Becoming Bryn: Pivotal Works by Bryn Oh

Becoming Bryn: Pivotal Works by Bryn Oh
Review by Eleanor Medier / Liane Sebastian

The virtual world is Bryn Oh’s palette, who uses its features with prolific energy. Possessing a double artistic identity, in real life she is a traditionally educated artist, showing her paintings regularly. Upon discovering Second Life®, she crafted her avatar, Bryn Oh, and committed to keeping her real name separate. Suddenly, the 3D environment ignited new ideas to extend her visual vocabulary. Her works in SL fuse animation, Machinima, poetry, blogs, and still visual vignettes, along with providing informational backgrounds. She collaborates with musicians and Scripters to create art that stays on the edge of technological application.

To approach the work of Bryn Oh is daunting. A very prolific artist, any entrance is like baby steps into a maze of achievements. Years in SL affords Byrn a huge project list. As a viewer, it is hard to know where to start in appreciating her work. Is it better to evaluate her sculptures or videos individually? Or is it better to gain an overview for a better grasp of the parts? Or does it make sense to experience the most recent of her creations and go backwards in her accomplishments chronologically?

None of these approaches are very efficient. Perhaps the best way to get to know Bryn’s work is to ask her which are the most pivotal pieces in her development. Then, key works become like doorways to the others. Bryn acts like the tour guide. If familiar with her work, this exploration like revisiting old friends and well-known vistas. If new to her work, this journey is a great gateway upon which to explore. But from this initial guidance, Bryn retreats behind her work, as do all the best visual artists. The work must speak for itself. Yet personalities emerge that are parts of the artist who created them.

Questions of technology’s affect upon people are undercurrent in all of Bryn Oh’s work. Her characters conflict over values, motivations, attitudes, and behaviors. Similarly, SL is an example of how there are new dimensions to relationships and identities. Each of her themes deals with the organic versus the mechanical, the unique versus the norm, the whole versus its parts.

Byrn’s art can’t be categorized. She holds to many traditional components such as dark/light contrast, rhyming poetry (woven like mortality fables), classic treatments of composition, yet weaves all into ambient thematic suites. Attracted to moral dilemmas, ones that inspire various viewpoints, Bryn uses plot structures to anchor the visual vignettes. To only view the work in small segments, without any investigation into the related media components, might be satisfying on a individual level, but will miss a wealth of further statements. Perhaps when art challenges the usual approach, confronts perceptions, and inspires a step back in analysis, it gains conceptual importance. (Consider the review of Cerulean, independent of context versus the review of Imogen and the Pigeons, of which it is a tiny segment.)

A master of mystery and metaphor, Bryn has earned a top position artistically in the virtual world. Not only is she among the first, but one of the most expansive. Out of her myriad created environments, accented by narratives and enigmas, characters emerge and intermingle—as if from visual novels. Considering these Seven Pivotal Works can be like having a road map (or GPS) when starting out on a journey; an overview helps to orient.

characters by Bryn Oh

A Pivotal Progression

Most viewers will first see Bryn’s work in a sculpture or photograph exhibited around Second Life. They may teleport to Bryn’s blog and click on her latest piece. Then they discover the other media. So, Bryn approaches creativity in such levels. Each of her concepts is a different mix of presentation forms, but the development of the components follows a sequence where one builds from the other:

1. research and writing the basic theme
2. development of the scenes and vignettes
3. virtual building the settings
4. writing background blogs
5. producing Machinima presentation
6. shooting representative photographs

Dovetailing various media together, weaving her narratives like a thread through the segments, Bryn Oh has established a recognizable visual language. To grasp the range of her pieces, she chooses these seven pivotal works that represent her development. Giving context to the reviews, Bryn’s voice provides greater nuances to understanding both her work and experiences, with their lasting appeal.

Condos in Heaven detail“1- Breakthrough Perception
Review of Condos in Heaven by Bryn Oh
Ideas find new form in the virtual world. Bryn’s concepts burst upon the fresh and new virtual world as if she were born to it. She introduced a futuristic environment where humans are destined to not only merge with computers, but to break through the dimensional barrier to Heaven. Bryn examines how this changes Heaven more than it changes human society.

Standby detail“2- Integrate Media
Review of Standby trilogy by Bryn Oh
Three individual works combine to make a greater cohesive whole. The underlying theme of the fictitious futuristic world begun in Condos in Heaven becomes more developed. Presenting a tale of diversity, compassion, and sacrifice through a strong plot structure, Bryn ties three Machinima segments into one cohesive whole. The character of Rabbicorn, a hybrid misfit, symbolizes virtue and compassion more than possessed by his creators.

Virginia Alone detail“3- Imagine the Expansive
Review of Virginia Alone by Bryn Oh
A work complete in itself, the old lady Virginia weaves a rich tapestry of an imaginative world, complete with intrigue, wisdom, and visionary perceptions. Levels of reality are developed from Virginia’s real life recordings. Bryn spent many hours editing these musings into less than ten minutes, incorporated them into a virtual environment, and then crafting a Machinima presentation. Bryn shows that imagination can be stronger than reality.

Imogen and the Pigeons detail“4- Transform Limitations
Review of Imogen and the Pigeons by Bryn Oh
Encapsulating the contradictions inherent in some of life’s largest questions, Imogen makes decisions that have unintended consequences. The key moralistic conflicts of life, death, and the quality of life between, elaborate and advance Bryn’s narrative series. The character of Imogen has an prophetic role as one of the last living humans. From this introduction into the tragedy of her life, she influences the entire fate of mankind, plus an impressive list of related vignettes. This is a world of grey ethics in a very visual dark versus light contrast. The Machinima technique of zooming in and out on various scenes becomes one of Bryn’s signatures.

Singularity of Kumiko detail“5- Choose Metaphors
Review of Singularity of Kumiko by Bryn Oh
Futuristic moral decisions must be made in a backdrop of mystery, limitations, and hidden motivations. This multi-media presentation integrates into Bryn’s techno-future world, represented by Kumiko’s most difficult decision. Though she has no doubts about her fate, Kumiko’s mother has a very different reaction. Bryn uses a letter-literary form that is very conducive to the blogs, a good place to start in exploring the enigmatic series that grows from this beginning. For those who can experience the virtual build, the spotlighting startles, as the usual visual orientations must be abandoned.

Lobby Cam detail“6- Define Communication
Review of Lobby Cam by Bryn Oh
New media capacities make new kinds of relationships, many of which introduce new moral choices. About half of Bryn’s works fit the structure of the Singularity apocalyptic world and half are a variety of independent pieces, complete in themselves. In contrast to the complexity of the futuristic technological world, the setting of Lobby Cam is very simple. But the resulting personal conflict is not simple. A glitch in technology becomes a metaphor for familiarity. The situation inspires questions of emotional appropriateness when a connection is accidentally cultivated. And, Bryn engaged the readers to craft a conclusion.

Obedience detail“7- Experimental Themes
Review of Obedience by Bryn Oh
Taking the big leap from in-world to out, this commission has something to say to everyone. It is brave to interpret a classical theme from a new perspective. Bryn was commissioned to present an artwork based on the Biblical Abraham and Isaac story that challenges the basis of the most important human relationships. A leap to real world validation, the piece was presented in Second Life, as a medium, thus a legitimization of its uniqueness.

The in-world edition has further comments on these pivotal works. This overview article can be like a guide into Bryn’s world, giving its own structure to appreciating her environments and immersive experiences. Viewers can’t just look at a piece and not wish to know more. Each is enigmatic on its own. Each hints of more levels to come. The in-world review explores how the virtual world serves as the stage for Bryn’s creations. Like the levels that she incorporates between media, and complementary messages that use the features of each, Sim Street Journal is also multi-media in a similar range: from experiencing sims in SL, to capturing representative images, to building themes using complementary online vehicles. This review of Bryn’s work is best experienced as a suite. It is now released in a PDF to archive. Receive the in-world different, yet expanding edition, click on the kiosk at download PDF Sim Street Journal #18.
— The in-world magazine has topics that relate to those who understand the virtual context, including photographs, parallel articles. It has tabs for information landmarks, and web links.
— The online magazine expresses what the virtual world offers the real one. It is a mirror that reflects parallel articles, hot topics, and provides more links.Contributions are encouraged if covering topics relevant to real world readers.

Please see the INDEX for all contributors and articles.
(Back issues are available on MARKETPLACE).

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© 2016 by Liane Sebastian/Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal.
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