Some things in life are worth experiencing slowly. Give me an intense shot of Italian, gently percolated espresso over a sterile, dull tasting, instant takeout any day; give me the undeniably sensual thrill of a languorous, three hour lunch as opposed to a snatch and grab baguette demolished in seconds anytime, let me luxuriate in the unrushed pleasures of life- and I am one very happy woman. If it’s worth doing, it’s usually worth waiting for. And so it was with Second Life artist and real life composer Mik Frequency.
I think it’s fair to say I have cyber-stalked this innovative artist relentlessly over the past few weeks (such was my determination to get an interview with him) yet we seemed to miss each other online, in email and even in Skype all too often. Then ensued a long, drawn out game of IM Ping-Pong where I would leave him off-line messages then log out: only to discover him logging in straight after me and also leaving messages. We became for three, solid weeks, cyber-pen friends, connected only by words and not actually communicating. It was a slow dance of missed opportunities, and my latent journalistic paranoia kicked in several times – was he avoiding me? Had I offended him without realizing? But I decided to just….keep.. waiting. He was worth it.
It transpired that Mik was simply very busy in his real life; and what an impressive real life he has. A Lecturer in Music Production at a University in the North of England, Mik both teaches and researches spatial, interactive computer music and uses Second Life as a platform for experimentation. His work inworld involves creating fully immersive art installations (complete with self-composed soundtracks) that are both visually and audibly remarkable. After initially training in sculpture in real life, in his late twenties Mik was compelled to incorporate music and film into his artwork after discovering the work of music maestro Brian Eno, and since then has embarked on a long career combining his dual passions of art and music along the way. It was back in the summer of 2009 that Mik became familiar with Second Life during a staff development conference at his University, where he discovered they had purchased four full sims to use for educational purposes. Curiosity got the better of him, and his intrigue in this new virtual platform quickly developed into a full blown passion for exploring the artistic content of Second Life.
“I was introduced to some wonderfully original galleries and installations very early on by my first few SL friends, principally Sfindra Belar, Fiona Blaylock, and Shahida Shilova,” Mik says, reflecting on his first forays into the virtual art world. “I soon began to appreciate SL as creatively fertile. Along with these first friends, artists encountered in the first few months, such as Bryn Oh, Vroum Short, AM Radio, and Maya Paris provided me with the initial inspiration to learn more about creating in-world.”
This inspiration took flight, and Mik now has some prolific work on show. His pieces are extremely distinctive with color, movement and flowing forms presiding over the majority of his work and of course, each piece is accompanied by his beautifully surreal and haunting self-composed soundscapes. “Each installation work to date began with the collecting and collating of real-world images and sound, mainly using a Nikon D50 and Zoom H4 with external shotgun microphones, followed by the immersion of digital rediscovery and exploration, primarily through Adobe Illustrator and Apple Logic,” he says, explaining his design processes. “During each installation there is always an element of serendipity, that arrives out of a fortuitous experiment, as I attempt to make the ideas real; when this happens I let it evolve.”
Installations such as ‘The Wings of a Butterfly,’ ‘The Sphere’ and ‘Imperfect Geometry’ are all marvelous showcases of Mik’s artistic imagination, but for me, it is his main gallery ‘Drawing in the Sand’ with its imploding, starburst centerpiece and slowly rotating, immersive builds that define his ever evolving style the most. What about the future? What direction does he see his own work taking? “I am passionate about technology in music and art, but I do not want the technology to conceal, or to be a substitute, for creative expression,” he says, contemplating what’s to come. “I think there is a danger that technological cleverness might be mistaken for novelty in artistic expression and become an illusory transitory distraction; so I tread carefully and try to embrace the future but with my feet firmly planted in the past.”
Slow and easy Mik – it will be worth the wait.
Mik Frequency Gallery: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Derby%20University%202/197/83/23