"I'm smiling already and I only just got here!" remarked Maya Paris as she and I converged on Sparkys, an installation by Romy Nayar that opened yesterday at MetaLES. And it's fabulously engaging — along with Maya, I have had a delightful time there today with Honour McMillan, Cica Ghost, Giovanna Cerise and Romy herself, just playing and having fun. One arrives at a world that appears to be only white, black and gray — but it seems that the residents have discovered something new: color, which they harvest from odd little flying animals, the sparkies (or sparkys). To get around, visitors need to follow a pre-established path through the city-on-stilts by clicking on elevators, balloons and other modes of transport. (If you reach a platform that doesn't seem to have a way to leave, just wait, and something will show up to offer you a ride.)
"The story is," Romy explained to me (slightly edited for translation), "that a doctor has invented a new substance that makes color — because everything was white — and he can produce the colors from the sparkys that you will meet in the forest. And everybody in the city is trying to give color to the city — but they have a great deal of work, so you can help if you want." And indeed, you'll spot many of the city's inhabitants working with colors — or at least trying to figure out what to do with them. The lady in the image above distributes the paint, so be sure to connect with her during your visit. (The forest, by the way, is the area with the curious dark trees, and you'll spot the sparkies there, being tended by a watcher — you can get a glimpse of it in the first image at the uppermost center.)
To help paint, wear the object you'll receive, click on it to set your parameters, and then go into mouselook to color things. (Update: You have to join the MetaLES group in order to paint.) Nothing's permanent — the paint washes away after a few minutes, so you can keep busy for a long time. (By the way, the paint is prim-based, so if there's too much coloring going on the sim can reach its object limit. Just wait a minute or two to continue.) This is simply one of the best art installations to open in a while — playful, imaginative, and beautifully constructed. Sparkys will remain on display at MetaLES through the month of April.