Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times, Second Life

Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrNagare no Shimajima, Restless Times – click any image for full size

In October 2013, I visited Nagare, the home of the Blue Lotus Clan, offering both a place to visit and the opportunity for those who enjoy the art of traditional Japanese katana, nagi and short blades traditional fighting to join the clan’s C:SI (Combat Samurai Islands system) dojo. At that time, Nagare occupied a quarter region parcel on Southern Cross. A lot has changed since then, and thanks to a nudge by Loverdag, I realised it was high time I revisited.

Today, Nagare – now called Nagare no Shimajima  (Nagare Islands, or Flow Islands) – occupies a homestead region of its own: Restless Times. One of the original designers of Nagare, Lila Aquacade is still responsible for much of the design the region, sharing the work with  Ratatosken Karu, and Roll (Pradalia) and Be Ino (Inorelin Ragowski), while the region is home to both the Blue Lotus clan and the Eternal Blades clan.

Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrNagare no Shimajima, Restless Times

Given Lila’s involvement, there are many echoes of the original Nagare to be found here – the rugged landscape mixed with water channels, the large house boat occupying one of the latter and so on – but the increased space of an entire region means, obviously, that there is far more to explore.

As Nagare no Shimajima is a combination of public spaces and residential areas, the creators have defined a clever way of differentiating the two: public spaces are all connected via bridges; the more private residential island can only be reach via the little boats at the wooden quays. These can be rowed, sampan-style, by clicking on the boat to obtain a pole before boarding. Obviously, if you do take one, please respect the privacy of people’s domiciles, and do return any boat you use to its originating quay when done.

Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrNagare no Shimajima, Restless Times

The landing point is located alongside the walled sparring area, occupying a broad sweep of rocky ledge between a wall of cliffs forming the west side of the region and a sharp drop down to the channels and bays which break up the eastward lay of the land. A path, marked by an aged torii gate, winds down to the lower levels of the region, where the bridges span the water. However, before leaving the landing point pagoda, I strongly recommend you collect the Nagare no Shimajima information card: it provides a wealth of information on where to go, the history of Nagare and the Blue Lotus and Eternal Blades clans, as well as information on Japanese religions and spirits in a highly conversational and engaging manner. In short, it is an excellent read.

Through this card, one can also about some of the little touches which have been added. Take heed of the warning about attempting to leave one of the cliff-top shrines before you have completed offering up prayers! That said, it does appear to be in need of a slight revision: while it refers to the teleporter being within the watchtower overlooking the sparring area, the only system I could find is located alongside the landing point pagoda (with another at ground level sitting on a snowy slope), while the sky dojo appears to be undergoing (re)construction.

Nagare no Shimajima, Restless Times; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrNagare no Shimajima, Restless Times

In 2013, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Nagare-as-was, my natural bias towards oriental regions notwithstanding. Visiting Nagare no Shimajima brought back several of those memories and was equally enjoyable.  Right now the region is caught in the depths of winter. I believe its appearance changes with the seasons, going on some photos I’ve seen. I’ll certainly be returning to find out!

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Lucid Dreams with Miles Cantelou in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Lucid Dreams
DiXmiX Gallery: Lucid Dreams

Now open at the Black Gallery wing of DiXmiX Gallery is an exhibition by Mile Cantelou entitled Lucid Dreams. As an admirer of Miles’ work, the opening of this exhibit was one of two I very much wanted to attend – my problem being, they were both taking place at the same time, and in the end, events within SL conspired to keep me from making both of them.

Those familiar with Miles’ work will know that his pieces tend to be boldy stated and processed, resulting in a very unique look and feel to the extent that Lucid Dreams is very much an apt title: observing his work is very much akin to entering – or recalling – a dream; one lucid enough for us to give it shape and form, yet elusive enough to encourage us to look deeper and harder, to understand what we are seemingly being told.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lucid Dreams
DiXmiX Gallery: Lucid Dreams

Within the fourteen pieces displayed at DiXmiX is ample demonstration of Miles’ ability to compose not only an image, but an entire story within a frame, his use of colour, monochrome and layered effects each becoming a singular voice within each tale displayed.

Quite where this stories might take us is a further beauty held within Miles’ art; boldly textured, they often offer us a glimpse of a place we’ve visited or be focused on something we’re familiar with, thus our thoughts are prodded in one direction, but at the same time, we are pulled in another as well take in the complete image, not only its look, but its feel as well.  Thus again, as with a sense of conscious dreaming, we see not necessarily what is there, but what is suggested by the artist’s touch and words.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lucid Dreams
DiXmiX Gallery: Lucid Dreams

Lucid Dreams is an excellent exhibition by a master visual storytellers, and will remain open through until the end of January 2017.

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