Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Robotic storytelling tree

The Efteling has always been one of the most successful themeparks in keeping people immersed in a constructed reality. It keeps doing so with one of their latest projects: the fairytale tree or "Sprookjesboom." This impressive combination of art and engineering has children talk to it in order to select stories that the tree will then tell them.

The Efteling's art direction in general seems to be moving away from the mysterious illustrated realms of the late Anton Pieck that the park was originally based on. Instead, it is tending to move towards a more Disney-esque depiction of the fairytale characters. I can see that this is the way to go in a modern world where people have trouble letting themselves become part of the environment, and want instant gratifications. The simple friendliness of creating characters with smiles and big eyes makes them very accessible, but it does take away the depth and mystery of more complex characters. The characters that really seem to live there, and are not just there to entertain the people. Beyond simply giving people a fun experience and stimulating mind-patterns of anticipation and satisfaction, the Efteling especially has the potential to reveal an experience of being immersed in authenticity. This calms down the mind and absorbs us through direct sensations, which in the end can help us to start living 'authentic' lives again too.

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