Crossing The Divide in Second Life

The Divide, March 2021

A tweet from Second Life blogger and photographer Rig Torok concerning one of his recent region outings set a bell clanging in the back of my head when it showed up in my time line. It featured an image of, and URL to, a place called The Divide,  was sure we’d visited in the not-to-distant past, but which which failed to show up on my listed of blogged destinations.

That prompted me to rifle through Windows Explorer, and sure enough, there was a folder from December 2019 with a couple of photos of the setting, some rough notes  – and nothing else; so we’d clearly visited, but for whatever reason, had either never fully explored or I’d simply forgotten to go back for photos and write-up thoughts for a post. Hopefully, this piece will therefore make up for things.

The Divide, March 2021

The work of Xen (Xenia Nordberg) and Coriel (Coriel7766), and sitting on a sky platform over a Full private region that leverages the Land Impact bonus, The Divide is described as a study of contrasts, an expression of duality inspired by the works of Hayao Miyazaki.

For those unfamiliar with Miyazaki, he is a Japanese Anime artist, writer, director and producer of animated films. He is internationally regarded as one of the accomplished film-makers and story tellers in the history of animation. His work is characterised by a range of recurrent themes, including humanity’s relationship with nature and technology, elements of which are evident within The Divide, both directly and indirectly.

The Divide, March 2021

Humanity’s relationship with nature is perhaps most clearly shown in the divide within the setting: to one side, and containing the landing point, sits a very Japanese theme town or village. To the other lies a sinuous, climbing valley, the separator between the two a narrow river channel spanned by bridges.

On the one hand, these two settings speak of both more prevalent aspect of our relationship with nature in our standing apart from it in our towns and cities of concrete and glass whilst constraining its presence to parks and gardens. On the other it represents our underlying need to embrace nature and the escape it can offer in its open spaces and amongst its flora and fauna.

The Divide, March 2021

The town itself is a marvellously compact affair that packs a lot into it, which  admittedly can make moving through it a little heavy going thanks to things like texture loads; I found it easier to disable shadow rendering entirely other than when actually taking snapshots, just to get the textures to load in a little faster and to offer smoother walking / camming. Streets run between an assorted collection of buildings, bunting and lanterns stretched overhead as if for a festival, a subway station hinting at a connection with places further afield whilst hiding a surprise.

While a good number of the town’s buildings are simple façades, others offer interiors to be explored, adding depth to the setting’s sense of place. Little side gardens may also await discovery, again harking back to the idea of our relationship with nature in the manner they offer retreats from the hustle of the street life just a few metres away. An interesting curio sits on the west side of the town: a mushroom-like rock rising above the surrounding buildings, topped by an ancient ruin that is itself home to a able-top D&D style game.

The Divide, March 2021

The human / technology reference is also much in evidence throughout, from the very obvious – all the neon signage, the vehicles, and so on – to the more subtle (anyone spot the reference to a certain film franchise focused on technology?). There’s also the pointers to the speed of modern life such as the “fast food” kiosks for grabbing a bite while on the move, countered by little temple-like places where life can be put on pause and more spiritual matters addressed.

Across the water, the valley and parkland offers the means to escape and explore and presents an interesting mix of themes and ideas. There are Chinese elements such as the of pandas in their bamboo copse, for example, and more studies in our relationship with nature, notably typified by the little shrines along the path that climbs up into the hills.

The Divide, March 2021

To the south of the setting, beyond a bamboo curtain sits a ramshackle home. Reached via a concrete bridge, it again echoes the ideals of relationship: humans living within nature, with our relationship with technology represented through the use of a converted shipping container for the house – the same kind of contain that is used to transport all our little electronic and computerised gizmos around the globe aboard massive ships guided by satellites circling the world high overhead.

Some of the landscaping along the valley and its climbs could perhaps do with a little tidying up, but as long as you follow the paths and steps, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue in finding your way around. Make your way all the way to the top of the steps that wind up through the head of the valley, a zipline awaits to offer a faster way back down – just mind the trees on your way!

The Divide, March 2021

Rich in detail, expressive in design, The Divide presents a lot to be discovered and enjoyed. My thanks to Rig for the reminder.

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