I began to plan out how this new experience may look. I plan to have the first room display wealth, the next power, and the last sex. I think I want to have one main performance in each room, that the player will inhibit second time around. The rest of the room should be supporting decorations to better illustrate the theme.
I created an animation that has items rise up from the ground, be consumed in a picture frame, then dropped through the ground and repeated. This is a bit skaky however and I may need to go back in to make it more consistant and reliabe.
I not written a lot in my blog lately as I am finishing up my first draft for a hand-in on the 12th Feb. Since I last wrote in this blog, I have created a part of the display of wealth and recreated it again.
Today, I made a rigged tracksuit that will replace the stand-in mannequin. The tracksuit may repeatidly check its watch or performs some other repetitive animation.
Now that I have completed my final draft of my dissertation, I can focus more on studio work.
I think I am going to need to write out a comprehensive outline of what I intend for the experience to be at this point. I don't think I will be able to tie all of the themes together nicely, but that's okay because I think it gives the audience more opportunity for interpretation.
Scene 1 - Consumer
The audience start in a boat in a slow theme park ride, similar to the pace of It's A Small World in Disneyland. The boat floats in a white fluid, which can be open for interpretation. I made it to resemble milk as it is a life-sustaining substance for infants and represents the relationship between mother and child. I could see it being interpreted as seminal fluid, another natural fluid of production and this may be more relevant in the displays of sex/ eroticism section but I don't think the connotations are as strong as milk.
First, the audience enter a room in which they can look around them to the multiple displays of wealth. The displays of wealth focus on branded fashion, and the outward performance of consumption. This may explore themes of excess, waste, greed, performance, consumption.
The ride then leads to the next room, which contains displays of eroticism. This scene will explore themes of lovelessness, sex, pornography etc.
The final room explores displays of power, which glorifies violence and domination. This shall explore themes of aggression, conflict, power, domintation.
What am I trying to convey through the displays of wealth, sex and power?
I imagine the audience as an infant, navigating the media by passively consuming the performances in the media. The infant has no autonomy and has no choice but continually consume this culture.
I feel that just now, with the democratication of media, individuals are constantly consuming imagery of 'ideal' lifestyles. If I think of the most popular videos on YouTube, whose algorithm is increasingly responsible for the education of today's youth, I see displays of lavish wealth. Particularly in the glorification of branding, a strange type of fashion in which the display of the logo signified wealth- take Supreme as an example.
On a lower-level like local social media, I know people that will rotate their wrist for their watch to be visible in photos. Lavish restaurant meals are shared or brand new cars, for the sole reason of displaying wealth.
There is also a deeper level that I assume this display of wealth is linked to, and that's the constant want to be desired. The emphasis placed on one's appearance or lifestyle is linked to one's urge to be wanted by others. The internet has saturated society with images of sex and pornography.
Finally, the display's of power are explored. This is tricky because it very closely linked to displays of wealth and sex, which are in themselves an expression of power. I suppose I interpret this more as a display of macho agression and dominance. I think of this as a physical dominance, in which one celebrates their own power over others. This can be as literal as physical fighting, or slightly more metaphorical in one's high managerial job at a company.
Scene 2- The Producer
Eventually the infant grows up, and no longer passively consumes these displays but begins to produce them themselves in a strange economy based on the exchange of social signs.
The audience now assume the role of the displays they once observed. I may supply them with meaningless tasks that act of the performance for the consumer, who is revealed to be a camera. The producer-audience look at the camera as it passes, performing to maintain its attention.
This again is repeated for the 3 performances that the audience experienced at then end.
Scene 3- Retirement / Death
The experience end once the audience has performed its duty as consumer and producer. I am not sure how to represent this yet. I want it to be an escape from this hyperreal experience in which the audience exist under, but its difficult to represent reality. When thinking of things that are real, I think of death but I also think of things like gravity. If I fall and crack my head open, that was as real an experience as one could imagine. Perhaps death is represented by the camera being killed by gravity- a stage light falls crushing the camera. The player briefly watches the camera-corpse before the experience ends and starts from the beginning.
I am looking into articles about how the rich display their wealth today, and many articles mention that the kind of 'Conspicuous Consumption' described by Veblen is dying out. The rich are instead investing money into education, health and experiences. Although I don't disagree with that Conspicuos Consumption may be dying out among the wealthier classes, I don't believe this to be the case
I think Conspicuos Consumption has moved to the (for lack of a better word) 'working-classes'. I know many people that are not particularly wealthy but spend a relatively large portion of their income on items that signify wealth like branded clothing and iPhones etc. This means we are in a strange position where the display of wealth is now a display of the lack of wealth.
Why is this the case? I'm not entirely sure. It could be that poorer people wish to hide their wealth, or it could be that encouraging display's of wealth entices poorer people to consume items they can not afford.
Whatever it is, there appears to be a culture in which this kind of display is encouraged among young people.
A 2018 article, found that today's youth tend to display wealth through the display of experiences. This can be through holidays, festivals, restaurants, nightclubs etc.
I'm finding it helpful to go through influencers' social media accounts to see what they choose to display to their audiences to convey social status. There's a strange abundance in swimming pools across many different accounts. It seems to be a constant display of wealth.
I made a donut shaped pool float that can bob in the water. An animation triggers when the player passes it that submerges it under water.
Yesterday, I continued to create assets for the wealth scene. I had planned early on to create an animation for the tracksuit but I had been putting it off as I thought it would be very time consuming. It was actually quite easy to animate the tracksuit and have it run in Unity.
I have also just been adding other assets and applying materials to them. I wanted the wealth room to appear a pure white, I might bump the brightness up a bit. I gave the empty tracksuit a watch without hands as a head that contantly points towards the audience.
I think the room needs a couple of extra elements then I will be able to move on to the next room.
The room is starting to come together but naturally, there are issues with it. The first of which is it doesn't really convey the idea of wealth to me. It is quite difficult as I am not attempting to convey traditional forms of wealth like high culture, gold etc. but instead the contemporary form of wealth that comes in the display of the consumption of experience.
There is also a big empty bit in the middle of the scene that needs something but in it and the walls feel bare.
This may be enough for me to continue into building the next room however, and I can return to building the wealth room with what I learned from building the love room.
The video above shows the scene running on my phone, and there seems to be no problems running it- which is a relief.
Yesterday I began working on the love scene. I plan on taking inspiration from Duchamp's Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelor's, Even like I did with an earlier scene, but now the bride is a blow-up doll, and the bachelors are an array of cameras. They are seperated by the stream that the player rides along.
I'm thinking of introducing some flashing effects to imply the taking of photos so I'll give that a go soon.
After having a show and tell session today, it became apparent that I needed to adjust the atmosphere of the piece. I had orginally built this with the intent of being bright and overwhelming but instead it seems flat. Paul suggested bringing spotlighting into it, which would fix this but I deliberately made this scene so that it could not use Unity's built in lighting.
I realised simply by multiplying the colour node in the shader with a vector 1 variable, I can increase and decrease the apparent brightness of an object. If I have the bloom post processing effect enabled, it looks as if the object is emiting light.
Other students noted that it looked a bit bare, and I could do with some kind of backdrop. I agree but I will need to continue thinking of what I could add. For now I have added aeroplane windows that contain images of couples holding hands as it is a very generic holiday photo.
I needed a way to introduce the new scenes I have made as the unity build starts in the wealth room without any context. I need to make an introductory room that lets the audience get their bearings before they begin.
I also need to go back in to the menus I made earlier, and make sure they take the player to the right place.
I created a warning at the beginning so the audience is aware the game will use the orientation of their phone. I also made some animations so it smoothly transitions to the game. I played with the sound of a cello being played and added some reverb that gave it a slightly sci-fi echo sound. I didn't intend for it, but I actually quite like it so I'm keeping it for now.
In the blow-doll room, I plan to have an array of cameras surrounding the doll that assume the role of Duchamp's bachelors. I have so far made four different types of camera, and I just need some variations in texture then I can duplicate them even further.
I also needed to find a way to create camera flashes. I don't want to have to effect all the materials in the room with a script, and you cannot animate post-processing effects so I can't just make an animation that drives up the camera's exposure. I discovered that since the player is moving, I can place post processing volumes along the track, so that when the player collides with them, the camera's exposure increases briefly, looking like a camera is flashing.