Posted by Alpha Auer
I have been coming to the conclusion that I write far more enthusiastically when I do not directly contact the designers of a virtual build, but leave myself open to my own musings and impressions of the place. In the case of Tainted Hearth, this may be leading me to certain errors in identifying the names and functions of all parties involved in the design process and if this is indeed the case, I stand very much corrected. As far as I have been able to ascertain, this island has been created by AzA Zymurgy and Lacey Mertel, through a skillful collection and subsequent weaving together of objet trouvé into a strongly integrated design system - an approach that I have adopted at Syncretia myself and one that I wholeheartedly applaud and find highly appropriate for metaverse creativity. Again, I may be completely mistaken in this assumption, and if so, my sincerest apologies to the creator(s) of Tainted Hearth.
One of the things that struck me from the first moment of setting foot at Tainted Hearth is the very subtle way in which this island seems to carry layers of history: When observed from a History of Architecture perspective it is quite startling to see that some of the buildings seem to belong to far earlier periods than others: Thus while the art gallery, located on its own individual islet is in a modernist industrial style, some of the buildings atop the hill seem to date back to the early 20th century and yet others seem to go back to earlier stylistic periods, all the way back to the central European late Gothic tradition which is exemplified in the "cathedral", with its very own gargoyle perched on the roof, in a vastly exaggerated and humorous rendition of the manner in which I have seen them perched atop Gothic buildings in Prague. And isn't this precisely how cities grow? Don't we have this conglomeration of architectural styles in most, if not all, urban centers throughout the globe? It is this very clever replication/re-interpretation of emergent historical architectural growth that for me has set Tainted Hearth apart from the vast majority of themed sims that I see all over Second Life®. By and large, for me, themed sims do not work all too well: This usually has to do with the fact that whatever theme it is that has been implemented tends to become superimposed onto the entire sim, creating an air of artificiality, of over deliberation, of over-design and ultimately of uniformity. Now, I am not even sure if it would be appropriate to categorize Tainted Hearth as a themed sim, so vast are the differences in architectural periods and styles manifest in the building work, however if one were to do so, it is most certainly a themed sim that works!
Reminiscent of the Black Towers of Prague maybe?
The modernist/industrial art gallery foregrounded to a conglomeration of historic architectural styles.
In a "real" city, the conglomeration of styles usually ends up creating a cohesive Gestalt with the aid of environmental factors, such as the atmospheric pollution which with the passage of time tends to paint the discrepant surfaces into a more or less uniform hue. Another catalyst of Gestalt in civic architecture is also, of course, the indigenous vegetation and climate of a particular location. And just so, at Tainted Hearth the same thing seems to have happened: Scattered throughout the island is the Sculpty Tree of Despair by Seph Da Silva, (of which I have quite a few rezzed at Syncretia as well ;-), one of the most dramatic and beautifully textured trees that I have ever come across in Second Life. And taking the concept even further, the designers of the island seem to have taken their cue for terrain texturing from Da Silva's trees as well, creating a strangely burnt out, aged looking carpet of vegetation throughout the island. And even the terraforming seems to have followed Da Silva's theme of despair and corrosion. And then finally complementing this ecological framework is the architecture itself, which while discrepant stylistically, manages to convince us that it has been subjected to the same climatic elements over an extended period of time, resulting in a soft blending of texture and hue.
But ultimately, when all is said done, it is the actual content of the place, the conveyance of a subliminal convoluted narrative, reminiscent of Central European fairy tales, compounded by a sense of the ominous, indeed almost the uncanny, that makes Tainted Hearth a definite must see of NPIRL virtual sim building.
You can teleport to Tainted Hearth directly from here. You can see larger and more photos of Tainted Hearth here.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Posted by Alpha Auer