Transcension: an exploration of the creative potentials for wearable technology and interactive media art in fantasy worldbuilding

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in New Media
Technology has long been used for creating what seems to be inexplicable, impossible phenomena, hereafter described as magic. Magic is also present in many forms of fictional world narratives as one of the central elements in worldbuilding, including in the magical girl genre stemming from Japanese anime. The magical girl character(s) that the narratives center around are depicted as seemingly ordinary girls who become immersed in a magical world, overlaying the world that they typically occupy, through a transformation process which morphs them from the ordinary to the extraordinary and grants them magical powers along with hyper-feminine costume changes. In the production part of this thesis, titled ☆・*:.。. .。.:*・ transcension ・*:.。. .。.:*・☆, I use new media technology to intersect a fantasy world of my own making with the real world, mimicking the transition which occurs in magical girl anime. The creative part of this thesis consists of an interactive sculpture and three costumes of original magical girl characters, which are enhanced by technology to become wearables. The costumes respond to interactions, while the sculpture provides a means through which participants can experience magic. The combination of these parts makes a form of interactive media art that blurs the boundaries between the real world and a magical world. Through the production process, I explore possible uses of technology and physical computing for physically manifesting a slice of a fantasy world, while investigating my own personal artistic practice as I designed and produced these four art pieces. The research question therefore is how interactive media art, specifically in the form of wearables and interactive sculptures, can be used to obscure the delineations between magic and reality. The structure of the written part of this thesis first introduces the project and its scope, and then discusses the multitude of disciplines that are touched upon in the inspiration and creation of the artistic production. I then explore in depth the design and production processes for the physical part of this thesis and perform an analysis of my artistic process as well as of the outcomes of the final exhibition. Through the written and artistic parts of this thesis, I demonstrate potential uses of technology in translating magical aspects of a fantasy world into the real world.
Niinimäki, Matti
Thesis advisor
Niinimäki, Matti
Pesonen, Liisa
interactive media art, wearables, physical computing, cosplay, costume design, new media art
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