Mobile Corpse

(Ice & His Journey to Yudo) 



My senior thesis about a new way to look at mnemonic strategies and whether motion can play a big part in retaining new information. 


Bouba-Kiki Effect

Exquisite Corpse

Rorschach Ink Blot Test  

Note: Alongside these motion templates includes a transcript of the ‘Ice & His Journey to Yudo’ story. Please find it through the ‘Book Documentation’ section below. Each motion template is associated with a certain word in the story. The story is meant to test participants to create a connection between the word and the template.

‘Mobile Corpse’ (also known as ‘Ice & His Journey to Yudo’) is based off a combination of surrealist collage techniques, cognitive science, and memory processes: more specifically, how might we incorporate surrealist and experimental motion collage into a tool for mnemonic devices?

Mnemonic devices, or learning techniques that aid information retention, are proved to be effective if it requires participants to use their own creativity and past experiences as tools. Mnemonic devices are most often present in educational settings. Examples include PEMDAS (Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally = Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction) for remembering order of operations in pre-algebra; how we used to sing along to our ABCs; etc.

A smaller and lesser-known area of mnemonic study, but believed to be the most effective in memory retention, is the ‘method of Loci,’ (also known as ‘memory palace’), which relies on spatial mapping by visually placing new information in already familiar environments. Competitive “memorizers” often use this technique because of its ability to activate many regions of the brain associated with memory (i.e. the hippocampus, the parietal lobe, etc).

In both instances, either by creating something catchy to latch on to or to use spatial familiarity, both mnemonic devices make it clear that linking key ideas in relation to one another helps us better memorize it. Mnemonic devices work best if it connects to a familiar and personal (long-term memories) and relates to it in some way.

For ‘Mobile Corpse,’ my goal is to provide a possible alternative to using mnemonic devices. Can templated animations provide enough room for familiarity to be attached onto, much like “method of Loci”? Can it be as catchy and quirky as singing our ABCs? By making them abstract, but tailored, can people find meaning behind a certain motion? Will it facilitate better retention rates? I’ve created these animations as a guide to help anyone attach meaning however they prefer. They are not grounded in any true sense and accept any and all types of interpretation.

They are meant to be tailored to whatever you need to use it for. YOU create the meaning behind the motion, as did I.

‘Mobile Corpse’ derives its title from the surrealist practice ‘Exquisite Corpse,’ in where images and words are collaboratively created and assembled together, with ‘Mobile’ denoting the motion aspect. ‘Exquisite Corpse’ is essentially a party game, but it also provides insight on how a combined unpredictable effort between parties can result in amazing collaborative artifacts. It lets free of constraints aside from what the previous participant puts on the paper. Much like an ‘Exquisite Corpse,’ ‘Mobile Corpse’ is a combined effort between participant and maker of the mnemonic device. Likewise, the process of making the animations was an “Exquisite Corpse” in of itself--where free-form thought and practice overtake the project.

Alongside this, ‘Mobile Corpse’ is inspired in part by two semiotic-related experiments. The Bouba/Kiki experiment is based on how we associate sounds with shapes. Results show around 95%of participants match ‘bouba’ with the rounded shape, and ‘kiki’ with the jagged shape. No matter the participant’s mother tongue, the Bouba-Kiki effect is very much a real phenomenon. Theories as to why range from synesthesia (or the sensation in which one sense is simultaneously perceived as another sense, think smelling colors, seeing scents, etc.); the shape of our mouths and its pronunciation; associating the sound with a concept or real world object (like how a bouba and kiki-like object makes the same pronounced sound in its own environment). The words ‘bouba’ and ‘kiki’ itself are not as important here but rather how we as humans consistently label abstract shapes and sounds and give it meaning, whether we realize it or not. Going along with the theory of synesthesia, ‘bouba’ and ‘kiki’ suggest how we create meaning and project it onto real-world objects, much like the ‘method of Loci.’

The other, albeit more controversial inspiration, are the Rorschach ink-blot tests. The Rorschach test was mainly used to identify personality traits and emotional stability, albeit it was met with criticism about its validity and reliability. They are essentially tarot readings by design. But the same procedure that applies to bouba-kiki also applies to Rorschach tests: they use abstract imagery and relate it to how we find meaning behind them.

This all brings us back into the main thesis: can motion influence how we retain new information? Although I have created templates, it cannot be influential without the help and active participation of the audience. So in this regard, I ask you to gage your own interpretations of ‘Mobile Corpse.’ Please take care to think about how you can use these animations in your everyday life and what you want to remember. 

Isolated GIFS


Book Documentation

Audience Recordings

Below are the selected audience reactions and recordings of the motion templates. Each number corresponds with the template in the video. 

1. “Gears in motion.”
8. “What you see when you close your eyes.”
8. “Rock forming over thousands of years.”
8. “Microorganisms dividing.”
9. “Big Brother is watching you.”
11. “Optical illusion type of art/very trippy/cool.”
17. “Centipede.”
19. “Having hair hang in your face.”
21. “Earth. The planet as pollution consumes it.”
22. “Fireworks.”
23. “Peacock feathers and a sea urchin.”
24. “Bug eye (facets of an eye zooming out).”



+ Using as many effects as possible from After Effects.
+ Learned to use motion templates as a means for experimentation and how to best make them visually interesting.
+ Tested motions with audience members/colleagues/teachers. + Tested “Ice & His Journey to Yudo” story with myself; showed promise but might have been too daunting to come up with a story to every template. Will come back to see if the theory holds up.

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