On April 2, 2022, the 15th World Autism Awareness Day, SeeekLab, a specialized creative multimedia agency working at the nexus of design, digital art, and interaction, launched a new public welfare project with a newly-designed multimedia installation named “Hi Tree”. The project aims to raise public awareness of children with autism and facilitate social integration.
Naoki Higashida is a Japanese writer with severe autism. He writes in his book The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a 13-Year-Old Boy with Autism: “When I jump, I feel lighter, and I think the reason my body is drawn skyward is that the motion makes me want to change into a bird and fly off to some faraway place.” As jumping can convey the feelings of freedom and pleasure, SeeekLab starts to design an interactive mechanism triggered by jumping to express these feelings; hence the “Hi Tree”.
“Hi Tree” is an interactive device consisting of long ribbons and a trampoline. Ribbons symbolize the branches and leaves of a tree, while the trampoline is an interactive tool to connect different people. When jumping on it, people will enjoy a sense of freedom and relief as if they were jumping under a tree.
Repetitive behaviors such as jumping, spinning, and clapping hands are very common among autistic children, which help them relieve pressure, be more adaptive to a new environment, and express their feelings. With first-hand experiences on the “Hi Tree”, people have a better chance to understand autistic children.
For a similar purpose, SeeekLab held a creative exhibition “Rain, Sound and Light” for autistic children in 2016. With delicate designs and new media installations, the immersive exhibition was mainly composed of raindrop-shaped lights in various sizes. Through a gentle touch, these lights would change colors and form into different tunes.
By deploying the above creative designs and new media devices, SeeekLab encourages autistic children to interact with different people so that they can find their identification and achieve social integration.
Translated by 王琼