On October 2nd, 2022 Jade Koltai informed us that Serene Footman, her long-time creative partner in bringing together some of the most outstanding region builds witnessed in Second Life, passed away from cancer in August 2022.
To my regret, Serene and I were not closely acquainted in Second Life; although we did exchange IMs at times, and chatted on a few topics. However, I didn’t actually need to converse with him to hear his voice or appreciate his heart: both could be seen and felt through every single region build he and Jade presented to Second Life for the enjoyment of everyone who visited them.
I first became familiar with Serene and Jade’s work back in 2015, when they opened Furillen, a Homestead region modelled on a small isle of that name and itself laying off the coast of Gotland, Sweden’s largest island. By turn a quarry, then a military installation and more recently a conference centre, Furillen’s history was richly and evocatively caught in Serene and Jade’s build – and build that set the tone for almost all of their subsequent designs, as well as loaning its name to Serene’s blog.
I say “almost”, because the next design the pair produced was very different to any physical world location (although it did include a reproduction of London’s Battersea power Station), as it offered an engaging and unique homage to English rock band Pink Floyd with Pink Floyd Ate My Sim.
But it was with the representation of physical world locations that Serene and Jade’s partnership became most well-known, with designs encompassing La Digue du Braek (found in France), Khodovarikha (Russia), Isle of May (Scotland), Louisiana’s Black Bayou Lake, Rummu quarry in Estonia, Chesapeake Bay, Ukivok in Alaska, North Brother Island, New York, to name just some – with both Serene and Jade also producing individual region designs also based on physical world locations as well.
The major points of all of these designs, alongside them being modelled on places people would likely otherwise have little or not opportunity to visit in the physical world, was the fact they were richly detailed and offered superbly imaginative interpretations of the places on which they were based, given the limitations (notably physical space) found within SL Homestead (and even Full) regions.
A further aspect of these builds which helped distinguish them from other region builds lay in the amount of additional information Serene would provide on them and their physical world namesakes through his Furillen blog which remains (for the time being at least), an excellent reference work in its own right.
Serene was also a gifted photographer, and his images were subject to exhibitions in Second Life, as with 2019 Retrospective, which I reviewed here, and which demonstrated Serene’s wonderfully understated and eye-caching technique.
To give people the opportunity to remember Serene, his work, and her partnership with him, Jade has returned Isle of May – one of Serene’s favourite builds – to Second Life, and visitors are encouraged to drop in and recall Serene’s presence in Second Life, the beauty of his work and the joy he brought to all of us in visiting these wonderful creations.
My condolences to Jade and to Serene’s family and friends.
Isle of May (Overland Hills, rated Moderate) – limited time only
Updates from the week through to Sunday, October 2nd, 2022
This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:
It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.
Official LL Viewers
Release viewer: version 22.214.171.1245022 – hotfix for Crash at ~LLModalDialog() – promoted September 15 – no change.
It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library – and this week previews the launch of a very special event.
As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home in Nowhereville, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.
Two New York Police Department detectives investigate a series of suspicious deaths across New York City. These are revealed to be the work of a race of intelligent beings descended from canids, called the Wolfen.
The novel is told from the point of view of the human characters as well from the Wolfen themselves. The savage killing of two New York City policemen leads two detectives, a man and a woman bound together by a strange, tough passion, to hunt down the wolfen – once called werewolves.
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle.
To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.
Caledonia Skytower reads Diana Wynne Jones novel.
Wednesday, October 5th, 19:00: Seanchai Flicks – Spooky Edition
On Monday, September 26th 2022, NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft, massing 570 kg slammed into the 160-m diameter, roughly 5 million tonne asteroid Dimorphos as the latter orbited its parent asteroid, Didymos.
As I outlined in my previous Space Sunday update, the aim of the mission was to test the ability of a vehicle launched from Earth to alter the orbit of a near-Earth object (NEO) purely through the transfer of kinetic energy, in order to prevent a collision between planet and NEO.
Didymos / Dimorphos are NEOs. They orbit the Sun every 2.11 years, hopping across the orbit of Earth in the process and swinging out as far as the orbit of Mars before heading back towards the Sun, Didymos and Dimorphos are ideal subjects for such tests because the former’s orbit around the Sun can be accurately tracked, as can the latter’s near-circular 11.9 hour equatorial orbit around Didymos.
At the time of impact, DART was travelling at around 22,530 kmh, and its impact with the asteroid was described as the equivalent of “a golf cart ramming into the Great Pyramid of Giza”.
Prior to the impact, NASA indicated they expected the head-on collision between spacecraft and asteroid should slow the latter’s orbital velocity around Didymos by around 1% – or 10 minutes. This might not sound a lot, but it should result is a clearly observable change in Dimorphos’ orbit.
The impact was observed from a number of vantage points – including aboard DART itself, thanks to DRACO, the Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation, which recorded the spacecraft’s approach all the way up to impact (and loss of signal), a host of ground-based telescopes and both the Hubble and James Web space telescopes. In addition, a fly-by cubesat called Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids (LICIACube) built by the Italian Space Agency and released by DART roughly two weeks prior to the impact, should be returning post-impact images of Dimorphos in the next few days.
While scientists know a reasonably amount of the orbits of Dimorphos and Didymos, there is far more that is not known about either – such as their overall composition. As such, what would happen as a result of the impact was also unknown – and as seen from the likes of Hubble and James Webb and telescopes on Earth, the impact appeared much brighter than had been expected.
In particular, Hubble and JWST were both able to monitor and image the ejecta generated by the impact. Being able to do this is an added science goal for the mission, as analysis of the streaks of ejecta captured in both visible and infra-red wavelengths will help determine the asteroid’s likely composition and structure.
However, it is still going to be a while for the overall results of impact to be fully calculated, although initial estimates of the change in Dimorphos’ orbit might be known within a week or two following the collision.
China’s International Aspirations
China is looking to build partnerships for its upcoming missions to the moon and deep ventures into the solar system, while omitting mention of (current?) main partner Russia.
Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris on September 21st, 2022, Wang Qiong of the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Centre under the China National Space Administration (CNSA) stated that China was open to proposals for science payloads aboard its Chang’e-7 lunar south pole orbiter / lander mission, and the Chang’e-8 in-situ resource utilization test mission, as well as already having the participation of Sweden, Pakistan, the UAE (in the form of a small rover) and the European Space Agency (ESA) for the 2024’s Chang’e-6 mission.
In addition, China is working on a number of deep space missions for which international co-operation is welcomed in the form of:
Tianwen-2 (2025), a near-Earth asteroid sampling mission which will also visit a main belt comet.
Tianwen-3, a Mars sample return mission.
Tianwen-4 (2029) a mission to Jupiter (with a fly-by Uranus).
Finally, China is looking for further partners in the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) programme to establish a permanent robotic and later human-occupied moon base in the 2030s.
However, the presentation avoided mention of China’s current partner in ILRS: Russia. Per an agreement signed in June 2021, China and Russia are nominally equal partners in the project, and up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ILRS was referred to as a joint China-Russia programme (Russia was not represented at the IAC due to their on-going aggression in Ukraine).
It’s not clear if the conspicuous absence of Russia from China’s presentations signifies sensitivity to the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s isolation, or a change in Chinese thinking towards their engagement with Russia – although there is speculation the latter is the case.
Be it in space or elsewhere, China has a very realistic view of Russia and partnering with Moscow has never been Beijing’s most preferred outcome, for the two countries are not natural partners. This uneasiness is well reflected in their joint ILRS, which still remains little more than a coordination mechanism rather than a bold undertaking sharing a common goal. In moving forward, however, Beijing now seems to be increasingly confronted with a difficult dilemma: turn the relationship into a real partnership or drop it altogether.
– Marco Aliberti, European Space Policy Institute (ESPI)
Thus, given Russia’s current standing in the world, a partnership with Moscow could limit China’s ability to attract new, potentially more auspicious, international partner.
It now appears that the first launch of NASA’s new Space launch System rocket in the Artemis 1mission is unlikely to occur prior to November 2022 – although speculatively, the mid-to-end of October launch window remains possible.
Thanks to the arrival of hurricane Ian, NASA was forced to roll the massive rocket and its launch platform back the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Centre overnight on Monday, 26th, / Tuesday, 27th September 2022 in what was (literally, given roll-back commenced at 23:00 local time on the 26th) a 11th hour decision.
As a result of the roll-back, NASA has opted to replace the batteries on the vehicle’s flight termination system (FTS) – the package which destructs the rocket should it veer off-course during its ascent through the atmosphere.
This is a non-trivial task, and given the technicalities involved, NASA managers have indicated getting the work completed and returning the rocket to the pad before the end of October could be difficult. Should the launch slip into November, opportunities for that month exist from November 12th through 27th.
Hurricane Ian has also impacted the NASA / SpaceX Crew 5 ferry mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The 4-person crew – comprising NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada together with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina – had been scheduled for October 3rd, but has been pushed back to October 5th as a result of the storm.
This is something of a historic mission – Mann will be the first woman to reach space, and Kikina will be the first cosmonaut to fly to the orbiting lab with SpaceX.
Hubble: NASA and SpaceX Consider Dragon Servicing Mission
NASA and SpaceX are carrying out a study to see if it would be possible to use the latter’s Dragon vehicle to reach the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and boost its orbit – and, if Crew Dragon is used, deliver a crew to HST to carry out basic, but essential servicing.
From its launch in 1990 through until 2011, HST had to be routinely visited by the space shuttle to allow astronauts carry out essential servicing and the replacement of aging parts, as well as use the shuttle’s reaction control system to periodically raise Hubble’s orbit around the Earth.
However, in 2011, the shuttle was retired, leaving NASA without a vehicle capable of servicing the observatory, was has lowered its orbit by some 60km compared to when it was launched as a result of atmospheric drag. Unless countered, this drag will continue until HST will tumble uncontrolled into the denser atmosphere and break-up in the mid-2030s. To avoid this, NASA is planning a controlled de-orbit mission to HST using an automated vehicle in 2029/30, ensuring it burns-up safely and any surviving debris falls into the Pacific Ocean. By contrast, should a servicing / orbital boost be possible with Dragon, then Hubble’s operational life could be extended by up to 20 years.
Even so, such a mission by Dragon – crewed or otherwise – will be easy; as noted, HST is specifically designed to be services by the space shuttle, and while a capture mechanism was installed during the very last shuttle servicing mission to Hubble, it is intended to be used as a part of the de-orbit mission mentioned above. But should the study show a Dragon-based boost / service mission is feasible, it could come at little to no cost to NASA.
This is because billionaire Jared Isaacman, who has already financed and commanded the Inspiration4 mission and who is financing a series of further crew flights on Crew Dragon under the Polaris project, has indicated he believes a mission to Hubble would be a worth goal for Polaris – and he is actively involved in the study.
My audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, September 29th 2022 at 13:00 SLT.
My notes and the video from the Third-Party Viewer Developer (TPVD) meeting held on Friday, September 30th, 2002 at 13:00 SLT. The video is provided by Pantera – my thanks to her for recording it, and it can be found at the end of this article. Times stamps to the video are included where relevant in the following notes.
Both meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and their dates and times can be obtained from the SL Public Calendar.
This is a summary of the key topics discussed in the meeting and is not intended to be a full transcript.
Maintenance 3 RC viewer, version 126.96.36.1995257, September 23.
Maintenance P (Preferences, Position and Paste) RC viewer version 188.8.131.525055 September 19.
Puppetry project viewer, version 184.108.40.2064545, issued on August 30.
Love Me Render (LMR) 6 graphics improvements project viewer 220.127.116.113263, July 21.
Performance Floater project viewer, version 18.104.22.1681296, May 10.
General Viewer Notes
The next likely promotion to de facto release status will be the Maintenance 3 RC viewer.
The Performance Floater project viewer (which includes UI updates and the Lab’s new Auto-FPS feature) has been undergoing a lot of work to reconcile the Lab’s auto-FPS work with that of Firestorm (by Beq Janus and released in Firestorm 6.5.3, March 2022), and so an updated version should be appearing Soon™, possibly in week #40.
[Video: 28:10-32:35] The move to use Visual Studio 2022 in the Windows builds of the official viewer is moving ahead. Licenses are now in place, and an internal viewer (DRTVWR-568) built using VS2022 is being tested, and a project viewer may appear off the back of this.
In addition to this work, and as part of the migration to github, the third-party libraries used by the build process will be updated. This work will not include Clang.
A new version of Autobuild has been released with some features TPV developers may be interested in:
zstandard, xz, gzip compression of package archives.
blake2b hash support.
Support for downloading packages from restricted sources such as private GitHub Releases and GitLab packages.
CPU count exported as AUTOBUILD_CPU_COUNT for build scripts.
Signal Linden would like to hear from developers using a forked version of Autobuild could let him know what they need to be able to use the upstream version of Autobuild so that is is “simple to use” and has all the features TPV devs need to build their viewers.
This discussion included a conversation on using WSL in place of cygwin and on setting credentials to protect build packages that are not supposed to be redistributed.
Test viewers continued to be made available to those on the Content Creation Discord channel, with work now focused on brining the viewer more into line with the release viewer so that it can move forward to a project viewer status for wider distribution.
Requests to join that channel should be made in person at CCUG meetings. I am no longer able (at LL’s request) to furnish such information.
It currently looks as though the route to be taken in aligning the PBR / Materials viewer to the current viewers code is that users will not be able to disable PBR rendering, but will be able to turn off the new reflections capabilities. This means that:
Objects with PBR materials on their faces will continue to show those materials, they just will not respond to reflection probes when the reflections capability is disabled.
Legacy materials (those we currently have today) should continue to look pretty much as they do at the moment.
A major change between the PBR / Materials viewer and the current viewer is the former performs the majority of alpha blending rendering in linear colour space.
This can cause some different results to be displayed with alpha blending and the haze in some EEP settings. However, the majority of colours should render the same as, or close to, how they appear now.
However, the benefit is it reduces the amount of work the GPU / CPU has to do in converting between different colour spaces (e.g. linear and RGB).
Linden Water still has to be incorporated into the new render pipe (notably the the reflection and refraction paths, which currently require the forward rendering ((i.e. non-ALM) path – a path being disabled in the viewer as a part of this work.
[TPVD video: 1:34-3:15] texture overrides are likely to be handled via specifying a glTF complaint JSON blob per texture entry – although which fields will be supported is still TBA. It’s hoped that this approach will allow for rapid front-end / back-end support of features.
Reflections: the blending between reflection probes is still “not great” so this may cause some issues with presenting reflections across large surfaces (such as the face of a large skyscraper or glass building), with the suggestion being to manually place additional probes.
New PBR / Materials related LSL functions are to be introduced to allow for setting PBR materials on prim / object faces.
The standalone functions are seen as being in line with llSetTexture, and to be less verbose when typing, compared to typing a list as with Set /GetlinkPrimitiveParams.
All of these functions work similarly to the functions for setting textures on the faces of prims (ex: llSetTexture), but instead of referencing an image asset, they reference a material, such as can be created with the Material Editor.
materialNameOrID can be the material UUID string, or the name of a material item in the prim’s inventory.
These functions are currently deployed on the Aditi PBR test regions (Rumpus Room and Materials Sandbox regions) for testing.
The core of both the CCUG and TPVD meetings was the issue of the user experience, in-world mesh LODs, Land Impact, and what might be done to improve things.
Side note: it was acknowledged that many of the issues raised also apply to mesh avatar clothing and avatar accessories, but due to the manner in which avatars are handled in general, this is seen as a separate issue, deserving of its own discussion and potential routes to improve.
Around 30% of SL users – and a lot who are entering SL for the first time – are on systems that require a reasonable LOD factor (e.g. no more than 2) in order to have a reasonable frame rate. Unfortunately, this leaves them with a “broken” view of the world, as a result of a lot of in-world mesh items being built so they need to be seen at higher LOD setting at even reasonable camera distances.
This is the result of a combination of issues, including (but not necessarily limited to):
The Land Capacity / Land Impact (LI) system, and the need to manage the impact (LI) in-world builds builds have.
The failure / unwillingness of some creators to properly optimised the Level of Detail (LOD) generation of their models, despite knowing they should, and using the lowest LOD options they can in order to minimise LI (and thus have their models decimate – fall apart – even when see from relatively close distances).
The ability to force the viewer to fully render any LOD model of an in-world object, no matter how poorly optimised, in full detail via the unsupported RenderVolumeLODFactor setting, with creators then telling customer to set their viewer to high LOD factor (sometimes double figures) – something which can severely impact frame rates.
“Unsupported” is here a deliberate choice of words. As Runitai Linden noted at both meetings, debug settings, whether exposed as a UI element by TPVs or not, are not regarded as being a core, supported part of the viewer and thus are subject to change / removal by the Lab.
Issues within the mesh uploader cost calculations which appear to penalise properly modelled LODs by increasing the cost of a model with “decent” LODs to upload.
It is an issue that is seen as needing to be addressed, simply because new users are seen as coming into SL on lower-performing systems and having a bad visual experience. The question is how best to address it.
Possible Routes to Help Alleviate
Enforced clamping of the RenderVolumeLODFactor debug setting to no more than 4.00 for all viewers. This has been the case for some time in the official viewer (with the Graphics Preferences slide clamped to a maximum of 2.00), a practice also employed by some TPVs.
There was a general level of support for such a move, the view being it would force those creators who persist in trying to circumvent LOD modelling in favour of gaining a lower LI on their items to no longer do so, and encourage those coming into SL mesh content creation to properly model LODs.
Overhauling the LOD calculations for how objects are seen and rendered by the viewer, so that instead of only looking at the number of degrees on-screen the bounding sphere of an object takes up, the viewer scales its calculations in accordance with screen resolution.
This is seen by the Lab as a potentially good idea.
Other Points Raised in the Discussions
[TPVD Video 51:41-53:26] – Proper LODs appear to be penalised with higher LI values. This is likely to be down to how LI is calculated across a regions as explained by Runitai, and the math involved is unlikely to be changed.
[TPVD Video: 55:21-56:51] – Issues of render cost vs. download costs (getting all the asset data to the viewer for rendering) and what is seen as an imbalance between the two when rendering multiple copies of the same object. however, for the reasons given in the video, this is also unlikely to change.
[TPVD Video: 57:25-58:38] – RenderDynamicLOD is a debug setting (again, unsupported), that, when set to FALSE, forces the viewer to select a LOD model for an in-world object, based on its size, and always renders that LOD model, irrespective of camera distance.
As such, it cannot be gamed to avoid LODs per se.
It can, in some circumstances, result in an improvement (perhaps only slight) in FPS. As such, it is possible this setting might be presented as an option in the Advanced Graphics Preferences at some point (thus making it a supported feature).
[TPVD Video: 58:59-59:46] – In response to a suggestion made in chat that LL provide some form of “mesh inspection” service to ensure mesh items are decently optimised / modelled.
This was seen as antithetical to SL being a platform for content creation, as it would bottleneck the creative process and potentially deter creators.
It would also raise the question of how to review and “accept / refuse” all existing content within SL.
Instead, the preferable route is seen as trying to provide a means for creators to use them platform whilst ensuring that are encouraged to produce good looking, performant, content.
[TVPD Video 59:49-60:43] – However, it was observed that at the end of the day, if content creators are unable / unwilling to adhere to some building principles which allow the world to scale well be providing properly optimised LODs, there is always the option of replacing all creator-generated LODs with auto-generated LODs.
This is something which may (please note the emphasis!) be done in the case of avatar clothing and accessories.
It is also seen as something which might help enable SL to run graphically on mobile devices.
CCUG In Brief
There was some confusion over LL providing “instanced” regions, with some at the meeting being convinced it was a product offering indicated as “coming” or “premium”.
Currently, there are no clear plans for this to happen – the nearest to “instancing” the Lab offers is the cloning of event regions.
Instancing and on-demand products have been discussed at the Lab, but as pointed out in the meeting, providing them is not a certainty at present, and there are questions about what might happen WRT AWS fees, etc., should LL start to offer such a product (they may not actually go down as a result of unpredictability of use).
Alpha masks for the additional AUX wearable channels – a feature request has been received and accepted for these to be implemented, but no time frame on possible delivery, due the the need for both viewer and simulator updates as part of the implementation.
The question was asked of those attending the meeting as to which they would prefer to see: improvements to the in-world building tools or improving inter-operability with 3D tools.
This was something of a loaded question, inasmuch as those attending the CCUG are, for the most part, commercial content creators – people focused on generating income from their work. As such – and as demonstrated by the responses to the question (which included a call of in-world builders “leaching” off of others – hardly a fair categorisation) – inter-operability proved to be the more popular.
It was, however, acknowledged by Lab staff at the meeting that there are other creators in Second Life who are not necessarily driven by commercial aims but who can still contribute to the wider community and multiple ways and who still utilise the in-world tools, and as such, their feedback should also be sought.
TPVD In Brief
[Video: 8:51-9:51] Multi-Factor Authentication: there is an upcoming update which will see MFA enforced viewer-side. When implemented, it will mean users who have opted-in to MFA will only be able to log-in to SL on viewers with MFA support; they will no longer be able to switch between viewers with / without MFA support.
[Video: 9:59-11:00] Inventory Updates: discussed in previous meetings, it has been confirmed that as part of this work the AIS2 API will be deprecated and will “go away at some point”, and the viewer fully transitioned to AIS3 only.
This means that any new inventory fields added as a part of any forthcoming inventory project will only be accessible via AIS3.
I hadn’t realised that it’s been four years since my first visit to Green Story, the Homestead region held and designed by Dior Canis. Indeed, it might have been even longer before I hopped back to have another look, but for a poke from Shawn Shakespeare; admittedly, that poke was given to me at the end of June 2022, so even now I’m being a little tardy in just getting around to a visit and an article, given October is now peeking over the horizon at us!
At the time of hat visit, which I wrote about in Stories and memories in Green Second Life, the region was very much a place of two halves, one in the sky and one on the ground, and both equally attractive, and which offered a continuity of theme and expression, one to the other.
So far as I can tell now, Green Story exists in its current iteration as a ground-level build only; I certainly didn’t note any suggestion of a teleport to a sky platform – so if I did miss it, my apologies. Both the 2018 iteration of Green Story and this are joined, however, by the fact that whilst each has its own landscape, neither is what might be said to be contiguous location; rather, each exists to offer a series of locations – or vignettes, depending on how they are being utilised – scattered within a landscape which helps to link them as places to be found and appreciated.
In its form at the time of writing this piece for example, the landing point sits on a winding track running towards (or away from, depending on your point-of view), a little railway stations which has perhaps seen better days. Rain falls from a star-filled sky cut through with the ribbon of the Milky Way, and the shadowed forms of the station buildings, their mix of warm yellow lights and bright white platform illumination reflecting of banks of mist, beckon the new arrival with the promise of a warm reprieve from the downpour.
This station is a strange hodgepodge of buildings platforms, music store, café, waiting room, and so on, which look as though they have all come together to huddle against the rain rather than being built with intent, a single rail car hunched at the end of one of the lines and suffering the rain in silence. The very oddness of the station buildings – which includes a very cosy artist’s studio floating above the rest as if daring gravity to say something – givens them a unique attractiveness which further draws visitors to them.
Travelling the other way along the track from the station takes the visitor past a little telephone booth before the trail peters on on a shoulder of the hills descending from the south and west to meet the north-facing coast, the course of the trail marked only by the march of a line of street lamps beyond where the trail’s guiding fences end.
Further travel from here is either a case of climbing the rough slope of the hill or descending it towards the waiting shore. The way upwards can lead one to where the skeletal form of a cabin occupies an out-thrust of rock. Looking to be only partially complete (and a neat combining of builds by Wendy Keno and Cory Edo), the cabin is nevertheless cosily furnished and offers a comfortable retreat from the weather with an uninterrupted sea view. The path down, meanwhile, offers the way to where a deck sits over the water. Reached via stepping stone, it offers a view to the brilliant arc of the Milky Way as it rises from the north-east to arch over the region in a swathe of starry colour. Also visible from this deck is a little boat sitting far out on the water and laden with pillows and blankets as a further retreat for visitors to partake.
And therein lines the raison d’être for this design: not s much as a place to be explored in the traditional sense, but as a place where people can come, relax, share (intimately, if they wish, given much of the furniture scattered around includes cuddles / adult poses), take photos of themselves within the various vignettes – art studio, cabin, deck, telephone booth and so on (several more await discovery as one wanders) – or simply remember or lose oneself in thought.
In this latter point, it doesn’t matter that the art studio floats over the back of the station buildings or a single window frame is suspended alone on a hill slope; what matters is how the mind, the eye and / or the camera opt to use the locations within this region, be it for expression or escape.