I’m supposed to write my final thoughts about my project here.
The stairwell was off limits for my final submission so I was forced to improvise at the last second and change the exhibition venue to the Foundation 2D darkroom. This meant that the sound setup I had planned, and indeed the entire experience, had to be redesigned.
Where the stairwell had dim yellow lighting, excellent spooky acoustics, and a slightly warm and uncomfortable temperature, the Foundation 2D darkroom is air-conditioned and not very scary to enter. However, it does have an existing set of spooky red lights and a foreboding series of doors and curtains. I decided to use these to build tension for my experience by putting the altar at the deepest part of the darkroom and forcing people to cross all the thresholds to see it.
The creepiness factor was heightened by my use of audio. I put a concealed speaker in the innermost room and adjusted the volume so that it is very loud when the inner door is open, and soft but audible from the darkroom proper when the inner door is closed. This means that as participants enter the darkroom and approach the door, they can hear the audio from inside, culminating in a jumpscare-like moment when they open the door and see the altar blasting spooky sounds at them.
On the exhibition day, I gave people three ground rules when entering the darkroom:
- “Wait until the outer door is fully closed before opening the curtain.”
The point of this was to fully isolate them from the outside world. By the time they hear the spooky ambience, the human factor connecting them to the outside world is gone and they are alone and vulnerable.
- “Close all the doors behind you.”
This was just to reduce the amount of time needed to prepare the venue for each participant, however it is also creepy as it implies that there is something inside which should be sealed away.
- “Don’t stay too long… for your own good.”
This rule helped to conceal the artificiality of my altar and speaker by giving participants a limited amount of time to examine the objects. It improved turnaround time so that more people could take part in the experience. It also sounds creepy because it implies that staying in the darkroom with the altar can influence you in some way.
All in all I’m quite happy with the final product, given the last-minute changes and limited time and budget I was working with. If I had more time I would have included more interactive elements and scripted the experience more.