Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Matter and Memory

Submitted by Kanjena Sweetleaf

Indigo, somewhere in a rainbow, the colour of deep sea seen from a gnarly promontory, surrounded by aromas; lemons, juniper, lavender, rosemary, pine, thyme, salt and ozone.

Indigo Beach
This place evokes deep memories, my childhood and teenage vacations to Mediterranean islands, the brightness turned up, the ambient symphony of lapping waves and birdsong, a tangerine dream of hot sun on the skin, of sand that squeaks and sometimes sings. Sunset coloured songs; the violet petal explosions amid ghost green clouds, indigo skies, azure everywhere. Perfumed air; ozone and sea fruits, coconut oil, factor zero tanning oil, the air infused with sounds, the splash of a diving squid fisher, a distant motorboat, that underwater sound, Balearica, the perfumed water.

Immersion at Indigo

 Indigo sets me adrift on this memory bliss, when I visit I am there but I am also deep in my own sensual reverie, I can feel that sun on my skin…
But for the waves.

The islands of the Mediterranean ocean are abundantly delightful but unless there’s a storm there is no consistent swell and no big waves. Persia’s Indigo beach is an accurately beautiful simulation of a Mediterranean island, a creator's vision of a uniquely European experience, upgraded and amplified by the gift of virtual surf.

When I am at Indigo I am elsewhere, too, as I recall memories in reverie; swimming au naturel off the Pine clad coasts of Menorca and Mallorca, diving off the sun bleached rocks into the turquoise waters of Gozo and Comino, a spaced out Spanish guitar strumming on Ibiza, the glare and glow of sand, sea and sun bleached wood on Fuerteventura and Espalmador.

Memory Bliss
 Indigo is the perfect Mediterranean beach because of the waves, it’s like perfection was enhanced, augmented by the fantastic ability to surf on huge Maoli waves. Surfing was never a consideration on those real life beaches where the aquatic pleasures were gentle pursuits, snorkeling between reef and rock and viscous floating on the saline layers, neither water nor solid, a being between. I feel that, too.  I like to swim and float at Indigo, to lurk in the water on the fringe of the foreshore in a state of suspended tranquility.

The colours of Indigo are stunning, there’s nothing shouting out, the fauna is gently humming and whispering and there’s a song if you listen, harmonies of tone and shade, a Bossa Nova sound. It’s a gentle voice with a smile; turquoise, lavender, pomegranate and gold, a painterly song of longing but not sadness, an understanding of cycles, of the need to return to the places that became home, the brush of a drum, a snare rattle like a southerly wind through the pines.

Sea Calls Me Home

As always I reach the point of questioning that ‘It’s all very well in practice but how does it work in theory?’
I’m reminded of Henri Bergson’s philosophies of time and memory and particularly his thoughts on intuition:

‘We see that the intellect, so skillful in dealing with the inert, is awkward the moment it touches the living. Whether it wants to treat the life of the body or the life of the mind, it proceeds with the rigor, the stiffness and the brutality of an instrument not designed for such use. The intellect is characterized by a natural inability to comprehend life. Instinct, on the contrary, is molded on the very form of life.’

It’s this molding into the form of life that I feel so strongly when I visit Indigo. This is not an intellectual realization of a real world location, it is intrinsic and sentimental, umbilically attached to profound memory, to lived experience. Indigo is both out there and inside and in this sense is intensely virtual, the ‘virtual’ being intuitively known and understood as an imaginative contract between the created world and it’s beholder.

Normally I would list the things to do at a Second Life (SL) beach, but apart from surfing this is not a place for doing, it’s for being. You can sit on the pier, lounge in the chairs and imagine the downtime of a Mediterranean siesta, or climb to the top of the highest rock arch and gaze at the light and colour sequence below, and all this is lovely, but Indigo is more than a place with activities, it’s an autonomous zone of immanent duration, the place and the person becoming each other.


My viewpoint is coloured by my own experiences in the real life places that remind me of Indigo but Second Life is what we make it, and we see and feel what we choose to feel or in this case, what is evoked by shared sensations and emotions.

Indigo beach at Passoa Island is a private sim owned by Persia Bravin. If you want to visit and surf IM Persia for a group invite and LM, she's very keen for surfers to come but, you know, you need to work a little to find the place.

While lazing on that dream of a beach, I asked Persia some questions about her vision.

SurfWatch: Tell me about the inspirations for Indigo?

Persia Bravin:  Indigo sprang from my imagination as my ideal place to live and surf in any life, although it is also an amalgamation of several real life Mediterranean islands that I have visited a lot. The island of Formentera is a place which I have always loved for its crystal blue water, wildlife and bohemian lifestyle: it’s been a big influence for my SL sim! My Grandma was from an island called Gozo which I visited a lot as a kid, so famous rock formations that I used to clamber over there have also been used at Indigo – my virtual homage to her. I have always loved the Greek islands, too, and wanted to include the pine forests, limestone outcrops, wild herbs and flowers that you find on islands such as Paxos, so I spent a long time rezzing trees and flowers that reminded me of Greece. Indigo is my favourite colour, so I named the sim that but also used different hues of blue and purple to create a relaxed atmosphere. There are so many brilliant surf sims with a tropical vibe already, so I wanted to step away from palm trees and other tropical themes and create somewhere uniquely European and tranquil.

Persia at Indigo. Photo by Persia Bravin.

SurfWatch: How and when did you get into SL surfing?

Persia Bravin:  SL surfing was the very first thing I got into when I joined SL in 2008. Because I have surfed since I was a kid, it is a real passion for me, and I wanted to echo that hobby in Second Life. My very first piece of land, a homestead, back in 2008 was at an awesome surf estate run by the lovely Aurora Jacks and Kris Juneau which some readers might remember called Braata Beach. I used to watch all the great SL surfers – some of which are good friends now - at the public surf beach there which joined mine and I would admire them from a distance. I am a journalist in real life, so needless to say, my first ever SL article for the Second Life Enquirer was about the surfing community, too. I still have it stored on an ancient USB and I read it sometimes for nostalgia's sake: SL surfing was a lot different in 2008!

SurfWatch: I love your surfing style, it’s a bit salsa, a bit tango to my eyes. Is there a dance influence to your style or am I imagining this?

Persia Bravin:  You aren’t imagining it! I bellydance in my real life, so music and movement are important to me. Obviously, you can’t dance on a surfboard in real life, but in SL, I always surf with music on loud and I enjoy ripping over the waves in time with the tracks. I like the sense of music, movement and surf all coming together in a way that’s impossible to do in RL. 

Indigo Beach. Photo by Persia Bravin

SurfWatch: I’ve always seen you as a vital promoter of creativity in SL.  How do you view the creative landscape of SL these days? How has it changed in your time? And how do you feel it will develop and change in the future?

Persia Bravin:  I have always just used my RL skills and experience to promote others in SL, via writing, TV or radio because I enjoy it and have been lucky enough to interview some truly incredible people that use SL to express themselves. I have written in SL from very early on, so can’t imagine not doing it now. Because I am a people person, I’m always fascinated by the creativity of others – whatever their genre – and SL is a very creative place. My SL addiction is seeing what others make and there’s never a shortage of new creators to discover. The creative landscape, certainly in terms of SL media, has changed so much in my nine years; that warrants a book of its own, but I’m proud to say that I still write for the Second Life Enquirer, where I started all those years ago. It is still going strong at twelve years old.

SurfWatch: What are your plans for Indigo?

Persia Bravin:  Indigo is my home, so it is a private location, but I am always happy to share it and my Maoli Tahiti Break waves with other dedicated SL surfers who have their own boards. Just IM me for a LM and group tag to rezz. Like any creative endeavour, I think Indigo will evolve over time: I am already thinking about sinking more land for more sea space. At present, about 80% of the sim is sea…I might make that 90% soon! I really wanted to impart the sense that Indigo is a small island in the middle of a vast sea at sunset and I will keep developing that. Since I created Indigo, I have been really busy with my work, but I plan on having a sim warming party this summer with Techno DJ’s, lots of dancing and of course – surfing. I might also make my own SL Surf inspired radio station to play at Indigo: surfing to my favourite tracks is just too tempting…

SurfWatch: If you could make a soundtrack for your sim, what would be on it?

Persia Bravin:  My music tastes are pretty diverse, but some tracks that put me in the mindset for surfing in any life include:
Cari Lekebusch - Obscurus Sanctus.
Minor Science - Naturally Spineless
The Kills - Future Starts Slow
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Confused
Reef - Place Your Hands
MC Conrad - Strategies & Plans
Aphex Twin - CIRKLON3
Nick Drake - Pink Moon
Deep Dive Corp – Relaxer
Queens of the Stone Age - I Sat By The Ocean

You can listen to Persia's surfing selection right here:

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