The visitor clock ticked over the 10,000 mark yesterday. That’s the number of visits (not visitors) to Furillen since mid October. The sim is often full these days, and around 350 people come by each day. For a sim that started from nothing in October; was built ad hoc with no grand opening; by an avatar (me) with no reputation; and with no shops or – ahem – sex balls in sight, this is pretty good going.
The interesting question is why. I was chewing this over with Cica Ghost, who in my view is (alongside Bryn Oh) the most all-round talented person on the grid. Her latest sim, Roots, is incredible, a world rich in colour, fantasy and imagination that surely captivates anyone who goes there. But the traffic has been quite low. Roots has not been included in the Second Life Destination Guide despite Cica requesting this. Shame on whoever at Linden Labs has neglected to do this. (Update: Roots finally made it into the guide … and Cica had over 4oo visitors in one night!)
But Furillen was getting high traffic even before it was placed in the destination guide. My theory is that the very active Furillen Flickr group helps a lot, generating the network effects that we tend to see on crowded sims. Second Life is a social game, after all.
Furillen is a sim that, for many people, stands for solitude and isolation. And yet a community of sorts has grown up around it, giving the place a life of its own.
We like to be together, even when we want to be alone.
“Not even with a crane can you tear some walls”
by Fabs Burt
Most visitors to Furillen comment on the wide open spaces. Some see the emptiness as beautiful, while others see it as desolate, dystopian or even depressing. But all agree that this sense of space defines the sim and explains its impact. Look beyond this, however, and there are other sides to Furillen, such as those found in the rooms of the main building. When I first built the sim, these were designed as standard hotel rooms, but this quickly became quite repetitive and predictable. While one or two such rooms remain, the other rooms have been given up to small-scale ‘installations’, usually featuring furniture of one kind or another alongside other objects that are less likely to be found in a hotel.
Everything here is about simplicity and detail: the precise arrangement of objects in a tightly defined space. These are, I think, the perfect counterpoint to the vast empty spaces elsewhere on the sim.
To me at least, these are like two sides of the same – minimalist – coin.
In terms of its basic structure, Furillen was built in around two weeks.
I planned the sim by mapping out the lines running north to south (the pier) and east to west (the trees; the electricity poles). Every structure, slag heap, tree and road was represented by a single prim block. The sim’s underlying symmetry may be difficult to see now, but it is there.
Besides distinct geometrical form, I was striving for a stark, austere atmosphere that I could see in the real Furillen. This proved more difficult to achieve, because every building I initially placed on the sim was in the ‘shabby chic’ style that is now popular in Second Life. Too cute for Furillen …
Then I found the central building of the sim, made by Soyoy. This is not cute. If anything, it is anti-cute.
Someone recently asked me for two words that describe what Furillen in Second Life means to me. Tabula rasa, was my answer. It means blank slate; or in this instance, blank canvas. The wide empty spaces of the sim allow visitors (and photographers) freedom to imagine whatever they choose.
I read an interview with AM Radio – in my view, the best sim builder ever in Second Life – in which he said that people would see in his work things that weren’t even there.
I totally get that.
The Furillen photography group was started on 12 October 2015. Since that time, the group has acquired 1476 images taken by 215 members. The standard is consistently high, and sometimes out of this world. More important, though, is the spirit of generosity that one sees in the comments, and feels among photographers who visit the sim. So we will have a contest, but a contest with a difference because it will (I hope) be infused with the community spirit that has been so characteristic of life at Furillen:
1. The contest will take place monthly, starting today.
2. Each entry to be based on a designated theme for that month.
3. One entry per person, eligibility is membership of this group.
4. Winner to be chosen democratically, through a vote organized by me using flickrmail, one vote per member of the group.
5. Two prizes: a) the winning picture will be displayed on the sim for the next month; and b) the winner gets to choose the next theme.
January’s theme is: solitude
Please tag your pictures with this theme, and the word ‘competition’.
By all means tag several of your pictures this way during the month, just choose which you’d like to use by the closing date, which is SLT midnight on 31 January 2016.
I am looking forward to seeing what you lovely, talented people come up with.