Currently open – for a while longer at least – within her home region of Immersiva, is Bryn Oh’s three-part tale of a mechanical girl and a rabbicorn (part rabbit, part unicorn, all mechanical). It’s a complex, multi-faceted story rich in detail and themes that requires time – and not a little patience – to be witnessed and followed in full.
The three parts of the story stand as individual installations that should be visited in order. One sits at the ground level of the region, the remaining two up in the sky. They commence with The Daughter of Gears, and then progress through The Rabbicorn Story and conclude with Standby. Within them, they enfold matters of love, lost, fear, life, death, longing, companionship, human nature, feature of technology / progress, and sacrifice, as well as demonstrating how all of Bryn’s pieces share a relationship with one another, being set within the same universe – or perhaps “Ohverse” might be a better term.
The three installations between them also have a long history, as Bryn points out in discussing their origins.
Daughter of Gears story was originally created years ago when I was commissioned by a company called Rezzable to make something for an existing region called Black Swan … The second and third parts were hosted by IBM when they were actively within Second Life.
Originally when the stories were created in prims they each were close to 20,000 prims for a grand total of around 60k. Far more than a sim can hold. But yay! for mesh which has allowed me to reduce the footprint down to 19683.
Bryn, commenting on The Daughter of Gears and The Rabbicorn Story
Bryn covers the unfolding story at length through her blog, so I’ll restrict myself to just outlining things here. All three installations are framed around a series of three poems, the stanzas of which are spread through each of the installations and presented in such a way we can only visit them in the correct order.
For The Daughters of Gears, this involves climbing a high tower to uncover a story that might be said to have, as a seed, within Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus – although the two are very different in content. Here, a mother faces the death of her one daughter by building a mechanical body into which she can transfer her child’s soul. Unfortunately, the locals, scared by what she has done and regarding her work as an abomination, come to her high tower to put a stop to things. Ultimately, they fail – but at the cost of the mother’s life, leaving the Daughter of Gears alone.
The story is told by climbing the tower itself – individual stanzas set on different levels. Now, to be honest, climbing the tower isn’t easy – to the extent that some might find it frustrating – it is easy to mis-step / jump and find yourself back at the bottom of the tower (and I’d recommend using Mouselook in places, as the camera angles can be tight); however the scenes the climb reveal are more than worth the effort.
In The Rabbicorn Story, we follow the tale of a mechanical rabbicorn, it’s relationship with the boy form whom it is built, and what happens when others come to covet the uniqueness of a mechanical intelligence and how it might be used – for good or ill. The initial part of the story might be said to have a seed in a modern-day “classic”, this one Peter. Paul and Mary’s Puff The Magic Dragon (notably the lyrics dealing with dragons (or in this case Rabbicorns) living forever, but no so little boys). Forced on the run from, but tracked by, the scientists that covet it, the Rabbicorn eventually finds its way to the tower of The Daughter of Gears, and in the third part of the tale, Standby, we follow the attempts by the two of them to find a new home together, little realising they are being tracked.
These latter two parts of the tale are navigated by teleport rather than climbing – although for obvious reasons, a section of The Daughter of Gears’ tower does appear. There is also something of a Transhumanist / The Matrix-like reference in The Rabbicorn Story, as revealed in Bryn’s notes on the installation: the merging of human consciousness with machines to make the latter operable.
It is also within The Rabbicorn Story and Standby that we particularly see how this tale is interwoven with other aspects of Bryn’s universe. This is most clearly seen by the the Rabbicorn being created within the same facility as featured in 26 Tines, while in searching for a place to live, The Daughter of Gears and the Rabbicorn come across Lady Carmagnolle, still standing alone on her broken stage (you can read more about Lady Carmagnolle and 26 Tines in A Lady and 26 Tines in Second Life).
Richly visual, deeply set in terms of themes and interpretation, these three installations offer an expressive visit in which it is possible to become thoroughly enmeshed within the unfolding tale. The outcome may not be what might be entirely expected – but again, it follows a tradition within storytelling and myth building.
Standby also has a link with another exhibition of Bryn’s art in Second Life, and I’ll be offering a few notes on that in an upcoming piece.