TRACKS: Creating the first Critical Object

Concept

When thinking about this first assignment and all of the possibilities for creating a critical object it was easy to get overwhelmed with subject matter. This is why Dana and I decided to create a piece that would be light hearted but still make people think. Our ideation really began when we started talking about standardization of things and process that have seemingly just been accepted by people over the years.

After talking about that concept for a bit we started talking about credit cards and how they add a level of separation between the feelings of spending money, which is a serious action, and the feeling of playing, either by swiping, inserting, or tapping a card. From this idea we began to develop a game modeled after wooden train sets. The game we developed is titled TRACKS.

Wooden train track example

Wooden train track example

The theme of the game is that the player opens up a box that looks like it contains a normal game, when they open the box they are initially presented with a credit card and a manual for playing the game. After that they can begin assembling the tracks and use the credit card to play with them.

Design

The design took heavily from minimalist packaging design and old VHS cases. We wanted the packaging and information given in the box to really highlight that this was a game, supposedly designed by a large company. We also wanted the game to be ambiguous to its intentions until the player really reads the information provided and starts to assemble the pieces of track.

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Build Process

The actual building of the tracks and the box were more difficult than we had expected. Without access to ITP’s laser we were forced to hand carve each piece of track for the credit card to slide in. Also creating the box proved challenging as we chose the wrong thickness of cardboard at first which gave us issues with bending.

Final materials ended up being hard foam pieces, dowels, cardboard, and paper mixes. Below are some photos of the building process.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, I feel that the execution of the piece went very well considering the limitations imposed with time and tools. Given more time I would rework the track and maybe design a credit card specifically for the assignment.

Below are some photos of the final piece: