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Initial Concept

Just a little documentation of the path that this project has taken!


What: The project revolves around mental health, primarily depression and thoughts of suicide, and the emotional tie we have to our memories. Participants will be able to ‘play’ as a character who is planning to end their life, and as a last resistance against themself, the character begins to reach through their memories in search of some hope and a reason to stick around. I would ideally like to have this project be available as an interactive installation with a video walkthrough, for those who can not attend the final performance in person. For the installation, I would like to place objects around in the performance space and have participants go on a sort of ‘scavenger hunt’ (it will not be a hard hunt, I just can not think of a better comparison) to unlock video memories and return some hope to our main character. I want the audience to feel what the character feels; utterly hopeless but still reaching for something to make them stay, and to feel that hope increase, not only in the character but also empathetically in the participants themselves. The main takeaway I want people to have is that (cliche) it gets better; it’s hard to not be swallowed up by our painful experiences, and sometimes a reminder of better times of the past can help pull us out.

Why: When looking at previous senior ICAM projects, I saw a lot of games, which was tempting, but my love for interactive installation and amateur filmmaking took over! I also wanted to work with the skills I already have, as well as push the boundaries of what I think I am capable of. As of now, I am considering using the Arduino to help me realize this project, as I have taken 2 courses that dove into it; might as well utilize those skills! In regards to the mediums, I think that performance art is incredible and a very impactful way to get emotions across, and an interactive setting really prompts the users to be immersed in the experience. When I tell people about my major, their reaction is almost always “That sounds so cool, can I see what you’ve made?” and I find myself a bit stuck because I often can only show pictures, code, or a video of my art, so I really want to make an effort to get a good ‘playthrough’. I chose this theme of memories/mental health because, no matter how hard I try, ideas surrounding these themes always come to mind, and I can allow creativity to flow from my own experiences that others can also relate to.

How: I don’t have much of the ‘how’ fleshed out, but as of now I’m thinking of using an Arduino programmed to use pressure sensors that detect when one of the memory objects is picked up, signaling a video memory to play. I want to film scenes on a camera to create these memories and use footage I already have if it’s viable. I have used the Arduino for four projects now, and I’m familiar with using pressure sensors, but I will need to look into if an Arduino can be connected to a video/start a video. For the physical setup, I want to get some basic furniture, either that I already own or used furniture from consignment stores, to create a bedroom scene, with things like chairs, a desk, bookshelves, etc. I would like to try and not exceed $150 for my project budget (including furniture and Arduino parts). I want unrelated objects placed on the furniture, so it feels realistic and doesn’t look too much like a set, with the memory objects among the normal objects. To make it more obvious which objects are memory-oriented, I would also like to connect some lights to the Arduino and hang them overhead, shining down on the memory objects like spotlights. The lights would also trigger based on the pressure sensors, so with the first object the light would be on once the installation begins, and as the participant picks up the first object, the light goes off during the video memory, and at the end of the memory, the light over the next memory object with light up.


The Visitors by Ragnar Kjartansson

A video installation piece where multiple videos of individual people playing instruments, all within different rooms of the same house, are projected onto the walls. The entire piece is about one hour long and evokes emotions of gratitude, peace, and camaraderie, accompanied by beautiful music

Emily is Away by Kyle Seeley

A simple game where you interact with a friend (?), Emily, over the course of 5 years using an old online messenger, making conversation choices that affect what 'ending' you get. It highlights the troubles of
maintaining relationships into adulthood and the lonesome feeling that can accompany that experience. I was inspired by the ability of something seemingly simple being able to pull out such strong emotions, from myself but also from others who have played (indicated by the game's comment section on Steam)

Life is Strange by Dont Nod Entertainment

A very involved choice game where you play as the main character, unlocking more of her memories as you play, eventually realizing the
ability to control time.

Lucius by Jose Santacruz

An ICAM student-made Senior Project that revolves around mental health, but in a horror game format.

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