Taking a turn in another direction because of an interest in culture with Specious Spaces Korean-inspired classroom, Dearest Friends was completed in ACCAD 5102 and utilized keyboard and mouse interactions that rely on exploration to uncover poetry, data, and facts that are associated to different cities in 11 different countries over 5 continents. My focus was to experiment with ways to integrate information from multiple countries to create connections and to allow for cultural exchanges. During this project, I ventured out into gathering information from friends and family in addition to online sources to create more personality and honesty in the design.
When we were asked to take data and transform them into a visual, I automatically thought of numbers, but the problem was, what values did I even want and how could I transform it into something visually appealing or fun? That is when I remembered the question, “How is the weather there?” I remember hearing this a lot the first time I left for college. It was a way for my parents and even my little brother to check in on me and to see if I was ok. Today, this question is a way for me to connect with friends and family around the world. Being in various climates and environments, temperature is a glimpse into a state that influences our actions and test our endurance to heat or cold, but it is also a potential door for laughs, discussion, and friendship. This is when I decided that I would create a graph that took the weather on a particular day from places my family and friends are located and create a piece that felt warm.
My plan was through color, scale, and number, you could see similarities between regions or great differences. However, I also wanted it to be a reminder of unity and a place where knowledge is translated, like how many of my friends abroad have shared their culture. In addition, I wanted the data to have a really friendly tone, so I rounded a lot of the edges and imported new fonts. I really played around with color palette and went with a softer color scheme. Below were some of the quick sketches and re-working I did before moving into P5.JS.
Besides the bar graph of temperatures from a March 2, 2021, the graph offers a lot of exploration. This project is also special because I gathered the data from friends and family and also asked for help gathering fun facts from their locations. By clicking on the page, fun facts change pertaining to one of the eleven cities. If one explores the page further, there is a hidden quote on friendship.
Stills from the video.
Following Dearest Friends, I thought it was valuable to re-visit the idea of getting to learn and explore more cultures. I decided that I wanted to make a second version but expanding on the idea of interactivity and style. It was important that I considered different regions of the world instead of keeping it too heavily focused on one specific part of the world. In a way, I see this as a version 2 of Dearest Friends and a prototype to a larger educational app, where users can explore anywhere in the world and learn new facts or words.
I wanted to give a background to the project, so my main premise was as if visiting Earth for the first time and learning about different aspects, like language and food. I decided to go with two language pages (Spanish and Russian) and two food pages (Korean and Moroccan). I went through and sketched a bunch of different interactions. However, with limited programming skills, I decided it would be best to keep the interactions simplified.
For the style, I wanted it to have a childlike and illustrative quality, so I drew all the photos with a chalk pen instead of downloading images online. For me, it felt more cohesive and inviting.
While there are still many areas that can be fixed, like food becoming magnets to each other, the project provided a really interesting examination of an interactive space with multiple layers of engagement, which I had not worked with before.
- How to bring others’ cultural experiences into a project?
- What ways can other programs outside animation, like P5.JS, be used to address the integration of cultural learning?
- How interactions are best for providing new knowledge pertaining to culture?