Jessica Scalzo is an experience designer, researcher and maker. She had worked in innovation consulting, communications and social advocacy in New York and Asia prior to studying at RCA. Her practice integrates design research with digital technology.
My work explores human experience and behavior in a rapidly changing technological society. While my practice is concerned with designing solutions to real-world problems, I am inspired by speculative futures and technology as a medium to gain insight into the mind.
In my RCA degree show installation, I use digitally rendered 3D visuals, physical computing and performance to build the audience's understanding of and emotional resonance with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
As a physical installation, the multi-sensory piece is interactive, allowing the audience to determine the course of the live performance through introducing external variables (i.e. OCD treatments). For the virtual show, the installation is adapted to the screen - just a taste of the full experience!
The imagery displayed below is of the Mandelbrot equation, chosen as the project’s visuals due to its repetitive or self-similar character. The Mandelbrot is a mathematical equation in the field of fractals, uniquely known for its infinite feedback loop and complex orderly pattern. Some believe it is the underlying order of the universe! Applied to OCD, it describes how the feedback loop of the mind continues to amplify fear and obsession. To see more details and to interact with the visuals, please see my project website: jscalz.github.io/dis-order.
Medium:Digital, Live Performance
Mandelbulb — Infinitely self-repeating
Short GIF of the animation — Launch to play the game!
Viewing Stage — Audience is seated in the half dome stage area. Mandelbulb visuals are projected onto the dome.
Stage Views — Proposed half dome stage to be made of transparent mesh material
Dancers — Before lockdown, I was working with two dancers to capture the spirit of the project. Dancers would have performed under the half dome surrounded by the projected visuals. Dancers: Gabriela Garcia and Lionel Avignon
Dancers on Stage — Stage layout with positioning of dancers and audience, surrounded by metronomes
In the physical show, the audience could alter the course of the performance by pressing buttons (representing OCD treatments) built into the base of the stage. The performance (dancers, visuals and sound) shifts according to which and how often the buttons are pressed, coinciding with how research participants reported the effectiveness of their treatment. As the performance reacts to the audience, the audience can then react to the performance creating a live feedback loop akin to the OCD mind reacting to external variables and triggers.