Contextual Camouflage is an open-source gallery art installation built in Ruby on Rails that guides visitors to anonymously report mental health disorders that affect themselves or their relationships. After users submit a disorder, they have the option to include anecdotes and demographic data for intervention researchers.
The application was born out of Steelcity Codefest in 2017. After the hackathon was over, we pared down the team and restarted the application with a smaller team of three: me, Danielle Greaves, and Jeff Waltrowski. We continued to work with Jason McCoy, head of McCoy Creative, the mastermind and designer of the concept.
We pitched the idea of hosting an installation in the Cultural District to my employer, the Cultural Trust. They had a new space they were prepping for future installations and they generously offered it to us for our trial run. With Railsconf coming to town the week of April 17th - 19th (I was scheduled to present on it), we launched the installation on April 15th, 2017. The installation completed during the Trust’s Spring 2018 Crawl.
Contextual Camouflage sheds light on mental health issues and brings those living with mental health issues out in the open, showing that they’re not alone, and that mental health issues are more prevalent than some assume. By allowing visitors to namelessly submit their experiences with mental health and tell their story, gathering all of that data and plotting a heat map of experiences in a real-time display. During the Crawl, a selection of Storytellers will share their experiences and tell the world how mental health has affected their life, relationships, and community.
The pride I felt as our talent Storytellers bared their souls in front of the installation was undefinable. Through the night, I had a lot of hearltfelt, honest conversations about mental health.
We have plans to continue to build out the project and to host the installation in more locations. If you are interesting in contributing or collaborating, please contact me.
With help from “amazing code ninjas,” Contextual Camouflage exhibit explores mental health
90.5 WESA Interview with Jason McCoy