Goodbye Kolmannskuppe …

It has been around a month since Kolmannskuppe opened, so the time has come to close the sim and move on. I’ll give it another day or two and then start cleaning up. Kolmannskuppe has been busy, with around 650 pictures posted in the Flickr group and plenty of times when the sim was more or less full. As always, thanks to everyone who visited, took pictures, signed the guestbook, and wrote reviews.

Here are some highlights from Flickr …

colors & sand

Dans le désert de Namibie...

[outlook]

D I A M O N D S     A R E     N O T     F O R E V E R      04

a visit to Kolmannskuppe...

silhouette

wandering_world863

And the Songbirds keep Singing like they know the Score ...

Ghost Town

Kolmannskuppe 06

Inside Out

"There is beauty in ruins..."

Power line

Kolmannskuppe...<3

Kolmannskuppe V

Kolmannskuppe 06

Kolmannskuppe 03

Kolmannskuppe 05

Kolmannskuppe Station Stamped

Kolmannskuppe

wandering_world869

Chart new courses

Crazy diamond

It's Thunder and it's Lighting

pArkeD.

day5.

In the desert

villa 'desert decadence'

Dawn Hawk at Kolmannskuppe

Fuyuko 20-04-19 014 In The End (kolmannskuppe, yasminia)

day9.

Rebuild...

Kolmannskuppe

Trees & Sand

I've been thinking a lot, looking at this picture. Every now and then, photos dictate a story to me. It is my avatar, again who with his physical action, surprises me.

"Where is the map...?"

a good little shadow

Kolmannskuppe

Hung Up !

Dream of Rain

"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom"

You don't live here anymore

Kolmannskuppe (5)

Kolmannskuppe (9)

dong.

cool runnings

Kolmannskuppe

Kolmannskuppe

Sunset

A touch of green

deserted desert

Kolmannskuppe

abandoned home

tales.from.the.loop

Kolmanskop II

Kolmannskuppe 2

The Cry

@ Kolmannskuppe

Never a frown with golden brown

Preparing for the night

Tomorrow never knows

Over the lines of communication

YASMINA

Kolmannskuppe

It was supposed to be an endless day...

Square and circle

Red center

Kolmannskuppe

Kolmannskuppe in the Morning

kolmannskuppe-sl location

In the attic

day24.

Kolmannskuppe

the olde west

Kolmannskuppe

Kolmannskuppe

Kolmannskuppe

Let's go find the Meaning

Mirage

desert

The Joshua Tree

Kolmannskuppe

Sun sets

For those who might be wondering, I honestly don’t know what I will do next. I usually take a break from SL in the summer months while travelling. But with restrictions on movement unlikely to disappear any time soon, who knows what the summer will bring …

Kolmannskuppe – The Ghost Town of Namib Desert

KolmanskopCenter

The abandoned ‘ghost town’ of Kolmannskuppe was the site of a diamond mine in the Namib desert that was in operation during the first half of the twentieth century. It is located in southern Namibia, ten kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz.

kolmanskop map A

Now a tourist destination operated jointly by De Beers and the Namibian government, Kolmannskuppe is the location of my latest sim, which opens today. The landmark is here.

kolmanskop from above

The name Kolmannskuppe (aka Kolmanskuppe, Kolmanskop & Kolmanskoppe) originated from an ox wagon driver named Johnny Kolman who transported goods from Keetmanshoop to Luderitzbucht in the Namib Desert. He would often make camp in the vicinity of a low-lying gneiss kopje (Kuppe) or hillock, until in 1905 he was caught in a fierce sandstorm, and his oxen vanished. He was fortunately rescued but the wagon remained abandoned for years. From that time the kopje was known as Kolmannskuppe.

kolmanskp old 1

In April 1908, Zacharias Lewala, a worker on the railway line between Lüderitz and Aus in what is now southern Namibia, picked up a shiny stone and showed it to his supervisor, August Stauch …

Recognising the stone immediately, Stauch secured a prospecting license, and within months the diamond rush was on. Kolmannskuppe subsequently became a major site of diamond extraction, producing more than 1,000 kilograms (or five million karats) of diamonds before the First World War.

Within a decade or so of Lewala’s discovery, Kolmannskuppe was home to 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 native Owambo contract workers. The town was built in a typical German architectural style, and boasted first-class amenities including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, bowling alley, theatre, gym, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa. Kolmannskuppe also had a railway link to Lüderitz.

Kolmannskuppe went into decline after World War II when the diamond-field started to deplete, but its demise had already begun with the discovery – in 1928 – of the richest diamond-bearing deposits ever known, 270 km south of Kolmannskuppe. Many of the town’s inhabitants had headed south, leaving their homes and possessions behind. Kolmannskuppe was eventually abandoned in 1956.

Kolmannskuppe survives today as a much-photographed tourist destination. What makes it extraordinary – and highly photogenic – is the way the desert has ‘swallowed’ many of the buildings, so that visitors walk through houses knee-deep in sand.

Kolmannskuppe has been used as the backdrop for a number of artistic endeavours. For example, it was the subject of the stunning series of photographs by Neil Krug that were used in the album art for Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush, released in February 2020 …

the slow rush

Kolmannskuppe also featured in a number of movies, such as The Mantis Project (1985), Dust Devil (1993), and The King Is Alive (2000). Will Healey composed an orchestral piece inspired by the town …

In addition, there are countless videos and blogs, made mainly by tourists, that give a very detailed impression of the stark and haunting buildings that can be found in this desert ghost town …

While Kolmannskuppe’s empty buildings look and feel as if they have been overwhelmed by the harsh and unyielding geology of the desert, elsewhere in the town there is a definite tourist vibe. The buildings are presented in a more ordered state, cleaned up and prepared in readiness for the daily guided tours. Even those bath tubs that you see littered everywhere seem a little bit contrived, exactly the kind of contrivance one might expect to find in a Second Life sim! So in case you think I made them up, here are some of those baths for real …

Kolmannskuppe, then, is a decidedly corporate ‘ghost town’. In light of this, it is hardly surprising that there is a colonial history here which gets underplayed – in so far as it is acknowledged at all – in the official marketing, and passes by almost unnoticed in blogs about Kolmannskuppe by tourists. To take one of the most glaring examples, next to nothing is known about Zacharias Lewala, who went unrewarded for his initial find and enjoyed no share of the wealth subsequently generated because of it. By contrast, August Stauch went on to become a very wealthy diamond miner. As Zora del Buono remarks in an article in the German news magazine der Spiegel

Lewala’s name entered history but not much more, the man had nothing of his find, no one paid him for it or showed any kind of gratitude, others made the big business and they made it quick.

Namibia itself was once part of the German Empire; the colony to which it belonged was known as German South West Africa. Between 1904 and 1908, this empire perpetrated a genocide against the Herero and Nama people. German rule ended in 1915 with a defeat by South African forces. In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated administration of the colony to South Africa. In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule. Namibia did not obtain full independence from South Africa until 1990.

In terms of sim design, the tourist elements of Kolmannskuppe were just as challenging and fun to do as the structures covered in sand, if not more so. I especially enjoyed putting together the small gift shop, with custom-made postcards, posters, and tee shirts for sale, as well as the museum area on the floor above – both can be found in the main ‘Kasino’ building.

Abandoned buildings and houses in Kolmanskop, a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia

There are a few ‘signature’ buildings at Kolmannskuppe, and as usual, I tried to capture and recreate at last some of them, starting with that magnificent Kasino pictured above. This was both the largest building in Kolmannskuppe, and the last to be built – it was completed in 1927. It was the entertainment hub of the town, housing a bowling alley, gym and theatre. As far as I can tell from pictures, the gym and theatre were in the same room, which I have placed on the lowest of three floors …

On the floor above you will find a cafe and gift shop, together with the German-style, nine-pin bowling alley, which in real life looks like this …

On the top floor, I have placed the museum, together with a slide show of photographs taken at the real Kolmannskuppe.

Directly opposite the Kasino, you will find the teacher’s house, for which I have utilised the prefab brilliantly created by Marie Lauridsen (aka Milk Motion). This building has those richly coloured walls one finds in so many photographs of the real Kolmannskuppe.

There is another building I wanted to recreate, whose original function I am unsure about. It’s this one ..

Kolmanskop_Abandoned_Buildings

As with my last two sims, I asked Harry Cover to help out with this – and, once again, he did a great job. I designated Harry’s building the ice factory – Eisfabrik. Here the ice was made that the town’s inhabitants used in their fridges. Such a building definitely existed in the old Kolmannskuppe, and you can see its remains today – although not in this exact building. Here are some photographs from inside …

… and a description of the function of the ice factory given by a former resident

We did not have refrigerators but cooler chests. I remember the ice man doing his rounds delivering ice blocks to the homes from the ice factory. He then put the ice blocks into the cooler chests at every home.

Elsewhere on the sim, I have reproduced the main entrance with its distinct curved walls (and ‘Kolmanskuppe’ spelled with just one ‘n’, a variant I have retained on the tour bus parked next to the Kasino)  …

entrance

… a distinctive large concrete water storage tank (and the smaller tanks, right next to it) …

… as well as the old hospital, as pictured here …

There are various other houses, looking much as they do in the real Kolmannskuppe – empty, derelict, and overrun by sand. The two largest houses, situated on either side of the teacher’s house, have a definite ‘colonial’ style.

Somewhat bizarrely, there was a swimming pool in Kolmannskuppe, which I have installed at the sim. This was situated a little distance away on the hill above the town, and I have moved it closer to the remaining buildings. In essence, the pool just consisted of a large and rather deep area surrounded by thick concrete walls …

How was the pool filled with water? The answer, quoted below from a former resident of the town, is something one would hardly have guessed ….

We had a seawater swimming pool. The water was pumped all the way from Elizabeth bay. It was just a square dam of even depth of two meters. Across this pool we had ropes strung where people could hold on to. The overflow water was used on the plant and for cleaning purposes. There were bathing huts around the pool, birthday parties were held there, and on Sundays, weather permitting, the band played and we all had a jolly time. Although the swimming pool was soon half filled with sand after closure of the town, you could still see the beautiful Italian Terrazzo tiles.

Water was inevitably a major concern for townspeople, and it further explains one other odd feature of Kolmannskuppe, namely its tram.

Kolmanskop-Train

I had seen pictures of this tram, and managed to recreate it on the sim in a collaborative effort with Harry Cover, who helped with the tram’s seats and brakes. Those barrel-like things at the back were for carrying water, and this was the tram’s main function – to transport water from one end of the town to the other. Harry also helped out by meshing the quirky little diamond retrieval machine that sits next to the Kasino building …

diamond retireval

Kolmannskuppe is a desert sim, presenting some challenges in terms of ‘nature’ that I had not tackled before. Besides some rather beautiful desert trees, plants, and cacti, you will find snakes and scorpions, and some animals quite rarely seen on the grid, such as Bighorn sheep, Gemsbock (aka Oryx), Sable Antelope, Wildebeest and Hyenas. Regarding the latter, there is a warning sign right outside the real Kolmanskop (a copy of which I have reproduced at the sim) warning visitors about the threat.

kolman hyena sign

Likewise, you’ll find signs warning tourists to close the doors of houses to prevent snakes from entering, as well as warnings about potential building collapse – and once again, I have replicated these on the sim. As for birds, look out for ravens, vultures, kestrels, osprey, a sandpiper, a great horned owl, and an eagle soaring above.

Like many of you I am now in quarantine, and putting this sim together has been a welcome distraction. As always, I hope that those who visit the sim enjoy what they see, post pictures in the Flickr group, sign the guestbook, and help out with donations.

More than anything, I wish you all good health and serenity. 🙏

 

Goodbye Ubay

Ubay Island opened almost a month ago, so it’s time to close. I’ll be turning out the lights and closing the doors on Wednesday 1st April. Thanks to those who visited the sim and signed the guestbook, posted pictures in the Flickr Group, and wrote generous reviews. These are tough times, and to all those who are affected, and will be affected … solidarity.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

[John Donne]

Ubay Island

ubay 1

In October 2013, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the province of Bohol, Philippines, causing the land to sink by around 1 metre. Combined with a hundred years’ worth of sea level rise, the earthquake had catastrophic consequences for the islands of Batasan, Pangapasan, Ubay and Bilangbilangan, which have experienced partial or complete flooding ever since. My latest sim project features the smallest of these Islands – Ubay. The landmark is here.

ubay map

Ubay’s story is as uplifting as it is tragic. Far from being cowed by the rising water levels around them, the islanders simply get on with their daily lives – sometimes waist deep in water.

Ubay Island is tiny. Even without flooding, its land mass would measure just 1.5 hectares. The island is inhabited by a population of little over two hundred people living in fifty households. Of these, roughly three quarters live below the poverty threshold.

I first learned about Ubay Island through a documentary film about all four of the Bohol islands. Called Racing the King Tide, the film focuses on a series of people – teacher, fisherman, mother, auntie, health worker and captain – whose stories and experiences convey just how complex and challenging it must be to live in such conditions …

In reconstructing Ubay I have tried to capture both its spirit and beauty. Although the houses and streets of the island are strewn with floating trash – even the school goes on daily with the children surrounded by it – there is also much that pleases the eye and lifts the spirit, such as the flags that hang over every street, the play areas, the communal spaces, and the surrounding sea with its countless fishing and pleasure boats …

From viewing the film, it seems that the buildings on the island consist mainly of shacks, much in the style of shanty towns one finds in cities such as Manila. I have included a church and school – both of which exist on the real Ubay Island – as well as an outside bar where one might imagine some of the islanders gathering to enjoy something that many Filipinos are apparently passionate about … Karaoke!

Ubay Island has one ‘signature’ structure, a ruined building in the middle of the sea that’s used as a jumping and diving platform by the island’s children …

ubay 12

Once again, I have relied on the skills of Harry Cover – ‘Impossibleisnotfrench’ – to mesh this structure, and he has done a brilliant job. Harry also made some of the boats you’ll see on the sim, such as the beautiful ‘tourist boat’ on the eastern side …

ubay 14

ubay tourist boat

I’ve also added some touches of my own, such as the graffiti in the submerged basketball court – ‘THIS IS WHERE WE PLAY’ – that one can see in the movie behind the waving boy …

ubay 13

Close by the real Ubay Island – as can be seen in arial photographs – is a swamp area with a solitary building on its edge. My Second Life version of this is a shack that features another aspect of the local culture that may well be unknown to visitors to the sim: Filipino folk magic, known as Kulam or ‘Pagkukulam’.

cyclops_by_nebu-306340

Putting this sim together has been both humbling and inspiring. Although we cannot know for certain what will become of these islands, it seems likely that they will eventually disappear completely as sea levels continue to rise. Far more permanent, one hopes, is the spirit and resilience of these incredible people. It is in tribute to them that I have created this sim …

As ever, don’t count on the sim staying open for very long. The Flickr group is here. Do please sign the guestbook and feel free to leave a donation! Otherwise, I hope you enjoy your visits. 🙏

Прощай, Слава!

Farewell, Slava! Having opened two weeks ago, the summer version of Khodovarikha will close during the next couple of days. I warned that it wouldn’t stay open for long! This was a version of the sim that I just wanted to get out my system: the main interest for me was in putting it together to see how it would look.

During this brief revival there have been plenty of visitors, some generous reviews, and another few hundred pictures have been added to the Flickr group. Thanks to all who came by, signed the guestbook, and took photographs. Here are some of the highlights …

Back again

Khodovarikha

Wish you were here

Khodovarikha....

we experience certain things in the same way from day to day until something comes that turns everything upside down

Khodovarikha (summer)

Khodovarikha

Khodovarikha

Khodovarikha (summer)

Khodovarikha- Can't find the words

l'albatros

Khodovarikha

here comes the sun

WaitingForFish

wandering_world816

Bird's-eye view

quietly slipping into weekend-mode...

Don't let the sun go down on me

Ходовариха

Middle of Nowhere

red pumps on the pier

wandering_world817

Leaving Khodovarikha

Khodovarikha

Frozen Isolation

Khodovarikha 06

TGB Khodovarikha 2020 - Waiting for infinity

Khodovarikha, Feb 2020

1 am.

Khodovarikha 02

chairs

Greta Was Here

Shadows

With Or Without You

.: Khodovarians Neon Birds great Escape :.

Hello my friend

Breathe

wandering_world820

i<bench3you

Khodovarikha

a.Hideo.Kojima.game

Disconnected

the warning call- take care of your world...or the color will fade

Khodovarikha

échoué sur la plage

Silence

We used to be friends....

One of us is sinking

le gardien du phare

Khodovarikha Summertime

[...art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life] - Pablo Picasso

Two Empty Chairs....

2020-03-01 - Khodovarikha - 01

2020-03-01 - Khodovarikha - 02

the priV.ilege

Dreamers

... the raVen

Vigie Radio.

 

Прощай пока – скоро вернусь! 🙏

Farewell (again), Furillen

farewell furillen B

Having re-opened in October, Furillen has been back on the grid for four months … and I think it’s time to put the sim back into mothballs. To be honest, I hadn’t expected to keep it open for so long, but seeing it full of visitors during the weeks the after re-opening persuaded me to keep it open at least into the new year.

Since October, the sim has featured some excellent exhibitions of Furillen pictures – by Pixelbeing, nekonuko Nakamori, and Melusina Parkin. It also saw the revival of the rather wonderful bar cafe Fabriken, which was put together with Micky Siamendes.

Furillen is quite an unusual sim with its own history and stories – and, most importantly for me, its own unique buildings. I have always liked the minimalist vibe of the sim design, and the opportunity it allows for a huge range of SL photography – and within its built spaces (such as the concrete bunker, shipping warehouse and hotel), for showing interesting art.

While Furillen is around, it feels to many of us like a fixture – as if it “should” be on the grid, always. So I am sure that one or two visitors will be disappointed to see it go again. However, the grind of the weekly tier is stopping me from working on other projects – which, frankly, is where all of my enjoyment of SL comes from. Besides Furillen, I have opened two further sims since October – Lairig Leacach and the summer version of Khodovarikha – and I have other projects planned. So Furillen will close its doors once again in the next day or so – move fast if you want to make a ‘final’ picture or visit.

To those who like to think of Furillen as their second home, please be assured that it will doubtless return again one day, possibly even later this year, and perhaps in summer clothes, just to make a change. But for now, huge thanks to everyone who came by, left nice comments, donated generously, took great pictures, and generally made the sim feel alive.

Serene Footman 🙏

С возвращением, Слава

 

So … welcome back, Slava.

slava pic

This so-called ‘most cut off man on earth’ lives on Khodovarikha – in Russian: Ходовариха – a weather station located on the freezing Barents Sea.

map

Khodovarikha, together with its only resident – whose full name is Vyacheslav Korotki – were the subjects of a Second Life sim in 2017. You can read the full story here.

Back then the sim was set in winter: it was often dark … and appropriately gloomy. I came across the place by reading various articles and blogs that were inspired by the series of twelve photographs taken of Khodovarikha by Evgenia Arbugaeva. These stunning images made this remote spot in northern Russia famous, at least for a while.

slava boat

For those who read about Slava and his remote location, it was fascinating to imagine how life must be for a man living in such isolation, with just one yearly visit by a supply ship and a shortwave radio to rely on for direct human contact.

radio

Besides Aebugaeva’s pictures, more could be learned about Slava by watching the documentary – “Arctic Limbo” – that was made about life in Khodovarikha …

The film portrays Slava as an enigmatic figure. He is very self-contained, finds plenty to do in Khodovarikha (he says he never gets bored), and we get hints of a personal history that includes serious illness, a failed marriage and an estranged son.

slava gaze

Arctic Limbo also features Ustin, a young conscript who (together with his wife) spends a year with Slava at Khodovarikha. Ustin seems to dislike the place, longing for the ship to arrive while desperately hoping that his posting will end. He also appears somewhat ambivalent towards Slava, laughingly describing him as a ‘troll’ and a ‘lunatic’.

slava and ustin

Unlike Aebugaeva’s pictures, the video is set in summer, when Khodovarikha thaws out and is transformed into a chaotic maze of sand dunes and grass. The place is a real mess: the windswept sand is littered with barrels and crates, as well as miscellaneous bits of rusty salvage. I have often wondered about those barrels – why are there so many of them, and why are they left lying around, quite literally, everywhere …

garage

koko dunes

I have wanted to design a summer version of Khodovarikha ever since closing the sim in December 2017. The seasonal change has given me more freedom to bring life to the place – a variety of birds, grasses, and so on. While I have taken one or two liberties – in SL we can only work with what is at hand, or what we (or others) can make – I hope that all of the birds you will encounter at the sim are related in some way to the birds of northern Russia, and particularly the Arctic Circle in summer. What I wanted to show is a place that comes to life each summer. Slava might be cut off, but he is not alone during these months.

The ‘signature’ feature of Khodovarikha is the massive wooden lighthouse, built in 1933, with its distinctive octagonal structure.

lighthouse

normal_khodovarikha3

The version of this building I have installed at the sim was custom-made by KT Syakumi, who is also responsible for several of the Furillen buildings. In the first iteration of the sim, the lighthouse was still working. But in fact, it has not been operational since 1996; indeed in the Arctic Limbo movie we see Slava cannibalising the structure for firewood.

koko wood

This is how you will find the lighthouse this time around – no longer working, and being slowly gutted to keep Slava warm during those endless winter nights …

slava office

While researching this summer iteration of the sim, I found a fascinating description of life at Khodovarikha twenty-five years ago, submitted to a Russian forum by Ekaterina Fateeva. Ekaterina lived at Khodovarikha during the early 1990s when it was still a functioning village and the lighthouse was operational. She writes almost wistfully of launching ‘airplanes and improvised parachutes’ from the top of the building, and of a ‘sports hall’ beneath the lighthouse at ground level …

[I] lived on Khodovarikha for two years as a child. 1994 and 1995. My grandmother was the director of the lighthouse, my grandfather was the chief mechanic, and my mother was just an employee. I remember this time with great warmth and dream of going there again. On the ground floor of the lighthouse, we had a sports hall with rings, ropes and other things. From the top, we launched airplanes and improvised parachutes) swam in the Solzhatsky lake, in the sea and on the bay. Caught fish, gathered mushrooms, berries, set traps for arctic foxes in winter, hunted geese. Now it’s all forbidden, I guess. With me, one winter, a polar bear came right to us by the window, ate dog food and left).

It is partly in this spirit that I added the rope slide extending from the top of the lighthouse down to the ground – offering visitors some reward for climbing all those ladders. Of course, it’s hard to picture Slava using such a slide, at least not without a few extra shots of home-made vodka. But I think I can imagine him building it …

bird

As the passage from Ekaterina Fateeva suggests, Khodovarikha was once a small village, whose scattered buildings – situated close to Slava’s house – have largely fallen into disrepair and ruin, although some do remain. I have reproduced these on the new sim.

Besides Slava’s scruffy red house and dilapidated storage garage, several other buildings on the sim have been designed as replicas of what I believe would be found at the real Khodovarikha. The first, which I also used for the first iteration of the sim, consists of the doppler radar building, with its distinctive red and white dome. This slightly weird structure features in the video as well as the Aebugaeva photographs …

kolteniy

A second replica building is new to this sim, and was generously meshed by Harry Cover (whose SL name is Impossibleisnotfrench, you can visit his inworld store here). Harry recently built the small bothy for Lairig Leacach, which I opened for two weeks in December. For Khodovarikha, he has made the wrecked and rusty abandoned house that sits near to the lighthouse, as can be seen in these pictures …

In the movie, we see the house full of sand and rubble: completely uninhabitable, and well-nigh unusable. This is how it is in the Second Life version. As you’ll see when you visit the sim, Harry has done a great job on this, and I am very grateful to him for his time and generosity.

Harry is also responsible for the distinctive ‘A frame’ structure that sits next to the green wooden house that Ustin and his wife were living in. It can be seen on the far right in this screenshot …

a frame

This odd structure seems to house something like a well – or maybe it’s just a water trough. Either way, Ustin’s wife is filmed drawing water from inside it with a rusty old bucket. By the way, I have also introduced a replica of Ustin’s green house, which can also be seen in the picture above, next to the A frame.  It’s more or less as I imagine he would have left it – it seems rather unlikely that Slava would have cleared the place up. Also, note the small wooden house on the left of the picture above, just in front of the weather station: in my version of this place, this is where Slava distils (and drinks) his own vodka … Khodovarikha special brew.

Finally, there is an odd structure next to the shore. I have no idea what it could be, so I have turned it into some kind of lookout …

koko lookout

In addition to these buildings and hundreds of barrels, I have populated the sim with various other bits of rusty salvage, some of which can be spied in the documentary film. These include parts of an old boat, and the fuselage of a crashed plane – ostensibly ‘reclaimed’ by Slava … who it seems is nothing if not a bricoleur. I have also included some structures that reflect Khodovarikha’s main function: a weather station, communication masts, and an old Soviet radar.

As with Lairig Leacach, I have put this sim together mainly for my own amusement, and as a sort of gift to the travelling photographers of Second Life, without whom sim design would be much less rewarding than it is. For bloggers and photographers alike, you have rez rights with a sixty minute auto return. For all visitors, please think about leaving a message in the guestbook. And of course, any donation would be hugely appreciated.

As ever, this won’t be open for long – so do enjoy it while it lasts. 🙏

 

Furillen Impressions – by Melusina Parkin

Melusina Parkin - Furillen Impressions - poster

On Wednesday 5 February we will have the opening of ‘Furillen Impressions’, by Melusina Parkin. This will be the third exhibition of pictures at Furillen since it re-opened – following on from ‘Furillen in Motion’ by Pixelbeing, and ‘Composition of Furillen’ by nekonuko Nakamori – given by artists who have strong associations with the sim. As previously, the exhibition will consist of a set of fifteen images of Furillen. Selected from some 200 pictures that Melusina has taken at the sim over the years, this is a collection of old and new, with one or two of the images recalling features of the sim that I had long forgotten.

Melusina is a distinctive Second Life photographer whose pictures are unmistakeable. She has a sharp eye for detail, and on Flickr, often posts entire series of minimalist images that draw attention to specific themes and features of the sims she visits on her travels around the grid. Recently such themes have included ‘Magnificent Loneliness’, ‘Machinery’, and ‘Barriers’. I find this way of approaching photography in Second Life refreshing and unique, establishing strong and sometimes surprising visual connections between disparate sims. Thus although this particular collection of images have all been taken at Furillen, any one of them might be incorporated within a bigger series that brings it into visual connection with other places on the grid.

Always, Melusina’s pictures are characterized by a strong emphasis on form. She has a fine eye for geometry and composition. Many of her images are monochrome, re-affirming the sense of thematic unity between them. Thus when she does use colour, it is all the more striking, such as in this image …

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… and this one …

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… wherein the flash of blue unifies the two images.

Given Melusina’s liking for abstractness, her pictures are well suited to Furillen, with its minimalist flavour and largely monochrome palette. At the same time, her pictures invite us to look again at some features of the sim, because typically, she draws out details that are often passed by and overlooked.

Melusina has been active in Second Life since 2008. Over time she has been a fashion manager, a journalist, a furniture creator, a builder, a decorator and a photographer. At this moment, she owns an Art Deco furniture shop called Melu Deco. About her approach to photography, she says …

Many of my photos tend towards minimalism, that’s my main inclination: catching a simple detail from daily life or usual landscapes, enhancing it, making it protagonist of mostly empty scenes. This reveals its meaning or can push the observer to give it her/his own. Minimalism stresses void, space, geometries: you can be confused by that, but you can also been led to meditate about what things are when they are out of the crowd. Some of my pictures go towards a surreal mood. It’s another way to look at the world by an unusual gaze: there’s no need to see winged horses or green sunsets to trespass the real: you can feel puzzled even by a line of streetlights in the mist or by a piano set on a streets crossing.

Melusina has been taking pictures of Furillen ever since it first opened in 2015. To my eye, her images capture much of the spirit in which the sim was designed. This is how she describes her relationship with Furillen …

When I discovered Furillen, a few days after its opening, I thought I would be at home there. The place did seem to me like the realization of all my best wishes: it recreated a real place in a very precise way, its landscape was the triumph of the minimalism, it mixed up signs of human activities – the industrial landscapes are one of my passions -, it matched even my bias for solitude and for calm and meditative moments.

The stunning landscape made me feel a part of the lonely nature that, with its fog, with its cold sky and sea, with its scattered trees,  dominated the few buildings, once abandoned and now turned to comfortable and pleasant meeting places.

So, I started taking photos and I didn’t stop doing that for years. When I got the honor to be invited to exhibit some pictures, I got worried: how could I select a dozen of photos, when my “Furillen” folder was full with hundreds images of the place? Moreover, I couldn’t resist to the temptation of taking even more pictures, trying to catch new details, new points of view, new atmospheres… The selection needed a very long time, every day I changed it and every day I added some pics to the series.

Then, when you’ll look at a photograph of this exhibit, consider that there are many others behind it, and that it’s just a fragment of the huge collection of corners, details and landscapes that I love of Furillen.

This is a terrific collection of pictures that show both the sim and its photographer at their very best. As with the two previous exhibitions, it’s great to be seeing these pictures laid out within the sim itself: in context, surrounded by what Walter Benjamin used to call the ‘aura’ of the place in which they were originally created. The exhibition opens on Wednesday 5 February at 1300 SLT – that’s 2200 CET. We won’t be throwing a party, but if you want to come along while Melusina herself is around to say hello, that’s when she can be found!

 

Farewell to Lairig Leacach

Lairig Leacach opened exactly two weeks ago. Having labelled it my ‘holiday sim’ – a sort of Christmas gift to SL’s travellers and photographers – I said that it would be ‘gone in a flash’. True to my word, I will close it later today.

I throughly enjoyed this sim – thanks to everyone who visited and took pictures, left comments in the guestbook, and wrote reviews. I’d also like to thank – again – Harry Cover (aka ‘Impossibleisnotfrench’) for meshing the Lairig bothy so accurately and quickly. (Harry has kindly made something else for me, which will make its appearance inworld sometime in the new year …)

Lairig was partly designed for photographers, and, as ever, I was fascinated and delighted to see what you came up with. Here are some highlights from the 250 or so pictures that have been posted to the sim’s flickr group in the past fourteen days …

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Lairig Leacach

Saor-làithean sona (Happy Holidays)

Lairig Leacach II

A respite appears...

Lairig Leacach ...

Lairig Leacach

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/140105578@N02/49222930342/in/pool-lairig_leacach/

Cabin In The Woods

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Forest

There are two seasons in Scotland June and Winter

Trees

Cabin In The Woods

winter song...

Deep

A cold winter's day

... et soudain ils apparurent

Oiseau Lune.

Into The Woods

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home

BURDOCK ROOT

First Light

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Snow Day

Day 041

Lairig Leacach

like a  dream...

The Road not Taken

Lairig Leacach [1]

“Snowing is an attempt to make the dirty world look clean”

Blinded By the Light

Craving Serenity

Christmas Greetings

Forest for the Trees.

Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time, Katrina Mayer.

Christmas night.....waiting for you

Nocturnes

Tor of Ironhall - 4

Cold Morning

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Renards joueurs

 

Lairig Leacach

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Lairig Leacach is a spectacular location at the foot of Stob Ban in the Central Scottish Highlands. It is the home to a tiny bothy, which is the centrepiece of my ‘vacation’ sim, which opens today for a short time. The landmark is here.

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A bothy – also called a byre, or cowshed – is a refuge, a place to rest tired feet or sleep, sheltered from the wind, rain and snow. Although by no means unique to Scotland, bothies are very characteristic of the Highlands. Unlike the ‘refuge’ or ‘refugio’ that is typical of the Alps, bothies are unstaffed, contain no supplies or proper bedding. A bothy is usually just a simple hut – often a converted farm building. It is maintained only through the care and diligence of those who use them, and the goodwill of a network of volunteers making up the Mountain Bothies Association.

Bothies exist mainly for hikers who need shelter – perhaps for the night, or just for an hour or two while a storm blows over. For a long time there was no official list of bothies and their locations, perhaps with the intention to avoid the kinds of guest who are only interested in working their way down such a list in order to ‘bag’ as many as possible. A book containing such a list – The Scottish Bothy Bible – does now exist. Its author was subject to some criticism for breaching this unwritten rule that bothy locations should be discovered only by accident: when in need, or passed on by word of mouth between trusted hikers.

Lairig Leacach is an especially small and primitive example of a Scottish bothy, The location is as stunning is it is remote – it is a ‘good walk from anywhere’, as the guide books say. I was struck by the wildness of the place, and especially the contrast between the big hills surrounding it. The difference in scale is breathtaking …

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The bothy itself consists of a single room containing an old bunkbed and not much else. And yet, on a freezing cold night, how welcome must such a place be to the walker who is lost or exhausted.

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Although Lairig Leacach – the name means the ‘pass of the flagstones’ – is a bleak and desolate place today, like much of the Scottish Highlands it would have once been quite densely forested, indeed there is still quite a large forest close by. In the spirit of those who campaign for the reforestation (or rewilding – see also here) of the Scottish Highlands – and to make the sim a bit more varied and interesting for visitors to wander around – I thought I would try to capture some of this spirit with a sim design that takes quite a few liberties with trees. The outcome, to my eyes and ears at least, is a place that feels much more alluring, almost mystical …

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Amidst this great landscape stands the bothy itself, and I am very grateful to Harry – whose SL name is Impossibleisnotfrench, you can visit his inworld store here – for generously (and quickly!) meshing an uncannily accurate version of the Lairig Leacach Bothy especially for this sim.

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The spirit of bothying – to provide shelter for all – captures what Christmas means for me. I hope the sim provides something of a haven for its visitors – and photographers – over the next few days. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it will be gone in a flash …

Happy holidays to all,

Serene Footman 🙏