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Life in Death

Water > Pacific Ocean > Deep sea > Sea > Dead Sea > Israel > Water supply >  Jordan > Arabs > War > Palestine

This is a rough outline of the research process from the word “water” to what I am doing, titled “Life in Death”. The irony and metaphorical meaning of the Dead Sea is the main theme of this project.

The Dead Sea is dead. Due to its salinity, making the environment extremely harsh to live in, no living thing can flourish under such circumstances and hence, it’s name. However it being dead, life still thrives. The mineral left behind in the dead sea and the minerals that are washed up ashore has known healing properties for curing skin diseases, curing their skin problems. The minerals are also used in skin products as it also promotes renewal of cells. People flock to the dead sea because of these healing properties and some, also to have fun in the water as human bodies can float effortlessly in the water because of it’s salinity.

Ironically, the countries surrounding the Dead Sea are not as peaceful as the Dead Sea. Israel, Palestine and Jordan are neighbouring countries around the Dead Sea, however, they are always having disputes and fights, and sometimes even war. Many innocent lives are lost in this never-ending disagreements between them. The tension of these 3 countries have been going on for many many years, and still on-going till this day.

Despite all the deaths around the Dead Sea in Israel, Jordan and Palestine, it still sits peacefully right in the middle of them three geographically.

Could they be metaphorically like the Dead Sea?
Could there still be life in death for them?

 


 

A contemporary art exhibition space will be set up to convey this message.
Accompanying a booklet that will be available at the exhibition space as a take-away for the visitors.
And a poster, promoting this exhibition space.


 

 

Exhibition

A top down flat-lay view of the exhibition space.
Literally taking the concept words of “Life in Death” to the overall layout of the exhibition.

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Overview of exhibition space.
The walls are the walls of the border between Israel and Palestine. There will be a levered tank of Dead Sea water in the middle circle section and a pile of Dead Sea salt in the middle of it. The exhibition booklet will then be placed on top of the pile of salt where people can take home.
The exhibition is design in such a way where people coming from the respective section of the “Death” layer will cross-path in the middle “Life” section in order to see the other sections from the “Death” layer.

 

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The writings of the accounts of people in the country regarding the other two neighbouring countries.
A gun wrapped in their respectively flag hangs in the middle of the section representing the war and deaths present in their countries.

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Flat layout of the countries in the “Death” layer.

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Architectural model of exhibition layout

 

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Booklet from the exhibition

Booklet will be places in the middle of the exhibition on the pile of salt from the Dead Sea. There will be a handwritten summary text in the booklet summing up the text on the wall in the booklet for each of the country’s thoughts. Tracing paper is used to show the layering of their thoughts and the ethereal feeling of life in death. Minimal colors are present to show the contrast between life and death/ white and black.

 

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Exhibition Promotional Poster

The exhibition promotional poster also has tracing paper behind the dye cut of the circle to show that the word ‘life’ is literally in the black circle of ‘death’, showing a layering effect on the viewer.

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So is there Life in Death?

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By Li Sze Pui U1330796L 

Do we take the little gestures of gratitude we do as wholly habitual? How bad can keeping it bottled up be for the people we interact with?

Masaru Emoto’s The Hidden Messages in Water has become somewhat infamous among the scientific community for claiming that water fed with positive words can crystallise into more symmetrical and beautiful formations, while water fed with negative words freezes into irregular and unclear shapes.

Naturally this form of pseudo-science is controversial in its scientific foundation, but of note is the question that a surprising amount of people formed from the theory:

If words can affect plain tap water in this way, then won’t the effects be carried over to humans, who are 70% water?

Positive Psychology is still a relatively new study. Its origins date back to William James’ time (1842 – 1910) although the term was first coined by Abraham Maslow in 1954 and it was Martin Seligman who founded the study as its own field when he became President of the American Psychological Association.

This study deals with the opposite of what was imagined of psychology before the 2000s, which was basically “psychoanalysing people for anything wrong with their behaviour and curing mental illnesses”.The idea of positive psychology is the notion that the absence of mental problems or emotional turmoil does not equate to a mentally healthy individual. Rather it is the humanistic approach to living happily that indicates a good mental foundation.

This study is rather slow to catch on in Asian countries, particularly because we’re of a high-context society where our communication is mostly implied instead of being literal. Authoritarian methods and the ‘tiger mom’ are common parenting tactics that had only begun to be questioned just before the turn of the millennium, as meritocracy has an extremely firm root in the Asian society so therefore any method to let children get exceptional grades is “justified”.

As a result of such a social influence, the Asian personality even in Singapore is said to be withdrawn and carrying a knee-jerk reaction for holding back expressions of any emotion, including joy. This results in a society that lacks certainty that anything positive is happening in an individual’s life since all other people’s emotions at this point are speculative. Asian children, from a young age, learn by themselves that saying things like “I love you” or “I’m glad you’re here” are embarrassing and awkward even to their own parents. Hardly anybody questions the relationships in the family, and a common worry for both parents and children alike is if they are actually loved and appreciated in the household, especially if the family is not especially stable.

My goal is to bring the expression of love and gratitude back into the daily lives of children (and secondarily their parents) by incorporating the show of gratitude into mediums that children of schooling age can enjoy.

I’ve been told that the design should be colourful and DIY enough to appeal to most children of both genders, but yet not overtly childish so as to not to push away the ones who don’t like being treated as children. The aesthetic of the project emulates water and dissolvable vitamin tablets in the shape of a heart, which brings the idea back to Masaru Emoto’s theory that started the inquiry and serves as a metaphor that it is something humans would need to stay healthy.
My first medium would be a party game named Thank You for Letting it Out; basically Truth-or-Dare: Small and Nice Acts version.

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The box is a clasped one to keep it closed in case someone shakes it.

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There are 80 cards in total: 2 sets of 18 variations for both Truth and Dare, plus 8 “Keep-it-in” cards which function as passes.

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The rules (for 2 or more players):
1. Each player takes turns to draw either a Truth or a Dare card. Dare cards usually contain more points than Truth cards.
2. Once a player draws the card, they have to do what’s written on the other side, and they’ll earn the points as shown on the heart tablet.
3. If the player draws a Keep-It-In card, he/she is allowed to pass any future turn by returning this card to the bottom of the respective deck and shuffling it.
4. If the player does not have any Keep-It-In cards but wants to pass, 4 points will be taken from that player.
5. The game ends when 15 minutes is up or the cards have run out. The player with the most points wins!

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This game encourages thought on what and how he/she is grateful towards interactions in daily routine and also prompts players to disclose information about their view on gratitude, allowing the players to bond in a positive manner.

My second product is a wall calendar with the title Thank You for being here all year.

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Every month brings a theme for children to show their creativity in decorating the top of the poster.

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There are random dates highlighted in red where users are encouraged to use the Thank You for the Vitamin app to send a nice message to their parent (or anybody else).

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Stickers are packaged with the calendar. When the user gets exceptionally thanked, thanked someone, received a Vitamin etc., they can stick one of the stickers on the date.

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do1j0gThis calendar is supposed to prompt users to notice thankful acts more in their daily lives, be it from themselves or from others. This practise can form a habit once they find themselves doing it everyday.
My last product is an app named Thank You for the Vitamin. It is a cross between a simple message platform and a status updater, with the purpose of giving a bit of positivity to somebody’s day.

 

The app has a constant wave animation in the background.

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Once the user has registered, he/she can log in based on category (parent, child, friend etc.)

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The main screen is a calendar showing all the Vitmains received this month, and if the Vitamin is tapped, the message will show.

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To send a Vitamin, tap on “Send a Vitamin” and select a templated or customisable message.

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Type out the message and either send it immediately or add it to a queue, which delays the message to a set time so that someone can receive messages in a spread period of time instead of getting a lot of them at once.

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Flick to send the packaged Vitamin.

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When a Vitamin is received, tap to dissolve it in water and the message will show. The Vitamin will then be saved in the phone calendar. Tap to view previous messages.

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This app is a simple and accessible way to compliment, thank or cheer someone up. Since it’s much less stressful to express emotions through a virtual means than physically, this app allows people to make expressing positive thoughts a frequent thing.
Conclusion:

The design process was quite a struggle for me since I don’t have any primary sources on what would motivate children to use something. Someone then told me to not underestimate children since kids today are much more mature than they seem and a childish design may turn them away. So I revamped my entire design to a much more simple interface and worked with as little of a range of hues as possible. The results are much easier to reproduce and animate and I was quite glad I got the advice.

With these 3 products, I hope to promote a better mindset for everyone, but especially children. It can be suffocating to grow up having to keep every compliment and word of love bottled up, wondering if we are hated when in actuality it’s often the opposite. If this could make anybody’s lives even a bit happier, I’d be satisfied with what I’ve done.

 

References:

History of positive psychology: http://mina.education.ucsb.edu/janeconoley/ed197/documents/Froh_TheHistoryofPosPsych.pdf&ved=0CCcQFjAAahUKEwj__bSehZjJAhUWCY4KHbLiCs0&usg=AFQjCNGuui3H4fh7clGUFPQXVVrMGrhP-g&sig2=BTfsQ6p1ien5nRbjVb9r9Q

Masaru Emoto’s experiment:
http://is-masaru-emoto-for-real.com

Founding fathers of positive psychology:
http://positivepsychologyprogram.com/founding-fathers/

Lew, W. (1998). Understanding the Chinese personality: Parenting, schooling, values, morality, relations, and personality. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
Rinn, R., & Markle, A. (1977). Positive parenting. Cambridge, Mass.: Research Media.
Chua, A. (2011). Battle hymn of the tiger mother. New York: Penguin Press.
Snyder, C. (2002). Handbook of positive psychology. Oxford [England: Oxford University Press.

Water, can literally means any thing, from life to death, or is everywhere, even within us humans. The ocean, being an enormous surfaces deep, most people tends to be curious of what was beneath it. So with the creativeness that human have, many stories and legends then started to spread about. One of the most popular one that survived through the years is, the mermaids.

‘Mer’ meaning sea and ‘maid’ just means women, so mermaids are about a living creature, half human body and half fish tail, living under the ocean full of mysteries. They were more known to be beautiful and attractive, some even having magical powers.

The image of mermaid that are more popular was probably the image in the fairytale animated movie ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Hans Christian Andersen. However there are actually a lot more images that was attached to when it comes to mermaids. Starbucks company actually uses mermaids/sirens as their logo since 1971, finding the mermaid being a seductive mystery mixed which suit the nautical theme they want to portray, also symbolized obsession and addiction, to reflect the seductive imagery of the sea, the images of the mermaid changes through out the years too. Through the different mythology, legends and stories about mermaids, we can tell that there are many images that mermaid can represents.

Aim:
Introducing the different legends of mermaids to children and allow them to feel more connected with the ocean instead of having fear for it. Having fantasy time during childhood generates more imaginations, creativity and communications with others and also hope to create a better learning and enjoyable process during their childhood fantasy play.

Proposed Idea:
Having a series of bubble baths that comes along with a postcard that reveals a short legend and a character for coloring. Postcards are for the children to share their bubble bath experience and also expressing their creativeness through coloring and writing as well. Bubble bath are also meant to be as hair care for children while they are indulged in the fantasy like wonders created by the bubbles all over. Followed by a series of posters to attract children’s’ attentions and advertised the bubble baths.

 

Brand:

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1) Bubble bath packaging

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Atargatis – Soft & Wavy hair care benefits

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Ningyo – Thickening & Damage Repair hair care benefits

 

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Thessalonike – Smooth & Straight hair care benefits

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front view

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back view

 

2) Postcards

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Atargatis – cover page

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Atargatis – inner page

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Ningyo – cover page

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Ningyo – inner page

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Thessalonike – cover page

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Thessalonike – inner page

 

When the children were given the postcards:

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3) Posters

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References:

Knight, S. (2014). Ningyo: The Japanese Mermaid | Shannon Knight. Shannonknight.net. Retrieved 11 October 2015, from http://shannonknight.net/?p=2166

Lost Lore,. (2012). The Origin of Mermaids. Retrieved 11 October 2015, from https://alluringlore.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/the-origin-of-mermaids/

Moose, M. Myths, Legends, and Creatures of the World – Myths, Legends, and Creatures of the World – Wattpad. Wattpad.com. Retrieved 11 October 2015, from https://www.wattpad.com/1741992-myths-legends-and-creatures-of-the-world

Sea•thos Foundation,. (2011). Atargatis, the First Mermaid. Retrieved 11 October 2015, from http://www.seathos.org/atargatis-the-first-mermaid/

Good Bubble,. Good Bubble Glossary – Good Bubble. Retrieved 22 October 2015, from https://www.goodbubble.co.uk/good-bubble-glossary/

 

 

 

 

 

As a valuable resource, water is vital to every living being – much like how food and air determines our life or death. It’s a part of nature that we should try our utmost to conserve and think of in terms of sustainability for the future.

During the initial brainstorming process, I expanded the mindmap to include alternative water storage apart from the usual water tank, for example, the cactus and elephant tree.  After a series of explorations, it led to the final idea; to delve deep down beneath the surface and find out about the more obscure significance of the coconut.

The coconut tree is often referred to as the “tree of heaven” due to its height and beautiful environment it grows in. It is also known as the “Tree of Life” and a versatile tree as every part of it can be used and can produce drink, fiber, food, fuel, utensils, musical instruments, and much more.  Coconut palms have been cultivated for more than 3,000 years, and today they supply about 8% of the global demand for plant oil.

In India one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut, playing a vital role in all puja rituals. As a satvic fruit, it is sacred, pure, clean, and health giving, endowed with several properties which he might have achieved or is going to achieve. The coconut is broken as an offering to god in a humble act, where in the process of breaking the coconut, the person let’s go of his ego and pride. It is believed that the marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill desires.

Nguyen Thanh Nam; the Coconut Monk, devised a new religion, which was established in Vietnam as a fusion of Buddhism and Christianity called Tinh Do Cu Si, also known as The Coconut Religion.

Proposal

The entire project is based around the coconut and its significance in religion, history, culture, and rituals, using a playful approach in order to promote learning about culture and symbolisms in a fun but educational manner.

The deliverables include:

  • An app for the Coconut Trails game 
  • A website and logo branding
  • A book titled “Coconut Trails” with mini bookmarks

Coconut Trails – Hp Game 

This project led me to create an enjoyable, but informative handphone game that can be an addictively entertaining mode of learning. There are a total of 3 stages, where players have to utilise 3 coconut-inspired buttons, tapping gently with their fingers in in order to operate the game. The interface is simple, only requiring the player to read through short instructions before they begin each round. After every challenge is cleared, the player gets to learn more about each stage, which are based on coconut-related rituals, symbolisms and culture in 3 different countries, Vietnam, India and Indonesia.

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A playing preview of the Hp game, Stage 1:

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A playing preview of the Hp game, Stage 2:

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A playing preview of the Hp game, Stage 3:

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Coconut Trails – Website

Branded as the Coconut Trails website, it poses as a platform that provides an overview on what Coconut Trails is about, and serves as the station to connect all 3 deliverables together, interlinking the mediums as the hub in which consumers can easily access.

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Coconut Trails – Book

The Coconut Trails book is a fully illustrated collection of coconut-related stories from 3 different countries, namely, Vietnam for the Coconut Religion and the Coconut Monk, India rituals and a creation myth from Indonesia. The name coconut was taken from the Spanish word ‘cocos’ that literally means laughing face or grimace, which was the inspiration for the book cover.

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1 copy

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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.

 

DELIVERABLES

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.

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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:

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1. The vastness of sea in The Surface,

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2. the scale of the sea in The Depth,

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3. the force of the sea in The Undercurrent,

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4. The richness and sea creatures in The Mystery, and

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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.

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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.