A Secret Told by Objects

Interactive Installation

Christina Heidecker & Tiago Martins, 2007

OverviewThe StoryGameplayPublicationsContact

Noon - A Secret Told By Objects


Noon is an interactive installation using real objects to convey a narrative. Common objects are repurposed as gaming interfaces, their existing affordances re-imagined as part of the interaction and their significance strengthened in the eyes of the player.

The player takes on the task of unveiling the origins of a tragic fire that long ago claimed the lives of the Novak family. All that remains from the tragedy are some objects miraculously salvaged from the family’s manor. They are the sole remaining witnesses of the demise of the Novaks and they alone hold the key to the mistery, in the form of memories. In order to access and read these memories the player must make use of a special bracer: the Gauntlet.

By touching or holding the objects and performing different gestures, memories are uncovered and navigated throughout a limited span of time preceding the event. The player pieces together an ambiguous narrative, at times actively confronting a physical manifestation of the most painful memories in the form of poltergeist.

The Story

The untimely demise of the Novak family serves as a starting point for Noon. Mr. Novak, the two children and the young maid perished in a tragic fire; Mrs. Novak was found by the firemen badly burnt and half-crazed for having witnessed the horrible event. She was later questioned by the police but failed to provide any reliable testimony, having been sent to a mental institution afterwards. The police were unable (or somehow unwilling) to trace the origin of the fire and the whole case was dismissed as an accident.

Oddly enough, some objects were recovered unscathed from the wreckage. It’s as if Fate itself meant them to survive so they could one day tell their stories. That day is here.

The objects which (mysteriously) survived the tragedy.


The six salvaged objects are displayed on a round table, surrounded by five lit candles. The visitor is invited to enrol in a rather unsettling investigation, exploring the objects’ memories and trying to figure out what really caused the fire. For this she must use a special tool: the Gauntlet, a leather armpiece that allows her to literally touch a world beyond our own.

The player dons the Gauntlet and touches or holds objects to access their memories, which are projected in front of her as animated text and images. Some objects will yield further details if they are used in some manner – the snowglobe, for instance, when shaken.

The clock allows the visitor to shift the objects’ memories between five distinct time periods, making it possible to temporally explore the whole morning before the fire. The visitor must touch the clock to activate it and then set the time by pointing at one of the five candles surrounding the table.

As the investigation progresses, the visitor is confronted with poltergeist that spawn from the most painful (and important) memories. The longer a poltergeist is allowed to manifest the more blurred and noisy the memories become, making further memory interpretation unreliable. Fortunately, the poltergeist will also produce audio noise. If the visitor scans her surroundings using the Gauntlet, she may be able to pinpoint the ghost’s location – when the noise is highest – and successfully neutralize it by closing her hand, thus absorbing it’s memories.

Selected Publications

Martins, T., Sommerer, C., Mignonneau, L., Correia, N. Towards an Interface for Untethered Ubiquitous Gaming. In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE ’08). Yokohama, Japan, December 2008.

Martins, T., Sommerer, C., Mignonneau, L., Correia, N. Noon – A secret Told by Objects (poster). In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Digital Arts (Artech ’08). Porto, Portugal, November 2008.

Martins, T., Sommerer, C., Mignonneau, L., Correia, N. Gauntlet: A Wearable Interface for Ubiquitous Gaming. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Mobile HCI ‘08). Amsterdam, the Netherlands, September 2008.


Tiago.Martins AT ufg.ac.at


4 Responses to “Noon”

  1. […] 1, 2009 I should be preparing two submissions of Noon – A Secret Told By Objects, and for those I should be finishing the video (which I have been putting together for way too much […]

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