Final Project Proposal


After exploring various methods of telling a creative story, interactive technologies and new media, I have decided to further explore the notion of interactivity. One of the reasons I have chosen to go down this route is the popularly of this platform right now. Unlike Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, where often a specialised piece of hardware is needed for the viewer to experience it, interactive media often only requires the device the viewer already has, making it more accessible. Additionally, whilst exploring the Isadora software, I really enjoyed the flexibility and what can be achieved, especially in a short amount of time due to its visual approach to programming. I particularly took interest in the various user-input methods, from clicking the mouse or pressing a keyboard, to using audio and imagery as an input.

Due to the current situation we find ourselves in, I want to make a piece of interactive media that allows me to easily gather resources, work independently and perhaps also reflect on the current situation, making it somewhat relevant. I have taken an interest in nature this year, partly due to the fact I’ve spent so much time in the garden, and have been amazed by the amount of birds and other visitors such as hedgehogs and squirrels. I would like to make an interactive experience that would allow anyone to experience this nature that I have found in my specific garden, in their own, even if they don’t have a green space near them.

It is important to understand what work has been completed already, to gain some inspiration and what options are available to me. I am considering making this interactive experience much like an ‘interactive documentary’, where the viewer is guided through an experience that I will dictate, with the freedom to branch off from the central narrative and make things happen. Upon my quick search of ‘interactive wildlife documentary’, I came across the stunning game called Away. The game has not actually been released yet and is due early next year. However, the game has been described as a ‘playable BBC nature documentary […] a way to play through nature at its most vulnerable’ (Paprocki, 2020). You play the game as a sugar glider, exploring different biomes and discovering different species, all whilst in a ‘destabilised climate […] as you encounter devastating storms and crumbling ecosystems throughout your journey’ (Johnson, cited in Paprocki, 2020). Furthermore, the game has a strong focus on sound, with the development company, Breaking Walls, releasing a new 30 minute soundscape every month to fans, highlighting the importance of sound in an experience that is designed to simulate the real world.

This game was built using the Unreal Engine, utilising realistic graphics and animations. Due to time constraints this won’t be possible, so I will aim to use Isadora as the development platform for the experience I wish to create. I understand that I cannot create the amount of control the viewer has over their environment like Away does, but I will use various input methods, from simple keyboard and mouse navigation to select new environments and animals, to incorporating the use of input audio and video. I would like to use the user’s microphone on their device to simulate wind when they blow into it, for example, and perhaps use the viewers light in their room as a way of dictating whether the scene shows nature by day or by night. This method of interactivity through human senses has been experimented with and utilised in places like museums and galleries and are successful as it ‘forces them to engage directly with the exhibition and its theme.” Visitors engage with exhibits in ways they are accustomed to engaging with the real-world. (Hughes, cited in Reden, 2015). Furthermore, a lot of interactive experiences only use vision, much like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, which isn’t as effective as having a full spectrum of sensory inputs, as ‘humans are naturally multisensory and constantly use the full range of our senses in every aspect of our lives’ (Mayrand, cited in Reden, 2015). Therefore, I would like to utilise the aforementioned methods of user input to create a fully immersive experience, where the user can use fully utilise all their senses, replicating a full outdoor experience.

My vision for the experience I am creating would to be housed in a Museum, children’s play area or a nature exhibition. There will be a large screen, possibly a projector, mounted at eye level with the user, with a touchscreen device beneath it, with perhaps some physical buttons and switches too, to increase the tactile feedback. The user would be able to walk up to this area and interact with it, choosing which activates to play with and possibly take something away with them – much like they would do at a photo booth at a party. I really enjoyed the example of ‘Studio Play’ at The Cleveland Museum of Art. The experiences shown in this video use touch screens and sensors that detect movement for making art. This is exactly the environment I can see my project being implemented in. It is so successful as it allows for a different experience every time, and in this case will encourage visitors to return again, as bringing a different group of friends to participate in a collaborative digital painting will create a unique and different experience every time.

References

Reden, N., 2015. Sensory History And Multisensory Museum Exhibits. Ph.D. State University of New York College at Buffalo.

Paprocki, M., 2020. ‘Away’ Is Like An Interactive Nature Documentary. [Article] Forbes, Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattpaprocki/2020/02/24/away/?sh=5b4365fb72e9> [Accessed 16 November 2020].

Breaking Walls, 2020. Away [online]. PlayStation 4 and Steam. Montréal, Québec: Breaking Walls.