Upon arriving at MMU we began to construct a team of four members to tackle the task ahead, the focus being to create a digital installation that explores the themes of city with a storied perspective. My professional practice is graphic design and HTML/CSS coding, therefore it was imperative that I find a Sound Tech to complete the Audio aspect of Audio Visual. Thomas fulfilled this role and shared similar views and ideas of expression and so was an excellent choice. Together we formed a concept of tackling the misuse/cultural abandonment of cities through a narrative fictional lens. We wanted to achieve this with a good degree of interactivity which required us to find an animator and a photoshop tech, We met Liyana and Ilham. Liyana is a superb illustrator and is intending on specializing into animation, so this project worked well for her and Ilham agreed with us on the general theme and is excellent at photoshop.
Once we had our team we began to brainstorm methods for storytelling, settling eventually on a ‘choose your own adventure’ style. Thinking through the mechanics of this we decided the simplest and most effective method for achieving this was to use HTML to code a simple website that played animations, the user could then make choices at the end of the animations. To further immerse the user and generate a more tactile association with the piece we decided to utilize Thomas’ Makey Makey. Makey Makey is a relatively simple device that uses the closing of a current to activate an action. We decided to attach one end of the circuit to an object that the user would be able to pick up while the other end of the circuit would be another metal object left stationary. That way when a user places the tool on the object, an action is triggered. In our case the action is to select a path in the story.
Reflecting on this we attended the Kuala Lumpur Gallery Biennale. During this visit we observed many examples of the ways in which Malaysian artists have approached the themes of culture, place, emotion and story. During this visit Thomas observed a quote from a Malaysian artists that read: “individuals have been reduced to mere consumers”. This led us to consider the implications of consumerist society and consider ways to tackle that theme and it’s relationship with cultural abandonment. During this visit our guide also told us about the symbol for the Bienale, the Lotus Flower. The Lotus is known for growing from mud and is symbolic of something beautiful from something ugly. We decided to incorporate this belief and symbolism into our story as a symbol of hope.
After a second brainstorm on our narrative we were able to collectively agree on a general storyline. We have a protagonist and an antagonist, the protagonist is unnamed however the antagonist is refered to simply as ‘the cleaner’. The protagonist is portrayed traversing through an abandoned environment subtly being chased by ‘the cleaner’, searching for the lotus bloom.
The storyline we aim to create has two major arcs that the user chooses from at the beginning, jungle or city, then there will be two choices followed by either a death ending or finding the lotus bloom. The death ending will also be possible from other parts of the story.
We have decided to employ a countdown on some of the decisions to create a more gripping experience for the user. We have decided not to do this for every scene to avoid it becoming mundane and accentuate the tense moments when required.
Our team has come together well and communication has been concise and effective. Liyana and Ilham are forming the visual side of the team, Tom is covering the Audio while I take care of the coding. This setup plays to all of our strengths and allows us to work solidly and bounce ideas off of one another while still thinking about our immediate tasks at hand.