Who . . . or what . . . is Seymour Deeply?

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Seymour Deeply is actually both a “who” and a “what.”  Seymour is the title character of my MFA thesis project of the same name.

As part of my Masters of Fine Arts in Interactive Media, I am required to complete not only a thesis paper, but also a thesis project.  My interest in using stereoscopic 3D as an integral part of a narrative lead me to develop what has now become Seymour Deeply, the project.  The project is an immersive interactive storybook using stereoscopic 3D combined with Microsoft’s Kinect for gestural interfacing.

The story of Seymour is a retelling and continuation of the Jack and the Beanstalk fable, but from Seymour’s point of view.  Seymour is the son of Stanley Deeply, who many may remember as “The Giant.”  Seymour longs to escape his family’s plans for him (Stanley wants him to continue the family tradition of being a gold farmer – seriously, why else do you think they have geese that lay golden eggs) and become an astronomer, touch the stars and explore other worlds.  His plans start to shift, however, when a handsome youth from The Belowlands arrives in the back acre of his estate, climbing a beanstalk.  Even though the laws of Abovia forbid any contact or fraternization with those Below, Seymour finds himself connected to this youth, Jack, and soon realizes that his feelings of attraction are reciprocated.  Jack returns home briefly, but his love for Seymour (and his mother’s insistence on more golden geese) soon sends him back up the stalk.  His reunion with Seymour is short-lived, though, because Stanley has discovered their forbidden love and chases Jack back down to The Belowlands.  Jack’s neighbors, wary of more visitors from above are already chopping down the stalk.  Jack barely, but safely, makes it to the ground. Stanley isn’t so lucky.  Now, in mourning over the loss of his father and seemingly separated forever from his true love, Seymour Deeply begins a quest to reconnect with Jack, acquire more magic beans, and find his way down to The Belowlands and to Jack.

Early Concept art of the Worlds of Seymour Deeply

Seymour Deeply is conceived as a transmedia project. The story outlined above will be told in comic book form as both a webcomic and as a limited run printed comic for the 2012 USC Interactive Media Thesis Show, Other Worlds. The story continues as a playable interactive experience, where the player takes on the role of Seymour through several levels of the narrative.  For the first level, Seymour (following the customs of his people when a new head of the family emerges) is granted his heart’s desire – in Seymour’s case, the ability to touch the stars.  The player, as Seymour, gets to generate new stars and form new 3D constellations.  He soon realizes, however, that the objects being formed are actually related to his true heart’s desire, Jack.  Then, Seymour must take the drastic step of cultivating rare magic beans (which are only formed and collected during lightning storms).  Once these are collected, Seymour is able to deliver them to Jack–who grows a new beanstalk so Seymour can escape and the two of them can be reunited.

Seymour Deeply will premiere as an installation in the 2012 USC Interactive Media Thesis Show, Other Worlds, opening May 4, 2012 and running through USC’s commencement on May 11, 2012.  If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please stop by as we’ll be open every day (times still to be determined).

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