As with the majority of Bryn’s work, Lobby Cam is set within a narrative universe she has created, and so sits with her two other installation currently available for public viewing: an updated version of Hand (which I reviewed in 2020), and the more recent The Brittle Epoch (reviewed here). Made possible by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, Lobby Cam is an entirely new build – new mesh models, soundscape, scripting – and a new narrative for visitors to follow.
My artwork in Second Life is one long narrative which began in 2009. Each new work I create is a chapter in this story, and in the case of Lobby Cam it is 110 years before the events of the Brittle Epoch and Hand which are being exhibited within the Immersiva and Bryn Oh regions.
– Bryn Oh
As is common with Bryn’s work in Second Life, a visit to the installation commences at a set landing point. Here, for those who have visited Bryn’s work previously, a HUD can be obtained with a simple click, and will attach towards the top right of the viewer window. Those new to Bryn’s work or who have opted to previously tell the viewer to “Forget” they are a part of it, will need to join Bryn’s local Experience in order to access and use the HUD as intended.
Click the top right icon when the HUD – which is a diary – is “open” and it will minimise to free up screen space. Click the icon to expand it again.
An eccentric man discovers an impossible channel on his TV. This begins a story where you determine the ending.
– Bryn Oh on Lobby Cam
Pass beyond the walls of the landing point, and those who remember the original Lobby Cam will doubtless recognise the sea of wheat within its fenced fields and the distant, hulking form of grain elevator 888. Originally built in Keatley, Saskatchewan in the late 1920s, the elevator formed a part of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, although it has since been relocated and serves now as a museum. However, just as the real elevator served as a local focal point in its day, so too does Bryn’s version of it in Second Life, beckoning people to hurry towards it.
However, giving it to such a temptation will result in visitors missing some key elements in Lobby Cam. As Bryn notes, this is an unfolding story, key elements of which are formed by missing pages from the diary HUD. These are scattered on the ground in various places (such as the path leading away from the landing point and the road pointing towards the grain elevator. Clicking on one when found will “add” it to the diary (the HUD icon will turn to colour). Opening the diary (if closed) and paging through the pages by clicking on them will reveal the entries as they are “added”.
As well as the grain elevator, there are other new elements within the installation – such as the low barn sitting in the middle of one of the wheat fields. These should all be visited, wherever they lay (so sit well out in the landscape) and touched – as Bryn notes, people should pretty much click on everything, inside the grain elevator and outside of it – as some will be interactive and offer up secrets (such as links to Bryn’s videos) or objects.
Key among the latter are an envelope, pen, ink, and paper. Collect them alongside the pages of the diary, and you can further involve yourself in Bryn’s universe by interacting with another of her characters, Fern, as she explains:
[With them you can] write a letter from the main character [of Lobby Cam] to Fern. If you click the red mailbox on the train platform you can send this message to me directly by e-mail. I will respond to all letters sent and this will end the story. Depending on what you write. I will write as Fern would reply to your message.
– Bryn Oh on Lobby Cam
Note that Bryn’s replies really are individually written in response to your own words, not pre-prepared responses. Also, please keep in mind the last time she did this, she received several hundred e-mails, so it understandably took her a little time to respond to all of them!
Finished to resemble a painting – the use of the elevator, if I recall correctly from 2015, having been inspired by a painting Bryn either saw or created (my apologies to her for forgetting which, or possibly mis-remembering), Lobby Cam is deceptive in all it has to offer, and as such, is definitely more than work seeing. For those who need additional context, both Hand and The Brittle Epoch are also open to viewing, SLurls below.
With thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for their continued support of Bryn’s work.