Undergraduate and graduate student presentations from the Program in Creative Technologies, 2021 Online University Research Symposium, Illinois State University
Uncharted Territories: Developing Digital Experiences For Anthropology And Archeological Exploration
Sam Bruner and Ella Jahraus
This paper illustrates the development of digital tools to educate and promote anthropological and archaeological work in the Darien Region of Panama. The Darien Region has been underexplored for the last century and is home to the Darien Gap, the only break in the Trans-American Highway, which helps to preserve the indigenous people and animals living there. The authors have collaborated to share experiences of navigating the Darien Gap in Panama through storytelling, adventure, and exploration with digital media. This project resides as a website with a variety of video and game works. Our goal is to have as much media available in both English and Spanish as possible, to be accessible to the local communities in Darien and to international communities, which is crucial to support locally-initiated conservation initiatives. Current projects include videos documenting known populations that have migrated through the area, videos documenting a current anthropologist's explorations of the region, a game depicting a historical anthropologist’s findings of an archaeological expedition from the 1920s, and accessible compilations of research on local flora and fauna.
Individuals frequently socialize with each other leisurely or professionally with different etiquettes and attires depending on the circumstances. As individuals present themselves to potential new acquaintances, friends, and/or associates, those peers judge them primarily from a visual perspective, typically focusing on their looks rather than their actions and characteristics. With the advancement of technology, individuals meet and socialize more and more in virtual environments and platforms where they can change and control the way they look and sound to others. In addition, individuals are given the choice to exercise different levels of anonymity on many platforms such as social media, forum threads, online gaming, etc. In this study, we analyze the behaviors and preferences of young college students as they design their virtual avatars both for a business and a leisure scenario. We investigate the decisions and interactions of the participants as they create their avatars using quantitative data such as the number of options they explore and the time they spend on each option and category. We create a comparative framework between the avatars created for business versus leisure purposes. By looking at how users want to present themselves in the digital world for different purposes, we aim to provide insights on how to improve sociological aspects of online interactions and gaming.
This project aims to introduce the Darien Province, which is located in Panama, close to the Colombia border. Due to the break in the Pan-American Highway, and the remoteness of this region, there are limited ways to access the Darien and limited resources, there is a limited information about the area and the people of the area. My work uses anthropological and archaeological data to inspire the creations of short videos that tell stories of the region. The first video, People of Darien, explores the diversity of people in the Darien region (see Figure 1). This work highlights the location of Darien on the world map, the possible ways to get to the Darien province and cross the Darien Gap, and the variety of people that have traveled through the Darien region through history. This region has witnessed the migration of many different people to it and through it, such as Spanish explorers, Scottish explorers, and Asian laborers from the Panama Canal. These settlements have interacted with the local Wounaan and Embera people. The second video, Travel to the Big Rock in Mogue, highlights an archeologist’s trip to the village of Mogue to see a unique rock that is known for the mysterious carvings in it (see Figure 2). Locals have known about the rock for centuries yet have no known records by academic sources. The archeologist’s team collected many samples of ceramics and unique plant species to study and further their understanding of the area and its history. This video was constructed by using a variety of photos from the author’s field research trip in 2019, and motion graphics. This video is recorded in both English and Spanish, to best reach a variety of local and international audiences.
This paper explores a speculative design for an infant swing based on breath attunement. There are challenges for working parents to juggle working from home and taking care of an infant, especially when infants want to be physically close to the parent. This design explores how a swing can be adaptable to dynamic changes in the parent that can soothe the infant while allowing the parent to be more hands-free. These dynamic changes include the use of breath sensors on the parent to change the rhythm of the swing, while also creating dynamic amplifications of environmental sounds, as though they were being carried by the parent through the home. This work particularly explores qualities of movement and rhythm as key components of comfort for infants in their parent’s arms. Results of this paper include design sketches and a usability evaluation of a smartphone interface, as a speculative approach to designing embodied interactions between family members.