Monday, January 14, 2008

Aley's Privateer Island - Part I

There are umpteen posts already on the blogosphere about one of Second Life’s hottest builds, Privateer Island; no less than three, that I am aware of, that have been authored by NPIRLers. There's Hamlet Au of New World Notes' round-up, Hotspur O'Toole's thoughtful adventure and Lem Skall's appreciative and illustrated review. Why on earth - or Mars, in this case - would we add ourselves to the mix? I welcome this two part story by guest author Lauren Weyland because it sheds light on both the work and its creator, one of the newest builders on the grid. In Part I, Lauren has not yet met Aley, and provides an interesting rationale for all that she sees and learns... Later, in Part II (coming right up), Lauren has spoken extensively with Aley, which both confirms and dramatically alters her initial speculations.

By Lauren Weyland

Aley Arai is a reclusive woman who created a sim that narrates a story. Neither of these things are immediately apparent to the casual visitor. Like Emily Dickinson – one of the greatest American poets - Aley lives an “unusual life of self imposed social seclusion." And, like Dickinson, Aley's work "has an undeniable capacity to move and provoke."

Privateer Island – Aley’s place – seems to represent how she feels isolated and alone in her skin. Aptly named Privateer, the build is set in the future. The earth has been almost completely destroyed and there is just an outpost in the desert where one survivor lives with a twisting tornado swirling dust in the distance. Aley’s puzzle is here.

At the very highest point, we find ourselves in a space station. The detail throughout the sim and her extraordinary textures combine to form digital art and fundamental communication.

Fly off the upper deck into the galaxies and then down to the Hotel California. Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place…

Listen to the Eagle's entire song and what they are saying, "…and I was thinking to myself, this could be heaven or this could be hell." Aley's Hotel California sits empty waiting for guests (don't forget to ring the bell at the front desk).

Plenty of room at the Hotel California. Any time of year, you can find it here…

Down below the earth are portals which are not yet working but apparently will require an understanding of Aley's mind to navigate. And even though she is reclusive, she invites us to discover her world… even enticing us with a space suit which has a smiley face on it. "Aley doesn't do anything without a reason," my friend Sloan exclaimed as we explored.

There's a racetrack with a portal which leads to tunnels which lead to even more portals. Above the racetrack is an empty city with only a large work station… apparently both a satirical comment on Second Life and another life form. Walk into the miniature Second Life (Aley invites us without actually telling us) and see our metaverse with a macabre view.

Aley is brilliant. I'd be a fool not to wonder about her mind. As Sloan said, “to spend a day with her should be mandatory for sentient beings,” and I replied, “We are here spending time with her. So many clues she has left.”

And like Dickinson, although a recluse, she invites us into her mind. Emily Dickinson did it with words in the form of poetry. Aley does it with the poetry of the day, virtual reality telling.

Teleport directly from here.