The first day consisted of dividing into groups and brainstorming ideas for the project. The group we formed was based on a spread of skills which could cope with a range digital media formats. Even prior to dividing into groups Mike (one of the MMU students in our group) had the idea to centre the project around the theme of wealth inequality, which we thought was a deep concept with a lot of potential. We then discussed how we would execute the idea using the various skillsets of our group members. Fortunately our group had a good mix of both audio and visual specialised students with members also having experience in interactive media.
In order to better understand the focus of our project we spent time researching wealth inequality specifically in Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne, however the concept is universal. It is often the case that tourists are shielded from seeing the extent of poverty when visiting cities, so therefore further research was a necessity. Whilst my hometown of Melbourne has the worst extent of poverty inequality in Australia, we found out that Malaysia is among the worst in South-East Asia for disparity between the richest and the poorest, where 0.4% of people account for 52% of the wealth.
The first few days were also a period in which we were able to deepen our understanding of Malaysian culture through guided tours and workshops at MMU. We attended the Kuala Lumpur Gallery Biennale where we were exposed to Malaysian artists whose works explored both the present the history of Malaysia. I was motivated by this experience, and it was also interesting to see that there was a large amount of interactive and new media art being exhibited.
The idea we settled on was to construct a model skyscraper onto which we would projection map depictions of the contrasts between socio-economic groups which exist in a city. The tower would be divided into four main horizontal floors, with the more wealthy groups being projected onto higher floors of the tower and the more disadvantaged minorities being projected onto the lower parts of the tower to represent the divide between different groups. The installation would also contain interactive elements to convey elements of the topic. We decided on using a Kinect to detect the position of the viewer, the higher floors would be projected when the viewer is further away with the lower levels being progressively revealed as the viewer moves closer to the sculpture. Two adjacent sides of the tower would have video projected onto, with the different sides representing both the perception and the reality of each floor. Through the contrasts between the different sides of the tower we can explore idea of perception including how the government of a city will often try to conceal poverty from residents and visitors. Other examples of difference in perception and reality could be the presence of white-collar crime or drug use in the upper tier of wealth classes.
So far our team has worked together very proficiently, working through problems quickly and effectively. There has been a very equal contribution of ideas from all members, which has resulted in tasks such as the first presentation being completed with very few issues. The communication between our group members has also been effective so far, with all members contributing to discussions well.
The project presents a very interesting opportunity for interactive sound design, which is a subset of my specialised field. The sound design and composition must be able to reflect a full spectrum of human experience within a city dependent on the position of the viewer with detailed resolution. An audio session must be created with highly varied possibilities and therefore will need to be an extremely dense session utilising looping of different lengths. It will in a sense be a performance by the viewer who controls the sounds based on their movements; as such I will have to design a generative audio system allowing the viewer to compose the piece using a large number of predetermined parameters. I have experience creating similar compositional systems which are formed in real-time by an audience member however it was controlled via a computer rather than infrared sensing, and a completely different system. This will therefore present a new challenge to me personally which I am eager to meet.