Contagion is an immersive mobile app which aims to bridge the gap between Rasselas, a digital alter-ego created from the body as data, and the physical world. Users' footsteps are tracked via GPS and this data contributes to Rasselas' spread across the world.
Covid restrictions meant that much of the initial interaction between Tom and I was remote. We began with WhatsApp calls, with ideas and stories. I suggested that we work on a basis of form and content so that I could create spaces for Tom's artistic ideas to exist.
App development is expensive so we got creative with our ideas, using the simplest form of an app that we could - an audio performance which tracks GPS data. Tom wrote the script, I learnt to design on XD, and a close relative coded the app for us.
Working on the script remotely meant using a google document to bounce ideas and give feedback. I asked Tom a series of questions to begin:
- What do you want to share?
Experience of being where I am right now, presence.
- How do you want to share it?
By talking to the user, asking them to take a walk with me
- What will Rasselas get?
Based on his answers, I offered Tom some tasks to start of the process:
- Go for a walk as Rasselas and document it with some thoughts
- Write a short paragraph to introduce yourself as Rasselas
- Think about what Rasselas might want to share
From this the script began to form, which Tom then developed as we worked on how the app would function.
It was important that this app did not offer an experience that was beneficial only to the privileged user, as in my third case study from chapter 2. We had to make sure that the user was implicated, that Rasselas was the one who benefited from this experience. This is how contagion was formed.
Water had become an important aspect of Rasselas' existence at this point in our conversations, and Tom shared a chapter from his book. Within this chapter the character befriends the Nile as he walks on a long journey - and it was decided that Rasselas would share this chapter with the user as they walked.
Listen to app audio