Turn out the lights and explore a dream world in Ana Somnia | AltSalt

Turn out the lights and explore a dream world in Ana Somnia

Ana Somnia is a great flash animation that, using a simple webcam effect, becomes a neat interactive piece.

Ana Somnia is a great flash animation that, using a simple webcam effect, becomes a neat interactive piece.

Length: 5 min (but can loop infinitely)
Devices: Desktop
Technology: Flash
Cost: Free

Ana Somnia is a meditation on what it’s like to dream. It’s also a piece that uses a single interactive element to draw us into an animated world, a clever decision that is minimalism at its best.

On the title screen, atmospheric sounds introduce us to Ana Somnia’s creepy Tim Burton-esque world. We promptly find ourselves inside a little girl’s bedroom. The girl, sitting up in bed, tells us to turn off the lights and goes to sleep. The piece then waits for our interaction, and we hear a music box playing in the background.

Here, the pencil drawings of a little girl's bedroom evoke a Tim Burton-esque creepy atmosphere.

Here, the pencil drawings of a little girl’s bedroom evoke a Tim Burton-esque creepy atmosphere.

It’s here that the clever trick comes out. To “turn off the lights,” you can spoil the fun and cover up your webcam with your hand; or, if willing to play along for a moment, you can turn off the lights in the room you’re physically in (yes, that involves getting up and turning the lights off in real life), to trigger the webcam into opening the rest of the story.

After doing so, Ana’s dream world comes alive, and we progress through a series of animated images, including strange creatures, tentacles, and assorted objects, as well as music and sound effects to match.

Ana Somnia's world is full of strange creatures and shapes.

Ana Somnia’s world is full of strange creatures and shapes.

For me, it’s the subtleties that really make this piece come alive. The world is nicely fleshed out, from the sound design and music down to the seemingly trivial details (in the opening scene, for example, hovering over the teddy bear will cause it to cover its eyes).

Also interesting is how much the webcam adds to the experience. It’s a great example of creating new kinds of artistic meaning with technology. This animation could’ve been a simple video… but isn’t it cooler when there’s interactivity involved?

All good things must come to an end; turn on the lights and Ana will wake up and rub her eyes.

All good things must come to an end; turn on the lights and Ana will wake up and rub her eyes.

I always love to see artists doing interesting things with the technology at their disposal. Now this is just an idea, but it’d be great to see, for example, an e-book that uses the same webcam principle to add some extra immersion in telling its story.

Ana Somnia was created by German artist Kim Köster. You can support him by purchasing Ana Somnia posters and other merchandise here.

About the author

Artemio Morales

Artemio Morales is a programmer, digital literature enthusiast, and founder of AltSalt. Perpetually stricken with wanderlust, he enjoys playing music, social dancing, and making awesome work with talented people.

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