Neeser Construction and KPB Architects in Anchorage asked Nexus to develop and create a bespoke interactive installation for kids visiting the Alaska Native Medical Center. The hospital has a newly opened Playspace located in the new Maternity and Pediatrics patients housing, for which Wilderness Wiggle is the focal point.
Directed by Chris O’Shea and beautifully designed by Emmanuelle Walker, this gestural installation allows children to enter into a storybook, illustrated world of Alaskan environments as the seasons change: the wilderness, the plains, the deep forest and the snowy mountains. They can play harmonious music and create Alaskan- inspired patterns with their body movements, plant seeds and water plants with their hands (which the Moose then eats!), have snow fights, make singing rainbows with their arms and paint the Northern Lights.
The installation draws direct inspiration from Alaskan native flora and fauna. Each of the animals and plants pictured in the game, from the Rufous Hummingbird, to the Beluga Whale, Bald Eagle, baby Black Bear, Moose and Polar Bear family can all be discovered in the Alaskan wilderness.
Director Chris O’Shea developed Wilderness Wiggle in Unity, using the 3D depth sensing Kinect2 camera, to bring the unimaginable to life by reflecting the children’s video image within the scene and building complex interactions which all work in real-time. Sound Designers Brains and Hunch composed the original music and created an original interactive score for each of the seasons, heavily influenced by Alaskan musical traditions.
The ANTHC (Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium) wanted to commission an experience, which promoted physical movement and active play over more passive, screen-based activities. The promotion of an active lifestyle continues to be a very important healthcare message for the ANTHC. In parallel they also wanted to offer a joyful interactive experience, which would allow children to momentarily escape the reality of their daily treatment and alleviate their boredom if spending a long time in hospital either as a patient or as a family member.
This project is based upon ‘Woodland Wiggle’, an original arts installation created for the Royal London hospital in 2012 also by Nexus and Chris O’Shea.