At first glance, Failure To Thrive [ The Gray Child ] at LEA15 by Storm Septimus looks magical: stars twinkle across the velvety sky as the quiet waters of the sim envelop rocks, ruins and odd flowers made of dinosaur vertebrae and peacock feathers. But venture more deeply, and you'll enter a dark world — or perhaps a gray one — imbued with themes of deep depression: macabre doll children at a table eating some of their own, a flock of birds stabbed with scissors, a female figure whose heart is ripped from her chest with barbed wire. And here and there are "failure doors" with short phrases about the "gray child" — "The Dark child is here/my sadness/my anger/my hurt," "The Gray child surrounds me/She has no name/her shape and form are mine," and others.
In describing the sim to my friend Honour McMillan for the LEA blog (read here), Storm spoke candidly about her struggles with depression, the ways in which the sim's themes reflect her challenges, and the task of building something that expressed her experiences. (I'll not repeat them here, but Storm's remarks do much to illuminate her artistic thinking and process.) As I wandered Failure to Thrive, I struck up a conversation with another visitor, Kalia (Kaliaharva), who put it very elegantly: "She has managed to capture so much here in the sim that I find it quite eloquent and beautiful — it must take a lot to look at yourself so deeply, honestly and then share yourself like this."
Despite the dark themes, the sim possesses an eerie beauty, and great care has clearly gone into its development. The artist offers two very explicit windlight setting suggestions — one for low resolution (which she prefers) and one for high (which I've shown here). Storm credits her close friend Gemini Carver with the support she needed to realize the installation, adding, "The building kills me. It's only after that I get to see it through other peoples eyes ... I'm enjoying it more now for sure." Her residency at the sim will continue until the end of December.