How do you recreate the experience of a group digitally?

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Direct collaborators: Nilofar Attahi, Daan Rongen, Merlijn Vos

iNDiViDUALS AMFI: Gen25 // Experience Design, Digital Creative

Project duration: 3 months

After having an 8 year long continuous school career (MBO and directly after it HBO) and a lot of pressure from things outside of school I noticed I was reaching a boiling point. I chose to quit school for half a year to regain my composure and get the rest I needed for my mind. In this half year I got asked by a good friend of mine to help them with a project they had at AMFI. I naturally said yes.

Conception

I was invited to come over as a digital creative to help conceptualize an experience. This was the 25th iNDiViDUALS show that would take place, and they wanted to do something special.

Previous installments of AMFI's iNDiViDUALS almost always ended with a show where people would sit down (or stand up) to watch the models do their walk and show the hard work the teams had done. A question GEN25 asked was: do they really see the hard work we put in? The blood, sweat and tears? The runway shows do show the outcome of this hard work, but it doesn't show the hard work itself and the struggle that was needed to get there.

“Runway shows show 2500 hours in 10 minutes, how do we show the effort, blood sweat and tears?”.

Development

To illustrate this problem the first step was to devise a concept in which an alternative way to generate hype could be showcased. Nilofar and I set up the interactive beamer installation that was used in the video illustrating this concept.

First Nilo and I tested out the ideas that we had, you can see a video of that right here. While testing we looked at the way the projecter gave new forms within the form you projected it on. The strength of the light also affected the energy that the projection gave.

After the fake party we gained traction, and we had to keep it going. So for the final show we chose to create an exposition the visitors could walk through and experience. We had 5 rooms that resembled chapters each had their own subject. The subject I got assigned together with Nilofar was the room in which the factory communication process would be explained to the visitor.

This proces was filled with technicalities and small details, there were for example 3 stories to be told each from a different factory with different issues. So at first we weren't sure how we would deal with that subject. After brainstorming with Nilofar we came up with multiple answers:

  1. A Tangible immersive experience: the visitor would touch a cloth from the factory that would affect the room they had entered.
  2. Movement sensory experience: the visitor would have to physically stand in front of one of the 3 installations to experience the story.
  3. Choose-your-own-story: the visitor would get an visual and auditory experience of the choices the management team have to make, but this time the visitor makes the choices.
Because the first two concepts came with complications we weren't able to take care of within the time frame we chose the final concept. Another reason we chose this is because with this concept the visitors would feel more immersed in what was happening and what steps were taken. We wanted to take them with us in the journey of the hard work and the blood, sweat and tears that they never see at a show.

Implementation

To implement it was not an easy task, the show in total had a run time of 45 minutes. With 5 rooms each, each room had about 9 minutes to complete what they had to do and guide the visitor to the next room. To do this we had to calculate the road, plus make sure that it even works. And here's the kicker, the choose-your-adventure was created entirely out of videos.

The technical part was accomplished by Daan, and Merlijn. These two used socket.io to create an instance in which a controller (an ipad) and a screen (a macbook connected to a big projector) were communicating with each other. The controller gave the orders to the screen, and the screen followed suit.

For the conceptual part Nilo and I sat down to create a flowchart, in this flowchart we set up the road for the story and how it would play out. We recorded every video and audio byte that was needed to create the immersive experience and we started editing. While editing we saw little mistakes that we had to fix, lines that needed to be repeated or parts of the video that weren't up to par. This whole proces was testing my patience, but in the end I'm glad I could see the full concept in the exposition.

Reflection

This was one of the first projects that I did without having ties to school. This means I had the freedom of a freelancer and was often treated as such. The responsibilities I had were mostly tied to delivery and not so much to method. And I enjoyed the freedom.

Because I was so stuck to my school's method and felt stuck in rut before I worked on this project. The freedom I had within this project was something I needed! I needed to feel creativity flow without receiving the project from my eduction (although technically my school did facilitate this, I just wasn't following the same education as the one they facilitated to).

This project learned me a lot about implementation within huge teams and how hard work can create absolutely beautiful moments. Seeing the people use the installation was a quite a happy moment for me. And enjoying that moment with a team of people that helped create this, was an amazing thing to experience.