Thursday, February 26, 2015

Goodbye to Gatsby

                       "In two weeks it'll be the longest day in the year." She looked at us all radiantly.
                       "Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always
                       watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it."
                       "We ought to plan something," yawned Miss Baker.
                                                                                 The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

It's easy to miss things in OpenSim; we are all so busy making, inventing and scratching our heads as the platform throws up some new curve ball that takes away an hour or two we might otherwise have spent  relaxing. 
But some things should not be missed, and this is one of them: The Great Gatsby build, part of EXPLORESeanchai on Kitely. After a month or more of performances and guided tours, the build will be closing, with a party on the last day of this month, Sunday 28 February, some time after 2 pm Pacific. Here's the address:
Hypergrid URI  
East Egg and West Egg have been coming alive in this very special way throughout the past few weeks as the Seanchai has presented readings of the novel in weekly episodes with performances by both Caledonia and the great Corwyn Allen. The readings
have been spread around the sim, according to where the action of the story takes place.
As well as the locations featured in the book, the sim features an orientation room, showing people how to walk and talk; and a Fitzgerald gallery, full of information about the man himself. 
  The evolution of the Gatsby install is interesting. Seanchai has teamed up with the Tacoma Little Theater for this foray into immersive literary builds, and inside the Buchanan Mansion you'll find a replica of their Gatsby set used on real life. 

The TLT is a community theater group in Washington State. It was founded almost a hundred years ago, and is in its 96th season - impressive! They also organize a fine program of classes and workshops for both kids and grownups. They've recently been performing Simon Levy's stage play of the Great Gatsby.  And they have teamed up with Seanchai to create a learning experience, which is perfect for people of any age. 
The Buchanan Mansion at dusk
This is certainly not the first literary sim in the metaverse, not even in OpenSim; both OSGrid and Craft have had some lovely didactic builds. On Craft, for example, there was sim Pindaro which held builds representing four classics of Italian literature that form part of the Technical school curriculum, as a way to introduce 'old books' to kids with quite a different passion in life. 
But while it may not be an original idea - if such a thing even exists- it is an exquisitely executed one. Caledonia Skytower and friends have put together the fabric of the story, the bricks and mortar if you like - in an original and beautiful way. You'll find the Gatsby and Buchanan Mansions, Nick Carraway's little rental, the Valley of Ashes, even Dr. Ecklenburg's poster, with his giant spectacles. 
Another great feature - the clickable pictures and posters that take you to fascinating webpages about cultural context. In the  bar, in the Valley of Ashes, you'll find these.
The build is a labor of love, very easy to follow (there's an excellent map right outside the Welcome center) and the attention to detail is unparalleled, from the vehicles, to the information about music of the period inside the Gatsby mansion, to the books in  Nick's cottage,  sitting on his shelf "in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew." 
All of which is even more astonishing when you think that this Great Gatsby build is simply a pilot program, with a view to making more 3D workshop events in the future, exploring other literary works.
The Safari got a chance to visit the sim last week, and hear Caledonia read two extracts. I love her voice. She brings life and drama to the text without ever overdoing it, and her warm good humor is irresistible. 
We sat on plants and in cars and tried to get our bearings, and all of us wished we had been present for the other readings, like our good friend Miney. Supporting art is important. Not to mention rewarding. 
Wizardoz and Isolde on Safari

This build is not something you can absorb in a single visit, certainly not on Safari. It takes time to grasp the nature of the place, and the book too. That is in a way the greatest challenge of making a build of this kind. 
There is, on one hand, the specialness of the event, exactly like an evening out at the theater. On the other hand, the audience in OpenSim, scattered across an archipelago of imperfectly connected grids and having to contend with a world of time zones, it was hard to find a time convenient to the size of audience that an event of this caliber deserves. 
In the end, I found the book on Youtube and went to sit down by the water, to listen, to meditate on the Long island landscape and the gaudy trappings of wealth, and the vices it breeds. Except that this being Kitely, where  you're never allowed to forget that tick, tick, tick, time is money, after half an hour of dreamy contemplation, I was kicked from the grid.
So here we are, at the end of the month, and just as the play has ended at the TLT, so the Seanchai Great Gatsby build will soon go into storage, to make room for another brilliant build, of course. But before then, you have the opportunity say farewell to Jay and Nick and Daisy, and to be part of the closing party on Sunday. Hope to see you there.
Hypergrid URI:  
Closing party Sunday 28 February after 2pm PDT

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the mention. I only just want to see such things continue in the open Metaversum. But they, and similar others, need attendance, not for the occasional tip [if you are a kitely member with KCs...] though it all goes into helping them continue, but because such sharing people love seeing others' share with them.

    I have been attending their early morning voice stories for some time now, maybe since they first arrived in Kitely. Alas, it is often just me and maybe a handful of others, often ppl who come into Kitely for whom usually roam SL, and the Seanchai stuff they do there.

    I would love for more people to follow them via their webpage, this being the current week;

    It is a nice and very pleasant way to pass an hour or so, I think-))