Who: Andrew Larimer
What: Actor, App Creator
Where: Lower Garden District
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: His well-organized apartment where we sat next to a noticeable mountain of “almost dead” batteries.
Q: What is something you always wished you were asked to do but never have been?
A: I would love to be hired to make these games and these immersive experiences that I’m so passionate about. It would be amazing to redesign tours for museums in more interactive or quasi-technical ways. I really want to get more at the intersection between the theatrical and physical world and the digital world.
That’s what we are trying to do with Superhero Academy — using the iPad to get kids away from the screens and into the active or theatrical world. It’s funny, the creators of Sesame Street said they wanted to master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them, so I thought we could do that again in this day and age with the addiction to screens. Because screens are luminous; they open the door to so many things, and they literally glow. You can’t ignore them, even in bars or restaurants. I can’t even stop looking at screens; it’s so annoying.
So we can take that and blend it with what people and kids talk about when they reference what they loved about childhood. It’s always memories of these imaginary worlds they created or deeply believed in that stick with them. Superhero Academy prompts kids and parents to create that reality with their current world — whether they want to build a fort with pillows, which becomes their secret hideout, or they want to put on a disguise and be someone else. Then they get to capture that along the way through photos or videos they take using the iPad while learning about shot variety and framing. It also gets the parents involved as possible filmmakers, and they get this lens into their kid’s imagination.
Q: What superhero animal would you choose as your spirit animal?
A: I think I would be an owl. Stealthy. There’s an element of vision to an owl that I really like. And their feathers are super quiet, so I could just swoop down and grab stuff. Continuing with this metaphor, that means I could swoop down and steal spirit mice. A big, fat spirit mouse.
Q: What do you think bonds adults and kids together (beyond the biological bond)?
A: Maybe nostalgia? Nostalgia and reverse nostalgia. Childhood is such a free and imaginative time with limited responsibilities. There are these protective shells in a lot of ways, and adults look back on that with such love and interest.
Of course, when you’re a kid, all you want to do is grow up as fast as you can.
I guess there’s this late teenage or early 20s stage that everyone wants to get to and stay at, and then your nostalgia flips when you’re on either side. In a way, there’s this gulf between adults and kids when it comes to imaginative play. I’ve seen how much kids love when adults become imaginative and jump into their games, and you also see how much the adults love playing in that way. There’s just so much stress in life, and it can become really exhausting to immerse yourself in this made-up reality where you have to believe that the fort made of blankets is actually a protective shelter against goblins or whomever is out to get you.
With Superhero Academy we’re trying to provide a step-by-step, or optioned prompts, of how to dive into these alternative spaces. There’s so much in life that are these large projects or ongoing prophecies that never really wrap up, so having small satisfying jolts of earning points or seeing life as a game can be incredibly fulfilling.
We do find, though, that parents usually end up being the victims of their kid’s stories. When we did this live at the Children’s Museum all the parents got placed on top of a hill yelling, “Help! Save us!” to their heroic kids.
Q: What inanimate object do you get angry at the most?
A: Interesting. (Pause). Ugh, the alarm clock. I have both a legitimate alarm clock, and I have my phone to wake me up, so it’s a catastrophic experience every morning. My phone alarm is set to the “Playtime” tone, which sounds nice, but it’s what it represents — the end of dreamtime — that gets me. You know, the tone comes in trying to be all “I’m fun and innocent,” but it’s not fooling anybody. It’s not fooling me.
Although, my alarm clock is set to NPR, so that’s a bit more honest. It’s not trying to fool me.
You can catch Andrew Larimer’s performance in Robin Hood Thief Brigand with the NOLA Project from May 6-24 at the Sculpture Garden at NOMA. His projects are available at fathappymedia.com, and kids/parents can sign up to be a part of SuperHero Academy at superhero-academy.com.