The Idea (at this moment in time)
I want to create a realtime 3D experience that explores the all-encompasing nature of contemporary consumerism.
French thinker Jean Baudrillard wrote of underlying codes in contemporary society that drive individuals towards certain behaviours. What results is an increasingly abstract yet homogenous mode of living where there can be nothing new, and no opposition to these underlying codes.
I want to explore this idea in a contemporary context. I want to explore a human life today, in terms of consumer and producer. It seems like the media (more specifically the internet) is where society and the economy primarily resides. I believe that face-face relationships between say a child and mentor, a relationship that has existed for all of human history has been mediated by television and the internet.
There are benefits and downsides to this, but what interests me most is that this relationship has become a relationship between a consumer-child and producer-mentor. But the relationship is not direct, each side is communicating with the void that is the media.
As we grow older, we eventually become producers. We use similar methods to our mentors and the cycle repeats. I feel that the ever-present and increasingly indistinguishable media has led to adults living in a pepetual state of production. Most of our behaviour is performative in that we will play certain roles to produce social capital, usually by mimicking already successful individuals/ ideas.
How do I represent this?
I plan to create a 3D realtime environment in Unity that places the audience on a track through an artificial environment. The experience is to be similar to that of a theme park ride like 'It's a Small Small World' in Disneyland.
The auience begins as the child-consumer, and watches the performances on the ride. These performances teach the child about displays of wealth, power and sex. The child has no autonomy, and is completely at the mercy of the ride, which acts as the underlying code or media. The displays are the producer-mentor.
Once the ride ends, the audience becomes the producer. The perform the meaningless displays of the producers the audience saw earlier for the camera that rides along the track.
Finally, the life ends and are faced with a constant in human hisory; death. I do not yet know how to fully represent this as the point is that we are totally abstracted from this concept.
I originally wanted to make this piece with many complex interactions with a game pad on a PC. As I began to consider who my intended audience was I began to move away from this idea.
I want to eliminate as many boundaries to experiencing this piece as possible, so I building the project to mobile devices, and the only controls will be the phones gyroscope for looking around, and tapping for menus. I made this decision for two reasons. The first is that people are instantly put off by game pads or mouse and keyboard controls in a gallery setting due to their video-game connotations. The gyroscope control is intuitive and anyone can make sense of them almost instantly.
The second is that mobile software is extremely portable. Those who won't be able to visit a degree show will be able to download and run this experience.
This does have some drawbacks. I have to limit the complexity of the scene for it to run well on mobile devices, and the amount of interaction the audience can have with the scene is limited. However, limitations tend to inspire creativity, and it has yet to prove much of an issue.
I made several scenes in Unity prior to this that attempted to investigate the 'aura' of commodities. These were split up in to 3 themes, childhood, adulthood and death.
I recently adapted this idea in to the current form, which makes more sense in my mind but it was a necessary step to getting where I am now.