Thursday, 9 August 2012

Pretty Dangerous

On the advice of a friend, I visited a sim created by Bryn Oh called "Anna's Many Murders". I believe it is part of his Immersiva project, though I'm not one hundred percent sure that I have that the right way around. I confess, I had never heard of Bryn Oh, or Immersiva, until I clicked the landmark my friend had sent me, and teleported into what appeared to be a wooden box. 

I know that, ordinarily, I don't really like to use this blog as a kind of virtual Blue Planet Guide, but I do like to record the things that I come across that I find amazing or interesting, and this find certainly falls into both of those categories. I am not going to log here a walk-through - that would ruin it! - but there are a few things that I should like to mention and talk about.

Inside the wooden box with me was a giant bee holding some letters, and a statue of a girl, surrounded by plastic bags that looked as if they were caught in a breeze. On the wall behind her was a placard, and as I went in closer to read it, the plastic bags turned into butterflies, as if by magic. It was a beautiful illusion, and a very unexpected one. It appears to work on a timer, so that if you hang around, the butterflies will, eventually, turn back into plastic bags. It is repeated later on in the sim as you walk through it, to even greater effect, but I will let you find that one for yourselves.

I caught them as they began to transform; by the end, the bags were gone.
The placard on the wall was the beginning lines of a poem, and as you move through the sim and encounter each of the installations, you learn more and more lines of the poem. It's a wonderful mix of exploration and art, and it is beautifully done, both in the realisation, and the "ease of use", if you like - it is easy to work out which way to go, and the poem is in equal parts funny and disturbing. The title of the piece is not a brag; there are, indeed, many murders committed by our friend Anna.

A darker streak.
Sadly, I was not able to visit all of the sim with my avatar. At one point, there are steps which lead to a box in the sky, and Kitti's legs are apparently not long enough to make the crossing. Flying is disabled on the sim, and so is teleporting around it, so when Kitti fell off the step and down the side of the cliff, I received a notice that she had died and been returned to my home sim. I did manage to use the camera functions to look at what was in the box, but I was rather frustrated that I couldn't get Kitti up there to look at it properly!

I was also intrigued, and disturbed, by the faces on the models. It would appear that the artist has taken photographs of real life faces and pasted them onto the skulls of her characters. The effect is jarring, and eerie.

Don't mess with Anna! Behind her, the steps I could not climb.
I'm not sure, had I been the artist, that I would have done this, but I can't deny that it is certainly effective. I hope she knows the people these faces belong to...and what does it mean if she doesn't? I'm surprised that I haven't had nightmares about her!

Much of the build is really beautiful, however, and I was completely won over by this lightbulb tree. It seems like such a wonderful idea, and it was things like this, details like this, that I found really drew me into the artwork.

The Lightbulb Tree, and a steampunk-style horse behind.
Bryn Oh is not the first, I would imagine, to combine artistic and poetic elements with the explorative-game style. I have visited sims in the past that have been dedicated to this kind of game, though they are often themed by holidays or festivals or big sales, and seldom, I think, have I come across one so well-thought out, or so atmospheric, as this one. Had I been able to run my graphics any higher, and did I have any grasp of Windlight settings at all (for non SL users, Windlight is some kind of software to do with lighting in-world), I imagine it would be even better.

I also find it really exciting that Second Life can be used as a platform for not only showcasing art, but for creating it. We aren't viewing a facsimilie of the art; we are viewing the art itself, and there is something invigorating about the adaptation of new software for art's sake - especially in a day and age when funding for the arts and the future of the artists relying upon that funding has become so uncertain. 

A quick Google search turned up Bryn Oh's blogspot - here - and a quick in-world search for "Anna's Many Murders" turns up the landmark you need to visit. I got the impression that, as part of an on-going project, the sim would not be around for so long, and that I had already missed previous artworks by Oh. If there are any Bryn Oh fans reading this, please enlighten me? I am definitely interested in seeing more of his work.


  1. That photo face is that of a child, and it is wrong, just wrong

  2. Well, I think so, too, but I think that the point of the sim is to be wrong, so, in that does the job perfectly.


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