Super Mario Installation
Initially, we thought of making a 3D Mario game. We would try to represent how it felt when you put yourself in Mario’s shoes and you yourself would have had to play the game – jump and collect coins etc. So, we thought of making a life size maze and the player would have to physically play the game like he would on console.
It was going to be very difficult to execute, given the amount of time we had. We wouldn’t have been able to make an exact representation of the Mario game in real life, it sounded like something that would be in an amusement park.
We were also told to abstract the idea – probably use a projector or a treadmill instead of the maze.
Our second idea was a slightly abstracted version of our previous idea. We would make a small cube (8 bit cube) in which a person would go into and sit. It would be dark inside, a video would be projected onto one side of the cube and the person would also hear various video game sounds. On the top of the box, there would be a hole from which we would throw things like coins, mushrooms and other elements from Super Mario into the box. The aim of this installation would be to suffocate the person (player) sitting inside.
Our idea was too literal – we were asked to abstract the idea even further. The execution again had several issues. We would’ve had to construct a huge box that a person could fit into, placement of the projector would’ve been an issue as the person sitting inside would cast a shadow etc. The sense of smell and taste weren’t coming out too well in this idea as well.
Our final idea was a very abstracted version of the previous two ideas, we had finally decided that we were going to focus on addiction and the side effects of gaming. So to bring that experience and engage all the different senses we decided merge our senses, because gaming is an audiovisual experience with touch felt by a console or a touch pad and of course the slouch created because of the seating position. Taste and smell come in secondary, but are equally as important. We wanted to show how harmful the effects of excessive gaming could actually be once their visuals are simplified and kept without an interesting plot or interface. We also wanted to make the viewer feel absolutely claustrophobic. To execute our idea, we constructed four different boxes. Each box had a computer screen in it and a very small and narrow opening on it for the audience to look into. These boxes were painted black on the outside as well as the inside to ensure no light passes through except for the light from the screen when the viewer is looking inside. All these boxes were kept at a considerably low height so that the viewer would have to stare at the screen while slouching that would get very uncomfortable later.
This is how we classified each of the senses to make the execution of our idea an easier process:
Sight – Video games use extremely fast moving visuals that keep on changing when it comes to motion and color. Usually these colors are extremely bright and vivid. Most of the time the game is a highly visual experience, so therefore we kept a video as a form of a visual in every box which was merged with another sense or feeling.
Sound – Music that would be extremely difficult and painful to listen to if it would be continuously played. So to recreate the same effect we used 8-bit sounds for each of our boxes.
Touch – The slouch that the gamers sit in for hours at a stretch every day and the numb fingers as a result of the constant grip and movement on a keyboard/ touchpad or controller.
Smell – Gamers are so deeply involved in the game; they aren’t affected by or notice the smell that surrounds them. A lot of them don’t even shower for days and just use a deodorant as a substitute. Other smells that gamers are used to are junk food, the stench of body odor and other awful scents such as stale food. Our aim was to recreate the same repulsive sense of smell that would get monotonous. We kept the extremely repellent smell of spray paint mixed with deodorant constant on each of our boxes to make the audience experience the same feeling.
Taste – Gamers usually tend to munch on junk food – chips, aerated drinks (any junk). So to recreate that feeling, we mixed our sounds with the crunching of chips and we kept some cake for the viewers to eat at intervals of each box.
The following visuals were paired up with annoying video game music:
Box 1: This is not straining to the eye.
White text runs across a red screen really fast and one is supposed to figure out what is says. We kept an 8-bit music in the background for this mixed with the sound of chips being munched on. This was the first box, so, we wanted our audience to warm up with the speed of the visuals and provoke them with the senses of eyestrain, the repulsive odors and the taste of junk food through memory.
Box 2: A dancing red dot on a neon screen.
A red dot kept moving really quickly from one part of the screen to another. It was placed on a neon green background and the longer you stare at the dot the more blinding it gets for the eye. This was accompanied with another 8-bit soundtrack that was playing at full volume and again merged with the constant smell of spray paint and deodorant. The aim of this box was to further irritate the viewer by an increase in the intensity of the audiovisual.
Box 3: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and You Win!
This box was supposed to cause the eyestrain at its peak. It had the words flashing on the screen really quickly with the color of the type changing to black and white back and forth, and simultaneously the background changing to all colors extremely quickly. It was supposed to mimic the visuals that cause epilepsy also and the 8-bit sound in the background was supposed to make the user feel even more traumatized.
Box 4: Typing test.
This box was supposed to recreate how the effect of excessive gaming strains and numbs your fingers. This box was intentionally placed right in the end after the intense audiovisual experience. The viewer was made to type on the screen using a touchpad (that he ideally wasn’t supposed to see). The construction of this box was a little tricky, as we did not have the ideal software and hardware. We mirrored our phone display on the computer screen and made our viewers type on the phone while we supervised them and made sure they did not look at the mobile display, but only stared at the screen.
On the top of the box, we made a Mario stencil print artwork.