HORROR AT MoPOP
The genre of Horror is one of the most challenging to pull off effectively. Good horror asks us to face common fears but must do so in an unpredictable way. Developing interactive horror experiences can be even more challenging. With MoPOP's recent refresh of their horror exhibit, "Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film," we took on the challenge to design an interactive installation that would be incorporated into the new space. We ended up with a design that we call ‘Sculpt’. This installation accepts user input in the form of touch and uses it to generate a horror-themed soundscape.
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INVESTIGATING THE DESIGN SPACE
The exhibit's current interactive is known as "Shadow Monsters," a piece that utilizes the shadows of viewers to create various monsters. We knew that the new interactive would need to be just as elegant and immediate, but had the opportunity to be more visually connected to the rest of the exhibition.
EXPLORING WHAT SCARES US
Our initial ideation attempted to cover a wide range of horror tropes and aesthetics without encroaching too heavily on themes already planned for the exhibit space. We worked to produce a variety of low fidelity sketches in order to communicate our various ideas.
A LACK OF CONTROL
Horror as a genre is defined by its protagonist's perceived inability to combat their antagonists. Our further explorations began to differentiate themselves based on how much control they offered a user and in how that control was communicated. We also began creating quick storyboards to describe the desired user flows.
OCCUPYING THE SPACE
Both the Nylon Soundscape and the Peek Portal were positively received due to their ability to lead museum-goers through the space and provide both passive and active modes of interaction. We then began to imagine how they might occupy the exhibition space and what form they might take.
Peek Portal was unique in that it could be either a singular, central experience (above), or could be spread throughout the entire exhibition space as more subtle and surprising experiences (below).
The physical interaction of touch involved in Sculpt posed several difficult challenges. We would need to implement a a method of sensing touch that was accurate but also durable. Several options were suggested including force-sensitive resistors, smart fabric, IR sensors, or simply ignoring the fabric and focusing on the movement of the ribs of the structure itself.