Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Singularity of Kumiko

The Singularity of Kumiko is the latest Bryn Oh display in Immersiva, and it is an astonishing, gamelike-yet-not experience which can be as involved or not as you wish. I am a cowardly creature, but even death (I died once in a flash of red and spring of gears) didn't keep me from hunting out the most hidden of bottles to once and for all gather the full story of Kumiko and her father. 

The sim instructions are important, so make sure to read them and follow them. If you are very brave, a dark room will add to the effect, and it also adds to the intense sense of disorientation you will have - much like Kumiko talks about in her letters. I recommend a relatively stationary AO as you go, or just duckwalk like I did; since so much of the lighting is from the lamplight on your head, which almost always works, having that point the way you want to see is important.

Finding your way around can be very difficult, so as a last resort I've included the coordinates of each bottle area - though make sure not to teleport to them but rather to say them aloud and then look at the map, as teleporting will take you back to the beginning. I found most of these out of order and reorganized them for you, so please enjoy.

Day 1

Day One

.: Iktomi are you the one who sends me messages by bottle?

Bottles that unerringly find their way across the ocean to my shores?

It is an island that I reside on, I am certain, for I have walked its edge so many times.  Much like the perpetual dark of this place my memories also resist illumination.

Where I am and what happened to me are mysteries. I walk the island and it feels like a memory box fallen from the shelf, its contents strewn across the floor. Everything is familiar yet somehow indistinct and rearranged.  It is almost as though I am being reassured from a distance by forgotten keepsakes.

Day 2

Day Two

Dear Kumiko

I know how disorienting this all must be for you.

I wish, beyond anything, that I could be there now to explain, but they tell me I cannot and must not.

I do, however, have a surprise for you.

Do you remember little Mr Zippers?  Your Power Pet?  Of course you do.  Well right now he is making his way there to keep you company.

I remember how protective he always was of you while you were growing up, and then once the Love program was installed on him ... well you were inseparable and I was surprisingly jealous.  I hope he will keep you happy and safe until you return to us.

P.S. Your mother sends her love.

Day 3

Day Three

Dear Iktomi:

I found your technological flotsam and jetsam in the form of a USB memory stick today.  No sooner had I read it then I found Mr Zippers pressed to my leg searching out my gaze.  He is the same... yet different here somehow, just as everything is I guess.

I remember as a child when my organic dog died.  His name was Scruff and he was curled up, as though just asleep, on the floor of my bedroom.  I remember poking him with my toe to wake him up so we could go play outside.  I remember how hard he felt when I touched him. 

Later my father put him in a black plastic bag and we buried him in the woods where I had found an old bottle once.  He was my best friend.

One day father brought home Slinks newest invention.  A PowerPet.  It was half organic and half machine.  I screamed and cried at the insult.  Scruff could never be replaced by a machine I declared.  My mother was so worried, she convinced my father to buy the new Love upgrade even though we couldn't afford it.  You see the Scientypes said they had isolated the emotion "love" and were able to code it for a PowerPet.
Was it love? Op perhaps just a clever program approximation. I am not certain, but I did grow to love Mr Zippers, and part of me was always a bit ashamed for it.

Day 4

Day Four

Dear Kumiko:

I remember how we would sit under the blankets and discuss concepts and technology.  Morals and Religion.  We would lay in the dark, fingers entwined, and talk for hours.

I always wanted to ask you though.  Would you use memory encryption, like what is offered by that company Rebirth?  You know it's been on the news and net shows.  I know, since the Singularity so many amazing inventions are now just blips in the media and forgotten so soon.  But this, well this is essentially immortality Kumiko.  They have learned how to record your life and then convert that data onto a machine.  They say they will soon be able to install those digital memories onto our vat grown organ banks, and upon our death we can start anew or rather… continue.  What this means Kumi is that we can now be immortal like the gods in those fairy tales people used to follow.

I know you would.  We all would of course, but please humour me and write back saying you would and then tell me why?

I want to talk like we used to.

Imagine we are under the blankets once again.

Love Iktomi

Day 5

Day Five

Dear Iktomi,

It is unlike you to attempt to lead me into a response.  You assume I would naturally seek immortality with life encryption.  I wouldn't.  You see each moment is special simply because it is finite.  A kiss, a laugh or a sweet moment of melancholy.  They come and fleetingly we live in that moment.  Then they pass only to return as a memory. 

It is why we cherish those times and commit them to memory for us to retrieve when we need them.  Immortality would destroy that immediacy and dull all emotions.  We need death to make life precious the same way we need sorrow in order to allow happiness to exist.

A memory is ethereal, untouchable.

If we converted a memory into digital 1's and 0's or some other form of language, then it would only be a matter of time before we began to manipulate it.  We would cut out our sorrows and manufacture outcomes in order to create a shiny surface to our lives with nothing of substance behind them.

A mockery of what it is to live.

Love Kumiko

Day 6a

Day Six

Dear Kumiko:

Ah you are so stubborn.  I knew I shouldn't have tried to lead you to a conclusion.  However, might you have said that you would let your life be recorded had I not so clumsily tried to push you that way?  Tell me the truth my dear.

I have to change the topic.  I need you to do something for me.  I need you to look for a door with a red exit sign above it.  I don't know where it will be, but please find it and walk through.  Your mother and I are on the other side waiting for you.  Please come back to us.

Love Iktomi

Day 7

Day Seven

Dear Iktomi:

Ah you know me so well, yet no I truly wouldn't want to live forever.

You cannot be excited and in love forever.

You cannot be fascinated by someone for eternity.

All must fade to grey with endless time.  If we lived for eternity together Iktomi, then we would eventually part.  We must don't you see?  It would be preordained.

I think eternity is the saddest word.

We all would eventually be alone, broken hearts unwilling to start anew yet lingering in a half-light between life and death embracing neither.

I went out walking today looking for your door, Mr Zippers at my side.  I feel comfortable here and I harbour a guilt for being pleased at not finding your exit yet.  It is a dark and foreboding place yet it feels a part of me somehow.

I will have a look again tomorrow.

P.S.  I think I saw Scruff far off in the woods searching for me, I called but then he was gone.

Day 8

Day Eight

Dear Iktomi

Today I explored the basement.

Do you remember Rabbits?  The Rabbits before the genetic games and manipulations that eventually destroyed them.

Did you know it was their age old enemy the Fox that inadvertently caused their downfall?  It's true.  You see Foxes suddenly began to die out beyond what was natural for them.   For centuries they would follow a cycle.  One year the Rabbits would be plentiful, and then as a result, for the next few years the Foxes would have lots of Rabbits to eat and they would grow in numbers.  They would then reduce the Rabbit population where eventually it would result in many Foxes starving over the winter.  The death of the Foxes would then allow for a resurgence of Rabbits and so on and so on.

Well one year the Foxes began to die out quite rapidly.  They blamed it on everything from Wind Turbines to toxins in their environment, though nobody really knew why.  In our wisdom we genetically tinkered with the Rabbit species so that they became even more fertile, yet once they passed their prime mating age they would rapidly gain weight while their right hind leg would wither and twist. Essentially creating a fat cripples dinner easy for the Fox to catch.

Everyone clapped themselves on the back, yet the foxes still died. To prevent the food chain from collapsing they built a RoboFox to wanter around killing Rabbits to keep their numbers down. If only they stuck to Rabbits as they were programmed to do.

The fast breeding meaty Rabbit became the darling of the food industry and soon their genes spread far and wide acriss the world. Then for reasons still being debated, they became sterile and, within a shockingly short time, the Rabbits were no more.

Today in the basement I found Rabbits.

Real living Rabbits.

There was an illegal gene circus Man/Rabbit hybrid making shadow puppets on the wall while little ones watched. I sat with them a while and petted a pretty brown one who climbed in my lap.

This land I am lost in is dark... yet maical.

P.S Iktomi why does my Mother not write to me also?

Day 9

Day Nine

Dear Kumiko

I fear asking this knowing how stubborn you are, but please stay away from the basement.  I don't know how it is that Rabbits came there, but once something is gone it does not come back Kumiko.  Scruff is dead and the Rabbits are extinct.

To imagine otherwise is not good for you.

Kumiko your mother can not write you right now as she is unwell.  She was never strong in her mind and body and circumstances have been too much for her and she has...  withdrawn.

Imogen loves you very much Kumiko, but she needs you to come back, we need you to come home.

Love Iktomi

Day 10

Day Ten

Dear Iktomi:

Today I woke up to Scruff licking my face.  I suddenly sat up and he was so excited to see me that he kept running in and out of my room as fast as he could until he finally launched himself onto my bed and licked me all morning.

I am so happy Iktomi, there is no love so pure and honest as that of a dog.  Did I ever tell you that he is a German Shepherd and Border Collie mix?  Haha he is always trying to herd and protect me simultaneously.

I was going to search again for the door but will do that tomorrow.   Today I just want to spend with Scruff.


Day 11

Day Eleven


We sent Mr Zippers to you before and today we are sending a boy to keep you company.  His name is Milkdrop as he is a... peculiar pale boy as you will see.  He may be a bit odd but he should be able to help you find the door.

Please do as he says... if it seems sensible?  Ah now we take risks to test things.
We don't know how your dog managed to get there, nor the Rabbits for that matter.  They tell me this... process... is new and has a few things to sort out.  We think it would be best for you to stay away from Scruff and the Rabbits as well as anything else you encounter there that we didn't send purposely. 

I should let you know that we have been sending over things that convert well.  Hmm how to explain.  The Robo insects for example, their nature allows them to be translated... ah it's not important and I really am not sure this is a topic I am allowed to speak about anyway.  This is a very serious matter Kumiko, please find the door soon.

Day 12

Day Twelve

Dear Iktomi

I went upstairs today and found myself as I used to be.

I saw myself hiding and fearful in one room and in another it was a different sort of me.  It was my sensual side that I hide, but I could see all the little hooks trying to pull me, control me or expose me.  The pressures from all sides to be this way or that.

In another room I found my mother's sewing machine and as I turned there behind me was Mr Zippers… but changed horribly.  He was like a caricature of combined toys trying to gain my trust.  He had tried to incorporate a jack in the box from my childhood but also possessed hooks that were tied to his paws.

He unzipped his mouth and told me the hooks would keep us together and hurt only a moment.  I screamed and suddenly Scruff was there and they fought.  Scruff was unstoppable and tore Mr Zippers into pieces, his parts strewn around the room.

I don't know what happened to Mr Zippers here, but he became warped and somehow manipulated.

You used to say -I- in your letters Iktomi, yet now you always say "we" but you don't mean me and you.

Who is looking over your shoulder?

Day 13

Day Thirteen

Dear Kumi

Kumi please, I know how disoriented you must feel alone in the dark.  When I say -we- I am talking about others who are also concerned about you.  Come back to us.  Come back to the world you left behind.  Remember the movie theatres or that music band you like so much these days?  I forget their name.  Evangelical tea party? It’s something like that.  Think of your shiny green car and those virtual games you so love to play.

Think of the fine restaurants and a closet full of new clothes.

Think of bright city lights... you can't possibly like the dark.

Kumiko we can get you a new PowerPet.  There is a popular one out right now called Zinger the Rocket Dog and he is full of advanced functions.

We are in the Singularity now Kumi, and all we have to do now is play. They'll take care of us and I'll take care of you.

I have to admit to you that I have now used Life Encryption.  I did it last night and I will try to get Imogen to consent when she is lucid.  I know I am not supposed to mention this Kumi but they must have your consent soon if we are to record you as well. I need you to tell me in writing in your next letter that you wish to have your memories preserved. Don't be stubborn, Kumi, this is not a game. We know you have stopped looking for the exit sign. You can't possibly want to stay there.

Please come back to us.

Day 14

Day Fourteen

Dear Iktomi

I went exploring with Scruff today and found a beautiful field of light bulbs with huge powdery white moths hovering above them.

All I could hear were their wings gently moving.  Later we found the skeleton of a giant cat and some shopping carts tied up in trees like the bones of a consumerist Sherpa.

Over by a stump I saw a real live Honeybee.  Not the pollinating machines they said would replace the bees after they disappeared. It was trundling about on the stump paying no attention to us.  Did you know they have a stinger?  They would defend their hive with their life should they have to.  Their stingers were serrated like a hook, and in the act of protecting their hive they would themselves die as their singer was connected directly to their heart... when pulled free it meant their death.

I watched him walking around and thought of that old saying you used when talking about something wonderful.

"That was the bee’s knees" you would say, but I never really understood it.

Now I think I do.

When I looked upon him I noticed his big fat legs where he was collecting pollen. When he got home to the hive it would be converted to delicious honey.

So when we say "the bee's knees" we mean the simple yet beautiful give of honey that they bring us.

Iktomi this will be my last letter to you.

I know that something has happened to me in the real world. I don't know what it is, but it's not really important to me. You tried to lure me back with products and promises but I am afraid they hold no interest to me anymore. Well that's not entirely true. They have studied, marketed and addicted me to it all like a Pavlovian dog, yet I am fully aware of this and still gleefully wag my tail. It is true that it is dark here, but I have Scruff and Rabbits and Honeybees. You won't understand and that is ok, but I need these things.

Goodbye Iktomi

Please tell Imogen that I love her.

The End

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