TRIP TO THE ARNOLFINI:
Above: You can see some photos that I took from my recent visit to the Arnolfini Contemporary Art Gallery in Bristol, they were showing an exhibition by the Egyptian Artist Basim Magdy, “his works on paper and in film, photography and slide projection reflect on the present social and political climate and our collective failure as, in the desire for progress, we repeat the same mistakes over and over again in a recurring cycle of aspiration, action and defeat”. The reason that I feel it is important to reference Magdy at this late stage in the project, is because I feel it was fortuitous that I went to see this exhibition because his work has such a strong link to our project. Specifically, his films which were on display at the Arnolfini (see images above). Magdy uses long crossfades between the clips in his films, there is a constant fluctuation in imagery slowly fading into the next shot and there are long periods where one moving image is translucent and layered on top of another video accompanied with ambient music. These films reminded me very much of the opacity slider element of our project, which we have developed and deployed to allow the user to interact with two videos by clicking and dragging their mouse across the screen, and much like Magdy’s films, in our experience, there can be long periods when the user chooses to have the video on top at 50% opacity, so that they can see both videos as a translucent video collage. The overall impression you get from watching Magdy’s films is a long collage of images which reference reality but uses text to hint at new meanings, and I’d hope we’d get a similarly powerful response from our finished video user experience.
Above: You can see images documenting Dadyr testing out the live version of ‘The Parallel’ user experience. Dadyr described ‘The Parallel’ as “almost seamless” and “something I’d be proud to show my uncle”. I’m really pleased with the feedback he gave us about our interactive website, specifically that he picked up on the fact it is seamless because that was one of the main objectives of the project, to make it intuitive and easy to use as well as being totally seamless like you were being transported back and forth between two different worlds or dimensions running totally in parallel with one another at the drag of a mouse, to draw attention to the stark contrast between the two environments and Dadyr’s uncles captivating story of a tough journey.
Overall I am very pleased with the outcome of this project, it has turned out and functions even better than I expected. However, the real success of this project, in my opinion, is the real life story that is attached to it. The journey which Dadyr’s uncle actually carried out, we are very grateful for how sordid and honest he was about his experiences, because, the story of his unimaginable journey, very much became the foundation on which the project was built around. We could have had lovely branding and a really well functioning website, but if the story had been completely fictitious, the interactive web-based user experience wouldn’t feel as personal and authentic. The only slight hurdle we had to overcome towards the end was, once we had exported the two separate videos out of Premiere as .mp4’s, one of which having the audio which we had recorded of Dadyr reading out his uncle’s story, we had problems with the videos loading inside of the web page, because the video files despite having a compressed bit rate were still too large for the browser, (specifically Safari) to handle the simultaneous download and playback and consequently the transfer between them was affected. In order to overcome this issue, we uploaded both of the videos to YouTube and embedded them in the opacity slider, by hosting them with YouTube the idea was that the download speed should be faster, consequently eliminating any potential stuttering playback of any of the videos. Once I hosted the videos on YouTube and integrated them with the opacity slider, the playback was much more responsive across a range of different browsers on both Mac and PC, eliminating any lack of browser support.
I feel we have successfully explored and answered all aspects of the brief, and everyone in the group has contributed their fair share towards the success of the project and played to their strengths very well. One of Mandy Roses’ criteria for what makes a successful project was; How can I express that in an elegant way? I feel we have expressed someone’s journey in an elegant way but without the strong story, the project would have lacked legitimacy. We also couldn’t have produced the opacity slider element of the website, without the help of Rod Dickinson whom we are very thankful for contributing so much of his time to the project, as the opacity slider is the main element of interactivity within our project. To check out the finished website click the image above or click here!