Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Adaptation B: Idea Tweaks

After having a few discussions, I think I need to tweak my idea slightly. Firstly, I think I may focus more on body dysmorphia rather than overall 'mental illness' or anxiety. Part of this is because I feel that anorexia and body dysmorphia is seen a lot less in animation or video games in comparison to other mental illnesses. I find that its often unlikely that people understand anorexia/body dysmorphia in comparison to the others, so finding a way to express what it's like to others could be interesting.

In an attempt to describe body dysmorphia into words, I'm going to use one example but I know this differs from person to person. For one person, body dysmorphia could mean that person is unable to recognise themselves in a mirror...this could just be isolated to their body or it could include both their body and their face. For example, if someone with body dysmorphia was cloned or had an identical twin and had to pick that clone out of a group of other individuals, they may struggle to pick which one was the clone/twin. Someone with body dysmorphia may also find that their appearance constantly changes, and features that they notice one day may no longer be present the next day...for example, one day that person may think that their eyes are too far apart or are strangely shaped but the next day they may think the opposite. Another example is one day that person may think they are overweight but the next they do not, or they may think they are even more overweight than the other day (or throughout the day this changes) when in reality nothing has changed. Overall, the person's perception of their physical body is not reality and is not what other people see.

This is often difficult for people to understand unless they have experienced it before. This is similar to anorexia which, despite it having the highest mortality rate out of any other mental illness, is often respond with awkwardness and confusion. Often people frustratingly say "why don't you just eat" or "you don't look anorexic anymore" depending on the situation. The idea that a person does not feel hunger, ignores instincts to eat, or physically/mentally cannot get themselves to eat unless forced is bizarre to many people.

Both of these things are chemical imbalances in the brain, or sort of 'glitches'. And that leads me to a few ideas I had in regards to my project. Instead of going for the obvious representation of these feelings I have in my mind that are obviously grotesque mutated body forms, after getting feedback I think it may be more useful to simplify this down so more people can understand it instead of just being immediately disgusted or spooked. So using either a simple shape or later on using a model of the average human body, I'd want to experiment both in Maya and Mudbox and see different ways I could 'break' the model or morph it. For example, I could experiment with different automated processes in Maya such as rigging, skinning, or animation and see what it does to the model.

The reasoning behind this is because this automated processes are things that should just work, like how the human brain should be able to recognise its own body or how a living thing should just be able to eat...but people suffering with these mental illnesses struggle to do so. Basically, I want to try and use glitches and broken things in these software and see what it does to these forms and then I want to populate a space with these broken objects as a way to try and express these illnesses and feelings. I feel that the glitches and broken things I can use in Maya in itself could provide an uncanny experience/environment, even if it is not obviously so.

I think using some of the tools in Mudbox may be interesting to do this as well (I already sometimes do this when trying out new tools, only I undo it instead of working with the mistakes), or build upon things that I could make in Maya Obviously I am unsure exactly how to present these things at the moment, until I experiment more...but someone has already suggested possibly doing some sort of VR art gallery of these ever decaying, changing forms so that may be interesting. Perhaps finding other procedurally generated processes in Maya could produce interesting results as well. Overall, I want to take things that 'should just work' but are 'glitched', 'broken' or just wrong in some way and trying to present them in a way that compares them to how body dysmorphia and anorexia can affect some individuals.

Apologies for the long text post, but my previous posts were lacking in text and I've been struggling to articulate my ideas. I hope this is more on the right track, and I'm hoping my ability to put my ideas into more proper words is a positive sign. I'm also including a few videos that may not seem relevant but some I find interesting visually and I think may have interesting methods to explore (such as 2016 AICP Sponsor Reel by Method Studios). Some of the other videos I like the tone and may be something I may want to take influence from.