Aphantasia – click any image for full size
Update, August 27th: Aphantasia appears to have closed.
The rolling echo of distant thunder reverberates between high peaks, a bass backdrop to the much closer dusk-time voices of nature that rise from between the tall fingers of shadowy trees clustered across the tops of a little archipelago of grassy islands. The waters from which these rise are turned brown under a sky heavy with an evening haze through which a lowering Sun tries to reach and which those thunder reflecting peaks into shadowy guardians surrounding this little grouping of islands.
Such is the aural greeting awaiting visitors to Aphantasia, a wonderfully atmospheric Homestead region designed by Benny Green. The region’s name is taken from that suggested for a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye, and so cannot voluntarily visualise imagery – the face of a loved one, a favourite place, a shop down the road, and so on.
It’s an interesting choice for a place that is, in two words, visually stunning – although perhaps to be fully appreciated during an initial visit, it requires a slight tweak to you viewer’s windlight so the beauty of the region can be seen under daylight. The landing point, rich in those night-time sounds (themselves joined by the soft clucking of a chicken or two perhaps nervous at the approach of darkness), sits upon one of four islands in the region, a home for a circular cottage and a well. It is anchored to the largest of the islands by a rope bridge, one of two ways to explore the location (the other being the teleport trapdoors to be found at several locations in the region).
Across the bridge, the large island offers a richly wooded setting, paths winding under tall conifers and smaller trees, directing people with to two further bridges or to the ruins of an old house where a bathtub sits among tube plants, toadstools and flowers, watched over by a snake coiled lazily around an old tree branch.
Travel through the conifer-crowned and rugged south-western finger of this island, and you can make your way to the haven of a houseboat moored in the lee of a high cliff. Here can be found signs of occupancy – possibly by an artist / musician, going by the paraphernalia on the rear deck.
Of the two bridges mentioned above, one offers the way to an island devoid of human clutter, but offering a grass pate on which to wander, watched over by the imposing bulk of a great oak tree. The second bridge provides the way to reach a round plug of rock rising from the water and just about big enough to accept the cosy stone folly sitting on its head. But this isn’t the fourth island in the group.
Set well aside from the others, the fourth island in the group lies to the north-west. No bridge connects it to the others, so reaching it requires the use of one of the teleport trapdoors at the landing point, the folly or the houseboat. It is home to a grand conservatory with some interesting furnishings within (mind you don’t find the wheelchair too head-turning an experience!).
Atmospheric and enchanting, Aphastasia is richly detailed, visually and aurally. There are numerous places to sit and relax or cuddle throughout the sitting. Do note the region’s description does state some mild adult activities might take place – although none were witnessed on our visits. There are also a couple of points on the largest island where some of the trees need converted to phantom as they can unexpectedly bump people sideways when encountered – although keeping to the tracks seems to avoid collisions.
For those who take photos of the region, there is a Flickr group where they can be shared (and which interestingly show a hall / cavern of some description being present quite recently, although we found no sign of it on the ground, under the ground or in the air). Also, if you appreciate the region as much as we did, please consider making a donation towards its upkeep at the landing point.
- Aphantasia (Serena Nova Zembla, rated: Adult)
With thanks to Shakespeare and Maxie for the pointer.