Opening today, Saturday, December 10, at the sim Immersiva, is Hand, a new and brilliant work by Bryn Oh. In keeping with Bryn's recent works, Hand tasks us with discovering the narrative of a story — in this case, that of a young girl named Flutter — by exploring our environment, looking for clues and information, but in departure from recent artworks the story unfolds in narrative rather than poetry. "This for me was different in that the story was told not in poems but more straightforwardly as a narrative," said Bryn as we talked about Hand. "I love the idea of open ended art, where you can go wherever and do whatever you want. I make things so you can find parts or walk past them. I want to tell a story which is personal to me, but what i think is important is to not force the viewer to see it exactly as i see it — I want the viewer to use their creativity too, to interpret and shape it."
And so sets the stage for the engaging story of Flutter and the various characters she meets along her journey — a story with a fascinating juxtaposition of darkness and joy, a contrast of otherworldliness and something deeply personal. "I am an odd mix, I think. I am playful but have a melancholy side — I find there can be beauty in melancholy," commented Bryn. A HUD, provided by accepting the experience at the landing point, captures pieces of Flutter's story as they're encountered, until all seven sections are assembled. (It's not a problem to leave Hand and to later return — the story will pick right up where you left off.)
Beyond the pleasure of discovering the story by hunting for each chapter, visitors will find that the build is a rich environment filled with sights and exquisite detail that provide all the kinds of elements necessary to make Flutter's world seem real: an underground subway station, a surreal hillside, deserted and ruined stores, a Dr. Suess-like entanglement of rusted pipes, humorous advertisements, characters involved in various activities — essentially a complete and fascinating city. Everywhere one looks are quirky and curious little things to be found. Hand also contains moments of social commentary, such as the Telephone Jesus or the Twin Towers, as one will discover.
Occasionally, visitors will be confronted with intentional navigational challenges — jumping up a stack boxes or walking along a narrow board over the ground (a fall from which might set one's journey back considerably). (A few circumstances might remind some veteran explorers of Bryn's old Avatar Games.) Knowing how to adeptly jump can be a plus, and turning off one's animation override might help in these situations, providing a more precise sense of avatar location. Bryn has made several of these areas less onerous since the beta phase of the build, but remarked, "I can't help but leave a few holes, because I am a bit evil."
Bryn plans to limit the number of simultaneous visitors to Hand to minimize lag. Use of the Firestorm viewer is strongly recommended, and visitors should be certain to have local sounds turned up, as the build makes extensive use of them. "Ambient sound is so interesting to me — one of the often overlooked things in SL," she said. Bryn was assisted in the development of Hand by scripter Bellimora and by musician Phemie Alcott, who created the score for Hand's promotional trailer. On a final note: as Bryn's work has become more and more complex, the lengthened development lead time for each new installation means fewer months and weeks when builds are actually open, lessening the overall cash flow from contributions. Even with Bryn's support from the Ontario Arts Council, the future of Immersiva depends greatly on the generosity of the Second Life community. If you enjoy your visit, please consider leaving a contribution or by purchasing some of the various objects you'll encounter on your visit through Hand, by visiting her store (teleport at the landing point) or through the gacha machine at the landing point, which dispenses many fun things.