Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Facebook death of Bryn Oh - Day one

 Dear Friendslist
    
     Sadly I went into Facebook today for a routine checkup and came out with a rather grim prognosis.  Dr Facebook informs me that Bryn Oh is not well.  I said "Dr Facebook please just give me the news quick, I can take it!".   He took off his very thick nerdy glasses, rubbed his eyes and said... "It does not look good Bryn.  In fact you have just seven days to live".   Had I not already been sitting down at my computer then I would have sat down heavily at the news.  "How is this possible?  I feel fine.. I exercise.. I post regularly.. I like things on occasion. I even poked someone once.  Tell me doctor what am I stricken with?".       He looked at me for a moment and said quietly... "Who are you?"   I was taken aback.  "Well I am Bryn Oh of course.  We have known each other for five years since 2010.  You delivered me when I was born... what do you mean who am I?"  Dr Facebook placed his glasses back onto his nose slowly and looked out the window, hands clasped behind his back.  "You only think you are Bryn Oh.  We suspect you are really someone else.  Please Bryn I would like you to leave my office. I can not be seen with you anymore.. not unless you can prove to me that you
The first picture I posted to Facebook
really are Bryn Oh and not some sort of pod that was placed under a bed which then snatched your body"  "But Doctor!.."
I implored with frightened eyes.  He didn't reply nor even look at me and so I turned slowly and left his office.   I don't know how long I wandered but it was at least a few minutes.  I sat on a park bench and watched people filming a squirrel trying to eat a giant donut.  It put the donut, possibly a chocolate glazed, in its cheek and its cheek got really big and funny looking.  That will be on facebook later I thought to myself... but I might not be there to see it.  A tear slowly rolled down my cheek.  I thought back to the earliest things on my timeline.  I remembered Shannon Clark and how she broke my wall cherry.  She wrote "Yaaay *pops your wall cherry!*"  I didn't reply but maybe I should have.  I should have said "haha" with a smiley face but I didn't and now its too late.  Little did we know that in just five years I would be diagnosed with pseudonymopia.. better known as fake name syndrome.
     I looked at the next thing on my timeline from so long ago.  It was a post by me saying "what have i got myself into?".   I then replied to my own post saying "great comment bryn".  Then I replied to myself yet again saying "yeah i agree with bryn that was great".  Marjory Jasmin Paganelli liked both comments but Aino Baar only liked the second one.  Olga Zee said ":))" which means she really really liked my comments more than just a :).  Marjory then replied "don't worry; be happy". . .a famous quote".   I actually already knew it was a famous quote but it was nice of her to say.  Another tear ran down my cheek as I realized that I would never again have this type of conversation.  I decided to myself on that bench that yes.. I won't worry and I will be happy for the next seven days.
     Dear reader.. well dear reader on Facebook not on Blogger.. I am surprisingly healthy on Blogger, Youtube, G+ and others.. but you who are on Facebook.  Don't be sad for me.  I led a full life on Facebook watching cat videos and being poked and poking back.  I am going to try to figure out what the Doctor meant when he said I was not Bryn Oh, and I fear that I may become weaker as the days pass.. but I will try to solve this mystery.

Love
Bryn Oh

Monday, July 27, 2015

Windlight magazine, AVI choice award and horseflies

    I am behind in my posts on a few things.  First I would like to say thanks for the AVI choice award for Favorite sim designer/creator that I won last month.  It's a nice feeling to know that people appreciate the artwork which I create.  So yay! and thanks.  Next I would like to mention that a new magazine has been created named Windlight Magazine.  It is published and edited by Johannes1977 and has contributors such as Emma Portio, Kara Trapdoor, Shakti Adored and others who you can find listed at the start of the magazine.  The first issue has articles on some great people such as Sasun Steinbeck, the photographer Skip Staheli, Nikki Mathieson and the wonderful writer Inara Pey.  There is also an interview with me on page 18.  Was a fun interview and I hope you will enjoy it.  I have embedded it below so hopefully you can read it from this blog but I don't really know if you can. I think you can.


Publish at Calameo

     And I am including a few pictures I took from last week when I went canoeing.   No particular reason for that really, I just wanted to share them.  I mean what's not to like about nature?  fresh air and singing birds.  Swimming in the water and a little picknick on the shore.  Oh my!  Eating cherries while black flies fly around my ankles biting me gently.  Mosquitos hovering around nibbling me, because you know,  I am like cake to them.  And who doesn't like it when a mosquito inexplicably flies deep into your ear and seemingly dies there.  Suicide by ear, and leaving my mind mildly irritated all day because I suspect.. no I know there is a dead mosquito inside my ear and there are probably eggs in it or something.   A family of Mosquitos soon to be living inside my ear canal coming out like a squadron of planes at night while I am sleeping, then biting my bottom endlessly.
     Oh and lets not forget the horsefly who flew around my head for an hour making me flail around like an idiot.  There is no question that horse flies are the assholes of the forest.  And if they do end up biting you then you know it because they don't mess around.  They take a big freaking bite.  I managed to hit him once during my flailing and even the size of them is obnoxious.  They have far too much weight and substance for a biting bug.. you really feel their bulk when you hit them with your hand while swinging blindly yet hopefully, and its disconcerting.  I prefer to feel like a God when I splat my bugs, but with horseflies they just kind of change their course a bit when you hit them.  They shake their little heads then come back to circle you again.  Jerks.  With mosquitos I like to chastise them after I get them.  I like to say things like "You see what happens when you bite me Mr Mosquito?  You are now flat and dead.  Think about that and tell your friends"  Actually I shouldn't say Mr Mosquito as that would be incorrect, all biting mosquitos are female.  The males eat... nectar.  But with a Horsefly I have nothing to say.  Nothing resolved because I don't think I have ever defeated one, and I am pretty sure they all know that too and don't really take me seriously.  But the good thing was the wind picked up and blew them all away to make for a wonderful trip.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jüdisches Museum in Berlin - Obedience - part eight

     Did I say final scene last post?  Ok well I meant final scene for those who didn't find the final hidden scene.  I tend to hide things in my work and this had a few hidden bits including a scene that takes
place after God, satisfied with Abraham's faith in him,  has stopped Abraham from killing his son.  In my mind I imagined what the moments immediately after those chaotic and traumatic events might have been like.  I don't know if Isaac could see the Angel who stopped his father from killing him, and I am not sure also if he could hear God telling Abraham to stop at the last moment.  I sincerely hope he could.  Was Gods voice in Abraham's mind alone or was Isaac able to hear?  If Isaac could see the Angel and hear Gods voice then it would perhaps ease the trauma slightly, maybe, but if not.. well.. if not then Isaac would have been forcibly wrestled to submission, had his father place a gun in his mouth and press the trigger only to have it not fire.  Then his fathers eyes might have misted over as God spoke to him, but then what?  I suppose
Abraham eventually would have come back to his senses and looked down upon his terrified son, then try to console him, to explain to him that voices told him to, that God told him to do this terrible deed.  The final scene is reached by clicking on and opening up a lunch box with a picture of VR Troopers upon it.  Inside the lunch box are two Snickers chocolate bars which Isaac secretly packed for himself and his father in an excited state, knowing they were going on an adventure together.  The Snickers bars teleported the viewer to a scene where Gods attention has now, satisfied, withdrawn to contemplate other matters elsewhere.  The
scene shows Isaac cowering against the wall, fingers covering his eyes as he peeks through in terror seemingly at his own Father, yet he may actually be looking past his father at the Angel who stands behind him, to Isaac perhaps something even greater to be feared.   The Angel has stayed and seems unsure whether to console Isaac or, in another form of Obedience, simply leave now that God has departed.  I wondered how the Angel might feel being a tool in such a test.  Abraham holds out his hand to his son, slowly approaching him as though to a frightened puppy.  He must now try to mend or rebuild his relationship with Isaac if that is even possible.  He may understand that he witnessed the end of innocence in his son, whose eyes will likely now, and forever, look upon
his Father in a whole different way.  The love and innocence now tempered with distrust. Those beautiful years of child naivete wrenched away suddenly never to return.   It is telling that God, an immortal, said to Abraham "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."  It is a great reward no doubt.  A reward that someone who lives forever would expect to be appreciated, even by a mortal with a finite lifespan.  However, had it been me, I would take the love of a child well before that.
     I am aware that religious scholars have studied the passage for ages upon ages and feel that there are many messages within the narrative that are somewhat obscure for the casual reader.  For example some say that God is really telling the masses to stop having human sacrifices which, at the time, were apparently not uncommon.  I think it may have been more effective if God had simply stated "I command thee to not sacrifice humans or thee shall go to hell"  But what do I know?  The population at the time were far less sophisticated than we are today, most could not read and learned much of their fear of God and Hell through pictures which were the universal language.  Simply look at a Bosch painting and you can imagine the fear it invoked.  Knowing this I think that perhaps subtle innuendo is not the best method.  
     Now I don't mean this next part to be critical of a scholarly essay on virtual art I read recently.  It was well written and I always want to support people writing about this medium.  But having said that one part got me thinking on lasting interpretations.  The authors said in regards to my work The Singularity of Kumiko (a series of posts explaining the build here)  "Apart from obvious references to the film Donnie Darko, Bryn Oh brings to this narrative stories and characters from previous projects".  I read this and was a bit surprised because I have not seen the movie Donnie Darko, yet it was thought to be something I had made obvious reference to.  Now I don't mind that this was said as people are free to interpret my work as they wish.  I have heard many different interpretations of my various creations, some accurate while others are quite different, but to me it is important that people can use their own creativity when looking at my work.. I don't want to force a single perspective on the viewer as that removes a part of the interaction which I feel needs to be present within an artwork.  So while inaccurate, I don't mind that the statement was made.  I read some essays on Donnie Darko and while I don't really see the connection it does sound quite fascinating, and you can read some views on it here.    
     My point in bringing this up is as an example of how a works meaning can be adjusted and perhaps remembered in ways other than intended. My artwork probably wont be remembered for  very long, but lets pretend it is and stays around long after I am dead.  Now lets say that this essay is used by others to infer meaning on what I have created, what were my intentions and inspirations etc yet I am no longer around to ask for confirmation.  Someone may repeat in a subsequent essay "obvious references to the film Donnie Darko" and add to that their own perspective accepting that statement as being true.  Another may read the second essay and then other essays created even later, all believing and accepting that Donnie Darko was an inspiration to Bryn Oh's work The Singularity of Kumiko.  It would be incorrect, yet over time generally accepted and a new truth created.  Now none of this will happen and I am merely using it as a loose example of how I imagine the narrative between Abraham and Isaac to have been altered, misunderstood or just over analyzed.  For example, I just don't believe the idea that God's intention was to stop human sacrifice in this manner.  I believe that religious scholars have over analyzed the passages written so long ago, because, if we take the story at face value, then it's a pretty questionable one if left on its own.  It reflects the views of the author at the time.  The basic message is that if you follow God, trust in him no matter what, then you will be rewarded.  Did they have child psychologists back then? no.  Did they cherish their children the same way we do today?  I am not sure, but even a hundred years ago children were thought to be just small adults, my father was an orphan and tells me stories that are very much like Oliver Twist.  Stories of beatings for wetting a bed and harsh treatment for things he simply did as a normal child.  He was 5 years old and his sister was sent to a separate orphanage.  Things change and perhaps we try to adjust stories such as that of Abraham and Isaac to fit in with our current morals and beliefs because this treatment of Abraham and Isaac just doesn't work in our current moral environment.  Well I shouldn't be so general, the world and its cultures are far too broad.  In my Canadian society anyway.  We can willfully adjust the story to suggest that its more subtle and layered than it appears.. but is it really?  Is it ok to say that God might have made a mistake in this instance?  If its not ok then that's when we find excuses maybe.  The old testament was revised into the new testament.  Which should be adhered to though?  which is correct?  Here are a few changes or contradictions within the Bible. 
 
God creates animals and then man - Gen 1:25-26
God creates man and then the animals - Gen 2:18-19


Noah takes 7 pairs of each type of animal onto the ark - Gen 7:2-3
Noah takes one pair of animal onto the ark - Gen 6:19


Saul inquired of God, but God did not answer him - 1 Sam 28:6
Saul died because he did not seek guidance from God - 1 Chron 10:13,14


Satan incites David to number the people - 1 Chron 21:1
God incites David to number the people - 2 Sam 24:1


God can do anything - Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37
God is limited in what he can do - Judges 1:19, Mark 6:5-6
 
 
 


God does not repent (ie. regret an action/change his mind) - Num 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29, Mal 3:6
God does repent (ie. regret an action/change his mind) - Gen 6:6-7, Ex 32:14, 1 Sam 15:35, 2 Sam 24:16, 1 Chron 21:15, Jer 18:8,10, 26:3,13,19, 42:10, Ezek 24:14, Joel 2:13, Amos 7:3, Jonah 3:10


God sees everything and is omnipresent - Psa 11:4, Prov 15:3, Job 34:21, Jer 16:17, 23:24, Heb 4:13
God does not see everything and is not omnipresent - Gen 3:9-10, 11:5, 18:20-21, Ex 3:8, 19:11, 18,20, Micah 1:3
 


     There are many such instances and William Henry Burr published anonymously in 1859 his collection of the Self-Contradictions of the Bible.  So in the end, I am taking the story of Abraham and Isaac and changing the perspective to look at the human relationship between a father and son and obedience to a higher power.  To me it is no longer about religion but rather about Governments their decisions, blind obedience and how it affects the common person.  Much like the examples shown above, I too am adjusting the narrative.   This ends my posts on the virtual portion of Obedience shown at the Jüdisches Museum in Berlin.  I would like to thank Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway for trusting in myself  to create what I hope was a narrative that was more than a simple retelling of a Biblical story.  That perhaps it created a dialogue for others to debate within.  I would also like to thank Jo Ellsmere for creating such a wonderful depiction of the 24 elders.   

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Jüdisches Museum in Berlin - Obedience - part seven

 In the final scene the viewer enters into God's throne room and from there looks down upon the sacrificial scene of Abraham and Isaac as it unfolds.  Phew this part might not be too popular.  When I was doing research into various elements of the story I kept seeking out descriptions of who God was and wondered if he could somehow be translated into a human personality.  I read about the 24 elders (done by Jo Ellsmere) who sit upon thrones wearing crowns and for all eternity give praise to God by chanting "Thou are worthy, Oh Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created"They are called elders suggesting that they are humans rather than Angels seeing as Angels do not age.  God desires their presence and seemingly their eternal compliments. 
     Standing behind God are the four living creatures. 
God and the four living creatures
"and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.  The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.  And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."
The 24 elders
In my depiction the four creatures jostle for position behind God with the Lion and Eagles struggle flaring up into a short fight between them.  God's pinky finger is hooked as though he is able to control the Angel below who stops the gun from firing. 
     Perhaps you are seeing a pattern here.  When we look at this story, this testing of Abraham in such a brutal fashion, we have to wonder who would this God be if we knew him as a person.  The first thought that came to me was .. well... insecure.  The desire to have two groups praising him for eternity, then to still feel the need to test Abraham.  
     The description in the Bible of the four creatures depicts them as having eyes all over their bodies, inside and out.   For this I imagined camera lenses forever taking pictures and watching us.  God almost seems like a celebrity with all his "yes" men surrounding him and the constant drone of snapshots clicking away.   I thought of our society where most of what we do online or out on the street is monitored.  In Toronto I am at Gladstone and Bloor and I expect that there is some form of camera capturing me once I leave the house, and for certain there is a security camera 20 seconds away at the Tim Hortons coffee shop.  Inside the house on my computer and the internet I know there are various things trying to create a profile
God watching Abraham and Isaac
of me for advertising purposes, such as Facebook or others.   When I log into Second Life all my local chat and instant messages are likely being recorded by Linden Lab somewhere.  So if we imagined God as the Government then the four living creatures are how it monitors us.  And let me repeat that I am not against religion, this is simply how my mind works. I observe, then ideas pop into my head.  I may find parallels in what I see or twist things about.  I think of it as a different perspective on a familiar story.  I had a whack-a-doodle cutting and pasting scripture at me for ages the other day, informing me that I was off to Hell and so on and its like... buddy.. if God exists he is not threatened by anything I say.. trust me.  He made the fucking
universe! it's like imagining that a scientist cares what a bacteria in a petri dish is thinking of them.
initial sketch

     The viewer explores the scenes and watches the interplay between stillness and movement.   The environment is designed to be minimal, with not too many busy elements, so as to allow the cast shadows of the avatar to almost become a character in itself.  In the scene below we see Abraham forcing a gun into the mouth of his son Isaac, who struggles in terror.  This scene mirrors the first one of the build where Abraham comforts his newborn son using his pinky finger as a makeshift soother as they bond father and son.  In the dramatic scene Isaac sees that his father has pressed the trigger of the gun, yet an Angel has arrived to place her finger between the hammer and the bullet.  Isaac knows his father would have killed him though, and below is the dialogue.


 


Isaac: "Father... no"
Angel of the Lord: “Abraham! Abraham!”
Abraham: “Here I am”
Angel:  “Do not lay a hand on the boy, do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
weeping Isaac: "Father..."
 
     This dialogue is the same as in the Bible changed only in that I have allowed Isaac speak too.  In a way, the story to me is really about Isaac.  He is the future as all children are, and would naturally be shaped by such a traumatic event.  He is somewhat of a pawn or tool in a higher game with little thought given to the repercussions of the "test" on his psyche.
    The 24 elders sit and watch in various states of boredom and the Angel herself has a carefully controlled expression of indifference.  Abraham resembles a determined yet detached machine with only Isaac showing the extreme emotion that would exist in this situation.  It feels like there is a chaotic struggle yet the environment is motionless with only the plastic shopping bag fluttering in the tree behind them.  These plastic bags caught in tree branches appear in various works of mine, and I refer to them as "City birds" as you generally only ever see them like this in cities.  Sometimes in spring you can witness trees with dozens of different coloured plastic bags fluttering away in their branches like a flock.  The feeling in this composition should reflect the horror and violence that would occur in such a struggle, it should feel like a betrayal not the romanticized and dreamy ways the story is often shown in traditional paintings and sculpture.

    For those of you at the school I think the composition of the scene is fairly straight forward.  As with the previous posts you can see how the eyepath works and you can apply it to the top picture of these lower three ones above.  You can see triangulation starting from the angels head down her wing across Isaac's face then along the gun to the elbow which brings us to Abraham's face.. from there we may follow his eyes to Isaac, or continue up to the angels head to begin the cycle again.  Eventually the eye follows the angels arm down to the finger which separates the hammer from the bullet.  There are lots of directional lines really, the fingers of Isaac's grasping hand pointing up to Abraham's eyes, the walls, the tree, the lunchbox and so on.