Bryn Oh’s new installation The Gathering, will be formally opening at Immersiva on Tuesday, December 1st. However, she has invited a number of people – myself included – to experience it a little early. And “experience” is precisely the right word to use here; not only is The Gathering typically immersive and engaging installation by Bryn, it also makes used of Second Life Experiences.
The landing point provides some notes on how to set your viewer, using Firestorm as an example. For those using other viewers, and who can manage it, the optimal set-up for the viewer is to have Advanced lighting Model active, and Shadows set to Sun/Moon + Projectors. It is at the landing point as well that you’ll be asked to join Byrn Oh’s Experience. It’s important that you do if you wish to enjoy The Gathering to the fullest.
Doing so grants the installation certain automatic rights to act on your avatar – notably to animate you and teleport you; these rights will be automatically revoked when you leave Immersiva (and will automatically re-apply themselves whenever you run, unless you remove the Bryn Oh Experience from your list of allowed experiences).
The central element of the installation is the gathering of the title – a private party, somewhat gate crashed by a strange individual with some odd habits. This is told as a series of stanzas from a poem, accompanied by a hand drawn image of the scene each stanza describes, as shown above.
To get to this, however, you have a pass through a landscape offering both distractions in the form of several static and interactive builds, and danger, in the form of huge balls or spheres, which periodically roll down from higher slopes, and which will throw you back to the landing point if they collide with you. These can be avoided in a number of ways – running out of the way, climbing the steeper slopes away from them or otherwise using the landscape to your advantage, or touch one of the small static sphere scattered around the installation.
The latter will animate your avatar, whilst also allowing you to walk. more to the point, they’ll allow you to climb any nearby walls or other elements of the installation, letting you climb nearby walls and escape the dreaded rolling (bowling?) balls. You’ll be able to keep climbing for as long as you “wear” one of the animation spheres, and can walk on the ground using one, but things can take a bit of getting used to. When you stand, you’ll be returned to your normal walk mode.
The builds within the installation include character motifs and other elements which may resonate with those familiar with Bryn’s work, such as the house that constructs itself as you move through it, a concept Bryn used to huge effect in Keep the Streets Empty for Me, a part of Ux Hax and Romy Nayar’s July exhibition Distrito Disinto at MetaLES, which you can read about here.
The Gathering requires careful navigation and a sense of fun – as Bryn notes in her invitation, it can be something better enjoyed when watching other interact with object or as they try to escape the giant balls.
However, it loses not of its engagement when visiting on your own: just be sure to accept the Experience invitation and then run / walk, look, poke, prod and climb! Do, as well, keep an eye out for the projectors play room, and if you’d like some of the sketches from The Gathering, as well as other Bryn goodies, try the Gacha machine at the landing point.
- The Gathering, Immersiva (Rated: Moderate)