Sybil : Exploring a Mystical Passage

Giovanna Cerise’s latest installation at Museum Island takes us back to an ancient cavern, which was once the home of a powerful oracle.

The sybils (also spelled sibyl) were female prophets or oracles in Ancient Greece who usually prophesied at holy sites in Greece, Italy, the Levant and even parts of Asia Minor. Historians debate about their number but the most common theory is that there were a total of ten known sibyls in the world who each had their own sites.

In 1932, Amedeo Maiuri discovered a cave known as Antro della Sibilla near the archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Cuma. The cave is a trapezoidal passage that runs parallel to the side of the hill and is cut out of the volcanic stone. It leads to an inner chamber, where the Cumaean Sibyl was thought to have prophesied.

Giovanna Cerise, a much-respected 3D artist in Second Life, brings this mystical cave and passage to the virtual world in an immersive installation that stays with you long after your visit. We land at the starting of the passage, where an information board provides a bit of knowledge about what you are actually entering.

The trapezoidal passage stretches into the distance, beckoning us to enter and explore its deep mysteries. Giovanna has stayed true to the original structure of the cave and the passage while also giving it her own personal touch. For example, as is the case with the original passage, she has created a number of openings along one wall which open out onto a beautiful terrace. These were created by the Romans to allow for ventilation and illumination in the inner recesses of the cave.

The main highlight of Sybil perhaps is the walk through the passage. I would highly recommend you to walk around here as camming will not do this installation any justice. Also, befor eyou start exploring, please check if you have the following setting right:

  • Graphics between HIGH and ULTRA
  • Advanced Lighting Model ON
  • Shadows -> Sun/Moon and Projectors

Some of you may find it hard to walk around at these settings if your graphics card is not too good. In that case, try to reduce your draw distance or get the closest possible settings you can with a reasonable frame rate.

As we walk the passage, we are confronted by several red silhouette statues along with a motion blur effect simulated by Giovanna very cleverly using lights and the movement of our own camera. The passage eventually opens out on the other side where we can continue exploring other installations at Museum Island or take a left and explore the terrace, where several exquisite sculptures by Giovanna have been displayed.

One of my personal favorites is Enigma, a small riveting installation in itself. It is located towards the eastern end of the passage and can be accessed using the first of the openings as we start walking along the passage, or from the terrace.

It is extremely rare that one comes an installation as engaging and enthralling as Sybil, which blends elements of history, mythology and art beautifully to give visitors a wonderful experience; thus a visit here is highly recommended. The journey through this passage is immersive, captivating and an adventure worth having.

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