CReative direction - Live Experience
The Gathering at
The Poet's Shack

About the project

Our cross-disciplinary team was tasked with creating an innovative and captivating event for Miami University, which showcased art through the lens of technology while demonstrating our commitment to diversity, inclusion, cultural awareness, and the democratization of the arts. We created an experience celebrating the spoken word, and encouraging everyone to let their voices be heard.

history & context

“The Poet’s Shack” was the name students gave to the home of poet Percy MacKaye in Bishop Woods during his stay as artist in residency, which was the first of its kind in the United states. Mackaye used the space as a place where students and faculty could engage in spoken word in a creative and inclusive environment.

CONCEPT

Through intensive research, ideation, and a framework inspired by Walt Disney Imagineering, I spearheaded the concept development with a narrative that took the given prompt and transformed it into an immersive experience. Our final concept explored the idea of the land untethered to time acknowledging all that had been there and would possibly be there in the future. It started with the land’s Myaamia roots, moved onto the historical shack of Poet Percy MacKaye, and finally directed toward’s the contemporary and future of art.

SET DESIGN

I designed the set of the experience with the intention to enchant the area. As the audience and by-passers would approach the grounds, I wanted to invoke the feeling that somehow these historical woods, for one night only, have come back to life. Almost as if the spirit of Percy MacKaye was present.

I did this all while taking into account many limitations including: social distancing, budgeting, and the ground rules set to preserve the historical land.

PROJECTION SHOW

Working with our animation team, I directed a short visual film for a projection show that would function as our main attraction. I took the concept of the land throughout time, and tied it into themes using poetry written by students, faculty, and alumni.

GENERATIVE ART

Using After Effects and an AI powered image breeder, I crafted a dozen minute long videos to accompany famous poems and musical compositions for our augmented reality experience. Users were able to watch these videos by scanning markers that were scattered around the grounds of the event.

MOBILE COMPANION APP

I lead our UX/UI team to develop an app that was directly integrated into the experience. This application allowed users to write poems and share them at the event for everyone to see. Guests at the experience were also able to use the companion app to view selected works of generative art through the use of Augmented Reality.

“Magic” is a good word for the experience visitors got walking through the woods to visit the shack and seeing their poetry projected onto Upham Hall. It was the kind of magic that, in the middle of a pandemic, many people were glad to see is still here.

Jake Ruffer - The Miami Student