Design Research

Approaching projects from the angle of design research was engrained into me since my time at Art Center. This approach considers & explores users' views of themselves, as well as their interactions with one another and the design projects themselves.


Paper Balloons - iPhone App - 2009-2010

Paper Balloons is a design experiment and part of my graduate thesis, Empathetic Play. I collaborated with a programmer while making all design decisions, prototyping, artwork, and animation myself.

The world of Paper Balloons is one of quiet fantasy and inward thought, where users have their own floating island in the sky on which to meditate. From time-to-time small, candle-lit, paper balloons will float down onto their island with notes inside from other people on other islands, somewhere out in the sky. These notes can contain writing or drawings about others' worries, hopes, fears, or thoughts on the world and their own lives. Sometimes these notes are funny & uplifting, sometimes they are remorseful & sobering. They are always meant to be introspective.

Paper Balloons has currently won the "Innovation" award at the 2009 iDMAa Conference and was a Finalist in the 2010 SXSW Casual Game Design Competition.

It is available for download on the iTunes Store.



Media Response (to Walter Benjamin)- Flash - 2007

This is a media response to ideas put forth by media theorist, Walter Benjamin in his book, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." The response specifically looks at Benjamin's idea of original artwork having an aura which is lost if it is mass-produced. The question is asked if there is any way to translate this aura into or from the video game medium.


Whisper Stones - Interactive Installation - 2009

Whisper Stones was a design experiment and part of my graduate thesis, Empathetic Play. Whereas Paper Balloons is an entirely virtual, high-tech exploration of 'Empathetic Play', Whisper Stones was a completely tangible, very low-tech exploration of the same idea.

The original idea for the installation was inspired by Carl Jung's writing on dream symbolism and people's universal attraction to certain objects as metaphors (stones representing people, strength, comfort, etc). After a couple of design tests, it quickly became apparent that the same idea behind Paper Balloons could be explored through the Whisper Stones.

The interactive installation was set up in public parks around Pasadena in late 2009. A large stone sat on top of a plinth. Users were instructed to lift the stone and hide a whisper beneath it, capturing the whisper for another user to release. Once another user picked the stone back up, the previous whisper would be played back once and released forever.






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