In the face of a canceled connection after a long flight, a frequent flyer has a hard time mustering the energy to be upset. It’s a predictable defeat in a long series of missed appointments, lengthy bus transfers, traffic jams, cab drivers taking their sweet time, and overwrought business meetings. Each year, you spend more and more for less and less in return; at least, that’s the message explored in Brownie Cove, an experimental piece from artistic duo Sand Gardeners (@BrownieCove, @OldLoths and @Zephyrraine).
Pedantic flight attendants and grumpy travelers swirl in an ever-shifting tempest of idleness, waiting for the faint glimmer of hope that they won’t have to book hotels in a town they never intended on visiting. Between small talk and trivial factoids in response to questions you never asked, there sits a look of resignation on the face of every single one of your fellow passengers, the surly acceptance of inconvenience in bulk quantity.
Wandering around the airport, you find your gaze falling upon surreal sculptures and kitsch installations that serve as physical manifestations of muzak – bland, engineered to sedate and occupy the visual cortex for a fleeting moment, art with no meaning and only the basest of purposes. There is nowhere in the airport to buy a drink, nor are there any real accommodations beyond uncomfortable lounges populated by floating, miserable fish and other critters; the only thing in sight is a reflection of the mundane purgatory in which everyone waiting for their flight finds themselves.
Mechanically, the only option you have is to “pass time” by holding down E in certain locations, placing you in third-person perspective and slightly speeding up time during your self-reflection: How did I get here? Why do I keep spending so much money on transport? Where’s my refund? Why can’t I get where I need to go faster?
It’s a surreal projection of a mundane memory almost all of us have, and through the bland, frowning faces of the crowds, we see a mirror of our own dissatisfaction with all the little ways life can get us down. On the upside, at least when your flight is finally rescheduled, anywhere will look better than here.
That’s the funny part, because, ultimately, Brownie Cove is a piece with beautiful visuals, inoffensive and easy on the eyes, just like the catchy muzak the announcer keeps interrupting.
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice