16 August 2016


Now open at LEA25 is Invictus, a sim-wide installation by Storm Septimus, inspired by the 1875 poem of the same name by William Ernest Henley, originally untitled and not published until 1888. In Henley's short verse, he urges the individual to rise up and triumph against adversity, espousing that one needs to be the master of one's own destiny — the motivation for the poem having stemmed from his own personal fight against tuberculosis of the bone.

At Invictus, visitors arrive at the top of a tower (image above), descend to the base (viewing Henley's poem on the way), and enter a world filled with symbolism and a mountainous rock island wracked with disorder. One navigates to the island's base, working through a maze and maneuvering around debris, and then takes a rowboat across a small body of water to a far more tranquil island to the east (although one not without emotional anguish, as depicted in the screaming winged men on top of the archways). Between the two land masses, and chained to the first, are four colossal horses that strive to break free from the rock. The imagery might remind one of Gustav Doré's engravings for Paradise Lost.

"It's personal to me — I think we have gathered most my builds are," said Storm as we talked at length about her build and reflected back on her previous work. "I have rheumatoid arthritis, and have since I was 21. It's been really shitty since about February this year — I had a really bad time mentally more than anything because, well, I want to be normal and do normal things, and not be like an 80 year old. I can't lift my youngest daughter, I can't undo bottles, and some days my kids have to take my jeans off — I don't have the energy." But she can function ably in Second Life, and also use it as a means of release: "I thought it would be a good build for me mentally if not anything else."

And Storm is delighted with the results of Invictus: "I love this place completely — I really do, and I have never ever said that about anything I have done. It was a really easy build this time — usually I find them so hard, but this one sort of did itself. I knew I wanted it all on the big mountain with the horses before I started, then everything just flowed really good and it was mostly done in about two weeks." The result is an exceptionally photogenic sim, and one in which variety abounds: one sees transformations in environment and materials in every direction, but the sim sticks together as a cohesive whole, providing delightful opportunities for explorers and photographers. (Click on any image to zoom in or check on flickr over the forthcoming week.)

Storm creates not only with physical but technical challenges, working on a laptop that can't rise above SL's midrange settings, and it's interesting that the sim looks possibly better without advanced lighting model activated. She asked that mention be made of her need for poets: August 23 will be William Henley's birthday, and it seemed only appropriate to schedule a poetry reading, and volunteers are needed not only for that event, but for future happenings on the sim — an events board is located on the second island. Invictus will remain on display through the end of 2016.

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