After a lot of research into the world of virtual reality, we started to brainstorm again to nail down the right idea. We realised that with this new platform, we had to approach our stories in a new way; treating them as experiential rather than a purely linear narrative as we would approach film. While linear narratives may still exist within the experience, we have started to consider the 360 experience as a more integral element of our piece. This may seem like stating the obvious, but it’s very easy to forget after years of creating linear narratives!
Collection of Dreams VR Idea
One of the first ideas we rounded out was a VR experience that places the user in a dreamscape and allows them to explore the hopes and dreams of others. We would record interviews on a depth kit, capturing the hopes and aspirations that people had throughout their lives. The user could travel through the space, and select the stories that they wanted to explore.
The concept evolved from the idea that while not all dreams become reality, nearly everyone has dreams for their lives. A child may dream of becoming batman, an adult may dream of a specific career, or specific lifestyle, or to achieve certain things. Dreams are often not shared for many reasons and I would argue that one of these reasons is because by sharing your dreams, you expose a little piece of yourself that matters to you making yourself vulnerable. People may poke holes in your dreams, infusing doubt or negativity, which may dishearten you from ever pursuing them. This piece would provide a keyhole look into the minds of strangers; the viewer could explore a space where they normally are not permitted, gaining a little insight into a vulnerable place in a stranger’s mind. There’s something captivating about that.
Transition to Exploring Happiness
While we all liked the idea of exploring “dreams”, we didn’t feel that the story was quite solid or specific enough to run with. We had another brainstorm and as we grouped our ideas, and themes of happiness and personal wellness rose to the surface.
We had thought of creating a social experiment with the concept being shaped with data which we would gather throughout the project. This made me think of ‘The Happy Show’ by Sagmeister and Walsh, a data driven project which is essentially a collection of visually rich infographics exploring the science behind what makes us happy. What I loved about their show was that there were a range of mediums to demonstrate their concepts, using both digital and physical interaction design to communicate the messages.
On the back of this Nicole introduced the film Hector and the Search For Happiness, a movie about a psychologist’s pursuit of a happy life, after realising he was drifting through each day in auto-pilot.
These references sparked a load of ideas, and we began to see that the theme of happiness or personal wellness was a thread that ran through many of our previous brainstorms; mindfulness is about find peace within yourself, dreaming is based around the heart’s desires, and even the topic of leaving home is about a pursuit of finding your place in the world. We thought that this could potentially be a strong theme to explore for our VR experience, as it is:
- Something that we are all passionate about
- A universal topic, allowing for a piece which would be of interest to many people
- A positive emotion – which could allow for a playful approach
We all went off and did a range of research on the topic of happiness (LINK TO OTHER POST), and then came together again to share and refine the idea with these new findings and insights. We ideated a range of possibilities and imagined how the piece could connect together, thinking both about the theme and stories as well as the visuals.
After learning the hard way last semester, we were determined to focus and clarify our ideas to make sure we were pursuing the right goals. Even though the specifics of the idea are still very open, we thought it would be helpful to create a short statement to define the current idea:
‘Happiness is…’ is an interactive piece which collects moments where people have felt happiness in their lives. By exploring an environment the viewer will see and hear the stories of others; of their happy moments, big and small. The idea is to remove the viewer from the busyness of their world and into a space where they can take a moment to be still and reflect on their own happy moments.
Overcoming Ideation Obstacles
We came back to this statement the next day and found it hard to know the next steps to take. We knew that we needed to refine the concept further, but were not quite sure where our weak links in the idea where. I really wanted to nail down what it was that made the idea interesting (or if it was interesting at all) as without understanding this, we may overlook integral elements of the idea in the development process. We sought feedback from the class and from Matthew Morrison (great guy!) who was working nearby. -side note: co-working spaces make these feedback sessions effortless- We asked him about what happiness means to him. He shared a few of his happiest moments and happy places, but also noted that he felt that the most moving happy stories featured the journey to get people there-what they had to overcome to reach that happy place. This was a great point, and we began to think about the journey of happiness, rather than it featuring as a ‘big event’.
We challenged a range of things, specifically the purpose of the project raising questions like:
- Why it would be interesting to a user?
- How do we want the user to feel?
- What is the overarching story we’re telling?
- How would the user move through the space?
- Liner vs open approach?
- How to combine artistic styles and types of content?
- How do we keep interviews interesting?
After raising these questions we refined the idea again and start to think about a more focused subject area. Instead of a broad idea of a pursuit of happiness, we thought it could be interesting to think about this pursuit in one or a number of individuals lives. We thought about focusing on a small group of people such as service workers, celebrities, mums, graduates…
After a discussion, we were all drawn to the idea of interviewing graduates and exploring how their journeys unfolded after they left the art college. Exploring another artist’s journey is an interesting way to blend a range of the ideas we’ve been studying over the past week – a pursuit of happiness and the chasing of dreams and aspirations. What was particularly poignant about this idea was the fact that this piece will be showcased for the first time at the end of year degree show; a time where we, and many other graduates, will be thinking about our futures and what’s to come next. Each of us hopes for the best and for success in the future – by exploring another artist’s journey to artistic success, it could be a hopeful and insightful way to end our time at the art college. This is obviously still in development, but I’m hopeful for this one!