Yellow Design Cooperation Part 1: Old Cavendish Square
For the last unit of this year, we are working in cooperation with a company specialized in augmented reality, called Yellow Design. Augmented reality describes a technique to super impose digital content over the real world. Google glass and Pokemon Go are two examples. Yellow Design uses an application for mobile phones that uses the camera and, I assume, GPS to film the environment and position the digital content therein. One of their projects was a digital, life-sized version of the ship “Titanic” that you could see when you turned on your phone camera at the docks in Belfast. Yellow Design is hired as part of the £150 million redevelopment project of Oxford Street by Westminster City Council.
Our initial briefing was vague with lots of information coming in one after another. In the end we are supposed to deliver an interactive digital sculpture with 6 information panels, offering insight into the area around Cavendish Square. We work in groups of 5 from which the best ideas will be picked.
On the first day, we researched historical facts and background information and threw some ideas around. My groupmate, Rhianna, proposes a 3D map of the area on the floor with the panels hovering over it. We all like the idea and when we presented it to our tutor, he recommended to make it more interactive, create a clear path from one interest point to the next in the map and to think about what maps are and generally how we can make it more interesting.
In the meantime, I found out that Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels used to live near Cavendish Square. This is beautifully fitting with our miniature map of the area. The observer could slip into the role of Gulliver and look upon the area they are in as a giant. We are also thinking about having 3 different maps: past, present and future versions of the area. Our tutor further encourages us to link the panels to a unifying theme and make it cotemporally relevant. We are also told that 3 panels are portrait and 3 are landscape, which really does not look good on the map.
I created a pre-visualisation for the map in blender and Adobe Photoshop. There is a useful tool, called GIS, that allows you to download the height data for any map in the world, including buildings, into blender. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNtKnmRXVlo)
I found it a good idea to have the buildings stylized, by having one or two iconic buildings per street. This would make the map look much better and we would not need to model 50+ buildings.
I’m also playing around with the grease pencil to draw on textures in order to achieve the sketchy look we wanted them to have. However, the pencil disappears as soon as I export the model as an .obj.
During one of our team meetings, we decided to use the themes in Gulliver’s Travels on the panels. The first panel would apply the “Ancients vs Moderns” debate in book 4 of Gulliver’s Travels to the history of the area. The second panel would use the “Individual vs Society” theme to talk about the famous people living in the area. The third would use the theme of alienation through clothing to discuss the contrast between global and native clothing brands on Oxford Street. The fourth we struggle with finding a link between Gulliver’s Travels and commercialism. The last two would cover a general introduction to Jonathan Swift and a future vision of the area. The latter was something Yellow Design encouraged us to.
For the “Ancient vs Moderns” panel, I sketched up some historic characters that would tell their part of history to the observer.
The next days we will research more historical facts and interest points for our map idea.