Subterranean Trades

UCLA AUD, Entertainment Studio

Technology Seminar, Winter 2020

Instructor: Nathan Su

Team: Gesthimani Roumpani, Liang Yang, Ruohan Yang

Concept art for the dark web metaphor by Gesthimani Roumpani.

“In this land, the sun reigns over the halcyon surface and beautifully highlights the imposing temple, situated in the very heart of the Kingdom. Albeit its prominent location, the lack of doors or windows makes it impossible for the citizens to get inside; the only access is through the Dark Canyon, the single place that the never-setting sun cannot reach. Though its existence is no secret, the Dark Canyon is not exactly a tourist destination for the people. Not so much because it is hard to find a way to descend into the Canyon, if not advised by a more experienced traveler, but because of the myriads of stories about it.

The notion of planning does not exist down here; the deeper you descend, the less sense the infrastructure makes. There are no maps or plans depicting the Dark Canyon; one must either know their way around it, or else wander aimlessly. Neon-lights alluringly illuminate the intricate structures, promising wanderers the experiences, products, or services of their deepest desires. Convoluted circulation, impenetrable doors, and paths leading to nowhere dominate the shadows. But to get to the Temple you have to find your way around the shadows; the serene river flowing in the Canyon is too out in the open to use as a path, exposing oneself to con artists, salacious desires, or illegal and precarious activities.

People do not exactly know what is happening in the Temple. It is rumored that those who enter, never come back. Did they disappear forever, or did they stay there by choice? A place whose entrance is through the Dark Canyon can only be at least equally dangerous, right? But what is this light the Temple is emitting?”

Sound & video edit by Gesthimani Roumpani.

Situating ourselves as designers in the curation of digital simulacra, we created the world of the “Dark Canyon” as a spatial interpretation of a digital space that most people have never visited; the dark web. Our goal was to fabricate a sense of immersion that would create the illusion of “this is how the dark web must feel like”. The Temple symbolizes the lesser known ability of the dark web to act as a safe space, whereas the interior structure of the canyon is approached as a marketplace, inspired by the infamous “Silk Road” of the darknet.

 © 2020 by Gesthimani Roumpani

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