The otherworldly beauty of Whats Lost Spirits

Whats Lost Spirits; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrWhats Lost Spirits – click any image for full size

We were drawn to this Full region of What’s Lost Spirits on the recommendation of Annie Oh (AnnieBrightstar). In all, there are three different areas to be discovered, but in this article I’m concentrating on the remarkable ground level design by region holder Stabitha Chronotis (What88 Zond) – although I will give some information on the other levels further below. I’m focusing on the ground level because it is perhaps the most marvellously bizarre, otherworldly, beautifully imaginative and utterly unique designs I have ever visited in Second Life. It simply defies description – and quite wonderfully so.

When I say “defies description” you really can take me at my word; there is no obvious over-arching physical theme; what is offered is a unique series of visual vignettes, each one whispering its own tale. However, they are all drawn together, somewhat subliminally, through the use of certain motifs and in the roots of their design, as Stabitha openly notes.

I have severe bi-polar. One of the fun little side-effects for me are hallucinations and very, very, vivid dreams. When I sleep, I am often taken back to familiar places and people. Time passes while I am awake, and the structures change, but the place always stays the same. Some islands represent those places, while others are based on real life experiences, fears and how I see the world.

– Stabitha Chronotis (What88 Zond), describing Whats Lost Spirits

Whats Lost Spirits; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrWhats Lost Spirits

A visit actually starts somewhat innocently: in the main hall of what appears to be a psychiatric hospital. At the reception desk, a nurse with a look that suggests she should perhaps be one of the patients, is trying to tempt you with a handful of pills; in a doorway stands an ordinary-looking gentleman is somewhat Victorian garb – ordinary on his left side, that is. Cam up to the floor above (the elevator  didn’t appear to be working at the time of our visit) and you’ll find a trio of skeletons apparently discussing matters of life or death while armchairs float around their heads; across the room a model house burns, books pirouette in the air and grandfather clocks look down serenely, gravity having turned a blind eye to their misbehaviour.

All of this may sound typical of many a haunted asylum experience, oft to be found in Second Life. But trust me, it’s not. When set with Stabitha’s description of the region, it is clear this scene, complete with its set of very distinctive inmates, represents something both personal.

To help guide visitors through this world of dreams, Stabitha is adding a series of pictures frames in the region. Blue in colour, these present background story notes (you’ll need to read them; they are not touch for text / note card). The first can be found behind and to the right of the ground floor reception desk, indicated by a sculpture of a hand pointing to it, and another is to be found on the upper floor of the hospital.

Whats Lost Spirits; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrWhats Lost Spirits

However, for the real proof of the region’s stunning uniqueness, simply step outside, walk across the board walk and down the stairs to the waterfront pier. What you’ll see through the haze of a twilight sky may take time to fully make out, but it is guaranteed to have your jaw dropping.

What lies before you is the most incredible archipelago of island, both sitting on the grey waters and floating in the sky – some anchored by heavy chins linked to hands grasping at the sea floor to prevent them drifting off. Most of the islands are static, each presenting its own scene, but wait a moment or two and you’ll witness that two will actually detach themselves from a larger island and either rise or descend to join seamlessly with another, thus forming the most remarkable elevators one might imagine, complete with giant elephant on one and chapel on the other.

But to reach, them, one must first cross the water. While this can be done by flying, a more interesting way is to travel over the water via the bumper boats that can be rezzed as most water level locations. But be warned – passage using them can be slightly explosive!

Whats Lost Spirits; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrWhats Lost Spirits

From across the water, the setting for the landing point hospital can be further appreciated: it forms part of a broken, Gotham-like vision of New York backed by high cliffs to one side, and which has clearly experienced some form of cataclysmic event – an element shared with other parts of the archipelago.

Life and death are very much part of this setting – as witnessed through the motif of glowing-eyed skulls, and a large sculpture contained within a greenhouse entitled Birth of a World. This greenhouse is reach via an avenue of trees resembling grasping hands rising from the ground in another possibly oblique reference to death. Similarly, the chapel on one of the island “elevators” might be seen as a sideways reference to the journey of the soul, post death, as it repeatedly rises and descends. But if so, which of these is the journey to heaven?

Whats Lost Spirits; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrWhats Lost Spirits

There are other, more “traditional” (if such a word can be used in so imaginative world) elements of fear and nightmare to be found here. Travel north-east beyond the central island rising from its screaming head base, for example, and you could find your way to run-down carnival with not-to-friendly clowns.

Throughout the build, the attention to detail is superb – if a little macabre in places; I have to say, I love the spirit of a dead horse rising from the corpses of several, but this might not be to everyone’s taste. It’s a wonderfully evocative motif for mind state. There are also a very subtle use of certain elements that help link the floating islands with those rising from the waters below, offering a gentle visual reflection of Stabitha’s comment that in the country of her mind, Time passes while I am awake, and the structures change, but the place always stays the same.

One thing to not is that not all the regions can be reached by boat or elevator, you will have to fly up to some to appreciate them fully; if there is a teleport system linking them one to the others, neither Caitlyn nor I spotted it.

Whats Lost Spirits; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrWhats Lost Spirits

High above the region are two more settings: Super Orbital Time Station Zenobia, built by Vic Mornington (Victor1st Mornington) and Slime Square, a further build by Stabitha. The former has a certain Gallifrey citadel feel to it – although please note this may well be going away in the near future – so be warned when teleporting! The latter is (to me at least) the more interesting for exploration, offering a Ghostbusters role-play environment (do look for the “underground” elements as well). However, it is first and foremost Whats Lost Spirits that captivated my eye and imagination, and really should not under any circumstances be missed as a destination.

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