The making of the Modular Body

Jack Caulfield
November 8th 2017

Remember OSCAR, the strange organism created by Cornelis Vlasman in our fellow Floris Kaayk's award-winning speculative project, The Modular Body? Curious about how OSCAR was really created? Keen to know more about the project as a whole? You're in luck! Check out the videos below, which provide an in-depth look at what went on behind the scenes of The Modular Body project.

Animating OSCAR

At the time of the project many assumed that OSCAR, even if he wasn't a real living creature, was at least a real animatronic creation, not a virtual one. So it may be surprising to learn that the footage of OSCAR's movements was purely the product of ingenious animation.

In this video, the project's animator Adriaan van Veldhuizen shows us the steps he took to produce such convincing images of OSCAR. Adriaan began with basic, unshaded models. The first step was to work on the animations themselves, the way OSCAR moved. Only then he began to implement the textures and lighting that turned OSCAR into such a convincing,and unsettling, creature. See Adrian's process for yourself:

The Making of the Conversation

While Adriaan was hard at work bringing OSCAR to life, the rest of the team was figuring out how to show him to the world. The question the team had to answer was: how best to present the Modular Body? "I think you can tell a story like this in a linear way, but it was much more interesting to create a database" says Ine Poppe, who worked on research and scripting for the project.

The Modular Body website was designed with this in mind. Nienke Huitenga, who handled online strategy, discusses the multimedia approach taken. This approach saw content from the Modular Body project being spread over all kinds of social media, and the site itself being designed as a collection of fragments rather than a linear narrative. Jacob Schlötter, the project's interaction designer, discusses this unique design: "It felt like we made an installation in the web". The website's "story path", he says, was designed to show the user their unique narrative path through the Modular Body project.

The Modular Body site has been a big hit. But Nienke says: "We're not very interested in numbers; it's more about the conversations". Has the story of Cornelis and OSCAR made you think? Check out the video below for more insight into the project and the conversations it has brought to life.

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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