Creative Project – Exegesis
Over the semester, I found that the reading I thought about with the most was the Week Five reading by OShaugnessy and Stadler, detailing Carl Jung, the psychologist who ‘discovered’ active imagination, the process in which a person allows themselves to ‘descend’ into the realm of their unconscious imagination, where their mind takes control and shows visions. Engaging in the art of playing with building blocks, as he had done as a young child, Jung rediscovered the sense of fun and enjoyment he found had eluded him for so many years. It was then, as he played, that he found his mind slipping away, and descending into his unconscious.
This fascinated me immensely as I read the reading. I experience a very similar feeling, one that I think we as a class felt when we did that imagination exercise about the forest, stream and brick wall; yet until reading this description on paper I had struggled to describe it successfully or give it any tangibility. Discovering the phrase ‘active imagination’ changed all that. I decided I would like to create my project based around the concept of the active imagination, making it relevant to my Game Design major.
In the reading I found several quotes, by Jung, as well as OShaugnessy and Stadler in observation of Jung’s writings that intrigued me, largely to do with the idea of the dark side of the active imagination, where the unconscious ‘takes control’ and the person loses their sense of reality, in a rather nightmarish Matrix-style ‘what’s real, what’s not’ sense. In particular, the quote that really got me thinking was Jung stating, “Everyone knows nowadays that people ‘have complexes’. What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us.” The way I interpreted this was that although people know about active imagination, it’s not as well known that you could (theoretically) lose control of the active imagination, and have it turn against you. It’s a wonderfully romantic yet horrific concept, and something that hooked me straight away.
Doing Game Design and Culture I wanted to create my own ‘machinina’, coined from the terms ‘machine’ and ‘cinema’, in other words a movie utilizing video game footage to tell a story. Machinima has really taken off over the past 5 or 6 years, with individuals like John CJG (famous for his ‘Arby n the Chief’ series) and teams like Rooster Teeth (creators of Red vs Blue) achieving legend-status on the internet as a result of their films. Both have used the Halo video game series; regarded as the most advantageous game available for creating machinima. It was my aim throughout this project to create something similar to these series, but at the same time to expand on it and offer my own version of the method. For me, this extension was incorporating live action into the movie alongside the videogame footage.
My aim of my movie is to tell a story, the story I envisaged right at the beginning of Week 5 when I read the reading, a ‘what if’ story of someone who engages in active imagination but slowly loses their grip on reality, losing their mind in the process. Jung speaks of ‘rites of passage’ into the unconscious imagination, listing activities of individual enjoyment such as painting, writing, sculpture and drawing. Having had an artistic childhood I chose to use drawing as my symbolic rite of passage. Opening with my choice quote of Jung’s, with my completion of a picture of a man in a suit of futuristic armour, I used symbolism throughout the story to give my meaning, this section symbolising my character’s transition or ‘descent’ into his active imagination. At first my character, after an initial moment of shock and disorientation, seems to adapt well to this strange new environment, before being thrust into a life and death struggle, culminating in a gunfight and bloodshed, echoing Jung’s concept of the unconscious leading first, then the conscious taking over.
My character’s story continues – just as he thinks he is about to embark on a great adventure aboard his new vehicle, everything changes again, and he finds himself suddenly ‘back’ in the real world, with again, no idea of how he got there. Things start to go downhill, as my character and the audience gradually realise that he has no control of what’s happening to him. Duly, the episodes continue, and although he fights for all he can, his fear and distress become increasingly plain to see. In this part I added in another quote, this one from OShaugnessy and Stadler saying, “The ability over time to bear the tension between the conscious and unconscious is the essence of active imagination”, in order to highlight how my character is not coping with the intense trauma of the sensation.
In the final scene I included the Jung’s ominous warning, “The major danger of the method involves being overwhelmed by the powerful effects, impulses and images of the unconscious…” which really set up my final show. The closing stages depict my character at ‘the end of the road’ in a sense; at a point where all hope for him is lost. Even though he is stumbling about in the real world, he ‘isn’t really there’ – his mind is trapped in the unconscious, the world of the active imagination, and he has no control anymore, symbolic of the ideas posed in the quotes, particularly the opening one, stating that ‘complexes can have us’, despite it beginning the other way around.
As far as I know no real life-game film like this has really been done before. Machinima is usually just game footage only, with no real life scenes whatsoever, whilst the psychology of Jung and the Active Imagination is only truly explored in his memoirs and lecture papers, as well as in papers of his followers and historians. I believe that something like this-an amalgamation of live action and machinima-could go quite far in the creativity industry these days, particularly in the Culture aspect of the Game Design industry (the field I intend to go into). I view this project and it occurs to me that it is an combination of two similar, yet different industries, two similar yet different worlds, which have been brought together-Jung’s conceptual world of the theory and imagination, and our contemporary, action-oriented world of technology and achievability.
I feel privileged to have been able to tell this story. I hope people take meaning from this movie in some form or another – I for one found myself having an emotional response as I watched the final montage scenes with the music inserted the first time. I also feel strangely refreshed, and more knowledgeable and appreciative of my and our world than before.
These are the images that I thought I had lost with my USB earlier in the semester. Even during my earlier years I was quite interested in the concept of destiny and fate. I often wondered how my life would turn out and what kind of person I would become. The way I looked at things, there were two outcomes; a ‘good’ outcome where I would emerge a ‘good guy’, or a ‘bad’ outcome where I tip over the edge; ideas that I explored through images such as these ones (within the story of ‘boy-gets-superpowers-and-must-choose-his-fate’, always a classic. Interesting, the bottom image ties in very nicely with Jung’s concept of the ‘shadow side’, that ‘evil’ aspect of ourselves that we must supposedly confront and nullify. Perhaps these images, which I made so long ago, have subconsciously sat at the back of my mind over the course of semester, lending themselves quietly to my decisions and thought process…
2. You may be familiar with programs such as The Apprentice where individuals develop ideas for a product or company and present it to a group of professionals for evaluation and the possibility of funding or employment.
a. For this exercise you will divide up into groups, ideally according to your disciplines (e.g. visual artists in one group, photomedia in another) and come up with and develop a project or business setup idea (for a design project, an exhibition, short film, seeding and development grant etc), and prepare a pitch to a funding and resources body.
Your pitch should include most of the following 10 points, common to design briefs:
1. Project Objectives LollyLand: a real life version of the fantasy ‘Willy-Wonka-chocolate-factory’, where kids (and adults) can come and create their own unique brands of confectionary
2. Product/Business Features The ability for kids to make their own lollies, something that as far as we can tell has never been done before outside ‘flavour combo’ lollies (which still come in packets)
3. Project Brand/Personality Very child and family friendly. Bright colours and smiling faces. A brand of excitement and wonder-the kind of atmosphere Disneyland is now famous for.
4. Target Audience (Market) Kids. Ages from 6 and up, although the intention is also for an adult ‘gourmet-connoisuerr’ section to draw in a larger consumer base.
5. Consumer Benefits (Profit) Custom lollies, exactly the way the customer wants them to taste
6. Competition and Competitiveness Existing brands such as Nestle, The Natural Confectionary Company, Mars, Coke etc.
7. Requirements and Budget A warehouse-sized building to fit everything in. A budget of 15 million dollars to do field research, conduct focus consumer testing, find (and/or build if needed) premises, construct equipment, buy ingredients, fund the marketing campaign, and hire staff.
8. Schedule and Deadline LollyLand launches on January 5th, 2015.
9. Creative and Practical Decisions/Constraints Major constraint is the actual design and construction process of the lollies, ie. how long would lollies take to make? How would the actual design and creation work? Would the kids make them themselves, or would they place an order to a cook and watch from an observation platform as the process takes place? Cleanliness would be a concern, if a kid is sick they could spread it to hundreds of other people.
10. Single Most Important Point ‘LollyLand-Your Lollies, Your Way!’
I’m very nearly there now. I’ve began adding in the music, it truly brings the mood of the movie I was trying to create to life. I was quite fortunate that Halo: Reach tells the story of an ultimately doomed planet, for as a result the game’s soundtrack is both one of triumph and tragedy in equal measures. I’ve bought the album off iTunes and am in the process of cutting up sections of music to stick into the movie.
I’d been waiting for quite a while for this lecture to roll around-at last, a gaming lecture! And Priscilla Harding didn’t disappoint.
Technology at the moment is steadily creeping into the education industry. Primary schools in particular are a big target of technological brands. Sure, each class has has a computer in the corner for years now; however we’re now seeing the emergence of stories like Nintendo DS consoles being used in classrooms to help teach maths, spelling and the like. Personally, I think the idea’s rubbish, since you’re asking for trouble when you hand a kid a games console and turn your back on them- the little scamp’s going to pocket the thing in a flash. However, I can’t deny the idea has merit, whether I like it or not.
Kids are fascinated by technology, simple fact. The concept of edu-tainment is one that the education industry needs to get spot on, for if they don’t they’re going to regret it. My parents are primary school teachers, and I’ve had the ‘good’ fortune to spend a day with them as they teach a class of 10 year olds. Even 10 year olds have phones nowadays, and teachers have huge problems keeping them off them-the pollies in charge of the school system have to go in professionally about this ‘technology-in-the-classroom’ thing, or not bother at all. It can’t be half baked. If it were up to me, they’d be staying well away from the whole field.
As Priscilla Harding said, there’s fine line to tread between a game being too tedious and education-oriented (something that kids will see through immediately) and too light on the education (in other words, a ‘videogame’. Something that kids will simply waste time on and learn nothing from.
They key in my mind is to make an educational videogame that is fun to play, above all. That’s the problem with existing games out there-they’re too boring to be considered effective. Hope Lab’s Remission is a good example of this – sure it doesn’t appeal to me, but that’s because I’m not the target audience. Scientific surveys revealed that young cancer sufferers actually showed health improvement after a few weeks of playing the game! A perfect case that the new technology that everybody’s in love with today has the potential to do a world of good for user demographics, it just needs to be utilised properly.