From the beginning I knew I wanted to change my audiences’ way of thinking about a certain subject or issue. Whatever the subject might have been or developed into. I started by looking at different way of story telling. Word of mouth, books or films. I looked at games and visual novels as well as “Choose your own adventure” books, which were very popular among children from the 1979 onwards. I saw those kinds of story telling in video/visual novels as well as other multiple choice and multiple ending games. This fascinated me because it allows the user to invest in the characters and immerse in the story with the illusion of being able to affect the game and make it interactive. In reality all the ending are predetermined and the user ends up with one of the possible ending with no input of his own.
During my research the issue of Syrian refugees coming into Europe and other continents has been all over the news with raging debates vastly different in opinions. I wondered whether it would be possible to measure the publics views on the matter as well as the change in said opinions when faced with different scenarios when they are the ones responsible for the lives of the desperate people seeking refuge. I read an article about role playing games and how it was described as an empathy machine for its use of all kinds of social situations and putting the player in the decision making role; seeing their reaction unfold and how they affect others.
I considered doing something along these lines but I didn’t want to just release a new game. That would be both predictable and quite ambitious on my side since I know little about game design. I thought of a different approach, binaural audio; a well known example is below:
I stumbled upon it a couple years ago and found it very intriguing but I didn’t really follow through until I went to the talk by Dr. Katariina Kyrola on “Trigger warnings, embodied vulnerability and feminist affects”. That was one of the examples to show how media has changed over the years and how it affects different people differently. Whether we should censor more and more context as the technology is becoming more invasive and open. Dr. Kyrola talked about how different viewers have different reactions to different stimuli and why would images of explicit violence be more “harmful” to watch and engage with, than normativities veiled in pleasure.
Following through I explored the idea of binaural audio and how slowly it is advancing and how it is not well implemented in todays technology. The VR market is booming(it is predicted to have its $1bn year in 2016 according to Deloitte) and yet binaural audio is mainly seen on youtube used by ASMR practitioners, audiophiles and as an experimental idea for 360 degree concerts. Fortunately 2015 appears to be the year of machines that make us more human. Virtual reality puts us in a completely different perspective, immersing us in the story and lives of others. We learn to sympathise, relate and connect to other humans. Sundance opened The New Frontier last year which went beyond films. It combined the arts to create a creative space; for the multi- and trans- media, VR was a huge part of it.
When I first started studying media production I was obsessed with virtual reality, fantasy, things out of this world. Things taking us out of our lives and putting us in another. Immersing us in world that we couldn’t think of ourselves… or didn’t want to think. As I grew older I still looked for the immersion, and the fantasy and adventure but everything became more and more repetitive and instead of imagination, my creativity slowly declined.
“The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable” made by Punchdrunk was one of the greatest theatre performances I went to. It was as the most immersive experience that I have encountered so far. We were in the set, anonymously(in masks), able to do whatever we wanted(except talking), having special interactions with certain actors in scenes throughout the fogr story building of an ex post sorting office. Curiosity was the key, the more you explored the more you got out of the experience. This is the kind of feeling I would like to achieve with my pieces.
I knew I wanted to create a gallery piece. Something that can be seen/touched or heard from different perspectives. Later on I would record the piece, trying to convey the feeling it might have had on some of the viewers but of course it would never be close to being there yourself. First thoughts were with an audio driven, choose your own adventure type of application. I would record the audio myself with the help of voice actors and musicians to make an organic, realistically sounding environment where the user could experience different scenarios. I was still holding on to the Syrian refugees/passport control idea.
Ann Veronica Janssens’ “yellowbluepink” exhibition which was open to the public from October really woke me up and made me think again. It is such a simple exhibition(which previously was done by Olafur Eliasson) and yet it provoked so much thought in me.
A room filled with thick fog and coloured lights ahead creating a pleasant blend of the colours as they disperse throughout the mist.I was able to instantly forget about the outside world, about the 1.5hr queue outside of the pink coloured door leading to this magical place.
I was completely disoriented and lost, I began seeing things that weren’t there because my brain was struggling to map the room while shadowy figures were passing next to me. I slowly got used to navigating this plainly magical space and began to experiment. I began to listen to music while walking through the fog. I could no longer hear the people around me which made it so much more disorientating and ever so slightly scary and yet I have never felt so close to an artist and myself. That is when I decided to use a minimal amount of visual aids in my final piece to put the audience in a scene. I want to set myself a challenge, work with sound and colour to let people be free with their imagination.
After watching numerous videos of binaural audio which helped me understand the idea behind it and how it can affect the brain, I decided to purchase a pair of binaural microphones to try it out myself. I saw many comments on many amateur videos; as well as some more professional videos such as the video above from The Verge, about using the audio and video to capture unreachable areas. To create a range of sounds and visuals from all around the world to give a chance to experience it to people who cannot or are not yet able to travel. This gave me the idea for my final project. An immersive experience which transports the spectators away from the real world and into their minds; into a new world.