Through the Gates of Oria in Second Life

Gates of Oria

Now open through until the end of the year is Tah’s (Tahiti Rae’s) latest full region installation, Gates of Oria.  Tahiti has a reputation of building immersive, often deeply expressive installations in Second Life. I first visited one of her installations, 4077 MASH, a homage to the television series and a commentary on war, in 2014 (read here for more), and then was totally captivated by her Love, Henry installation from 2015 (read here for more) and by EVRE in 2016 (read here), her evocative, complex examination of consciousness, connectedness and time.

Gates of Oria does, in many ways, share the same roots as both Love, Henry and EVRE. As with both of those installations, it is very much a journey; one that, like Love, Henry, is intended to stir the emotions, tripping them into play by engaging our imaginations. At the same time, and like EVRE, it takes us on a physical journey through numerous worlds, the very triggers for engaging our imaginations and teasing our emotions, which vary in their themes from light to dark, reflecting the fact that fantasies come in many shades.

Gates of Oria

They say it takes 300 years for an oak tree to grow; 300 years for it to live; And 300 years for it to die. Perhaps our fantasy love took 300 years to grow; An eternity to live; And never dies. Maybe .. it’s real.

– Tahiti Rae, Gates of Oria

This is an installation designed to visually, aurally and musically connect with visitors, as is explained at the landing point. Along with the viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model, enabling local sounds and the music stream for the installation is strongly recommended. I’d also suggest setting draw distance to around 300 metres, so the fullness of the larger spaces can be more easily seen without interruption. As the landing point also notes, proportions can be a little off in places, so when travelling a little playing with ALT-click camera movement and the use of the mouse wheel (or using the CTRL-8 / CTRL-9 / CTRL-0 combinations) can be required, particularly in the spaces where the backdrops appear intended to blend with the build.

Gates of Oria

Exploring the installation can be achieved in one of two ways: by teleporting to the ground and then travelling to the Gates themselves (additional telelport points within statues), and returning to the ground after each visit to make the next. Or, for those short on time, a note card listing the landmarks for all ten worlds can be used to hope directly from one to the next. The former of these approaches again echoes EVRE, except here there is no need to seek out the teleport points, they are found within groupings of statues. As such, and while the statues offer text to set the scene for the world to which that connect, there is no reason the note card LMs cannot be used to move between the different worlds once an initial visit to ground level has taken place.

Fantasy … can be such a risk; such a deep mystery; and profoundly the strongest certainty ever known.

– Tahiti Rae, Gates of Oria

I’m not going to run through all of the worlds; they are for you to experience for yourself. Suffice it to say all are very individual in tone and design, although some motifs can be found in more than one. Some openly demand exploration and can be extensive – such as Labrinto, which is perhaps the set piece of the installation; others are not quite as straightforward as might first appear to be the case, requiring equally considered exploration as there can be many details so easily missed in a quick walk / cam through. Deathless, for example, holds a certain Game of Thrones echo awaiting discovery. Still others are more open in nature, settings designed to allow the imagination to simply take flight – as with 4 Suns.

Gates of Oria

Within several of the worlds, art by CybeleMoon (Hanna Hoobinoo) can be found. Always fantastic in scope, these images give further flight to the imagination. Emotions are also stirred by the audio stream which, although occasionally interrupted by the briefest of adverts, offers music Tah states she has selected specifically for the installation.  Drawing heavily from the world of film (and where else, given the installation is about fantasy and imagination?), the music does add further depth to Gates of Oria – although I admit that I’m perhaps a little biased here in my response, as the stream features pieces by some of my own preferred composers  / arrangers, from the likes of M83, Taro Iwashiro, Bear McCreary, and the amazing Ramin Djawadi, through to several of the established greats of cinematic soundtracks: Morricone, Williams, Horner, Eidelman, Arnold, and more.

A series of events are planned throughout Gates of Oria’s run, details of which can be received by subscribing to Tah’s group at the landing point.

Gates of Oria

There are some minor niggles we encountered – falling through apparent solid objects in a couple of places, while the Eagles in Labrinto steadfastly refused to work for me (I simply right-clicked them for the guide description in the build floater); some of the guidance given was also a little confusing (“Exit far right corner” rather than “Exit to your right”). However, Gates of Oria is nevertheless evocative, imaginative, fully deserving of the time needed to explore and appreciate it.

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