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Analysis of Design Concept
This project is an interesting take on the multimedia experience. Conceptually it is multiple projects in one; a group of scholars produced their own “biography” of a material object, and then connected that object with a theme they wished to explore within their specific field – for example, an embroidered condom represents the marginalization of Asian gay men and their subsequent attempts to stand out. The project engaged the viewer by allowing him/her to pick an individual approach to the content. It explains in the beginning pages that the project is intended to be similar to a conversation rather than essay-istic. Like a conversation, the viewer is able to veer off on tangents (or longer explanations of a particular object).You can wander through the projects in any way you choose, however, whether by the objects themselves, their histories, or their scholarly reflections; or, one can choose to go through each project one at a time. What is unique is that all these exploration options are present on the screen at the same time, allowing the user to have their own experiences with the projects and not just a linear, text-based experience. The navigation of the project works well with the design of the
project itself. The main objects that appear in the design are circles and pluses. When moving between narratives you are able to move right, left, up and down... much like a plus (+) sign. Yet like a circle, the ever changing content keeps the viewer interested and eventually takes him/her full circle through the entire discussion, but is not so rigid as to make the user feel trapped in the project. We particularly liked the use of color to identify each narrative. Although the navigation became complicated at times, color identification for each subject was incredibly useful.
As the project’s introduction states, this technique allows each essay and its related object to “represent multiple threads of an exchange,” and as “segments of a broader, collective conversation.” We thought the project was engaging and seemingly random at times, mirroring a real-life conversation. Pictures for each topic was the closest the viewer was able to get to each physical object. Each object was mentioned as a starting off point to a later discussion of another related subject. It was effective in producing a very non-linear reading and learning process. At the end of the experience, we felt that we were looking at objects around me in a more global sense, so I felt that the project was not only effective in establishing the sense of a conversation but also in promoting this scholarly exchange in the users’ own settings.
- Jess and Elissa, Los Angeles, 10.09.2007