August Gaukstad


D. Stress

- Interactive album artworks

D. Stress is a creative coding/digital design project that explores how album artwork can evolve in the digital age.

Whereas Spotify already experiments with using repeating movies as replacements for album artworks, this project experiments with interactivity instead.

D. Stress is a fictional record label, and the albums are compilation albums in a series focused on collecting music for specific phobias.

In this series, D. Stress has made albums for Thalassophobia, Metathesiophobia, Trypophobia and Claustrophobia.

Thalassophobia is the fear of being in large bodies of water, the vast emptiness of the ocean or ocean waves.

People suffering from Thalassophobia live with an irrational fear of the ocean or other larger bodies of water.

It is important to note that the ocean does pose many risks and it is wise to be cautious of it, but people with full blown Thalassophobia will look at those risks through a magnifying glass and make them their focal point of their idea of the sea.

For the artwork I designed an experience where the artwork shows you ocean-like waves without anything else. As soon as you hover over it, the letters "THALASSO" suddenly drop down and start sinking in the ocean in a drowning-like fashion.

The user can then make the letters float upwards by hovering over them, but I designed it in such a way that it's almost impossible to keep all of them "alive".

Metathesiophobia is the fear of change or changing. People affected by this phobia may show decreased will to live, as they may feel little to no control over their own lives by succumbing to the same routines over and over in fear of breaking out of them.

Routines by themselves are good things, and have helped mankind for hundreds of years. Our internal predispositions teach us to resist change so we can feel more in control of the situations we find ourselves in. This normal fear of change evolves into a phobia when it is irrational and persistent.

This artwork starts out with the word "metathesio" spelled out as you'd expect over several lines. As soon as you hover over the letters, they change in size, shape and meaning. Eventually you are left with something entirely new and different from what you had before.

This isn't as stressful as trying to save letters from drowning for example, but can act as a safe environment to experiment with change and turning something safe and known into something new and unique.

Claustrophobia is the fear of being trapped in small or confined spaces. It is considered a situational phobia, as it is only applicaple for certain specific situations.

It is one of the more common phobias worldwide. For some it can linger from a traumatic childhood experience of being trapped to some extent, but some believe the cause is more of an evolutionary one. A fear of small spaces could pose some evolutionary benefit.

Here you are simply presented with a almost entirely black artwork, but with a white circle in the center showing that there is some text hidden. Once you hover over, your cursor controls the circle/spotlight, and the walls simultaneously start closing in, giving you a time limit on figuring out what the text on the artwork is.

Since the walls also keep the circle from moving elsewhere on the artwork, you can really feel a bit trapped and enclosed.

Trypophobia is the fear of holes and/or irregular patterns. In general people fear smaller holes and are more or less OK with larger ones. It's most often triggered by asymmetrical clusters of small holes. Objects within holes may also be a trigger for this phobia for certain people.

People suffering from severe trypophobia may find everyday objects with holes in them troubling to be around, such as certain cheese, vegetables, pores on the skin, sponges and so on. The reaction people feel also varies, where some people report feeling their skin 'crawling', some feel itchy while some report feeling physically sickened or disgusted.

Once you load the page all the circles start enlargened and with their corresponding letter showing. They immediately start to shrink, and once shrunk beyond a certain threshold their letter also disappears.

If you're too slow to catch the letters and the word they spell, you have to interact with a lot of small hole-like circles that grow when you hover over them. They are thrown out in a random pattern, and are given random sizes.

I tried to give it a more organic feel ot it, since most trypophobia can be found in organic objects in real life.

This project can be viewed more closely and interacted with here. This was my bachelor's project for my studies in Graphic Design at Westerdals Oslo ACT.

I also gathered songs to form album-length playlists for each phobia, and it's recommended to give them a listen while you interact with the artworks for an enchanced experience. Links to them can be found on the above-linked website.

The interactive artworks are made using javascript written with the P5.js library. It's a easy to learn framework if you're curious about creative coding, and there are a lot of good tutorials for it on YouTube.