Friday, April 27, 2012

Family Unit machinima





     Family Unit was a work created for the MiC (Museo in Commune) a region in SL as well as a RL museum located in Rome, Italy.   I created an environment there for Mexi Lane a well respected curator.  It no longer exists.. I just have taken a long time to make the machinima.
     The build is a mildly introspective piece that deals with my own family dynamic.  I take parts of my family and twist it around with the final portion being a visit to my Grandparents.  Visiting them is quite difficult for the guest as they reside outside the living.
     Some of the ideas I was experimenting with for this build, was an attempt to shape the viewers emotions as they move through the environment.  If Tchaikovsky can compose a musical work that brings emotions to highs and lows using only sound over the course of his composition, then it seems to me that a virtual space is ripe for leading the emotions in a similar manner from beginning to end.  The use of light, ambient sound, colour, texture, subject and so on will all effect ones emotions as they move through your work.   But seeing as a virtual space is open ended, meaning the viewer goes in whatever direction they wish, then that also means the emotional composition fluctuates unlike a set musical score.
     With this in mind I wanted to create an environment of neutral grey to begin.  One reason I often use grey is because it is very malleable as a colour.  It is made up of all colours and when a pure colour like red, blue or yellow is placed within or close to it, they not only gain power as a focal point but also influence the greys close by them to change their characteristics.  A grey can become warm or cool depending on how you decide to influence it.  Warm or cool being an emotional response.
     The guest enters Family Unit and follows a narrow path into a grassy plain.  There are details to observe and the scale is quite varied.  Some things are normal sized while others are larger or smaller.  This creates a sense of disquiet in the viewer if done in a relatively subtle way.  The viewer moves down the first part of the path in a leisurely fashion and then turns a corner to see a stretch of land leading up to a house.  I won't go into detail for all of the parts but the guest meets the sister, brother, father and mother.  After climbing a set of stairs they come to an Urn for the ashes of my grandparents. 
     The build ends here for some, but for the few who click the urn it will continue as they are unceremoniously pulled into a challenge to reach Heaven.  The journey to reach my Heaven consists of a mad dash up a hollow perforated cylinder.  To make matters worse you must avoid "Gods Balls" which will squish you should you be touched by one.  Spaced infrequently along the edge of the inner cylinder are what I call "mouse holes" or little cracks that the avatar can squeeze into to avoid being killed by the giant balls. 
     One of the features I like to use in my environments, which is kind of rare, is the ability to set damage on.  This allows for the avatar to actually die from a variety of things.  The idea is to create a sense of anxiety for the viewer as they explore some of my works such as Annas Many Murders and the like.  When people know they are not invincible how does it affect them?  Many tell me they suddenly become wary of falling or they tend to let others take risks etc.  It is kind of interesting because it means an immersive environment can become more immersive if you add an element of danger.  So in my quest to try to find different ways to create an engrossing immersion for the viewer, this seems to be another tool which can be effective.  The persistent guest in my Heaven will eventually reach my Grandparents who are seated comfortably having a cup of tea. Their overly heavy halo placed on a stand for the time being, as I know my Grandmother would refuse to wear it seeing as she was more a fan of subtle jewellery.  "Oh that's far too much" she would likely say to my Grandfather who would remain quiet as he always did.
     
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