Week 7 – BASEMENT – Semester 2

CLASS NOTES & MORE:

04.04.2022 – Tutorial Notes

During the 3rd individual tutorial with Miranda, we discussed ways for me to get back on track with the project, as well as the goal for The TAKEOVER we are currently preparing for.

We agreed, that in order to get my project back on track, I should spend a week (or longer) filling in the posts. While this is happening later than sooner, I have made a daily upload schedule for the Easter Break, which will allow me to fill in the remaining posts without getting overwhelmed.

For The TAKEOVER, we discussed my ideas for exhibiting the project – I decided to separate it into two parts – first one lasting 2 hours, where I gather responses from everyone and write the remaining chapters (some of the rooms will get cut out from the project – I decided to utilise these ideas for my workshop instead), and second part, where I gather people to design their own characters and rooms based on the responses I received.

04.04.2022 – Class Notes

This workshop, we gathered in the CA Studio to present our group project ideas, and vote for the proposal that got our attention. The winning idea is used as a group project for our last session before Easter Break – that’s why the competition might be quite tense!

My idea, named “Identity Switch”, stems from the wish of learning to understand someone beyond the basic layer of acquaintance, as well as allowing myself to be and feel understood by others. The basic idea for this project is to draw out random names of our colleagues, and learning as much as you can about the person you picked. This information would be then used to respectfully impersonate that person – develop an empathetic bond with them though assuming their identity for the lenght of the workshop. It would be devided into five phases – the lottery, the conversation, research, mind map of parallels and finally, the group discussion. Sadly, it wasn’t chosen, but I’m glad to say, that the project I voted on ended up winning. Congratulations Matthew!


PROJECT:

PROJECT SUMMARY:

My project is a process of creation of a story inspired by research, as well as by my family members and memories. My aim is to educate myself and broaden my horizons – that’s why I decided to collaborate with my friends and colleagues and collect their responses.

These responses collected on my research cards will then be turned into inspiration for my story – the house and character designs, as well as the chapters themselves. Through trial and error, I’m still learning the best ways of creatively challenging my peers, as well as incorporating their feedback into my project.

As it’s my final semester at Aberystwyth University, I decided to come out of my shell and make the process much more external than all of my previous projects.

This week’s story will get quite mysterious. It seems like a storm is approaching Jenny’s relationship…

23.03.2022 – Research

Articles used for this research:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basement

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basement_(disambiguation)

A basement/cellar is used to describe a floor (or multiple floors) located under the ground level. In British English however, basement is usually only used to describe a place under the ground level that has its own access and windows, while cellar is used for the whole underground level. However, since the action of my story takes place in America, I’m going to avoid the usage of British English and interpret basement as the level(s) under ground floor.

Typically, the purpose of a basement is storage and as a utility space. Common objects that lie within a basement are old boxes filled with neglected memories, tools, AC systems, water heaters, breaker panels and furnaces. It’s also a common spider hangout place, usually avoided by arachnophobes (no source for this statement, as I’m speaking from experience).

I was able to find three films titled “(The) Basement”, all of which being modern horror films, which may prove that the dreadful potential of the basement has been a recent fixation.

23.03.2022 – Experimentation + Research (Cont’d)

05.04.2022 – Reflection

What is a basement?

The basement, to me and probably many others, has an unparalleled potential for being the most dreadful and terror-inducing place amongst all the other rooms a potential house could have. The attic, similarly eerie and dark, is not able to best the basement’s cruelest imaginations. A good example of that mindset being quite common among individuals is the overwhelming number of horror films taking place in the basement. The terror doesn’t come from the darkness itself, but from the feeling of being buried under the ground – almost as if you become dislocated from the world once you step through the threshold in the form of stairs or a hatch.

Another potentially scary factor that contributes to creating fear is the assumed presence of spiders and other bugs. As a child, I always stayed clear of the basement in my block of flats, simply because my young brain couldn’t help but associate it with the spiders that made it their home. In my story, I will look at both aspects of the fear that comes with the basement.

08.04.2022 – “The Cellar” mini-review

Still from the short film

The Cellar by Rebecca Cox is a quite bizarre story. Starting with an innocent moment between a little boy and his babysitter, this short film quickly turns into a rollercoaster of fear, anxiety and rapidly growing dread – so overpowering, that I had to watch most of the later scenes from behind my fingers, expecting a ghastly creature to jump at me. However, nothing like that ever happened, as the film focused on inflicting fear through suspense and storytelling, rather than unsettling imagery.

The story follows a little boy on a quest to find his babysitter, who disappeared into thin air. She’s last seen using her phone, while a pair of gloved hands reach out from behind her. The boy expresses his fear while entering the cellar, and quickly stumbles upon a ringing phone, however doesn’t decide to answer the call. The situation gets even weirder as he finds his babysitter, chained and screaming for help. As he runs out to leave the cellar (presumably to get help), he realizes that he’s trapped, and when he returns there’s no trace of the woman. The phone rings again, and this time, he answers. He is then seen putting on the bloody white gloves, presumably belonging to the babysitter’s abductor.

The scene of the boy putting on the bloody gloves after accepting the call could indicate a spirit possessing human bodies through mobile devices – which could be a critique of modernity, arguing that we’re thrown into this confusing space, not knowing how to navigate it well enough to not get lost – especially without altering our personality.

23.04.2022 – Group Experimentation Online Edition

23.04.2022 – Character? Design?

23.04.2022 – Room Design

A Lifetime To Remember – Chapter 7

Anna and Jenny left the living room in order to console the grieving lady. Unexpectedly however, upon arriving by the corridor, their eyes were met with those of a calm, smiling woman, much like the first time they met. Despite the redness in her eyes, no trace seemed to remain from the few minutes ago when she lost her composure.

“Alright ladies, where would you rather go first? Downstairs we have two places of interest, and upstairs is a whole different story! That’s probably what’s interesting to you the most if you’d like to live there.” Stanisława asked, placing the burden of the choice on her guests.

“I suppose it makes more sense to see the basement first rather than backtrack later on?” Said Jenny in a state of half-focus, trying to remain logical among the swarms of curious thoughts about Stanisława’s sudden emotional change.

“Yeah, that makes sense…” Replied Anna, similarly taken aback.

“Well, I’m afraid there isn’t really anything interesting in there as the entire basement is mostly collecting dust, but I can say it has potential to become truly magical if you decide to renovate it!” Stanisława chuckled. “Follow me!”

Mrs. Przybylska guided the two women into the kitchen, and after they all had gathered, opened the hatch to reveal a dark passage.

“Oh!” Exclaimed Anna in surprise. “So that’s the entrance to the basement. It’s so easy to miss!”

“You can easily cover it under a carpet and treat it as a secret vault.” Stanisława replied with a playful wink.

As those two entered the chatty mood again, Jenny involuntarily let go of following the conversation and immersed herself in the peculiarities around her. The first thing that caught her attention was the abundance of boxes and other old trinkets, littering the space around them. Old fairy lights laid on the floor, motionless and long forgotten – devoid of any purpose. As Stanisława mentioned, there wasn’t that much to analyse.

Jenny threw one last quick glance at everything to re-assess the place. Some old, furniture, boxes filled with memories and unnecessary trinkets, and a writer’s desk. Wait a moment…

“This desk seems to be in a good condition?” Jenny thought aloud. “Why is it sitting there, abandoned?”

Stanisława chuckled awkwardly and thought in silence. Jenny’s curiosity grew with each second.

“There is a really absurd belief among my family that this desk is, um… Inhabited by a being from the other side.”

Jenny raised her eyebrow, as Anna chuckled.

“Well, if it’s haunted that’s only going to increase its value!” She exclaimed, bits of laughter still escaping through her lips.

“I suppose, it’s a very polite ghost!” Mrs. Przybylska reciprocated the laughter.

“Could you tell us why you think it’s haunted? I want to know what led an entire family to believe that.”

“Jenny!” Anna shouted, treating her girlfriend with a sharp elbow nudge. “If there’s any reason she would ask that, it’s to poke fun at you for not being sceptical enough.” Said Anna, directing her words towards Stanisława.

Jenny felt a quite unpleasant sensation in her chest after hearing those words. She was aware of her reputation as a doubter and a sceptic, but hearing her partner openly question her good intentions shattered something inside her.

“That’s not what I meant… Do you really think that about me?” She faced her girlfriend, not breaking eye contact for even a second. “Do you think my only intention is to ridicule? Maybe you should reconsider settling in with me then.” Jenny said in a trembling voice, refusing to look Anna in the eyes.

“No, I did not think that was offensive!” Stanisława exclaimed in an attempt to mediate the conflict. “I’ll gladly share the story with you, it’s quite interesting. Do you remember how I told you about the previous owner being quite… eccentric?”

Jenny sighed. While the feelings of hurt and betrayal still lingered deep inside her, she decided it would be best to play along, hoping for a distraction.

“You did mention something like that.” She said apathetically.

“This desk was originally here, then we moved it to the study. As you can see, it’s back here again…” Stanisława sighed. “Ann was the first one to spot the letters. They came out of nowhere, and similarly – disappeared out of nowhere. Starting from love confessions and poems, ending in… quite gruesome confessions and blank pages.”

The atmosphere was quite thick, and no one said anything. The conflict between Jenny and Anna seemed to electrify the place. Stanisława thought of ways to amend the situation.

“At first, Darek reacted just like you.” She said, pointing at Jenny. “He was sure a rational explanation was waiting there somewhere. He was also the one who noticed that the letters looped year by year – starting sweet and tender in January and morphing into the bizarre… bitterness by December. He ran a couple of experiments, all of them didn’t help us wrap out heads around the situation. When he placed a camera near the desk, the letters would appear only in the drawers. No one was caught sneaking them by. But when we didn’t watch, the letters would pile up by the desk itself, overflowing at times. We just decided to accept it and give up. Kind of forgot about it by now!” Stanisława chuckled nervously.

Despite the old lady’s best effort, the air between Jenny and Anna remailed tense. She sighed upon her failure, then motioned the two to the next room.

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