cpsc 581 assignment 3


helen is an interactive art piece meant to be placed inside a public place such as a transit shelter and is meant to convey 'hygge' to the viewer of the piece. Hygge (hyue-guh), a Danish word meaning something close to comfortness felt from the simple pleasures of life, is brought to life through the use of a dark, candle-lit background, the soft glows of flames, soft knitted wool, and the humble clothing of the titular girl, Helen. This project was completed using Unity and the Microsoft Kinect 2.0. Through this low-effort interactive art piece, I hoped to bring a little hygge to strangers sharing a brief respite through empathizing with the simple wish of a determined girl.

This project was built using a Unity template by Kevin Ta and incorporates music from the video game, NieR:Automata.

What makes up helen?


Helen, derived from the Greek word for torch, is loosely based on the story of The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. Although the original story is bittersweet, if not tragic, Helen uses the light from her match to light candles, lighting up the world around her and her audience.

low-effort interaction

Onlookers appear in the art piece as glowing halos of light. Intermittently, a small flame appears and anyone detected by the piece will have a chance to control it by moving their right hand around. They can either then help Helen to light the candles or make Helen's flame brighter by adding to her match's flame. When enough fire has been added to her match, the flame becomes brighter, Helen's pace becomes faster and more confident, eventually becoming happy that she's being helped out. Each level is indicated by a change in the music, as demonstrated below in the video demo.

Microsoft Kinect 2.0

The primary point of interaction for this project. The main method of interaction is waiting for a small flame to appear and then using one's right hand to either guide the flame and light candles or add to Helen's match-flame.

Video Demo

initial sketches

refinement sketches

future work

Increase the robustness of the multiplayer (assymetrical multiplayer?).
Add real-time event integration (weather/transit arrival API).
Have candle heights be meaningful (data visualisation?).

c 403.305.0992