’t even like having titles for my work or for my shows, because it can restrict what people see in it. However… As an artist – I like expressionism, work that communicates fealing, emotion as well as images. want something evocative. something pregnant with interpretations, ideas, emotions.
My father was an artist, Tosha, and when I was very young he asked me to paint an “angry orange” – an orange with emotions. I never forgot that. He took me along with him as he developed his artwork. so he taught me how to paint, draw, weld, forge iron, etch plates for prints and engrave them with a burin, he taught me photography, he taught me to cast statues in bronze, he made a poter’s wheel for me and i spun pots in clay, he taught me all kind of techniques — painting with water color, oil, guash, water color, egg tempera — he had me doing art almost from when i could move, as a Baby.
Tosha: Oh, that sounds like a cool father and a fantastic childhood.
Rage: It was. I was very lucky.
Tosha: Terra, How did you come to be a „virtual artist”?
Terra: I fell in love with virtual art by accident. Many years ago I had seen 3D landscape software in a store selling for next to nothing because the next version had just come out. There was a beautiful landscape on the case and I bought the soft not knowing what to do with it or if I would do anything with it at all. I had a computer that was almost unused except for the word processor. I looked at the soft’s interface on my screen and…I said to myself, „Later”. And I forgot. A few months passed and I was asked to design a cover for a CD… I opened the software again and said to myself: „I’m going to design an aquatic landscape, very simple but fantastic, with a pterosaur hovering over it… “. The image I got was really primitive and simplistic, but it was beautiful, it had the weird vibe I wanted and interesting colors… And I found this result so easy to achieve!
And that was the beginning of the adventure.
Terra smiles: Other software came along, and more complex and elaborate creations …
The exciting thing about it: Virtual creation is limitless because no work is ever „finished” = you can always pick it up, redesign it, make it better (or damage it) or do something completely different with it … You can create a 3D Creating an object and
turning it into 2D works… And also the opposite… You can rotate a 3D object in all directions, you can visit it “inside” if it has an inside… And therefore: You can create your own world, the world you want with the properties you choose – which is very different than just having/doing „what is possible” RL…
Tosha: Is that something you only experience in virtual worlds, or have you also had artistic experiences in real life?
Terra: Although it’s not my main job, I’ve designed logos, CD and DVD cases, book covers and illustrations in RL.
Tosha: Rage, how about you? Was it a „normal“ continuation of your RL work or was it a „new“ start?
Rage: It really is a continuation, Tosha. I came into SL and discovered that there was a thriving artistic commmunity. I had restarted doing artwork after decades, so at first I just scanned my rl work and showed it in galleries I built in SL. That started me building and sculpting in SL. This started my work as a digital artists, now I do very little RL artwork.
Tosha: Rage, I am especially fascinated by your creating and destroying, creating and destroying during your performances…
Rage smiles: I enjoy change. And change often involves destroying, recreating, morphin, or recombining, and then destroying again.
Tosha: Terra, some of your exhibitions and performances are about life and death. Have I understood that correctly?
Terra: Yes… What is more important than life and death? Nothing …
There is the love, the beauty, the music, the colour, the movement… the elements of life are… There is the allure of darkness, nothingness, stillness, immobility, mystery… the elements of death are … And what else?
Despite appearances, I don’t really perceive any contradiction or opposition here… Anything can fit into life and death in a poetic way… A Chinese sage once asked, „Is it relevant, life as good and death to be considered bad?”. And his answer, of course, was, „It’s irrelevant”.
Of course, LIFE and DEATH – with capital letters – are not life and death as in RL: they are fantastic „ideas” always imbued with beauty and greatness: it is the power of art to break free from the blood that is under the bombs flows (death, as it is now in Ukraine!), and to be able to stay away from the pain one experiences on a hospital bed (aspects of life in RL)… It is the magic of art that captures the joys of LIFE and can amplify/embellish the darkness of DEATH…
LIFE/DEATH is like Shiva’s dance: with each step of the dance a world is born or a world dies… that is art…
I love art!
Tosha: You play extensively with ideas of gods/goddesses/mythological characters. Is this just a fantasy or what connects you to these „characters” and ideas?
Terra: Religion is not „my trip”…
Epos is my trip: I’ve been fascinated by „barbaric” gods (and heroes) since childhood. Those kind of gods and heroes who possess greatness and powers but are so „human” and fallible that they can be wrong in their actions and decisions, make mistakes, engage in adventures and fights and sometimes fall into traps and bad situations … but still remain great, beautiful, grandiose!
My bedtime reading is „Creatures of Light and Darkness” by Roger Zelazny – I’ve re-read it many times and it always amazed me … So the imaginative „dealing” with these deities is uplifting for me, it brings feelings to Swinging and makes me breathe more fully = this is part of my LIFE… Sometimes I try to escape from them (she laughs) – in an exhibition, an installation or a performance that has nothing to do with mythological entities – but they get me often again! Eventually the idea comes up: „What if I created this sculpture of a mythological creature? – and I do that – and there they are, over and over again!
I wrote this poem (one of my few in German) on a day of rebellion:
« Herren des Gartens
Die Götter wissen es mich auszusaugen
ganz sanft und auch ganz heftig
Und sie streiten sich um meine Säfte zu geniessen
Und wenn ich traure, und leide, und schreie
oh Weh, sie hören es…
Die Götter sind meine unzüchtige Hölle
meine unersättlichen Feinde
mein wollüstiger Schrecken
Die glasäugigen Götter
Die verkrüppelten Götter
Die mich lebendig so zerstören
Und so zerreissen
und so fressen…
Ich bin in den Himmel gefallen und rufe nach dem Schlamm… «
Tosha: To what extent can a feeling of love be real in virtual life?
Terra: What is “real” is what is felt. A feeling, an emotion, a sensation… it’s not virtual… there are no abstractions: it’s the nervous system – the whole person – that’s affected and vibrating. It makes no difference whether this vibration is linked to something “real” or something “virtual”: it is the “reality”, the truth of what is being experienced and what is being felt at that moment… By the way, I don’t really believe in the concept of “Reality” when it comes to the psyche: In my view, only a conventional corpus labels the “real” versus the “virtual”… and our “reality” is merely the result of our interpretations of what we experience. Love is a mystical participation in the other – and when we love, that is the felt truth… The dichotomy “real vs. virtual”: An artificial distinction, for me…
Tosha: Oh…. I am delighted! I was asked so many times about that, and never had the right answer. Now I do. Thank you Terra!
Tosha: Last but not least: you settled in Craft. Can you tell me what made you choose Craft among all the other virtual worlds?
Terra: Actually, I didn’t go for it: the proposal to create an artwork on the theme of “The afterlife” (“America Art 2022”) in Craft brought me here. How could I have resisted such a topic?
I met a lot of nice people in Craft… who also love art… And I made a home in Craft…
Also, Craft is a gentle world and the first in opensim we went to. Agreeable people, an agreeable and accessible „head“ (Licu) who solved many problems for me.
Terra smiles broadly: It is a good place to set home. Others grids have the same advantages, but here is „home“
Rage: I would echo exactly what Terra wrote (I am so lazy) maybe elaborate a bit.
Terra: also many things are related to art in Craft.
Terra: and we were involved in many already.
Rage: there is a group of artists who have build and continue to build a community of artists. More generally, Open sims are very attractive because it can be a kind of „atelier“ where you can try out many things — mesh, for instance, is „free“ and has a very low land impact — so it is fantastic for experimenting with mesh and mesh statues in particular.
Terra: So, when people „talk the same language“ it’s a good place to set home. Everything „works“.
Rage: Also — Licu is so responsive when there are glitches, as Terra pointed out, which inevitable happens in virtual worlds.
Tosha smiles: Yes, Licu really is the best „capo“ one could wish for!
And I thank both of you very much for your view on things and many intersting insights!
If all you people have a chance to see one of the performances of either Rage Darkstone or TerraMerhyem Terra be sure to catch it!
You will find their brilliant presentations regularly at the Craft Homepage,
says Tosha, still with stary eyes full of INSOMNIA……………………………………