Focus, But Where?
June 2023 – December 2023
‘Focus, But Where?’ is a web-based hidden object game that playfully explores the intersection of climate change activism and our complex digital landscape. Its initial narrative and concept design were created by Artist Kexin Liu during her Winter Residency at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio and were further developed with the support of Grounding Technologies, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, for its second stage development.
This project offered the perfect opportunity to explore various methods of climate action and critically evaluate the effectiveness of social media. I do not believe that technology holds all the answers to our climate problems, but learning about how to handle the media landscape is a solid start.
Grounding technologies led a series of group workshops to develop out ideas. These orientated around defining our projects audience, making manageable goals, and forming a community. My illustration was led by many team meetings, starting with concept sketches on paper and finishing as fully rendered illustrations made on Adobe Illustrator.
Game Levels // These illustrations are for a browser game, so I wanted to keep things clean and reduce heavy textures and colour. I made them as vectors to ensure that animation would be easier later. The isometric grid allows a lot of information to remain clean, which was essential as it’s a search and find game like Where’s Wally.
News Feed // Each phone screen has a endless feed of pointless news, with the occasional bit of important information regarding the climate crisis. The illustrations are made on Clip Studio Paint.
Paintings // The paintings are for Chapter 2 which takes a closer look at the incident involving Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and soup. I used a 3D cube to make sure they were perfect every time and attempted to push through as much expression as possible through the eye and stick arms and legs.
Using Kexin’s initial design for the eye monsters I sketched a few spreads to test out different ideas. We wanted the character to be easily replicable so that we could make large busy scenes. The cube design slotted nicely into an isometric grid whilst still allowing for plenty of emotion. It also suited the theme of social media with its simplicity.
The concept was then developed on the computer. Here I tested with different textures and halftones. We considered using spot colours to highlight elements of the image but ultimately preferred the starkness of black and white.