Wardi Sanusi’s Alchemist’s Workshop is exactly the kind of build one hopes to discover when exploring the virtual world, Second Life. The scale of the upper levels is sublime. The visiting avatar is dwarfed. Orbs of mythical elements whirl and spin. Some are transported through tubes that connect with other structures. The lowest levels of the Alchemist’s Workshop are Water, Saundarya and a Musical Garden. It is this haven I have come to reconsider in preparation to write about my interview with Wardi Sanusi.
Despite the fact I am physically sitting before my computer while my avatar is in the simulation, my senses are refreshed by the sensual colors and music. Cool blues and greens and hints of violet and gold surround me. The Musical Garden incorporates the sounds of Wardi’s Cello. I can sit and listen in the green leaf-like chairs. Or, if I walk among the sea weed, additional notes are triggered and incorporated into the spontaneous minimalistic music. There is as much science as art surrounding me here. I try to imagine how many programs and the hours it must take to create the elements necessary to make the sea weed dance and sing. Regardless of the number of technical elements and programs he must create and use to build places like the Workshop, the focus of Wardi’s work is always the artistic expression of nature’s ability to evolve.
I asked Wardi to discuss the apparent marriage of art and technology he achieves. Born in 1969, his father Indonesian and his mother Chinese, Wardi was the youngest of five children. Each was a genius, according to Wardi, and chose professions in law, medicine and architecture. Wardi himself wrote his first computer program at the age of eight. “I can do the sums … but I’d rather build a kite.” Making the kite fly was of less interest than “the building of it,” Wardi explains. Unlike his siblings, he chose the path of the artist, his natural inclination, and studied at the Sorbonne. In his thirties he returned to school to get a degree in Physics and Mathematical Sciences. “It is only later on that I discovered that physics, maths, is … art … contrive as it is… strict rules as it is .. but art.. beautiful nonetheless.”
I made the observation to Wardi that the Alchemist’s Workshop is “geeky” with elements of the mythological mixed in. Wardi interrupted, “but …. That’s it… you cannot escape or seperate oneself from the “geeky” stuff.” He uses “the rule of thirds as” an example and its relationship to Fibonacci’s Theorem. Math can be used to describe nature. In fact, it is “how it started life .. is fractals.. a theorem of sorts .. but.. it evolves.. nature evolves.” This is where art and math differ; math and physics cannot evolve. Wardi explains that nature and art cannot be contrived, or held to rigid rules.
I asked Wardi about other possible influences and he returns again to sift through the childhood he remembers happily, building kites, programming computers and reading. His environment was filled with “geekiness,” he recalls. He describes how his family moved around the world according to the demands of his father’s career. As much as he and his siblings hated it, this too seems a good fortune for Wardi having made him able to blend and adapt to different cultural environments. Wardi is clearly comfortable hanging his hat wherever he discovers himself in the world. He makes his home now in Surrey, England where he works as a professional photographer and is the founder of neverbeige.com.
While it is apparent his nature was inclined toward the arts he could not help but inherit and develop the same abilities as his siblings to understand and use the language of numbers. Math is one of many languages known to Wardi Sanusi and he uses it to create beautiful expressions of nature through his art. The challenge of creating art in a virtual environment is finding freedom within the limitations of the environment. My own perception has always been that if numbers are required, as they are in physics, they would have a limiting effect on the possibilities available. Wardi puts this into a new perspective for me: “I wouldn’t say physics is limited. I’d say it’s governed.” He further insists, “Art is an expression…and therefore…it can never be governed.”