The more create programs in The Eureka Room, the more I discover how useful negative space is when creating programs. It’s tempting to just “make all the lights go crazy” but what really seems to have the most impact is when there’s contrast between the lights and the darkness.
In a lot of ways the visuals (perhaps since they are time-based) are like music. Few people enjoy hearing a ceaseless barrage of notes. The silence between the notes matters. Like Miles Davis famously said, “it’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play.”
For example. You’re in the Eureka Room’s High 5 program. There’s lights and sound and you high five with a stranger. Then the lights go out.
At which point you have a quick moment of personal reflection.
In that split second in the darkness, cramped in a small room with strangers, you think: “Dang. This is a pretty weird thing we’re doing”.
If I’ve done my job right, you (hopefully) laugh (internally or externally) at the realization.
And then BAM. The lights are back and you’re off to the races again.
And hopefully with the return of the lights there is a second emotional reaction. Maybe laughter, excitement, anticipation, or some other sort of emotional work that allows your moment of personal reflection be reconciled into your current reality. Because you have a better idea of how this is going to go.
But that’s just example of using negative space in the Eureka Room.
It’s very tempting to show a bunch of bright lights non-stop. But adding those moments of darkness – sometimes complete darkness, sometimes all darkness except one small patch of lights, can really create some amazing moments due to contrast and surprise.
And it’s not just the lights and the music where negative space helps the experience, it’s also pauses in voiceovers. Much of the playfulness and humor I try to create comes from utilizing pauses or breaks. “Comedic timing” is knowing where to put the negative space.
Music can have silence. Movies can have silence of audio and video. In the Eureka Room I can create negative space of audio, visuals, and the visitors’ physical actions to enhance and create positive spaces for the visitors.