Lust: loss, life and a little metaphor in Second Life

Had it not been for Miro Collas, I’d probably not have discovered The Sand Hills Country, Sei Ixtar’s powerfully evocative creation, for some considerable time. And I’d all the less for not having done so.

I often wax lyrical about the places I explore in Second Life, but The Sand Hills Country, covering the Homestead region of Lust, is deserving of everything I can say about it – and far more. It is not only a wonderfully immersive place to explore it is also one which I found – whether Sei (Sey to his friends) intended it to be or not – to be rich in metaphors, which adds enormously to its appeal.

The Sand Hill Country
The Sand Hills Country

On arriving at The Sand Hill Country, the first thing you notice is the custom environment Sey has created. I’m one for frequently using the viewer’s depth-of-field to create some atmospheric (or as other might fairly put it, “blurred” :)) images. With The Sand Hills Country, Sey has added horizon haze, together with a “skydome” for the sky, both of which create incredible atmosphere and feel to the region, giving it a rich depth (although the skydome colour might also be somewhat reproducible using windlight) All of the snaps in this article and on my Flickr stream accompanying this post have been taken using the defaults applied to the region.

lust-26_001
The Sand Hills Country

A sign near to the arrival point (literally just across the road, at the bottom of the steps leading to a derelict house) is a notecard giver. This provides background information on the region, including the fact that autoreturn is OFF – so visitors are free to rez items when visiting, but are also asked to please clean things up before they leave.The description of the region is straightforward, yet also opens the door to allowing one’s thoughts to wander free:

A rural landscape overwhelmed by desert, but not only… Suspended between time and space, take a breath, explore, and enjoy this unique scene.

The Sandy Hill Country
The Sandy Hills Country

Looking around, it is hard not to imagine one has been transported back to Steinbeck’s dust bowl era and The Grapes of Wrath, although potentially with a bit more water here.  To one side of the region lay sand hills, ever-encroaching and washing against the edges of a lone farm. While wheat is still growing in the fields and sheep and cows do still graze, things are not going well; it would appear that people are up and leaving, as the shell of a house overlooking the wheat field testifies.

The poignancy of the imagery is evident elsewhere, be it in the nesting box with eggs within and a mother bird guarding the entrance or the old, silent, “nodding donkey” pumpjack. Such is the power of this imagery that it is hard not to view it as a metaphor for the whole of Second Life and our varying attitudes toward it. Many do see the platform as slowly dying, perhaps a victim of its own initial rapid growth as a result of premature exploitation; and this is perhaps mirrored by the encroaching sand in the region, and the broken pumpjack and shattered warehouse with the deserted house beyond. Everything is washed out, dull, empty. People have moved on, leaving vacant spaces in their wake. Certainly, I couldn’t help but find strong symbolism in the fact that the only real colour in this part of the region comes from a couple of lifebouys floating in the water…

The Sand Hills Country
The Sand Hills Country

Yet here is also hope for the future, crops are still being gown; sheep and cattle still graze, ducks swim and feed – and new life is still entering the world, as shown by a nest box filled with eggs and watched over by a mother bird; it’s almost as if nature is whispering, “There is still hope.”

I’ve no idea if any of this is intentional on Sey’s part, or simply the wanderings of my over-active imagination. And it doesn’t really matter. The Sand Hills Country is a beautiful and creative study, whether you are simply looking for a new place to visit and share, or if you are seeking a place which offers a rich vein of photographic opportunities or if you’ll feeling somewhat philosophical about (Second) Life, the universe or everything – or whether you feel a combination of all three.

Why not go see for yourself? I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

The Sand Hill Country
The Sand Hills Country

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With thanks to Miro Collas.

7 thoughts on “Lust: loss, life and a little metaphor in Second Life

  1. Love the eerie quality to it. I love art installations in Second Life. They are always so amazing and sensory (shockingly for a virtual environment).

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    1. Sand Hills Country has got to be one of the most atmospheric places I’ve visited. I’m now boggling what I might do with my Kitely work…

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  2. Thank you for, once again, showing us somewhere new to explore. I myself feel very positively about SL and want it to be around indefinitely. I understand your concerns about it becoming a deserted wasteland – and we have all seen enough empty sims to know the metaphor you describe is an apt one – but I think the little seed of hope you saw within this location indicates a bright future for Second Life. I honestly think its best days are still ahead of it.

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    1. Oh, not my concerns :).

      Just that a lot of people have voiced those feelings, and wandering through The Sand Hills Country, it put me in mind of them, and the fact that despite all the dryness about SL, there is actually still much that is blooming and growing. For my part, I have concerns about SL, but I don’t necessarily hold with the views that it has “failed” or is “dying”.

      Indeed, I don’t think SL has failed – except in that it may not have measured-up to the expectations some had for it. But that doesn’t make it a failure per se, as it could be argued that for everyone who views SL that way, many (by their presence) still believe it is more than adequately fulfilling their virtual needs – which kind-of makes it a success.

      Apologies if I gave any impression otherwise :).

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      1. Well, in financial terms it is still a success; it makes money and is quite profitable. However, there are areas in which its management has exhibited time and time again the kind of incompetence that would have killed other companies and products long ago; the fact that, despite all that, SL remains profitable shows that as a concept it is successful – otherwise it wouldn’t have spawned so many alternative virtual worlds.

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  3. My perception is different; I see a place where hope – and the residents – have fled, leaving behind a non-viable antiquated ecosystem, where the crops will rot and the animals starve.

    Pep (Probably because women are ruling the world.)

    PS So the real men are just lounging around watching sport.
    PPS And the women are out shopping.

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