The art of Marco Manray

The Italian photographer Marco Manray takes pictures like no one else in Second Life. They’re often minimalist, might look a bit naive, still, they have an eerie feeling attached that proves he knows just what he’s doing. These days, you can see a retrospective exhibition of his works at the Photography Museum Moya. And he goes a long way back: The oldest pictures are from 2005.

Not being on Flickr, he might not be so well known in-world as many other photographers, but he has displayed his SL works in FL galleries in Napoli and Roma. French newspapers Liberation and Le Temps have printed his photos, as have the Spanish El Pais and the Italian Corriere della Sera. He’s even published the book «Io, reporter in Second Life», a personal account of his days in SL since early 2005.

I did an interview with Marco Manray when he opened his first exhibition early this summer. Due to certain circumstances I couldn’t control, it was never published. So I’m happy to be able to share it now in an edited version.

• • •

His surname, Manray, is an SL version of Man Ray, who was an American photographer working with the surrealists. ”The name is like a ’readymade’, and I took it,” he said, with reference to the surrealists who made art of everyday objects. Manray makes art of SL.

A part of the exhibition is called «Why is there something rather than nothing?»

”The title is a quote from the German philosopher Leibniz,” said Manray. ”He was wondering about creation, and I ask the same question with reference to virtual worlds.”

The pictures are all very quiet, empty, in black and white, looking very much like landscape pictures from first life. ”I’m inspired by Ansel Adams, a great American photographer. He took black and white pictures of the West; wild nature, rocks and waterfalls. So I quote his work, but in a metaphorical West, here, in the wild areas of Second Life, untouched by man,” said Manray.

”I’m attracted to the idea of a new land. We are at the very beginning of the story of virtual worlds, so I look at a space that’s waiting for men and ideas, far from the crowds and kitch in the rest of SL,” said Manray.

If the landscape pictures has an almost hyper reality to them, a second part of the exhibtion looks more un-real, or surreal: Large pictures of crowds of cloned avatars, some grey, some clothed, but all frighteningly identical.

”They are replicas of avatars,” said Manray. ”They are no one, or anyone, or everyone. What is identity in Second Life? How do we create one? These avatars are like we all are before we start building our identities. They are only essence. The border between the real and the unreal is important in my work.”

Surreal as they may seem, even by SL standards, the pictures are simple, non-photoshopped ones.

”What I show is real. I found them in a large room. They are copy-bots. The technique of copying avatars was used to increase traffic on islands. It’s cheating, but I was attracted only to the symbolic meaning of them. I spent days looking at them. It was as if they were performing without meaning to. They didn’t move, but in my pictures I feel like they’re moving towards us,” said Manray.

Also part of the exhibition is a glance at SL trees and catwalk campers – ”paid for walking in a permanent and endless fashion show,” said Manray.

Manray finds SL the best place for art today. ”There are many interesting artists here, interesting questions to be asked; this is the place to be at the moment. It gives you freedom.”

• • •

In addition to the themes from the former exhibition, in this new one you can also see his very first pictures, abstract pictures, reprints of his work for newspapers, a new series called «Flatlandia», and a fascinating series made in the style of French painter Henri Rousseau.


~ by theresecarfagno on October 25, 2008.

2 Responses to “The art of Marco Manray”

  1. Tag, you’re it!

  2. I loved it!

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