Leda Costas and “Mini Museum, Mega Mess”

For our latest spotlight, we reached out to Leda Costa, a freelance photographer based out of Seattle, Washington, to talk to her about her project, “Mini-Museum, Mega Mess.” “Mini-Museum, Mega Mess” is an interactive exploration of the apartment of Hugo Pezzini. For over 20 years, Hugo has made work, collected artifacts, and built a space that reflects the inner workings of his mind.

What I love about this project is that it uses interactivity to emulate the experience of exploring Hugo’s apartment, while simultaneously using stream of consciousness voice-over to create the duality that the apartment is a visual representation of Hugo’s mind. First thing I wanted to know was how this interactive design came to fruition. Leda had begun this project as a standard linear narrative, but when she went to assemble it, it just wasn’t working. Even though she knew the material was good, it was falling flat as a standard narrative.

“I had a folder full of short audio clips of Hugo speaking, a second folder full of images, and a third with video footage.” Leda furthered explained that this is when they decided to try a different approach. “We experimented with several online platforms and I even attempted to learn code, but it wasn’t till I was introduced to Verse that I could make it work.” Leda had a strong belief in her story and that it could work, but she just needed to find the right medium. I had to ask if she ever had any doubts that it was the medium and not her content. “Being a student is a great gift because you can spend days experimenting and if you fail, then it’s a lesson learned. There is no loss. ”

The problem was not that Leda lacked an interesting subject. For the apartment was as abundant as Hugo’s thoughts in terms of interesting things to see, but what was lacking was a narrative spine to frame it around. When she discovered Verse and its tool, she had found her medium. The idea of allowing the user to explore the apartment gave Leda the structure she was so desperately searching for. Since Leda had already shot everything, she took a critical look at Verse’s tools to see which chapters would fit her media best. In the end she decided that Q&A and hot-spots would be best.

I asked her what the biggest obstacle to creating interactive experience. “Nonlinear storytelling can be tricky when you start giving your audience the freedom to choose what to watch.” She told me and it’s even more bewildering that there really is no way to know how a user will interact with the options presented to them. So how did she approach it? Leda explained, “As the creator, you are providing a guiding hand by presenting the content in a visually familiar way, but the hotspots give the viewer the power of curiosity and provide another layer to the story.”

Looking back on the experience and finished product, I wondered what was it that Leda believes is the ultimate appeal of Verse for creators. “The short attention spans of our generation ultimately led me to Verse.” She further elaborated, “However, I did not want to compromise parts of the story just to accommodate short attention spans, so Verse became a great tool for me in this respect. I was able to arrange my content in a way that it is presented for the viewer in one space curated by me. The viewer has the freedom to watch absolutely everything I provided or click ahead/skip sections without losing valuable information”

Leda most certainly created a unique experience using interactivity and I can’t help but be charmed by Hugo’s thoughts as we creep and peer around his mini-museum. So for my final question to Leda, I wonder what she’d advise to others starting out on their own Verse projects, “My advice to those using Verse is to put your project aside for an afternoon and lose yourself in other Verse stories. Take notes of how you experience other Verse stories and use that when you are making creative decisions for your own.”

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