DXH602 – ‘nativescape’

The following design proposal and prototype has been developed for the New Materialisms exhibition in the Queensland Museum. This interactive experience educates users on how native Australian animals interact with each other and their environment. Ethnographic observations of the exhibition space suggest that the museum would benefit from an interactive experience to enhance the New Materialisms Artwork. The proposed design will appear as an LED wall interface positioned on both sides of the New Materialisms Exhibition space. The interface will respond to the movements of the user using motion sensor technology. The user will be positioned in one of five environments (the arid outback, iconic eucalypt forest, tropical rainforest, coastal zones, and marine environments) and embody a native Australian animal. The animal will mirror their movements, allowing the user to explore the way the animal moves in their natural habitat. The interaction is enhanced by the number of people populating the space, each animal interacting with each other to form a thriving landscape. The interaction aims to target engaging audiences in museums by educating participants on the fragility of our natural environment as well as the potential environmental threats that native animals are facing and the impact we as humans have on their survival.

For this project, i was in charge of prototyping and coding, as well as movement mapping, peer-reviewed research into the field of embodied interactions, and contextual reviews. Early in the design process, my main role was coding with programs such as OpenCV with Processing, Microsoft Kinect, and Leap Motion. Once we discovered that these programs wouldn’t work for what we wanted to due to technological problems, we moved on to a different program (Adobe Character Animator), which another group member had. This meant that i moved from prototyping and coding to research and movement mapping.

The process for this project started with having all group members present their previous ideas for this brief, and we then moved into choosing an idea which would best suit this brief. The previous concept which was looked at most closely was an interactive wall which displayed the ocean with coral and different sea life. The users could then see themselves displayed on the wall in the “ocean”, and the ocean would slowly deteriorate over time because of the human presence. As can be seen, this initial concept was modified and changed into the final concept explained above. The project then moved into research into the field of embodied interactions, as well as contextual reviews of different projects in this field. During this time, coding for the digital and interactive visualisation started. In particular, coding was mainly done for the Microsoft Kinect in the early stages, and plans for physical housing for the Kinect were also being done at the same time. Once the prototype had moved from the Kinect to Adobe Character Animator, the visualisation was completed much quicker. Furthermore, movement mapping, ethnographic research, user testing, and the completion of a video pitch was also conducted in this time and inserted into the design document.

A design document detailing design concept, demographic, peer-reviewed research into the field of embodied interactions, ethnographic research, user experience storyboards, contextual reviews, movement mapping, user testing, and production plan can be found here: Thomas Bancroft Nativescape Posters