The Great Migration

with Jason E. Lewis, Obx Labs, Concordia University

The Great Migration is an interactive poem designed for large multi-touch screens. Jason E. Lewis asked us to give life to a static composition he had made using the Mr. Softie application. The composition, which looks like a tentacular animal, was to be displayed side by side with the interactive piece sharing a similar look-and-feel. We started by building prototypes to understand how the beasts could be dynamically generated, move, react, and be read by participants. This allowed us to quickly bounce ideas back and forth for the artwork with Lewis, who could write the text specifically for the interaction as it was developed.

The beasts, which are each made of one line of the poem, swim in the general direction of the current, matching the orientation of the static composition. The participants can read the poem by grabbing one of the beasts, which releases the words it is made of in a readable order, while the other beasts disperse, frightened by the participants' touch. When a beast swims out of the screen's boundary, a new one is spawned to create the continuous flow. We conducted simple user studies to determine if people understood the interaction correctly, and most importantly, if they read and remembered the poem as a whole, or in parts.

This project was built with Processing to speed up the prototyping and development process, to exploit some of the functionalities of the NextText library, and to match the ongoing series of work produced at Obx Labs.