The Laughing Snake is a web-based hypertext narrative by Morehshin Allahyari, re-appropriating the story of the Laughing Snake – taken from Kitab al-bulhan (The Book of Wonders) – to reflect on a series of personal and imagined stories in relation to the female body in the Middle East, hysteria, and re-imagined futures.
The project can be viewed on Artport, the Whitney Museum’s online gallery space for commissions of net art and new media art.
Web development team composed of one other person, Tonia Beglari, who assisted with preparing and optimizing 3D models for web, creating normal maps, and fixing performance issues.
Story, visuals and direction by: Morehshin Allahyari.
Sound design by: Andrea Young.
HYPERTEXT NARRATIVE: STRUCTURE AND FLOW
Windrift is designed to produce narratives that are informed by user selection or choice, similar to systems like Twine. While Twine is optimized for writing branching stories, Windrift is better suited for mutable stories. The Laughing Snake’s narrative structure has a mix of both branching and mutable “choices”, making Windrift an ideal choice.
The Laughing Snake, example of mutable text
3D ANIMATION: DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
Stylistically, The Laughing Snake has a minimal, monochromatic color scheme:
The Laughing Snake, scene 2
The Laughing Snake, scene 7
It showcases its 3D-ness in slow, subtle movements between the objects in the scene and the interplay of shadow, light and reflective surfaces:
The Laughing Snake, scene 3: test with four lights orbiting the model and one directional light
The Laughing Snake, scene 4: test with multiple lights
CHOREOGRAPHING LIGHT AND REFLECTION
Subsequently, I spent much of my time choreographing the movement of the 3D snake model, directional lights, spot lights, fill lights, orbiting point lights, and camera pov:
The Laughing Snake, scene 5: test with reflective snake and hard lighting
The Laughing Snake, scene 5: test with muted snake and dim lighting
The Laughing Snake, scene 5: test with gods-eye view camera angle
View the complete project.
The Laughing Snake, scene 3 & 4
The Laughing Snake, scene 4 & 5
The Laughing Snake, scene 6 & 7