While it’s still very early, I’ve come to think of mudroom as being designed in layers.

  • Data:
    We start with genealogy research, cleaned as best as I’m able, exported as gedcom.

  • Information architecture:
    Here’s how the data is interpreted as scaffolding. People’s lives are abstracted into a sort of virtual architecture as the gedcom is imported by grotto and turned into a maze and cenotaph items.

  • Metadata (stories):
    The cenotaphs are filled with text, images, audio and video. As we deal with more “things” we add layers of more elaborate UI. The html/text only version dealt well with 0 to n numbers of things like objects, exits, and characters. The icon UI version shows less information at a time, adding a focus for a single item, character or door. An additional cenotaph view could add an A-Frame webgl view that could accomodate a vr headset. The idea here is that we are creating a space that can have sounds, more things than fit neatly on a screen at once, spacial relationships between objects that might not be heirarchical or sequential but use proximity, distance, scale. I’d like the installation version to use mapped screens to work approximately as the headset does when viewing a cenotaph, with a fixed 180 degree view of a 3d space rather than a head-tracked perspective.

  • Aesthetic (visual art, animation, sound design, modeling):
    Each view elaborates on an aesthetic a bit, we go from the text only version which has some fonts and color choices, to the iconic view which has a very specific visual aesthetic that adds ideas of pencil sketches and Atari VCS style “wide pixels”. Adding a 3d view to the cenotaphs necessarily adds a new dimension to the aesthetic. This is a place for exploration. I’ve thought of limiting the “pencil pixels” style to “screens” in the world of the work- i.e. in the installation there’s a separate physical screen for navigating the world, and that represents a videogame, and the room scale projections exist outside of that context and have another style. That could be 2d paper objects existing in a 3d space, or fabric that somehow echoes the pattern choices in the pencil ‘tiles’… or (oh god) fully modeled 3d textured filthy plastic children’s toys? A maximalist abandonment of style that uses bricolage? How do we use ambient sound and sound effects? I like grounding the work back in the Atari through sound, because the sound that the VCS made is so evocative to me. The rabid dog barking becomes the harsh noise blast of the dragons in Adventure. Ambient sound in the cenotaphs could add a new layer outside of the VCS chip sounds though, just as 3d place adds a new art aesthetic. Are there things that are accepted as inherent in VR that could be tampered with stylistically, like perspective? Is it psychologically dangerous to play with constants like perspective in VR?

  • Performance:
    This is the human layer, the physical computing layer, the interface. What is the controller like? are there additional physical objects in the room that represent a ‘console’? Where are viewers positioned. How do I or a player situate ourselves and act while playing the game? How does the design of the physical layer echo and extend the 3d view? The performance happens at a time in a place and includes all these elements. Game controllers could be sacred property made for specific hands.

  • History:
    Each action in the space is recorded as a history. In the physical space there could be notebooks of maps with paths to important figures’ cenotaphs. Anyone viewing pages in the maze from anywhere can see these histories, which are local to each room.