Friday, 7 December 2012

Trapped in Hallucinations - Mood board

Here is a visual mood board that gives us an idea of what kind of imagery we need to capture
to get the idea of feeling trapped and hallucinating.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mental Episodes - Rough Story Structure

9 Stage Story in Sequence

1. First Encounter: (walk in)
The cell door closes and the blackness begins to take over the cell, the sound of prisoners and the outside world are playing on the prisoners mind but begin to fade into nothingness.
Audio: Soundscape outside the cell increasing in volume.
Visual: Darkness
Interactivity: Begins the loop
Time: 30 secs

2. Personal Reflection:
The prisoner looks back on his/her previous life and all the memories, good or bad of what life was like outside. The back-story and memories of the prisoner is illustrated by a number of sounds and visuals.
Audio: series of events, sounds, then lead to Soundscape outside the cell (presenf time)
Visual: P.O.V Murder - Newspaper, Knives, Police, Court Date (series of events leading to confinment.
Time: 30 secs

3. Anxiety:
The fear begins to set in as time passes within the cell; the prisoners begin to go inside themselves away from the world. Their heartbeat and breathing increases the walls begin to feel as if they are closing in. Sound intensity and visual intensity increase to a point of physical and mental discomfort.
Audio: Heavy Breathing, Heart Beating.
Visual: Walls Moving in around them, Bricks moving in/out (room closing in around him)
Time:30 secs

4. Sleep Deprivation:
The lack of sleep is beginning to set in; the prisoner is drifting in and out of consciousness. The line between reality and illusions are beginning to blur. The passing of time is becoming hard to measure.
Audio: sound of scraping into walls intensity rising.
Visual: cross hatching increasing, Bright intense colours, changing hue,
Time: 30 secs

5. Paranoia:
The feeling of being watched and something bad is going to happen is playing through the mind of the prisoner over and over again. The prisoner doesn’t know if what they are seeing and hearing is inside their head or in the cell with them.
Audio: voices in his head, whispering increasing in intensity,
Visual: Eyes, maybe looking back at himself, voices in his head, people laughing at him.. smiles,frowns.
Time: 30 Sec

6. Hallucinations: Good to Bad
The prisoner begins to experience or relive memories from the past. Happy memories and happier times are illustrated through audio and visual. The walls of the cell begin to fall down and freedom is right in front of their eyes. The user flickers in and out o happy and bad memories. The
Audio: birds chirping, freedom sounds, wind, laughing kids,
Visual: Godly Apparitions symbolizing a life of sin and death, kids and open meadows, family members
Time: 30 secs

7. Suicidal Thoughts:
The experience is becoming too much to handle and to carry on living will mean to carry on experiencing this form of mental torture. The prisoner contemplates committing suicide and feels as if this is the only escape from solitude and his mind. This is the lowest point of the prisoner’s time within the cell where hope is lost and nothing can change.
Audio: Priest giving funeral speech about who they were. church bells
Visual: Ropes, Self Harming, graves, rosary beads, after life, family crying into a grave.
Time: 30secs

8. Forgiveness/Self Curing
The prisoner seeks forgiveness for all the wrongs that they have gone through and wants to lead a life out of sin. The mental effects and hallucinations have made them realize there is more to life than this. The prisoner has accepted that they have done wrong in life and wish that they could be forgiven for the sins they have committed in a their life outside. The prisoner has been through a traumatic experience that has changed his mind for better and for worse. The Prisoner is beginning to cure the criminal aspects in them but
Audio: Church bells, wailing, praying for forgiveness, crying.
Visual: Church, Crosses, Rosary Beads, Statues,  A Cured version of himself looking back at him.
Time: 30secs

9. Freedom
The long journey through the mind of a prisoner in solitary confinement as light begins to fill the room and the cell door opens.
Audio: piercing sound, high pitched, shackles opening, sound from outside, freedom
Visual: White light fills the room. Shackles open up. children in the distance, silhouette of figure standing in the door way.
interactivity: Light and Hydraulic door.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Visual Soundscape

This piece is a visual soundscape. It represents the thoughts and pains that go through the prisoner’s head while stuck in solitary confinement. The patient suffers from many mental illnesses. The eyes represent paranoia; the shots of gravestones and religious symbols represent the patient questioning their life, what they have done in the past and where they are going in the future. The shots of the prison show claustrophobia and a feeling of being trapped. The images of flowers represent hallucinations, the shots of the landscape represent a want to be free and in the open world. The shots of the broken glass and windows are the prisoner’s escape plan.  The chain and crow sounds are sounds from the prison. The voices and laugher are sounds that are in the prisoner’s head; they don’t know whether they are real or not. The church bells and bible represent repent and sorrow. The background sounds represent madness building in the prisoner’s head. It builds as they are going crazy and softens as they start to hallucinate. 

Narrative Development

Narrative – Solitary Confinement
Sam Miles

The purpose of this story is to take the visitor on a journey through the mind of a prisoner in solitary confinement. The piece is fictionional but incorporates elements of factual knowledge surrounding the experiences that people have gone through whilst locked in solitary confinement. The story will be presented in a non-traditional manner using abstract visuals and audio that reflect the mind of a prisoner rather than a narrator speaking to the user or using textual information in a linear fashion.
The user will be able to interact with parts of the story whilst they are brought through a series of mental episodes, portrayed using metaphors and reality. The mental episodes will be in sequence of how a prisoner may feel as time passes with an ongoing theme running throughout.  The piece is built up of a number of short stories, which are tied together with a running theme of regret, self-torment and craving for escape.

Point of View – Inside the mind and body of the prisoner

Steps – Mental Episodes:  
  1.       Personal Reflection:
  2.         Anxiety
  3.         Sleep Deprivation    
  4.            Paranoia
  5.         Hallucinations
  6.         Suicidal Thoughts
  7.         Acceptance
  8.         Forgiveness/self curing

Common Theme:
Self Loathing, Fear and Repentence


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Possible Narratives Styles


I have been looking at different ways in which we can bring the user through our immersive experience in cork city gaol. Here are some starting points and angles to consider which I feel may aid the development of a narrative.

Possible Styles:

Person enters the cell a bad person and leaves cured by solitary confinement. Making the experience a medical treatment for the prisoner. This approach is tied in with the beliefs of the judicial system in the time when cork city gaol was active.

Person enters cell a good healthy person and leaves traumatised by experience. This approach is tied in with the beliefs of doctors and psychiatrists in todays world who believe that solitary confinement is unhealthy and cruel for prisoners

Put the user into the Shoes of a prisoner - Sound effects and visuals of prison life i.e doors slamming, prisoners shouting in other cells and keys jangling.

Put the user into the Mind of the Prisoner - Sound effects and visuals inside the mind of the prisoner i.e The inner thoughts of the prisoner and the hallucinations/dreams of the prisoner

The sequence of psychological effects that a prisoner goes through in solitary confinement. Bring the user through every mental episode whilst in solitary confinement in order of when it happens based on research and reports provided by ex-prisoners.

The life cycle of a prisoner in solitary confinement in order i.e Morning to night and everything in between.

Use of Metaphors both visually and auditory to tell a story, Using forms of media that people associate feelings or emotions with i.e. a noose represents suicide, the sound of a clock ticking represents movement of time

Using research on how sound and visuals affect the human mind to tell the story. Telling a story with non linear abstract sounds and images that trigger emotions and feelings in the user. Let the user develop all the imagery and thoughts in their own head with the aid of visual and audio cues.

Angles to Consider:

The discourse of Time: Will the story be over the length of days months or years, how will we show the passing of time in our piece. How long does our peice need to be to get the narrative across successfully

Ways to tell a story:

The life of a prisoner in the past tense (i saw this I felt this)

The life of a prisoner in the present tense (I see this I feel this)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Concept Presentation

Intended to be a full visual presentation, all information on screen are presentator notes.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Colour Research

Colour Theory 1.0

Psychologists believe that colours affect human moods and emotions. In order to give users a psychological experience we must have an understanding of how the mind perceives colour and how we can best use it invoke the desired emotion we want;

RED. Physical
Positive: Physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, 'fight or flight', stimulation, masculinity, excitement.

Negative: Defiance, aggression, visual impact, strain.

Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It relates to the masculine principle and can activate the "fight or flight" instinct. Red is strong, and very basic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.

BLUE. Intellectual.
Positive: Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm.
Negative: Coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness.

Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world's favourite colour. However, it can be perceived as cold, unemotional and unfriendly.

YELLOW. Emotional
Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity.
Negative: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide.

The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case the stimulus is emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our "yellow streak" can surface.

GREEN. Balance
Positive: Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace.
Negative: Boredom, stagnation, blandness, enervation.

Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the centre of the spectrum, it is the colour of balance - a more important concept than many people realise. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used, will be perceived as being too bland.

VIOLET. Spiritual
Positive: Spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality.
Negative: Introversion, decadence, suppression, inferiority.

The shortest wavelength is violet, often described as purple. It takes awareness to a higher level of thought, even into the realms of spiritual values. It is highly introvertive and encourages deep contemplation, or meditation. It has associations with royalty and usually communicates the finest possible quality. Being the last visible wavelength before the ultra-violet ray, it has associations with time and space and the cosmos. Excessive use of purple can bring about too much introspection and the wrong tone of it communicates something cheap and nasty, faster than any other colour.

Positive: Physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun.
Negative: Deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity.

Since it is a combination of red and yellow, orange is stimulating and reaction to it is a combination of the physical and the emotional. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort - food, warmth, shelter etc. - and sensuality. It is a 'fun' colour. Negatively, it might focus on the exact opposite - deprivation. This is particularly likely when warm orange is used with black. Equally, too much orange suggests frivolity and a lack of serious intellectual values.

Positive: Physical tranquility, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, survival of the species.
Negative: Inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, physical weakness.

Being a tint of red, pink also affects us physically, but it soothes, rather than stimulates. (Interestingly, red is the only colour that has an entirely separate name for its tints. Tints of blue, green, yellow, etc. are simply called light blue, light greenetc.) Pink is a powerful colour, psychologically. It represents the feminine principle, and survival of the species; it is nurturing and physically soothing. Too much pink is physically draining and can be somewhat emasculating.

Positive: Psychological neutrality.
Negative: Lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy.

Pure grey is the only colour that has no direct psychological properties. It is, however, quite suppressive. A virtual absence of colour is depressing and when the world turns grey we are instinctively conditioned to draw in and prepare for hibernation. Unless the precise tone is right, grey has a dampening effect on other colours used with it. Heavy use of grey usually indicates a lack of confidence and fear of exposure.

Positive: Sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance.
Negative: Oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness.

Black is all colours, totally absorbed. The psychological implications of that are considerable. It creates protective barriers, as it absorbs all the energy coming towards you, and it enshrouds the personality. Black is essentially an absence of light, since no wavelengths are reflected and it can, therefore be menacing; many people are afraid of the dark. Positively, it communicates absolute clarity, with no fine nuances. It communicates sophistication and uncompromising excellence and it works particularly well with white. Black creates a perception of weight and seriousness. 

Suggested Colour Pallets;

Suicidal thoughts








Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement

“[Solitary confinement] units are virtual incubators of
psychoses--seeding illness in otherwise healthy inmates
and exacerbating illness in those already suffering from
mental infirmities.”
—Ruiz v. Johnson (2001) (1)

Solitary confinement is when a prisoner is put in a cell for twenty three to twenty four hours a day without contact to any other human, for weeks/months and even years on end.

It’s a standard psychiatric concept, if you put people in
isolation, they will go insane…. It’s a big problem in the
California system, putting large numbers in the SHUs…
Most people in isolation will fall apart.” 
— Sandra Schank, staff psychiatrist, Mule Creek Prison (2)

Research has been carried out over the years on solitary confinement patients and it has shown that being left in isolation does alter neural and therefore psychological states. Research shows that even a week in solitary confinement raises stress levels, tension and anxiety. Self-mutilation (self - harm and even suicide) is very common amongst Solitary confinement prisoners.

A 2007 study examining  attempted suicide in the prison
system identified solitary confinement as a major factor in
suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
"I started hearing voices and losing control of my own
thoughts...I really started noticing more when I started
being in the hole...It just started getting worse for me."
—Participant 22 (3)

A prisoner left in Solitary confinement induces a specific psychiatric disorder characterized by: hypersensitivity to external stimuli, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, and impulse control problems. This leads to high rates of anxiety, nervousness, obsessive ruminations, anger, violent fantasies, nightmares, trouble sleeping, as well as dizziness, perspiring hands, and heart palpitations.

Hypersensitivity to external stimuli:

This is when a person becomes sensitive or highly agitated by external factors which can include, sound, smell, light and taste.   


Hallucinations are false or distorted sensory experiences that appear to be real perceptions. These sensory impressions are generated by the mind rather than by any external stimuli, and may be seen, heard, felt, and even smelled or tasted.

Panic attacks:

Panic attacks are periods of intense fear or apprehension that are of sudden onset and of variable duration of minutes to hours. Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, may reach a peak within 10 minutes, but may continue for much longer if the sufferer had the attack triggered by a situation from which they are not able to escape. In panic attacks that continue unabated, and are triggered by a situation from which the sufferer desires to escape, some sufferers may make frantic efforts to escape, which may be violent if others attempt to contain the sufferer.

Cognitive deficits:

Cognitive deficit, also known as cognitive impairment is an inclusive term to describe any characteristic that acts as a barrier to cognitive performance. The term may describe deficits in global intellectual performance, such as mental retardation, it may describe specific deficits in cognitive abilities (learning disorders, dyslexia), or it may describe drug-induced cognitive/memory impairment, such as that seen with alcohol and the benzodiazepines. Cognitive deficits may be congenital or caused by environmental factors such as brain injuries, neurological disorders, or mental illness

Obsessive thinking:

Obsessions are a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Obsessions are defined as recurring, persistent thoughts, impulses, and/or images that are viewed as intrusive and inappropriate. Obsessions often cause considerable distress and anxiety.


A mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.

Impulse Control Disorder:

An impulse control disorder or ICD is a class of psychiatric disorders characterised by impulsivity – failure to resist a temptation, urge or impulse that may harm oneself or others. Many psychiatric disorders feature impulsivity, including substance-related disorders, paraphilias, antisocial personality disorder, conduct disorder, schizophrenia and mood disorders.

1. Human Rights Watch (2003), Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness 149 n. 513 (New York: Human Rights Watch)
2. Ruiz v Johnson, 154 F.Supp.2d 975 (S.D.Tex.2001).
3. Suto, I. (2007), Inmates Who Attempted Suicide in Prison: A Qualitative Study.‖ School of Professional Psychology. Paper 46.