RANDOMLY IN ITS PLACE: Therapeutic Responsive Art System

SickKids Hospital Toronto / Critical Unit Waiting Room Project
Designed by: Tom Kuo, Alex Kurnia, and David Bouchard.
Completed: September 15th, 2010

RANDOMLY IN ITS PLACE is a multi-screen, interactive installation. It is aimed at facilitating a degree of emotional healing for the users of the Critical Care Unit Waiting Room at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Part of the complete redesign of the space called for the development and installation of a custom-designed immersive artwork. With the objective to provide a therapeutic and calm environment for worried family members and friends, the artwork is meant to help users cope with their anxiety while waiting for a loved one under critical care.

The visual engine combines picturesque plant-life with the soothing motions of growth patterns. All contained within an evolving ecosystem that encompasses a full-day-cycle, it suggests the sensations of looking out through windows onto an infinite and beautiful landscape. Deliberately designed with slight abstract characteristics, the visuals remain subjective with the content being easily acceptable. The graphics and forms were carefully considered not to raise negative opinions or hint at sensitivities surrounding the patient’s well-being.

The graphical elements and their motion are generated by a custom-built software system utilizing tracking data collected from a series of sensor devices installed within the space. The engine discretely encourages the users to think positively. Through subtle choreography and interaction, users are subconsciously provided with a sense of greater support. The technologies and techniques remain non-intrusive, to avoid creating any sense of feeling manipulated. It is important that users not feel as though they are part of a game.
The experience is designed to be mesmerizing and to evoke a sense of timelessness. Its calculated pace, rhythm, and esthetic offers users the opportunity to redirect their nervous energies, to settle into acceptance and peace within themselves. We wish to assist them to gain a better perspective during the time they spend within the waiting room.

Creative Agenda and Design Highlights of the Artwork:
• In-depth study in understanding the users’ needs and their various frames of mind.
• Care in creating an integrated user experience.
• A multi-stage production including prototyping, focus groups, and incorporating user opinions.
• Offers therapeutic and calming values through the visuals and rhythm.
• Immersive, non-intrusive, and tastefully integrated into the space.
• Mesmerizing; offers a sense of timelessness.
• Helps to redirect anxiety into a sense of acceptance, and fear into a sense of trust.
• Offers the users a sense of not feeling alone, with a level of greater empathy.
• Offers the users the idea that their presence is a “positive contribution”.
• Offers a sense of ownership, and control, for the users within this unfamiliar surrounding.
• Encourages the users to “take a walk”, through choreographed motion.
• Conscious of hygiene requirements and made easy to maintain for the hospital staff.
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