Rudderless Journey

OVERVIEW

Rudderless Journey is an interactive installation designed by Pukkawat LeesawanSukij Lertpradist, and Jazz Trinos.  The design concept was originally intended for Sydney’s Cockatoo Island, NSW.  Users of this artwork will be immersed in a digital voyage through the manifestation of vivid and random-like patterns derived from the island.  The journey presents itself as a reflection of life’s indeterminate nature.  This interactive installation has been programmed through Processing and Kinect.

DELIVERABLES

User research | Concept development | Storyboards | Prototype | Visual designs | Usability Testing | Presentation | Documentation | Exhibition

CHALLENGE

In fulfilling the requirements of the University of Sydney Design Lab’s IDEA9104 Cyber studio project, we were required to form a group and produce an interactive installation.  The project theme is based on a metaphorical play on the relationship between what people find in the past, present and their imaginative capacities for creating futuristic and alternative realities.  The site of excavation is Cockatoo Island, where an investigation and re-presentation of the island through the creation of public interactive performance environments are to be designed.

ACTION

This was a 2-month project following 4 stages that include DiscoveryDesignImplementation and Delivery.

DISCOVERY

The concept development was based on applied user research methods in order to have a better understanding of what potential users in Cockatoo Island would like to implement.  The methods include ethnographical observation and contextual inquiry, which were conducted in my visits to the island.

As a snapshot, the findings indicate that visitors of the island wanted to engage in a fun and playful activity within the vicinity, such as interacting in an electronic art setting.  In addition, the notion of “indeterminacy” came into the picture during the user research activity.  There were some visitors who felt that they wandered around the vast empty space of the island, and not know what to expect.  Our group then primarily based our design concept on the notion of “indeterminacy”.

DESIGN

Our group agreed to use an interactive digital environment that would have an indeterminate nature as what was observed from the island based from the discovery stage.  The rationale was to lure passers-by in exploring a simulated environment of Cockatoo Island through body interaction in order to create a playful story-like interactivity to metaphorically connect the user and the island with elements of uncertainty.

As a result of our ground work and ideation, we developed a digital sketch board of our initial idea.  This was followed by 3 iterations, which was modelled by way of sketches and storyboards.

Initial Brainstorming

First Design Iteration

Second Design Iteration

Third Design Iteration

IMPLEMENTATION

Prototype took place in 3 stages that included photo shooting, photo editing and programming.

Photo Shooting

The formal photographical sessions took place in various vantage points at Cockatoo Island, NSW.  The shots also employed the use of an art technique called the body probe method.  This technique uses a person’s body to act as an ornament in selected environments.

Photo Editing

Adobe Photoshop, PhotoGrid and iPhoto were utilised to create a more vivid and dream-like effect to the selected photos that were incorporated in the interactive installation.  The photographs fall under 6 thematic scenarios, which our group wanted to convey with reference to the island.  They include the following:

1.) Openness/Indeterminate – The pictures in this category reveal the island’s openness and indeterminate nature.

2.) Labour Developments/Machinery – The pictures in this category reveal the island’s past and present developments.

3.) Sense of Being Lost/Encaged – The pictures in this category depict the notion of being disoriented resulting to the feeling of being imprisoned in a cage of ignorance.

4.) Freedom of Expression/Graffiti-like – The pictures in this category show the island’s happy nature and the sense of freedom felt its empty space via the graffiti displayed in the island’s vicinity.

5.) Destination Unknown/Pathway/Tunnels – The pictures in this category unveil the island’s enigmatic nature that needs to be explored for people who wants to unearth its mysteries.

6.) Island’s Steadiness – The pictures in this category tell a narrative about the island wherein change is inevitable within its vicinity.  However, the island would always stand still despite the repeating cycle of the setting of the sun or the ocean’s ebb and flow.

Programming

Our group utilised the following tools in order to realise the installation’s interactivity and creation of its digital patterns:

  • Processing – an open source programming language, which is written in JavaScript
  • SimpleOpenNI – an open source library for overall interoperability of natural user interface (NUI)
  • MS Kinect – motion sensor that detects hand movement

The programmed digital patterns include the following:

1.) Pattern 1 (Simple) – Portrays that the island has a simplistic nature prior to British colonisation

2.) Pattern 2 (Graffiti) – Portrays how colonisation impacted the island in both positive and negative ways

3.) Pattern 3 (Revealment) – Depicts certain aspects in the island can be found through searching.  For example, finding the light in a dark tunnel by way of exploration.

4.) Pattern 4 (Vagueness) – Depicts the indeterminate nature of the island

5.) Pattern 5 (Pixelated) – Illustrates the enigmatic feature of the island where parts of its imagery can disguise its true identity

The video below shows a computer test portraying these digital patterns.

DELIVERY

The prototype was delivered in 2012 in the “ghost[s] and the[ir] machine[s]” exhibition at the Old Darlington School, University of Sydney.  The exhibition was managed by New Media Curation.

Usability testing was performed during the exhibition to assess strengths and weaknesses of the interactive installation.  The video and images below depict this session and exhibition.

I received a Distinction grade for this coursework.

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