Process Post

Samantha Mills and Riana Schaff
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For thousands of years, humans have used animals as a cruel form of entertainment. We decided to create a multimedia project called “Entrapment”, where people can experience what it feels like to be trapped in a cage and gage an understanding about how helpless animals feel. We specifically focused on elephants in captivity, mainly circuses. Studies have shown that elephants live half their average lifespan in captivity than if they were to live on a wildlife reserve or in the wild. The cage that we created gives a false perspection of how much room these animals have, with sliding doors that close in on the experiencer and sound to make them feel even more trapped. The experiencer enters the cage by crawling through the door. On each side of them are two sets of walls, one set closes in on the experiencer giving them less room. The walls are controlled by a crank on the outside of the cage which is powered by another person, who has to continually agree to the punishment. This element affects the experiencer on a physiological level since they are left helpless and hoping that the other person won’t hurt them. We were also planning on adding sound and playing around with light, however because of limited time we did not get the chance to work on those aspects of the experience.

At first, we thought about using pulleys and wheels to close our walls. Strings would be tied to the wheels that would go through the pulleys. There would be an extra two inches on the cage for the wheels to sit in, so that the contraption would be hidden. The strings would loop around a set of dowels that would also travel through the middle of the cage, to reach the top of the cage. We also considered using springs that would decompress as the walls moved, but we decided this was too complicated. To eliminate friction we had our wheel design sit in the track because plastic moves better across wood than wood does across itself. The wheel design was 3D printed and had just enough space for the 3D printed wheel to move freely with a lock nut. There ending up being seven dowels in both the top and bottom of the cage: three on each side and one in the middle. One dowel is in each corner and then there is a dowel between those dowels. The dowel in the middle holds a circle with four cut out circles that the strings would be tied into. The strings would be tied in directly across from each other, to get the desired movement. Both the top and bottom of the cage had this contraption. Unfortunately, we were unable to get the walls moving or all the strings implemented by the end of the two weeks.

For our iterations we scaled down the cage to be one fourth the size it would actually be. We originally planned for the second set of walls to be outside the cage and they would just affect light, but we decided that walls sliding closer to the experiencer gives them a deeper understanding of what it feels like to be trapped in a small place. For our first iteration we built a standard cage with two sets of walls, however the walls could not move. After looking at this and thinking about the mechanisms that causes the walls to move we added two inches on both the top and the bottom of each one of the outer four walls, so the mechanism could be placed inside to make the walls move. For our final iteration we reworked some of the holes and placements, because the mechanism changed. We did not get enough time to put the mechanism in, other than the wheels which help the walls move because of limited time, however we are going to continue working on the project for IPP week and hopefully will have a working model by the end.