The ocean is arguably the most fascinating feature of our planet. The ocean means a lot to humans. It is the enabler of lives and the connectors of lands and of humans, yet it is also the site of many disasters and holds many dangers within. It is also a piece of the Earth of which we have so far been able to explore only a small piece of its whole area. While mankind has been able to explore deep into the outer space, we haven’t really conquered, or polluted, depends on the perspective, our own deep sea.
Hence, the ocean is an object of fear or awe or both at the same time for most cultures and across ages. Its vastness reminds people of how small they are, its ever changing nature brings about thoughts of instability and dangers. The myth and deep seated beliefs for sea monsters, gods and the likes are recited from almost all civilisations.
On the other hand, the ocean also possess amazing healing power that has since been associated with water, too. Scientifically, the sea contains a lot of beneficial minerals obtained from both the water and the ecosystems that live within it. For some, even, the view and sound of waves and water has relaxing properties. Beach resorts and recreational water sports continue to be very popular throughout ages, as well as the observed trend of aural therapy amongst the city dwellers.
This observation raises an line of thought process about the duality of nature, and the nature of fear itself. Why does a thing instil extreme fear in some and pure awe in others, and how do we reconcile with this nature of duality, which is often found in most things.
THE THALASSA PROJECT
This system revolves around a narrative that is a real, fictional story, crafted to communicate all those questions, reflections and to invite others into the experience of the discovery of this aspect of psychological duality.
In a more clear sense of focus, this project aims to bridge the two contrasting perspectives by the means of a fictional metaphorical story. In addition, it also seeks to inspire reflections in a more relaxing manner.
The story itself consists of two parallel narrative from two characters, both named Thalassa – a name borrowed from an ancient Greek sea goddess.
One of the Thalassa is a siren mermaid, who, despite having living her entire life in the ocean, is wary towards the sea. Her story is subtitled Thalassophobia – the fear of the sea. Being a mermaid, she has witnessed first hand, how dangerous the sea can be.
Her character is also a representative for those who have the condition Thalassophobia – a condition often stemmed from negative experience of the sea. A siren mermaid is also a mythical creature, a subtle nod to the illogical nature of a phobia, yet it exists all the same.
The other Thalassa is a sickly little girl with an active imagination. Being somewhat sheltered and lonely, this Thalassa has a penchant towards the mysteries, beauty and the nature of the oceans that she reads about in books. Her story is called Thalassotherapy – healing properties of the sea.
The child Thalassa represents most urbanites who despite being knowledgable, often have a tendency of naivety when it comes to the perception of nature and may come as shallow. Yet, their perspective too, might not be completely wrong.
I. Project Thalassa Colouring Book
The main product of the Project Thalassa is a two-in-one colouring book for all ages. Colouring book is a form of art therapy that has been proven to be effective as a form of relaxation and reflection.
The product features two nearly identical books, bound back to back on separate sides of spines yet connected as one. This method of assembly represents the contrasting view points of the same thing, often unreconciled and yet inseparable, likening fear and therapy as two sides of a coin.
The book contains five parts of the respective stories with hand-drawn illustrations inspired by the elements of the sea.
On one side we have the book dedicated to the Thalassophobia side (the mermaid perspective), indicated by the dark blue layout, darker tone of narrative and descending order in respect to the narrative – going from The Surface and ending at the Dark Water at the bottom of the sea.
On the other side, we have the Thalassotherapy side. Indicated by the pure white colour, childish, optimistic narrative and reversed order of illustration/chapters.
In both story, the same elements of the sea that induce both fear and awe are highlighted as scenes or chapters – going from the surface of the ocean to the rock bottom they are:
1. The vastness of sea in The Surface,
2. the scale of the sea in The Depth,
3. the force of the sea in The Undercurrent,
4. The richness and sea creatures in The Mystery, and
5. The lack of light underwater in Dark Water.
II. Trailer for a companion digital experience, an audio-visual narrative The World of Thalassa
Titled The World of Thalassa and hosted in the main website is a audio-visual experience, featuring all the illustrations in the book, animated digitally and accompanied by ambient soundscape tailored to each chapter/scene. This experience is best accessed when one has the colouring book at hand.
At the start of the program, the user will be greeted by the narrator and asked if they are scared or relaxed by the sea. Should they choose scared, Thalassa the sea-lover girl will continue the story from there in the Thalassotherapy package, featuring calmer and more relaxed nuance of the sound and visual movement, and vice versa for those who answer relaxed. This is in line with the aim of the project, which is to bridge the two sides and encourage mutual understanding between differing viewpoints.
The two product is best when utilized hand in hand. As the user got their storyline, they’ll be able to colour the illustrations while enjoying the soundscape and taking inspiration from the moving visual. The digital experience itself will keep looping until the user decides to forward it to the next chapter, allowing them to personalise their pace, soaking in the psychological concept.
III. Website for Project Thalassa
The website acts as a bridge between the two products and a vessel for the system. It contains link to the book order, hosts the free online audio-visual narrative and more detailed information about the project.
While the website contributes less of an original content, it acts as an organiser and a helper for users to make sense of the system and to draw the most out of it.