A conceptual art project by Carson Kaucher ’22 has received a national Silver Award in the prestigious Scholastic Art Competition (2021). Submitted in the Expanded Project Category, reserved for Interdisciplinary work that is “primarily driven by concept or invites participation by a viewer or community, Carson’s highly original and complex project, as explained by its creator, contains “a wide variety of media, including websites, 3D animations, direct interactions with characters, podcasts, puzzles, and much more—all connected to tell a story."
And the story? This Wonderful World is a sci-fi mystery/thriller that plays out within the environment of an online game. The plot involves ANGEL, a sentient artificial intelligence (AI) that has gone rogue, and ANGEL’s creator, AI expert Jeremy, has gone into hiding as he tries to figure out a way to destroy his creation. Meanwhile, the players must try to find Jeremy, communicating with him secretly via messages and clues embedded in artwork, music, videos, and puzzles linked to the game. In the end, the players must help Jeremy by deciding among three possible scenarios to end the game and destroy ANGEL.
"This Wonderful World was a four-week-long interactive online experience that explored the medium of the 'alternate-reality game (ARG),’” explains Carson. “ARGs have intrigued me for a long time because of how they make players an active part of the story, encouraging groups of strangers to work together to solve a common goal.” Asked what inspired him to create his game: he saw a media post by a group that was running several ARGs and he decided to give it a go, since he would be assured of having players for his game and the deadlines would keep him on task. Carson says he dedicated about 20 weeks to creating This Wonderful World, and for the month that it was in play online, he spent four to five hours a day running it.
“I knew when we were exchanging emails about this project that this was a very unique and creative work,” says Dr. Ellen Fishman, Director of SCH’s Arts and New Media. “Many digital artists are wrestling with how to make meaningful, interactive works, Carson has created an innovative experience that has been enjoyed by many players.”
And recognized with a silver medal for his creativity. Congratulations, Carson!
The image below is of KAT, one of the AI characters in the story.