Digital inhabitation and the art of embracing damage.


This thesis is an investigation into the relationship between digital inhabitation, the destructive spaces the production of the digital world creates, and the cathartic capabilities of immersive, inhabitable digital systems. PARDON OUR DUST begins with a critical analysis of the spaces of damage that the creation of computer hardware creates: the global production line of metal mining, metallurgic refining, manufacturing, and recycling. These spaces are often highly polluted and involve dangerous working conditions that have ramifications on the planet and humanity at large. Each of these sites also have unique cultural and labor narratives that have become embedded within the production itself.


Through this analysis, the next stage of PARDON OUR DUST comes in the form of an interactive video game that fictionalizes and simulates the different spaces of the life cycle of the computer. The mechanics of this video game allow the player to not only interact with and manipulate these sites, but the game also serves as a method for players to construct their own narratives and identity within the digital space.


The primary game mechanic is a system based around kintsugi, a Japanese art of repairing broken and damaged pottery pieces by lacing them together with gold lacquer, otherwise known as “the art of embracing damage”. The objective of the player is to construct a hard drive, traveling along all the points of the production and recycling of the hardware itself to build a fictional hard drive. The objective of the game is to impress on the player their own culpability within this production line, to embrace their own damage by using the hardware. If a player chooses not to perform a destructive act within the game, their kipple meter will rise, causing waste to build up and consequences that the player must face later on in the game. PARDON OUR DUST is about recognizing that a video game, if nothing else, is a structural system and set of mechanics that the player reacts to, and that the player’s choice has consequence in both real world and gameworld space.


In summary, this thesis investigates the embodied human relationship to digital worlds, and questions 1) the physical territories of digital production and 2) the psychological space and power that immersive interactive digital inhabitation can have on a human being.

2017. Modeled in Rhino/Maya. Rendered in Unreal Engine 4.

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