Thesis – Week One Research, and thoughts on the next steps

February 3, 2019 Thesis

Thesis Concept: Exploring the experiences black children and young adults have as they learn to navigate their world. Specifically dealing with the talk, police brutality, and situations dealing with authority figures.

Who’s it for: My initial thought, is that this project is for non-Black POCs/Caucasian people. The goal being to help others understand the black experience through our eyes. And not just for Conservatives, but also for those who consider themselves to be Liberal. There’s plenty of folks on the left who engage in performative allyship.

Research:  Over the past week I’ve been looking for installation projects that have similar themes. While several of them are either films, video installations, or interactive web projects, I’ve also found a couple of VR/360 projects that have been inspiring.

PBS’ ‘The Talk, Race in America‘ is, in their own words, a two-hour documentary about the increasingly necessary conversation taking place in homes and communities across the country between parents of color and their children, especially sons, about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police. Not only is it a documentary, but its website also contains videos, news, and a discussion board.

What it does well: Conveys sometimes painful information in respectful way. Challenges the viewer to reckon with racism.

What could have been done differently: There’s a great deal of good stuff here, and while I don’t know what could be done differently in the format they’ve chosen, a interactive, or some component that the viewer could ‘take home’ after viewing would be good.

Question Bridge: Black Males is a Transmedia project that facilitates a dialogue between Black men. It’s a platform to represent and redefine Black male identity in America. A documentary style video installation, it’s been expanded to include an interactive website, mobile app, and education curriculum for high school students.

What it does well: It makes it easy for Black men to participate around the country, sets up community engagement events, and provides bite sized, impactful information in an easy to consume platform.

What could’ve been done differently: I found the platform to be difficult to use at times. The website was often slow for me, and froze more than once. Which is a shame, because there’s a lot to appreciate. The mobile app worked better for me, however.

I Am a Man is an interactive VR experience that lets people experience the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, and the events leading up to the assassination of MLK Jr.

What it does well: Places the viewer in the shoes of a sanitary worker who’s striking. Good use of music, video, and voiceover to help the viewer understand the gravity of the situation.

What Could’ve been done differently: Of the three, this project was closer to what I’d initially wanted to do. I found the trailer to be very interesting, and wished I’d picked up a google cardboard to watch it on. From what I could see, there was very little to make it interactive, even as it’s the most immersive of the three.

Thoughts on what’s next: Going forward, I’m planning on digging a little deeper on how I’d like to execute my concept. While I’m feeling rather strongly about using VR/360 Video, I do realize that having not done a lot with either format means that it’d probably be an uphill battle to get my skills up to where I’d want them to be for thesis. So, it might be a good time to re-evaluate my options. Still, I’m planning on diving into some tutorials this week to get a feel for working with vr a bit.

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