DLINQ recently tasked the Interns with creating a visualization that represents some aspect of our relationship to the digital. In tackling this project, I first reflected on the seemingly endless stream of notifications I receive on the daily. While technology certainly helps us to stay connected with others regardless of distance (which is particularly important in quarantine!), I’ve found myself glued to my phone and laptop over the past few months far more than is necessary. As I compulsively check email, Slack, Canvas, and my phone for updates at all hours of the day and night, I can’t help but wonder if my obsession with “staying connected” is preventing me from also being present and enjoying the moment.
Drawing inspiration from video game formats, I made a short animated video that captures the anxiety-producing and endless nature of trying to get to an empty email inbox. The animated short features a cyborg walking you through a tutorial, an inbox with flashing numbers representing different notification amounts, and a “prize” at the end (an empty inbox). However, the very nature of video games is that they can be played over and over, and just as you may reach inbox zero at one moment, you are bound to receive more emails again which will start the process all over again. Check out the video below!
I’m no expert at animation, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning about and creating simple and fun animations for DLINQ. To create “Inbox Zero,” I used a free program called Autodesk Sketchbook. The interface is super simple and easy to use for basic 2D animation, but its main drawback is you can only work with 3 layers at most (foreground, midground, and background). More complex artwork and animation requires advanced animation software like Blender.
I’m excited to continue exploring animation and reflecting on my relationship to technology. At the end of the day, I’m not going to throw my phone out the window to avoid notifications, but I would like to spend more intentional time away from the ever-present screens around me. Life is about balance, and I’m still trying to find a good compromise between an obsession with inbox zero and complete technology withdrawal. For now, I’ll set my relationship status with the digital to “It’s complicated.” Seems pretty accurate.