Web AR experience launched in La MaMa Theatre Archive

Project Overview

Theatre ARchive is a collaboration project with the world-renowned La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City to enhance visitors’ immersive experiences in La MaMa Archive with augmented reality (AR).


La Mama Theatre


Fall 2022
(14 weeks)

My Role

Product designer
AR prototyper
3D artist


Shan Jiang, Ray Xie
Damain Xie, Bokang Wang, Jingyuan Fang

Create a digitalized window to the La MaMa Archive and expand access to its rich artistic heritage through Web AR interactions
Since the early 1970s, La MaMa Archive has expanded its digital collection of photographs, papers, production footage, show files, and more. In addition to the existing one, our goal is to create a window to the archive and to expand access to its rich artistic heritage through Web AR interactions.
Throughout the semester, we customized different interactions for five selected archive items and categorized them into three types:
1. We bring artifacts alive with the La Marie Vison poster and the Carmilla bench.
2. We
augment info for the La MaMa Collage outside the Ellen Stuart Theatre when the audience waits for shows to open.
3. We
make guests become performers with Na Haaz Zan masks and a pink puppet from LOCO7.
Bring artifacts alive!

La Marie-Vison Poster

The first American production of renowned Japanese playwright Shuji Terayama’s work, and the first to be translated into English. On its surface "La Marie-Vison" tells the story of a transvestite prostitute who acts as mother to a little boy.

PlaCard Design

Carmilla Bench

Carmilla is a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. First published in 1871 as a serial narrative in the magazine, The Dark Blue, it tells the story of a young woman's susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. Carmilla has been adapted many times for theatre and cinema.

PlaCard Design
Augment info for the La MaMa Collage

La MaMa Collage

Established in the early 1970s, La MaMa Archive collects, preserves, and exhibits records of permanent historical value relating to La MaMa and the Off-Off-Broadway movement. In doing so, it draws on a deep vein of the passionate community of playwrights and artists whose work has found a home on La MaMa stages.

PlaCard Design
Make guests become performers

Loco 7 Puppet

Loco 7 is a multimedia dance and puppet performance by Federico Restrepo, depicting a young man rushing into the hurly-burly of life in New York City, epitomized by the rush and roar of the crowds on the subway.

PlaCard Design

Na Haaz Zan Masks

Na Haaz Zan is adapted from the Navajo creation myth. It was performed by the Native American Theatre Ensemble, lead by Hanay Geiogamah. The three masks are cougar, bird, and wolf presented in the myth.

PlaCard Design
La MaMa Theatre
Founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, La MaMa is a home for artists of all identities, races, ages, and cultures. At La MaMa, artists are provided the space, support, and creative freedom to explore new forms of expression and to make new work.
La MaMa Experimental Theatre
Ellen Stewart, Founder of La MaMa
La MaMa Archive
Established in the early 1970’s, La MaMa Archive collects, preserves, and exhibits records of permanent historical value relating to La MaMa and the Off-Off Broadway movement.
50,000+ Unique Items Collected In The Archive
My role
As the UI/UX designer in the team, I am responsible for conducting research, designing interfaces, and creating rapid prototypes to showcase our design concepts. I also conduct user tests to gather feedback and insights that inform our design iterations. In addition, I contribute to creating art assets such as UI design, 3D models, rigging, and animations. Overall, my role is to bring our design ideas to life and deliver successful projects that meet the needs and expectations of our users.
Stakeholder map
Working with 7 stakeholders to build a product from scratch within 14 weeks
Working With 7 Stakeholders To Build a Product From Scratch Within 14 Weeks
Client's needs
In our meeting with Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of La Mama Theatre, we identified the goal of creating a prototype to support fundraising and improve access to the theatre's archive. We aimed to design an engaging experience that showcased the organization's rich history and contributions to the arts community. Our collaboration resulted in a successful AR archive experience that met the client's needs and expectations.
Target audience
Our target audience for the La Mama Archive AR experience includes students, performers, and archivists who are interested in visiting the archive. Additionally, we aim to engage potential funders who can see the potential of digitalized window technology in fundraising efforts.
Experience Scenario
La MaMa Archives regularly conducts two hours tours for student groups by Archive Director Ozzie. After the archive tour, visitors can roam around the space and explore the archive with their mobile devices.
Secondary Research
Web AR vs. App AR?

Based on our research, we decided to use Web-based AR, as it offers greater accessibility since users do not need to download and install a separate app. Instead, they can easily access the AR experience through their web browser. Our decision was supported by data, which shows that:

1. 55% of smartphone users in the United States had not downloaded any apps in the past month
2. Web-based AR experiences are accessible on 99% of smartphones, while app-based AR experiences are only accessible on 35% of smartphones.
We Have chosen 8th Wall As Our Development Platform
Museum AR experiences

Our research on museum-related AR experiences involved a thorough analysis of existing AR-based projects and their impact on museum-goers. We studied the various ways in which AR technology has been used in museums, and we researched data on visitor behavior and preferences, such as their desire for personalized and interactive experiences. we concluded that the success of an AR-based archive experience is dependent on several factors, including:

1. Interactivity
2. Experiential
3. Social media shareability
Field Observation
On our first visit to La MaMa Theatre and experience Ozzie's archive tour, we noticed a few findings:

1. Lack of Information
During the 2-hour tour, Ozzie only selects items from the archive that he thinks may be of interest to the group of visitors. As a result, visitors may not have had the opportunity to learn about or engage with other items in the collection.

2. Week post-tour experience
After the conclusion of Ozzie's tour, the visit to the archive comes to an end. There may not be an opportunity for visitors to connect back with the archive content or review what they have learned.

3. Zero interaction with the artifacts
In order to protect the valuable artifacts, visitors may be discouraged from touching the artifacts, even if they are eager to do so. This restriction can limit visitors' ability to fully appreciate the physical characteristics of the objects.
Field Research At La MaMa Archive
Interview with Ozzie
During our visit to the La Mama Archive, we had the opportunity to interview Ozzie, the director of Archive. He shared with us the core spirit of the Archive, as well as a wealth of fascinating stories from its history. From our conversation, we learned that:

1. Ozzie plans to highlight some
key collections on each tour
2. many of the item stories
cannot be fully covered during the tour
3. It's important to present the content in a
clear and concise manner
Define Design Principles
After conducting Secondary Research, Field Observations, and Interviews, we have synthesized our findings into a set of design principles based on the insights we've gained.
Define representative items
Our team recognized the importance of selecting representative items to create AR design solutions. By developing representative solutions based on these items, we can apply our solutions to a wider range of items in the future.
Tell interactive story in AR
Meaningful Interaction
Rather than presenting the entire story of the original show, we chose a compelling and essential part to focus on. Through the use of vivid dialogue, engaging visuals, and meaningful interactive features, we aimed to create a fun and enjoyable way for users to understand the story.

In La Marie, the meaningful interaction is
the act of catching the butterfly and collecting butterfly samples, which is emphasized repeatedly by Marie to her child throughout the entire performance.
Linear interactive story
We have developed an innovative approach to telling interactive stories, which helps to simplify complex content by presenting it in a linear and easily understandable format.

In the Carmilla Bench experience, we introduce the characters and the bench actors through a linear, interactive story.
Deployed on physical placards
Why not playbills?
Initially, we used playbills to introduce visitors to the selected items. However, through playtesting, we discovered that the experience would benefit from a more immersive and engaging introduction. As a result, we decided to install placards next to each item, providing a brief introduction and enabling visitors to dive into an AR interaction right away.
Why Placards?
+ Reducing required reading in the experience
+ Providing tutorials for those who are unfamiliar with AR technology
+ Attract people’s attention
+ Good visual design for publicity
Obvious clue of starting and ending
One of the most valuable pieces of feedback we received during playtesting was that users were unsure about how to end the experience. To address this, we created a cohesive ending page that appears after users have finished their interactions. Additionally, we now show the playbill at the loading stage as the starting point for the experience, providing users with a clear and recognizable entry point.
Cohesive Start And Ending Page
Design System
We designed the user interface (UI) system for the La Mama AR experience.
Old Version Of UI Design