Bryn’s mythical creatures in Second Life

Bryn Oh: Mythical Creatures

Now available at her Immersiva arts region, is Bryn Oh’s latest presentation Mythical Creatures, which is will have an official opening on Sunday, July 19th, 2020.

Perhaps the best way to describe this collection of 21 pieces is as a series of art collectibles, in that they come with a unique property, which I’ll get to shortly.

This was a fun project where I researched 20 legendary, mythical or creatures of folklore from around the world and re-imagined them. Some are well known such as the Dragon or Phoenix, but then there are more obscure ones like the Nariphon or the horrifying Manananngal.

– Bryn Oh on Mythical Creatures

Bryn Oh: Mythical Creatures

Each creature is presented as a 3D sculpture on a plinth bearing a brief description of the creature’s form. More detailed descriptions of the creatures and their histories, drawn from multiple sources, hang from the ceiling of the hall behind each of the sculptures. As Bryn notes, some of the creatures are very well known; others may ring bells without necessarily being something we’re actually deeply familiar with, whilst others are liable to be entirely new to us. For me, examples of the latter two would be the Baba Yaga – something I’d heard of, but not actually researched, and the Tatzelwurm, a creature I’d never heard of.

As well as the Russian Baba Yaga and Swiss Tatzelwurm mentioned above, the collection comprises: from Greek / Roman mythologies Capricorn, Cerberus, the griffin, Medusa, and the phoenix; from Japanese mythology: Jorōgumo, Kitsune and Ōmukade; from multiple folklores and mythologies: the dragon and the mermaid; together with the banshee (Irish mythology), the ettin, the kraken (Scandinavian), La Sayona (from Venezuela), the manananggal (Philippines), the nariphon (Buddhist legend), the Canadian Ogopogo, and the Chinese qilin.

Bryn Oh: Mythical Creatures

And in case you’re wondering why I reference 21 pieces, but only list 20 creatures, that’s because there is a bonus item in the collection, the Bryn Oh.

Bryn Oh is a pale white moth girl born on the Internet. She has curved glowing horns, cyberpunk interface plugs, wings or a neko tail. She is queen of the moths and creates stories and worlds with hidden meaning inside. She has magic and when threatened she can deform her enemies or launch them high in the air. She is drawn to music but often lurks on the outside listening and never dancing. Other creatures find her strange an melancholy.

– the description of the “Bryn Oh”

What is special about these creature is the manner in which they have been created in two parts: “left” and “right” as you look at each of them. Gacha machines within the exhibition halls allow visitors to obtain a random “left” or “right” half of a creature. Any “left” part of a creature can be combined with any “right” part of another creature to create an entirely new one. The clever part here is that whichever combination of to parts is put together, the descriptive text on the two plinth halves will always seamlessly combine to offer a description of the new creature.

Bryn’s own notes on combining a “left” and “right” half from two sculptures to creature a new creature

Thus, it is possible to creature any of the original creatures in the exhibition by collecting all of the different halves – with up to 441 combinations of creature to be created. Further, to help in the joining process, the individual halves have been scripted so that when placed together, they will correctly align and join.

Another interesting aspect of these creatures is the sources Bryn has drawn upon to creature their “mini biographies” hanging in the exhibition halls, and the manner in which set portrays some of them. With Medusa, for example, the focus is very much on her violation at the hands of Posidon – and for which Athena unfairly punished the young and beautiful girl, turning her into the monster with whom we are more familiar.

Bryn amongst her creations

As noted, Mythical Creatures officially opens on Sunday, July 19th, 2020, with a special event starting at 15:00 SLT. Skye Galaxy will be providing the music, supported by Semiiina. And when visiting, keep an eye open for Bryn’s flying machines that have appeared in her own mythologies and her floating / falling bricks that have also featured in her past work, and both of which – together with the design of the exhibition hall, very much hook Mythical Creatures into her universe.

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An ethnographic exhibition in Second Life

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama

Available now at the Community Virtual Library, and with its official opening towards the end of July 2020, is Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama.

A collaboration between Nexus Dot, a  cultural anthropologist, and co-curator and media specialist Shiloh Emmons, the exhibit represents two decades of ethnographic research Nexus has made studying two groups indigenous to the lowland tropical rain forests of Panama, the Guna and the Emberá, examining their life styles, culture, art and religion.,

Located on a sky platform, the exhibition comprises six main components that examine both the Guna and the Emberá from several perspectives, including their cultures, the Mola art of the Guna, Emberá cosmology, ecology, and shamanism, and more. In addition, the exhibition presents photos of the Emberá Drua heritage ecotourism project, and offers an ethnobotany examination of how these lowland cultures of Panama make use of plants.

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama

The aim of the exhibition is two-fold:

  • To communicate Nexus’ work in studying these two groups of people over a span of two decades, and the place and role of such cultures in the world today.
  • To provide the non-profit community and education system with a template of how scientific research can be transformed into an engaging, multimedia 3D virtual experience that resonates with scientists, educators, and interested Second Life residents.

The video below serves as a general introduction to the exhibit.

Based in both Panama and Idaho, USA, Nexus earned his MA in anthropology at the University of Oregon, where he specialised in the ecology and cosmology of tropical indigenous cultures, and where he also spent time as a graduate teaching fellow. Whilst he does hold that MA in anthropology, his work in studying the Guna and Emberá is very much born of personal passion, rather than being funded directly as a part of a set academic study.

Most of my research is self-funded, although I have executed a number of projects for agencies and institutions as a consultant. Often these projects were involved with ecological l or socio-economic components, so there is a link there. I’m also a geospatial analyst, and have been involved in computer mapping and handling data like the COVID map system; I’m actually at my farm in the countryside of Panama at the moment due to the general quarantine.

– Nexus Dot discussing his work

As a long-time user of Second Life who had been largely absent the platform several years, it was the current SARS-CoV-2 situation that encouraged Nexus back, with the idea of experimenting with the platform to see how well complex material like a professional anthropological paper might be translated into an engaging, multi-media learning tool, and a meeting with Shiloh started the ball rolling with the exhibit.

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures from the Republic of Panama

The exhibition is open now informally to visitors, with the formal opening taking place on Sunday, July 26th – of which more below.

Ahead of that, however, on Sunday, July 19th, Nexus will gives a short presentation about his work, and discuss the value of the anthropological perspective. The specifics of this event are:

The formal opening on July 26th will be split between the exhibition space and the CVL meeting place, and comprise the following schedule and activities:

  • 11:20am: the exhibition will be available for those wishing to visit it ahead of the opening activities.
  • 11:50am: Beragon Betts will introduce Nexus Dot at the CVL meeting place.
  • 12:00 noon: Nexus will present  Mola art and aesthetics among the Guna people.

Arisia Vita will will provide music ahead of the presentation, and people will again be able to visit the exhibition following the presentation, with both Nexus and Shiloh on hand. Those attending this event are asked to take their seats in the CVL meeting place no later than 5 minutes prior to the presentation commencing.

For me, the talks are the meat, the exhibit well it is the teaser so to speak; although the exhibit has taken on something of a life of its own! We’ve tried to ensure people can still appreciate the exhibition should they be unable to attend the presentations.

– Nexus Dot discussing his work

Ethnographic Exhibits of Two Cultures is an engaging exhibition, rich an detail and information, and an absolutely must see for anyone with an interest in anthropology, ethnography or culture.

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