GUILFORD COLLEGE THEATRE DEPARTMENT OUTDOOR SHOW
Wayfinding is a term used to describe a system of information designed to help and enhance a user's experience through a physical space. Wayfinding herds and directs people to where they are going. An example of this system can be found in most transit facilities or stations. The medium we see used in this setting most often is signage or use of an intercom system throughout the station. We follow signs to the trains or exits we are looking for. Another example is a path in the woods. In this scenario the path one follows may have trees marked with a rope or flags.
Because of the pandemic, the Guilford College Theatre Department decided to hold it’s Fall production outdoors. The format is as follows:
Six ten minute shows would occur at the same time at different places on campus, each show would have one pod of audience members attending. The pods circulate around to each show until each of the six pods has seen the six shows.
Wayfinding will be applied to this scenario to create a cohesive physical environment. This environment is meant to help users to get from show to show. It is also meant to create an experience so that the audience does not feel as though they are ‘between shows.’ They are still in the world they started in.
Adaptation and Implementation:
White twinwall polycarbonate sheet
Before the pods would go off to each of their respective shows, they met at Rachel’s Rose Cottage, the campus coffee shop. The building is a classic, one story home shaped form. Light was projected from a diagonal angle so that it would hit on the front, side, and roof. Half of the building was covered. The projections were mapped to land on each panel of the building, one for the front, one for the side, and one for the two for each panel on the side of the chimney that faced the projector. Appropriated media from youtube contained phone-filmed video of people driving through tunnels. The video shows lights passing as someone drives. The visuals are meant to be abstracted when they land on the walls of the structure. They become ambient and unrecognizable because of the low quality video files, and because of the augmentation that occurs in projection mapping when the angle of the projection is not adjusted. The ambient light created an experience for waiting audience members and signaled to those who were approaching that this was indeed the meeting point.
Between each show were diamond-shaped luminaries built from twin polycarbonate plastic sheets. Sized ranged from 3 feet to 5 feet. This concept is arguably one that is most directly related to wayfinding. The diamond shapes were meant to reflect visual elements shown in the projections in order to create a well rounded and cohesive experience. Looking at the structure in a very simple way, it consisted of rectangles. When light was projected at an angle, the actual shape of the light became diamonds.
The final piece of this wayfinding experience was ushers. Ushers directed the pods to get from point A to point B. I designed a costume for the ushers, but it did not serve functionality in the way that it needed to.
Overall, I was very pleased with the experience and I am grateful to the Theatre
Department for making this opportunity possible. Also, HUGE shoutout to Brian for constructing the hung wayfinders and teaching me the techniques and ways of theatrical projection mapping.
If I could go back and continue iterations, I think I would try to implement the wayfinders in a more literal or direct way. This interpretation of wayfinding was a fairly abstracted one, and I think that it would be hard for these types of wayfinders to pass in a formal infrastructure such as train stations and airports. This being said though, I think that experimentation is how we as people move forward.