Art in Second Life (85) “Surface of Mars” by Rachel Breaker

I got a group message about the opening of an exhibition by Rachel Breaker in pavillion 4 at GBTH project. It is named “Surface of Mars“.

What a strange title for an exhibition. And I had never heard of Rachel Breaker before, nor was I prepared what I was going to see. But there’s quite some information right before you enter the exhibition itself.

In the entrance right next to the poster of the exhibiton you find a longer text from Rachel Braker in which she explains the background of her exhibtion. And lazy as I am I will use this text in my blogpost.

I started this project with the intention of making a space similar to the Penn station AmTrak area or like an aiport space of stores. i was looking at abandoned malls, stores, and like fever dream type pictures, such as the back rooms. I was looking at pictures of stores half closed, where the lights are on in the back but off in the front, such at spaces that are closed or closing. This store unintentionally turned into a school, and I realized I was making a place your not supposed to be, not an abandoned space. I unintentionally recreated these motifs I remember from school that were omnipresent. I remember endless cinder block, linoleum tile and drop ceilings. Its identical to big box architecture.”

Impressions of “Surface of Mars” by Rachel Breaker (1)

Once you use the teleporter to the exhibition you land at a staircase. To your right is a door that leads to a couple of rooms. Some rooms are completely full with kind of a 1:1 modell of a brown surface, the “Surface of Mars“. There are some stones lying on the surface. Along the walls are some folding tables with objects. Like in a shop on one table are several generals made of porcelain, on another are a few buffalos, and the next table showases metal trash bins. You can purchase them by the way. The whole feel and look reminds a lot of a school. Somehow schools look all alike in the whole world: Linoleum tile floors, drop ceilings, a green stone wall … and I could litereally small my own old school.

There are things you never notice that are littered everywhere just from people using them strewed around a school in the hallways, like the folding tables, the plastic chairs, the palstic bins, the grimey formica furniture, office carpeting. Its an area that’s formed a lot like a forest, nobody designs it, things are placed as needed and abandoned, it happns organically. The sounds and the lighting are extremely specific to the space I remember. These aren’t spaces to fear necessarily, but they are vast, stormy, and sublime.

Impressions of “Surface of Mars” by Rachel Breaker (2)

I left the ground floor rooms and went up to the 2nd floor. The same picture. Rooms filled with “Surface of Mars“, folding tables at the walls offering figures made of porcelain, lions, santas, chickens, pigs. I also noticed these cheap plastic chairs, also a design used all over the world. Same goes for the plastic bins. One wall is used for announcements, white boards filled in this case just with posters from the exhibtions.

In early dos videogames where I have vague memories of wandering around these enless dark hallways in the abyss in Ultima Underworld. As a child I didn’t know how to play but I remember doing this for hours, pucking up trash and just falling asleep.

There is something about this and current events surrounding mars that I can’t explain exactly. The arbitrariness of the design of schools, the things I remember so vividly are empty, and I see the same design in the precedural martian surface. In school I remember being excited about new technology and now I just see it as a nefarious game of a few billionaires. I don’t understand how people can be excited about billionaires going into space, it’s depressing to me. I drew on publicly funded spaces, and icons of government funding that are disappearing. I found old banks that use all this imagery, and seeing them all together, repeated over and over on folding tables, seemed unexplainable but true.

Impressions of “Surface of Mars” by Rachel Breaker (3)

The exhibition “Surface of Mars” combines 3 elements. First it is a very well built school building, that really offers you the look and feel of a school, it looks “real” and real shabby as many schools are nowadays. Secondly there are the “Surfaces of Mars“, something you can easily picture being showcased in a museum to make you feel like being on our neighbourhood planet. And thirdly there are the porcelain objects, small artful pieces that you can take with you to decorate your home if you like to showcase some pretentious kitsch there.

Rachel Breaker is in Second Life since 2006. She’s a painter and 3D artist based in the USA. Rachel studied photography, did a masters program in the UK for animation and nowadays works developing props and environments for video games. Her work in Second Life started being developed in 2008 and inside the grid she participated of a round of The Arcade in 2017 and keeps a store on the Katat0nik sim and a store on the marketplace. And no surprise, you can find her also on flickr.

Her inspiration comes from planned environments like miniature golf courses, paths, also vintage toys, New Orleans Mardi Gras, amongst others.

Thank you Rachel for this exhibition. Thank you to all others who enabled the exhibtion and provided the space for the art.
GBTH means Grab By The Horns, the GBTH Project is an urban sim dedicated to contemporary art. You find more information at

Landmark to “Surface of Mars” by Rachel Breaker
Rachel Breaker’s store on the Kata0mik sim
Rachel Breaker’s store on the marketplace
Rachel Breaker’s flickr
GBTH Project website

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