Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Goodbye London #
In a bold, but appropriate move, in the 1st minutes of CAA-VUP Phase II, Olive built a wonderful wall and effectively said goodbye to our neighbors Shakespeare’s London at LEA2. Walls are never my first choice, but in this case, Olive made the right choice.
For me it’s always about walking. You probably know I worship Jane Jacobs, and for me Robert Moses, the heroic architect thrusting his genius onto people, vs Jane Jacobs trying to find a place for mixed use in a messy, complex city, is the frustration I feel every day in SL. The beautiful work that people do all over the grid is amazing. Shakespeare’s London @LEA2 is some of the best of this work.
Shakespeare’s London is beautiful. It affords an immersive look at great history. But it is also what appeals to me least about VR architecture. It’s outstanding work as a showpiece. It sits apart from life and daily use. Of course we should preserve and share history. Of course we should have museums and interactive museum experiences. Still, this is not Livable Space, as demonstrated by the fact that there is never anybody there. And it follows the great LEA tradition of look at me, who cares about you! That’s sort of a cynical thing to say, and I’m sorry. But LEA has 30 sims and they’re all dedicated to individual heroicism all the time. In fact LEA doesn’t even get the idea of community or neighborhoods or interaction. They don’t seem to have a clue as to what it means to be able to walk a space. To walk a neighborhood. To create community by walking rather than just teleporting from abstract point to abstract point.
In November 2014 I put together a slate of 4 artists for LEA AiR Land Grants. Each artist submitted a proposal for their own project and I submitted an umbrella proposal to have the 4 sims, if granted, co-located. LEA’s response was that my proposal wasn’t a proposal because I wasn’t asking for a Region. Therefore it was irrelevant and not worthy of receiving a Yes or No answer at all. LEA seems so opposed to, or incapable of understanding, the idea of walkable space, that they simply refuse to consider the idea of an avatar walking from one sim to another. And most artists are fine with this.
In the case of Shakespeare’s London, they’ve put a prim water plate just under the surface, and then done (IMHO) sloppy terraforming of the ocean floor beneath that. If you even try to walk from LEA1 to LEA2, you fall under the fake prim water floor and get trapped. There are similar issues if you try to walk from here to the LEA theatre. For some reason, SL is home to some of the shittiest ocean floor terraforming. Occasionally, like the Mermaid Sims, there is a beautiful consideration of these spaces, but far more often what’s beneath the surface is just a dump for spaces people don’t want to look at. In fact the LEA welcome area is very hard to walk and so visually noisy it’s hard to focus on the sim projects the welcome area is theoretically there to promote.
Embrace the Snow Globe #
In the face of neighbors who terraform in ways that make it impossible to be neighbors or to ever walk from here to there, Olive made the only possible choice. She built and end of sim wall. An especially beautiful one. I’ve wanted to be able to walk from here to the neighbors for years. It seems like a dream that will never happen at LEA. If you can’t have a big world, then Olive was right to embrace all the amazing possibilities of our snow globe world. After all, it’s a pretty big snow globe. 6.5 hectares of land and 18,000 prims. And the border between us and the LEA5 sandbox does seem entirely walkable.
How funny that an incredibly beautiful creation like LEA2 we can’t walk to. But a plop what you want sandbox like LEA5 is almost entirely compatible with walking. Once again, it isn’t the heroic genius of an architect like Robert Moses, it is the community spirit of an urban planner like Jane Jacobs.
I didn’t know this was going to be a rant! But there it is. Speaking of Walking and Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walk 2017 is coming 5-6-7 May. There will be over 200 RL cities participating. And one VR city. Yup! SL is the only VR city on the Jane’s Walk map. I hope you’ll consider leading a Jane’s Walk of anyplace in SL that you love. (or another virtual world)