Lost: Connections is an interactive exploration of the characters and storylines of the television show Lost. It will provide a new, spatial way to experience the relationships and narrative of the show by mapping the many connections between the characters and allowing the audience to interact with them in a non-linear way. Through both a two-dimensional and three-dimensional cartography of the island, new sensations and a deeper understanding of the show’s complex story arc and characters can be revealed. A map of the character’s connections will be presented in a two dimensional plane; moving and interacting with the map will reveal the scenes in a three-dimensional environment that is projected in front of the audience.
narrative. map. drama. story. depth. labyrinth. entertainment.
The general scope is an audience’s engagement with a piece of entertainment, and the usually invisible elements that make that work interesting in the first place. By allowing the audience to interact with the story elements themselves (as opposed to, a specific character used as a protagonist as a video game), the appreciation for the structure of the story will be enhanced, as well as the audience’s investment in that structure.
In this case we are looking specifically at the many connections between the characters. For Lost, I have broken these down into the following types:
- coincidental connections: perhaps the most compelling element of this particular show. The many surprising and all-too-perfect ties that we see during flashbacks and personal revelations lead us to appreciate both the other-worldly nature of the island, as well as the skill with which the writers have constructed this world.
- flirtations: the tantalizing and enthralling almost-but-not-quite romantic relationships between some of the characters on the island
- romantic: flirtations that have been physicalized, either on or off the island.
- related: characters who are related, by blood or marriage.
- friendship: natural bonds that have developed between the characters based on their personalities.
- trial-by-island: the traumas and obstacles that are surmounted by the characters as they fight for survival on the island, which sometimes (but not always) bring them much closer together.
The audience chooses which of these types of connections to interact with, and then gets to re-experience (through audio-visual cues in a three-dimensional space) how they have been manifested through the course of the show.
2- How to introduce your project to someone who does not know about it?
The intent is to provide a viewer with at least 5 or 10 minute journey through these connections and have a chance to experience some of the same satisfaction (and frustration) that occurs when watching the show over the course of the season.
Fans of the show are the obvious audience, but also anyone who is looking for a non-traditional way to experience popular entertainment.
A viewer would start by looking at a small screen which would be an overhead view of the island and the different characters on the island; a large projection in front of this small screen would suggest in 3D a location on the island. Choosing a type of connection and then a character would reveal a path on the smaller screen; selecting points along that path would cause the camera in the 3D environment to move, revealing audio and/or video that show that particular connection.
Compared to Similar Projects
There are plenty of interactive ‘games’ that attempt to recreate parts of a games storyline; often they are linear and are forced to invent their own structure and version of events to justify the game. Or they fail to capture the things that make the show interesting in the first place. Even the official’s website has a Lost “Survival Game” for instance, which revolves around the user navigating the island while avoiding being attacked by wild boar. People don’t watch lost for wild boar, and while survival is an important part of the show, I would argue that the connections that the characters make are a bigger part of their survival than any particular skills they possess.
As far as establishing these connections through audio and video, I have the entire first season and all the episodes of the second season to extract cues from. There are also dozens of websites devoted to the show, and which detail many of the types of connections and plot elements that I’m interested in.
As for the creation of the project itself, I imagine a lot of this could be done with flash. I have done an initial mockup of the 2D portion of the environment, and while my actionscript chops are not that great, I could probably get it all to work.
I don’t anticipate much hardware difficulty; really an lcd monitor and a projector with screen, which ITP has several. It might be nice to allow the navigation on the 2D map to take place without a mouse, which would need some sort of touch screen probably, but it’s not an absolute necessity.
The 3D environment is just a dream I have, and one that I don’t really have the skills to generate at this point. I’d love to involve someone with 3D experience to help create this environment, and to help make it interact with the 2D space. If that doesn’t work, then I could always pare down the concept by faking it with looped audio and video in a browser window or quicktime movie that would change when the 2D flash map called for it.
I also think to make the engagement truly rich, I might need some help with the actionscript/flash side of things, to provide a little more intelligence and automation to creating these connections (i.e., assigning properties to different characters and having the connections generated programatically based on these properties.) I understand how to do this conceptually but might need help in implementing it.
How to get those resources?
Ask the class for the 3D wizards, after-effects gurus and flash-mavens (paging David Bamford!) to join in this endeavor.