Everyone has a unique and unknown world churning underneath. The ability to set yourself apart lies in whether or not you’re willing to pull up the roots of who you are, and then plant yourself on the surface for all to see.
So speaks Bowie Zeplin, creator of the marvellous Pangloss; and she has certainly revealed something of a world of her own, offering it to all in Second Life to see.
I came across Pangloss after bumping into the Caminante de Suenos (“Dreamwalker” or “Walker Dreams”) blog, which features it in a photo spread. And it is fair to say that something which features flying turtles does tend to be an attention-grabber.
A Homestead region, and still under construction at the time of writing, Pangloss is wonderfully surreal in look and feel, featuring items from some of SL’s most popular creators. It also places the visitor in a bit of a conundrum: are you actually on land, or are you walking through some fantastical undersea world? Are you in a fabulous sculpture, or touching on elements of dream, fairy tale and fiction?
The trees and flowing water, the surrounding hills, the wooden pier and rowing boat: all seem natural enough and speak of being out in the open somewhere. But then there are the turtles, two of them airborne, a third seemingly preparing to launch itself away from the ground. Are they really flying? Or are they swimming through a mystical sea? And what about the humpback whale, hovering over the north side of the region, fluke rising and falling, as if powering it through invisible water?
There’s a certain poetry here in the juxtaposition of images – one of which literally is poetry. It’s as if the gates of Bowie’s subconscious have been set wide, and images of dreams and echoes of thought and memory allowed to tumble out to be given form. Even the colours here are quite unlike any natural landscape or setting, adding to the surreal feel.
The subconscious is a huge storehouse of information and memories; little wonder, then, that along with the huge set-pieces like the turtles (which you can climb up to and wander their backs) are smaller tableaux suggestive of childhood memories and tales once told or read. Here, for example, a tall wolf strides purposefully upright, hooded cloak about his shoulders, followed at a distance by a young girl dressed in red, the hood of her own shawl raised against the wind. Over there is a table set for a tea party, complete with an odd assortment of chairs and stools – including one atop a pile of books, suggesting a rather small guest is expected. A dormouse, perhaps…?
And if this is the opening of the subconscious, then just like we can sometimes find uncomfortable thoughts and images welling up from beneath in our own minds, so too is Pangloss edged with a little darkness, such as the huge hands, clutching at the side of a hill but soon to vanish, leaving deep furrows in the land over which they passed, suggesting a desperate attempt to gain any kind of purchase in order to stop the inevitable slide into whatever lies beneath the calm-looking water.
That this is a place where dreams and the subconscious are set free might best be indicated by the tree-top bed lying towards the centre of the region, surrounded by the imagery and vignettes.
Everywhere you look there are images and scenes, most of which offer more than one possible interpretation – just like our dreams offer themselves to more than one possible meaning. Take a look at the alien in its little spaceship; it’s at once cute and fun-looking and also darkly disturbing as one takes-in the defenceless cow rising towards the ship in a green beam of light. Just what has the creature in mind for its helpless captive?
This rich collage of images, ideas, thoughts and symbolism make Pangloss a rich and varied feast for the eyes and the mind. It’s wonderfully immersive and captivating. And while I frequently say this about the places I visit, it is a SL photographer’s heaven, offering so much for those who want to capture the unusual and / or love to play with windlight and camera settings.
The default windlight for the region appears to be based on Will Weaver’s Phototools – Quidditch Light, and it works. However, given the very nature of the place, it cries out to you to play and fiddle with settings. I actually ended up rotating through a fair number of different options, twiddling with the sun, glow, clouds, haze and taking multiple snaps from the same angle, etc. But because I really couldn’t get away from the feeling of being both underwater in some mysterious realm, or perhaps exploring another world entirely, I gravitated towards Bryn Oh’s BLUniverse, which for me just seemed to fit the region and its vignettes.
Highly recommended. Just be sure to take your imagination with you – it’ll enjoy the experience as much as you.
- Pangloss SLurl (Rated: Moderate)