Discomfort Final Project Pitch

For my final project, I would like to go towards the "A Serious Conversation" route. 


I rarely use my actual phone number these days to talk voice to voice with people. There are so many chat applications that have implemented online phone calls, that my actual phone number has been rendered almost obsolete. When the network is bad, there would be a delay sending my voice data from my phone to the other person's phone. I would sometimes say something and then half a second later, hear my own voice on the other side. It's distracting but I've gotten kind of used to it. I want to explore this slightly annoying feature and utilize this feeling in my final project.


My proposal is to create an application that resembles Marina Abramovic's "The Artist is Present" piece. The application would essentially be an online video chat application used by two people. Everything is normal at first. However, as time passes, the delay between the users sending and receiving their video data would grow. The delay would increase gradually, going from a couple millisecond delay to several seconds. I would like to see how this gradual growth of delay would affect the speech and communication between two users. The delay would eventually grow to a suitable amount for the users to be essentially looking at each other in silence, as they realize that their ability to communicate has been rendered almost useless. The application would then gradually, at a slightly faster pace than previously, return back to normal. 

The type of discomfort would be both Control and Intimacy. Control due to the fact that the users' ability to communicate slowly deteriorates, and Intimacy since the users are forced to look at each other through screens.

Discomfort Journey 2

In one of my previous projects, Embodied Violence in Film, I created an interactive film that allowed users to interact with violent scenes in films. The violent actions were all physical actions that utilized the users own body, so punching and kicking. I wanted to take the same concept to another level by introducing external weapons. In my original project, most users would see my project as a fun way to exercise while watching a movie. I think this was due to the fact that although users were copying the same violent actions as the actors in the films, there was nothing physical for them to interact with. I believe that introducing hard tangible objects to the project would enhance the empathy a user would feel for the characters in the film.

One movie scene that I always found gut wrenching was a death scene in Saving Private Ryan. It involves a US soldier getting slowly stabbed by an enemy German soldier. By introducing an object for them to hold, it would simulate the user as the one plunging the knife. The initial state of the user would be the user holding an object that felt similar to a knife and the hand holding the "knife" would be held above the user's head. The user's knife hand would then be the controller for the above clip. The video would play at the same rate as the movement of the hand in the Y axis. 



Discomfort Journey 1

I often forget about messages I've received through texts and email. It's rare for me to ignore someone on purpose. Sometimes I'm in the middle of something important and I automatically dismiss and forget about them. Sometimes I'm half asleep or inebriated and I'm not in the best state to respond. It happens! 


One of the more uncomfortable feelings I get is I look back at past messages and realize that I totally ignored someone for more than a week. Multiply that feeling by 10x if read receipts were turned on. I think that this feeling of uncomfortableness can be utilized to help me and others like me to get better at being responsive and respectful to others.

What is the feeling? I am uncomfortable because in my mind it lowers my reputation as a reliable person. My own fear of what others will think of me enhances these feelings. I imagine design solution to this problem would be to bury me more into this feeling.

My solution to this problem I have is to simulate further messages from people that I have forgotten to respond back to. For example, let's say my mom texted me "We miss you back at home! When are you coming back?" I get the text but I clear my notifications by accident so I never see it. I propose an application that detects when you have not replied to any message received after a set amount of time, let's say 2 hours. The application would then fake a text from that specific person with a guilt ridden message like "Nevermind, just forget about it." These types of messages would definitely get my attention, increasing my anxiety to force me to check the texts. Of course, when I check the text, the application would inform me that it was not a real text. However, hopefully this feeling of discomfort would encourage me to reply back to my mom with a greater sense of empathy.