I want to make GenZ conscious about their privacy around the use of immersive technologies. I want to highlight the data collection mechanisms which are aimed at behavioral modification.
I want to present different versions of the same conversation by augmenting each with immersive technology.
I believe that a sequence of these experiences would make them compare and analyze their transition to technology and how it is altering their behavior.
The project would be formatted as an experience, in which the users will engage with different versions of real-world interactions, making them critically think about how their behavior and preferences have changed for those interactions.
As data continues to become a marketable form, data collection practices would become a norm across products. Immersive technologies would follow this trend. In that situation, I want to present the point of view of the data aggregators to make the users realize the commercial intentions behind the information they receive. I believe that this view would make users question how they consume and share their personal data. As the practice of surveillance capitalism expands in immersive tech, an awareness of these practices would make users conscious consumers of these technologies.
The project would either be set up as a spatial installation or its digital replica in virtual reality. Visuals would be the primary mode of interaction, with audio and touch acting as auxiliary support. The observations that users make during the transition between scenes would be the key determinant of what they perceive about the piece. The location and span of attention would be tested for each user, as they interact with the installation.
Due to the visceral nature of the project, its setting and presentation in an art exhibit would be suitable. It would require a secluded space with an audience that comes in with an open mind and is willing to observe and evaluate.
The installation establishes a connection with its users due to its category and topic. Immersive technology and privacy are both widely talked about in the media, and a presentation of those concepts integrated in a system would encourage them to experience it. Additionally, the content presented in the experience would have relatable real-life experiences of GenZ, thereby establishing an emotional connection with the topic.
Due to its form and setting, this message behind the installation may not reach its audience unless experienced first-hand.
Audience: Community of Practice
The project serves as an invitation to critical thinkers of the current state of the world. With the insight and motivation provided by the project, they can act on the gaps existing in the technological setup and market capitalism. This audience could be someone with authority (policy regulator) or an organization or individual (teacher, journalist, activist). The project also invites future thinkers and designers, inspiring them to be perceptive of the economic trends as they create solutions.
Structure – User Flow
The project provides experience in different layers. It builds on top of a primitive form of interaction, sequentially adding layers of immersive interactive technologies. The transition between each scene/view could be guided or flexible based on the comfort of the user and their knowledge about these technologies.
The form choice of an interactive installation pinpoints the focus of the project towards critical observation. The platform provides a representation through simplicity and scale, both of which aid in conveying the message. The format of limiting the interaction to vision and thinking adds to the specificity and focus on the content and its representation.
Content in Form
Due to the complexity associated with technical topics around critical thinking, the project will represent the concepts of immersive experiences and their privacy through abstraction. The concepts and their logic would not be presented explicitly during the experience, but the way they are observed and felt would generate the conscious awareness intended through this project.
Mainly, the piece presents an abstract picture of behavioral modification due to the use of these technologies and the habituation thereof. Borrowing from the foot-in-the-door technique from Psychology, this habituation leads to the acceptance of certain forms of data collection that users were not comfortable with sharing before.
Aesthetic – Look & Feel
Expanding on the statements from the previous sections, the installation would look like a conversational experience displayed on a screen. And, it would feel private and intimate as the user engages with the exhibit.
Fabrication – Construction
The construction of the environment would have limited distractions, allowing the user to observe the content. The design of the space would be minimalistic, with a circle of screens running the experience and the user at the center of the circle. The entire experience, whether presented physically or in virtual reality would be in a dark environment, with screens being the only source of light.
To add signifiers to the screens focusing on privacy, models of security cameras would be set up next to those screens. These would probably be 3D modeled or CNC cut, based on real-world designs.
I am inspired by the need to spread awareness on the appropriation of personal data. For me, the value of free choice coupled with the revulsion of intrusion, became stronger through secondary research. As a designer, educator, entrepreneur, and a citizen, I felt compelled to express my feelings.
The future participants of this project would find this creative form of expression as an inspiration to present their thoughts and value their choices. The aim of this project is to incite curious caution in the lifestyle of its experiencers.
The form of the project, immersive installation, and the specificity of the topic, privacy in immersive technology, make this project innovative. Based on secondary research, the other projects of spreading awareness on privacy have either been completely objective or entirely abstract. This project aims to hit a creative balance between the two.
Objectivity: The Privacy Project by the New York Times
This project is a journalism driven media campaign around the value of privacy and its correlation with the daily lives (online and offline) of users. Started in April 2019, the project serves as a source of inspiration. Because its scope includes every aspect of user privacy, it lacks the specificity and focus I want to provide through my project.
Nevertheless, the Privacy Project is an excellent precedent because of the ensemble of concerns it could collect and present. Moreover, the user engagement generated through different forms of interactions and content has been inspiring to provide a dedicated focus to this topic.
Abstraction: Machine Hallucination by Refik Anadol
This project is a mixed reality experience that shows the visceral form of algorithmic processing and image computation. The exhibit, which opened in September 2019 in New York City, shows an artificially intelligent system processing 300 million architectural images and developing correlations based on that data. The experience is split into 3 chapters – memory, consciousness, and dream.
Although the installation is not directly correlated with privacy, the immersive form of this art makes its viewers question the nature of data that is collected and interpreted by a machine – incomprehensible to people, but valuable to the algorithm.
The experience is spellbinding and visceral. Because of the detail in its abstraction, I found the experience more picturesque than informational. My project would be inspired by the augmentations used in this project but would focus on creating a more objective version of the experience around privacy around immersive technologies.
The primary challenge is to create a metric to measure user engagement and awareness, particularly because the impact of the project’s message may not have instant actions but gradual conscious behavioral changes. Next, it would be critical to ensure that the form appropriately communicates the message of this project.
The other challenge is to provide a platform to spark conversations around privacy associated with immersive technologies. Since the project is targeting a younger audience, it may also be challenging to map their emotional states, attention spans, and observational skills with respect to the experience received through the project.
Lastly, it may be a challenge to maintain a balance between objectivity and abstraction, ensuring the delivery of the project’s message.
What is the emotion I want my users to exhibit before, during, and after the experience?
How can I observe the behavior of GenZ during their interactions with immersive installations, in order to evaluate the relevance of the chosen form?
How can I create an experience that is generalized and is independent of the ethnicity, race, and gender of the experiencer?
 This is my interpretation of the artwork and not a direct representation of the concept presented at the exhibit.