OBJECTIVE: Express the concept of time through design
MENTOR: Maria McVarish
ROLE: Concept Development, research & strategy, story-boarding, interaction design, visual design and prototyping
Research a family relative - living or dead and make a design presentation about him/her in any style or format that is meaningful to you based on the readings on time, memory, design's role in shaping time, memory and forgetting, duration, evolution and perception of time.
This is an interactive portrait of my maternal grandfather whom I have never met. He lived most part of his life in India where I was born and raised. Today I live about 8,000 miles away in the United States. So most of my research was focused on phone interviews with family members back in India. I collected verbal accounts of incidents and anecdotes about his life, personality and struggles. But I was unable to get any physical material – no photos or letters or tangible memorabilia.
Post research, I discovered an underlying parallel between his life and struggles with mine. And that connection helped me re-create our relationship. I felt that this narrative would be best conveyed as my personal reflection on his life. So I wrote a letter to him about the most meaningful connections I had made with him through my research. This portrait is a combination of parts of the letter and a pencil sketch of the only vague image I have of him in my memory since childhood. The interactive components are parts of the letter that were particularly meaningful to me. In retrospect I think this was the only way I wanted to connect with him.
"By picturing our wishes as fulfilled, dreams are after all leading us into the future. But this future, which the dreamer pictures as the present, has been molded by his indestructible wish into a perfect likeness of the past."
- Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
This portrait has no linearity or time based progression. It simply conveys the essence of my newfound relationship with me. The navigation is completely driven by the viewer. It is a narration that has no beginning, middle or end.
Why an interactive portrait?
This project presented an opportunity to explore narrative or storytelling techniques. Because the research I had was limited and I wanted to create a personal reflection, I explored alternate approaches to storytelling. During my research I stumbled upon Zeega (zeega.com)- a platform for interactive storytelling that allows users to access various forms of media from the cloud and create works that allows user/viewer interaction. I was fascinated by the idea that videos, photos and audio files could be combined on a single narrative along with user interaction. (As I used it, I realized it is work in progress and had some serious limitations. Yet, it offered a very whole different playground for ideas to manifest.)