Nov 7, 2011

My Storyworld 2011 Showcase Pitch: Research & Development(s)

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This five-minute presentation was given at the 2011 Storyworld Conference, during its InProduction Showcase. Since I prefer to work with slides that are light on text, most of the relevant info will be in these transcript notes. You can read each slide's notes by opening the caption box.
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My name is Haley Moore. I'm a playwright, a transmedia propmaker, and a mixed media artist. I make objects that tell stories.
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Also, for the last three years, I've been doing editing and reporting work for a small newspaper in an affluent suburb of Dallas, and in this particular affluent suburb, well, first off self-promotion is huge there, and second, we seem to have more than our fair share of questionable companies. So I've had to handle stories that involve shady business schemes, personal fakery, junk science, and urban mythology, sometimes all of those at once. Over the years, my bullshit detector has become really good, it's like military grade at this point. I found myself becoming fascinated by these stories, and I responded to what I was reading by making parodies. It was a really great writing tool - I'd write slogans and sales copy for ridiculous products, and some of those things I went ahead and made.
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So for example, after dealing with some self-help authors, I decided to put out my own book, called How to Win at Anything. It is one page of one chapter that is one word long, and that word is...
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...cheat.
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I also made a parody Etsy account that pokes fun at stores that resell commercial jewelry, by telling buyers they've cast magic spells on them. I thought I could do them one better in the realm of magicking up useless junk. That's a piece of copy paper tied with floral stems and incense from Dollar Tree, and as you can see, it's listed for $50. Nobody's bought one yet, but I did own up to the fact that its a parody. If I hadn't, I might be rich by now. Who knows?
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So parodies of quackery became a theme in my art, and around this time last year, I decided to turn the best ones into a transmedia experience, which I call Research and Developments. The centerpiece of the project is a hand-written book full of sketches and diagrams, and other artifacts, which tells the fictional story of the person who invented all of these things I've been coming up with.
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She is the R&D person at a very scammy company, and this is her R&D notebook, which evolves into a diary as the story goes on. What you can see here are pages from a first draft. This is approximately what you'll see when you go to read the book online. But because this is about what I do, which is propmaking and tangible storytelling, what you see online is not going to be a digital composite or a lovely interface that looks like a book.
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It is a high quality scan of a one of a kind physical piece of art, which you'll be able to read in the flesh because it will be exhibited with an art show known as the Sketchbook Project. Every summer, they do a touring exhibit of hand-drawn books from around the world, it's a really great exercise in crowdsourcing and collaboration. After the tour, the books go into a permanent public exhibit in Brooklyn, which is also really cool; so you'll be able to actually go and visit my original, it won't be just lying in a desk drawer or something lame like that, it will actually be part of the public experience. There will also be benefits to going and visiting the original in person. It contains physical items, and maybe even special rewards if I can find a local partner to work with.
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The book is just the center of a larger story. Each of these colored paths are continuation stories, which are made up of a website, and an experience. All of these branches lead back into the book and our player community, so new players can pick up any of the continuation stories, and enter the world through that avenue. So this is where the quackery comes in. If you look between the website and the experience, there's actually a product that unlocks each experience for you. All of the products are story objects featured in the book, and you, too, can own one.
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I'm developing everything from stickers that let your phone talk to ghosts, to aura therapy wands, pocket degrees from a telepathic university, and giant tea strainers full of healing crystals to dunk in your bathtub, which promise to erase your butt wrinkles.
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Some of you may have your bottles of Experia memory water. The proposition is that when you drink it, you go into a sort of hypnotic state, where you will see, hear, and feel someone else's memory that's been trapped inside the water. This is a parody of a lot of different magic water that's out there, and also a parody of energy drinks, because this comes in a bunch of different flavors.
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We've got Spacewalk, Shark Dive, Tropic Tryst, Eruption, Success ... and then there is Snowboard, which is the variety you'll be sampling this weekend.
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So if you open the bottle, you'll see that you can't really test the concept because there's no water inside. Instead, there's a message that says you've won the rare opportunity to be treated to a special experience and have the memories of that experience harvested from your brain to make a new flavor. There's also this sinister-looking thing...which is labeled, "MEMORY DRILL." At this point, you're probably hoping this is quackery. From there, you go into an interactive short story that I've created just for you guys as a prelude to what you'll see when you have the whole extended book experience.
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This whole thing has been a labor of love. What you've seen so far is an indie art project that I'm doing on a shoestring budget, by cobbling together my writing and web and package design skills, but as I move into the next phase, I'm looking for investors, partners and collaborators. So, if you're interested in helping me bring this world of Quackery to life, please find me, and let's talk. Thank you.

I’ve spent a few days trying to find a good format for posting these to the web. I rely on my voice to convey the bulk of the info when I speak in person, and I don’t care for clutter, so I don’t put much text on my slides. Click the “Caption” button on each to read a slide by slide transcript.

Feb 27, 2011

Thing-A-Day 26: Psychic University Courses 2

I expanded my course list to include some "flavor text" for my voice actors to read.  Probably sending scripts out to people tomorrow.  These 1-2 sentence descriptions (along with the text that will appear in the course catalog) build up a sketch of a vibrant college environment full of strange stadiums, gymnasium mishaps, snippy teachers and dangerous areas of study.

Feb 25, 2011

Thing-A-Day 24: Pre-Writing Pages

I spent the day trying to find a good pen to write R&D, and writing out a couple pages in my OReilly journal to get a feel for how long it takes to make a page and how much text I can fit on it.

I'm also using the hand-writing as an editing process.  If a phrase can be made less wordy, I will FIND a way to do that if I have to write it out in longhand.

Feb 24, 2011

Thing-A-Day 23: My Ph.D. in Quackery

Another thing from my transmedia book project.  This is a pocket degree from a psychic university.  Some vandal has marred it with a stamp of condemnation!

I'm not happy with the way the signatures came out.  I wrote them on paper with a ball point and then shrunk them down, but I think I will redo them with a sharpie.  Also, that's a misuse of the word "scurrilous."  Nothing comes out perfect on the first try.

Yes, this will be a thing you can buy.  Yes, it will have the QUACKERY brand on it.  It also comes with a whole back full of explanation and disclaimers, and a quick portal into the experience.  You too can become a card-carrying quack!

This school doesn't even give out wall diplomas.  They feel your credentials are more real if you can carry them around with you all the time, like a library card or one of those useless pocket calendars with a dry-cleaning ad on the back.

Feb 23, 2011

Thing-A-Day 22: Experia Label 2.0

I've revisited my label from Day 15 and came up with a design I really like.  I ditched the rounded shape in favor of emphasizing the teardrop-shaped hole at the top.

I also worked up a quick design for what each "flavor" will look like.  This one is "Snowboard" and features an image of an awesome bro catching some unreal air.  Just the kind of thing you'd expect from an xtreem memory drink.

Feb 21, 2011

Thing-A-Day 20: Wire Basket

A work in progress (and yet another piece of quackery for my quackery book).  This basket is something like a fancy giant tea strainer for your bath.  Only instead of tea, it contains rocks.  Cleansing rocks.  They cleanse.

This idea is a bastard cross between stone healing, bath salts, and images I've found all over the web for massage places.  I filled the basket with glass drops for these photos, but they're supposed to be full of river rocks.  I ran out of time to run to the dollar store and grab some.  Fun fact:  The more river rocks you have lying around, the classier you are.  Look it up.

Made from two altered sink strainers.

Feb 18, 2011

Thing-A-Day 18: The End of R&D

Today, I finished the draft of my book, Research & Development(s).  I celebrated by typing out my credit on the Dymo labeler I'm using to create the cover of the book.
Feb 16, 2011

Thing-A-Day 15: Experia Label 1.0

Tonight, I worked up a label on the lappy, based on my label prototype from Day 6 (http://blog.toenolla.com/?p=40) and my product logo from yesterday (http://blog.toenolla.com/?p=50).

After taping it on the bottle, I noticed the water drop "window" looks through to an easily identifiable spot on the back of the bottle, so I tried adding some color to the back just to see how it looks. 

Unfortunately, I only had a green sharpie lying around – so it just looks like there's a giant bacterium in my water droplet.  Probably not the best message to send to my suckers…I mean, customers.

So many things I want to change about this, but it's getting closer.

Feb 15, 2011

Thing-A-Day 14: Experia Logo

Today's thing is a logo to go on the water bottles from Day 6.  As you can tell, this is no ordinary water!*

This project plays on the idea of "water memory" – an idea in homeopathy, which claims water can "remember" chemicals added to it, long after the chemicals have been removed.

When you sip Experia, you're taken back to the memory of a thrilling skydive, a shuttle launch, witnessing a baby's first steps, or a day at the beach with a beautiful companion.  Experia chooses "memory donors" from around the world to experience the things that make Experia great – and you could be next!**

I'm not sure if I like this design at all, but it's a start.

* It is completely ordinary water.
** This is not even close to true.

Feb 12, 2011

Thing-a-Day 11: Mistiq Varieties

Made up packages for all the different smelly glow sticks I'm planning to offer.  Each one has its own smell and color set.

I scored all of these insert cards on a Martha Stewart scoring board.  I always thought hell would freeze over before I bought something from that brand (mainly because they sell a lot of kits, but also out of disdain) – but it's the only scoring tool of this kind I could find in stores.  If you're doing a project where you have to make a lot of precise folds, it is totally 100% worth the money.