Grauland’s touch of Japanese Zen in Second Life

Grauland, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Grauland has been a place we’ve regularly returned to since first discovering it in March 2019 (see Art as a landscape in Second Life). A Homestead region held by JimGarand and home (in the sky) to his M-1 Art Poses, the region has in the past been the home to builds that offer something of a blending of landscape and art to offer very individual statements (see also A return to Grauland in Second Life).

For the start of 2020, the region appears to break with this tradition when first seen, appearing to lean towards a more “traditional” landscape design with less of an emphasis on art than has previously been the case. However, first looks can be deceptive.

Grauland, January 2020

The region sits as a group of four islands, split west and east and north and south. The south-eastern, and smallest, island looks as if it had once been a headland extending away from the largest island in the group, but which has become isolated as a result of time and tide wearing at its rocky finger, eventually bringing a part of it down. What is left is a dramatic promontory that forms a stunning piece of Nature’s own art.

Facing it from the west across a shallow channel is the second of the region’s two large islands, home to the default landing point (although this is not enforced). It sits with a grove of palm trees that climbs a gentle slope to the south, to another subtle statement of art; one with a hint of the orient: a zen garden. Sitting on a circular table of rock itself ringed by sand and manicured grass, it offers a place of peace and contemplation that blends nature and design to make an artistic statement of its own.

Grauland, January 2020

North of this sits a piece of landscaping that has been something of a constant with each Grauland design: Cube Republic’s marvellous Basalt columns. They sit on the coast of two of the islands, with a narrow channel between whilst extending out to sea like Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. A bridge sits just behind them spanning the channel to link the south and north islands, with the latter also connected to the largest of the islands in the group via a rope bridge.

The region hosts two structures within it. One offers a hint of Japanese design as it forms a bathhouse / massage hut. The second is a more traditional style of a walled Japanese house, complete with a bamboo grove within the gardens and a small summer house. The bamboo continues beyond the wall of the garden, marching alongside a path that leads away from the house to run to where the former headland points the way south over the sea.

Grauland, January 2020

Throughout the region are multiple places to sit – on the beaches, in and around the buildings, in the gardens, offering plenty of opportunities to appreciate the landscape. there’s also a gentle sound scape to accompany the design that adds to its depth. However, the most intriguing element present in the region is to be found on the eastern beach just down from the landing point.

It is here that a group of four jet skis can be found. Open to anyone to use, these promise the opportunity to ride them beyond the boundaries of a standalone region up to a distance of 700m. This appears to be a viewer-side effect with scripted intervention on the server to present the visual appearance of travelling beyond the region boundaries to the rider and other avatars in the region whilst the rider remains anchored at the point they “crossed” the boundary. However, I’ll leave it to better minds than mine to comment on the technical aspects of such a system and its ins and outs.

Grauland, January 2020

As picturesque as previous iterations of the region, this build – subtitled Okinawa Islands –  offers a soothing landscape worthy of exploration, and as ever, makes the region worthy of a visit, whether for the first time or as a returning visitor.

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