I love Marcus Inkpen’s work. The Looking Glass is one of my favourite regions to visit, and I’m massively tempted by his Floating Victorian Home. In mid-June LEA opened a full sim installation featuring Marcus’ work, and I’ve finally managed to get myself over to see it.
The Returning is described as exploring “the spiritual connection we once experienced, as an integral part of life, now lost – but lying in wait for our return” – and it is simply enchanting.
There is a rich mix of cultural elements here, most of them seeming to come from Asia, but also with some European / Middle Eastern elements as well. You arrive at a wooden landing stage facing a lush rain forest-like environment, split by meandering waterways. Where you go from here is up to you – follow the wooden piers around the small lake to the woodlands, or take a row-boat. There are only two building here, and whichever route you take will eventually lead you to them.
The main building carries echoes of many historical sites; some have compared it with Angkor Wat – and the similarity is strong. For me, and without wishing to sound like a cracked record, the building carries a strong Sri Lankan resonance, reminding me particularly of the great stupas and pools of Anuradhapura.
For me, the Sri Lankan element was certainly heightened by the fact the music stream accompanying the installation features pieces by Lakshman Joseph De Saram. Having the music stream on is not a vital part of a visit – if anything, I’d say that in parts it actually might detract from the overall atmosphere. However, I was curious as to what might be accompanying the installation and in what was undoubtedly a serendipitous moment, I turned media precisely as Beggar / Charles Is Dying from De Saram’s soundtrack for Bel Ami was playing – and so the mental association with Sri Lanka was cemented.
Inside the structure lay the deeper spiritual elements: manuscripts that appear to be from the Kabbalah, including what looks to be the Sēpher Yəṣîrâh; on the floor in the central chamber is a carving featuring the seven Chakras, adding a Hindu / Buddhist element, around which a pendulum slowly rotates.
The remaining building appears to be more western in style and design – almost a folly. It contains a device resembling an orrery, enticingly called Know Thyself. Around the walls are empty frames and pictures that appear to be from the 19th Century; perhaps another piritual echo – the memories of those who have passed before us.
Exploring the region will reveal strange incongruities. Alongside the “folly” run a set of power / telegraph wires; up on a hill you’ll find a US Postal Service mail box. Near the end of the reflecting pool at the front of the main building sits a pianola. Are these random placements, or do they carry meaning themselves? You’ll have to decide, as I’m saying nothing.
I’m not sure how long The Returning will remain open. If you haven’t visited already, I urge you to do so – and don’t be surprised if you find me sitting in quiet contemplation by the reflecting pool or among the trees.
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