It is the creativity and willingness to explore that makes Yu Jen Chen, the young artist from Taiwan, stand out. While most designers still focus on the realm of motion and graphic, Chen completed and exhibited her first interactive art design Flora early as in 2018. Flora is an interactive installation created by a group of Unity collaborators in Brooklyn and was presented at Java Studios. The design concept behind this project contains some extraordinary ideas and fascinating interaction with the audience.
"I tried user interface design, website design, branding and finally decided to be a motion designer," Chen explained, "interactive art is relatively new to me, but I've found it a brand-new way to tell stories and make the message that I want to convey to the audience into a more engaging experience."
The projection puts the user in the POV of a wanderer, moving through a beautiful forest scene with lush undergrowth and mossy rock formations. But amid the trees, there are virtual TV screens with broken screens overtaken by foliage. The screens still function, illuminating the surrounding trees and adding their soundtrack to the ambiance of the forest.
On the physical screen on the plinth, the same content plays as the virtual screens. The remote-control blinks and flashes, inviting visitors to turn the knobs and switches and press the buttons. When they do so, they will be interacting with the world, changing the channel on the TVs, adjusting the reception, and perhaps making changes to lighting, speed of travel, etc. Every channel shows a live feed from inside the gallery, showing the backs of the visitors, hopefully creating the feeling of being trapped inside the television.
"We want to create an experience where people are expected to make a choice between nature and the content being displayed on TV," Chen further added, "and according to our observation, users are still more attracted to their own images on TV than the nature itself while others found the TV screens disturbing."
This immersive experience gained popularity as soon as it was presented at Java Studios. It took Chen and the team three months to finish this project and the result turned out to be substantially satisfying. Hundreds of visitors interacted with Flora and provided Chen and other designers with extremely positive feedback, claiming they had a lot of fun.
Flora was Chen's first attempt to manifest a full-range 3D design. In this process, she was mainly responsible for model-building, substance-painting, and optimizing the environment. From small motion to the design of environment dynamics of 360 degrees, Chen achieved her first breakthrough in her career path.