Immersive Media Lab

Revisiting ‘The Creativity Server’ – Isadora Halloween Inspired Installation


Halloween Inspired Interactive and Immersive Installation

This video demonstrates a Halloween inspired multimedia environment that encompasses video, graphics, sound and the physical environment to make a spooky experience built in Isadora. I also show the Isadora patch and how everything is put together.

Reflective Commentry

October 2021

I adore(a) Isadora. I had the joy of experimenting with it in my final year of my undergraduate BA Hons Media Production degree, where I made an interactive experience which I positioned as a museum/play area exhibition, where users would ‘play’ with nature. This was an enjoyable exploration into Isadora and I thoroughly enjoyed using the software, despite its many quirks. Although my project successfully worked (in a technical sense), I never had the chance to allow anyone to actually play with it, due to the restrictions around Covid-19 at the time. This was extremely frustrating. My revisit to Isadora has left me eager to create an experience that allows an audience to play with it and enjoy it… and maybe even break it… so I can fix it and learn from the mistakes. Furthermore, I want to discover a few more ‘actors’ and techniques that I didn’t quite have the time to conquer last time. As of writing this, Halloween is fast approaching, and it’s a perfect opportunity to invite (or unwillingly force) lots of excited trick-or-treaters to try out an Halloweeen-inspired Isadora project.

November 2021

EDIT: I missed the halloween deadline… oops. I wasn’t even home. We had no trick-or-treaters anyway. Therefore, I had to test it out myself, which was the result of this video. Now onto the evaluation:

What I found particularly engaging about this prototype is how the environment blends in with the technical functionality of the experience. The green light, for example, reflects back off the wall onto the audiences’ face, which allows the camera to track any green object within the scene. I found this to be a really effective method of body tracking, whilst also creating the desired atmosphere using the light. The user somewhat becomes part of that environment too – as well as being physically present, they are attached to the wall. At this point, it almost becomes a work of art rather than an experience, which perhaps should be the main reflection from this experimentation – it’s an installation ‘with the focus on the viewer, where he/she becomes almost the main subject of the artwork, taking into account the spectator’s involvement and interaction with the art piece’ (Lansroth, 2016). They become part of the installation, rather than it being a purely observational experience.

It’s worth mentioning that this is not the most robust system. It is prone to issues, the camera doesn’t always turn on and off when it should do, and using the light both as an atmospheric asset, in addition to a unique way of tracking a body, was both both a blessing and a curse, as it provided lots of tweaking and I would not trust it to run by itself in a public environment. When it works well, it’s really effective. If this project was going to be deployed into a permanent installation, I would likely use a different method of body tracking, maybe using a depth camera, such as the xBox Kinnect or the Intel Realsense camera, as I have had great success with these before and I believe they provide a smoother experience. Furthermore, bright light sources and projectors don’t always work well together, especially when positioned right next to each other (there’s a reason the lights are dimmed in a cinema), but this was my first exploration into immersive lighting as a method of interactivity. A higher lumens projector would also help reduce this issue.

Finally, it’s worth asking…why, and maybe…how? Why is this an experience that I decided to make, and how could it be implemented in the future. As I alluded to previously, I wanted to explore a few more Isadora actors, which I did, and after not using it for a year, I quickly familiarised myself. I also wanted to setup a physical installation experience, as this was something I had not done before. But the main reason I wanted to make it was because of my ongoing interest into Mixed Reality environments – the merging of the physical and the digital – ‘Phygital’ (yes it’s actually a word). What is the story that is being told here? Is it to do with a particular house being haunted, and a witch summons the visitors? Is this a metaphor for self reflection where the audience uncovers their inner demons on the 31st October. It’s neither of those, but it could be both if I wanted it to be. I need to decide what the story is and how physical and digital assets can construct a narrative, and importantly, even if it is just a piece of art, carefully consider what actually is the message I am trying to communicate.

References

Lansroth, B., 2016. What Is Installation Art and How Does It Transform Our Perception?. Widewalls, [online] Available at: <https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/installation-art> [Accessed 1 November 2021].