The Looking Glass is the joint creation of Marcus Inkpen and partner Sharni Azalee, and is located on their sim of Horizon Dream. It’s a fascinating mix of elements brought together in an inspirational and highly photogenic feast for the eyes.
The arrival point sits on a small quay in one corner of the sim. From here you are free to wander and explore the region – or if you wish you can click on the Mystery Gift box and receive a clue designed to help you on your way to fining the gift itself. The clue is given as a verse from a poem:
The fields are all dried up, the corn’s all gone dead,
So he pulled up his post and to the shore he did head.
There are no crows there now, to bug him all day,
So he tries his best to scare the seagulls away.
An old crumbling tower lends his new home some shade,
And a little bird sings to him until the daylight does fade.
A sign swings from a post beside a rickety set of wooden steps leading up from the quay to a small town of indeterminate age. Here are discrete stores where you can purchase various creations by both Sharni and Marcus – some of which are in evidence around the sim itself. Careful where you walk however, as an exposed manhole cover hints there may be things going on below ground as well as above.
Wander through town and you’ll eventually come to the Looking Glass Amphitheatre, an open field where stands an ornate glass stage and a grand piano – a place for dances and other events. From here you can return to the town and climb the stairs to the huge Clock Tower that dominates the hill behind the town – or you can take a more direct route up the rocky side of the hill to reach it.
The Tower’s hall is a gallery used to display work by other SL artists. During my most recent visit it featured a display by Skusting Dagger.
Several options for exploration offer themselves to you from the Tower, which you take is up to you. For my part, I walked out along the “bridge to nowhere”, as I call it, to appreciate Marcus’ imaginative sculpture La Mer. On my return, I headed up to the Temple Ruins – a place better reached by teleport, or by flying, admittedly.
The Temple ruins is referred to as a particle stage, and is used to hosts various events on the sim; the most recent being by InterfaceD Dreamscape who presented a particle show, with music by Novulino.
One of the delights of The Looking Glass is the juxtaposition of themes and ideas: the town area seems to be old, but has hints of it having somewhat modern setting: the pool table in the bar, the television aerials poking up from chimney and rooftops, the no parking signs, and so on. As one walks through it, one cannot help but feel that while it may once have known better days, it is now running to seediness and no-one really cares about it any more.
That no-one cares is evidenced by the Forrest theatre, which appears to be still in use, despite having threadbare carpets, smashed glass in the front doors and the domed windows above, while the stage itself is exposed to the sky thanks to a partially collapsed roof, while the walls at the back of the building are broken and ruined. Whether the damage is the result of age and disrepair, or the result of a possible fire, is yours to decide..
Elsewhere, the buildings suggest something more medieval in tone, or at least leaning towards fantasy – something that is heightened by the wonderful Floating Islands that form a peaceful retreat within a peaceful sim. There’s even a touch of The Waltons, with a small farm-style layout from The Looking Glass Victorian Cottage range.
The mix means that The Looking Glass is very photogenic and makes an excellent subject for machinima; in fact it has already been the backdrop for a film by the ever-talented rockerfaerie on YouTube (aka ColeMarie Soleil in SL). If you are going to be taking photos of the sim, I’d recommend that you set the Sun to sunrise to generate the most dramatic results. At least it worked for me, I think – although I’m admittedly far from an expert in such maaters, and useless with Photoshop when it comes to post-processing.
The sim may not be as complex as somewhere like Alpha and Omega Points, and when not hosting a live event, may appear somewhat quiescent – but to me, both of these facts actually enhance its appeal.
But this doesn’t mean there is not to discover. Even when you’ve finished above ground and taken a trip up to the Floating Islands or the Floating Victorian house, there is more to seek out – if you can find it. Just what is the history of the hidden throne room? And romantics won’t want to miss the crystal garden. I would offer a word of warning, tho, should you find your way underground; the teleport at the town’s manhole can be a little brusque in helping you back to the surface!
As well as exploring, this is a place one can come to when one simply wants to be in-world, but without the pressure of needing to “do” something; the sim invites you to wander, to sit and simply enjoy. It’s a place I come to when feeling reflective. It’s also an attractive visit because it is not only a work that expresses the talents of two well-known SL artists, it is a work that actively promotes the work of other artists as well.
I have to admit I very much like the way in which products from The Looking Glass are presented as a part of the overall build – it is subtle but highy effective and demonstrates very clearly both the build quality involved and how the products can be used. It’s also a clever strategy in that it doesn’t leave items like vendor boards sticking out like sore thumbs. If you do see anything you particularly like, be it a house, a bridge, a street lamp or item of interior decor, it can be found in one of The Looking Glass stores in town. I have to admit, I’ve been sorely tempted by the Floating Island range, given the latest iteration of my own home is built into a floating rock. Truth be told, the waterfall from the Floating Island range still does call to me whenever I visit!
Whether you are looking for a place to visit, somewhere to film or an inspirational location for your photography, The Looking Glass is a fabulous place to visit. Exploration here is easy, with an edge of mystery, and there is much to see and enjoy without it impinging on all your time.
Definitely worth a visit or three!