Website and digital experience for FemFest 2021.

Colourful gradient background with faux windows on top, including a Twitch stream and a Twitch chat.

FemFest is USC’s annual counter-patriarchal music festival, hosted by the Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment.

Our FemFest director, Nico Pizzati, has always been very interested in integrating multiple forms of art to create unique experiences. When I joined the team for the event last year, it was to collaborate on interactive installations that would both elevate the performers’ acts and give festival-goers playful and beautiful experiences to share with each other. It was a shame not to have produced the event in person, but we actually became thrilled about the opportunities for reimagining this year’s event in an online setting. As the web team, we went through a process of researching online platforms, taking inspiration from other online events, and creating our own prototypes before devising our final multimodal setup. I think our main priorities were creativity, accessibility, and feasibility: we wanted the experience to be as rich and engaging as we could manage, but always accessible across a variety of technical conditions and personal preferences.

Ultimately, we were able to offer three modes of engagement. The first was through Twitch, where people were able to just watch the stream and the chat. The second was through a website that I built, which was designed with interactive elements that aligned with the festival’s maximalist aesthetic, and let people watch the stream, interact with chat, and browse additional content relating to the festival. Finally, we worked with incredibly talented environment artists to create assets that formed our virtual world in Topia.io, an online 2D platform that lets you walk your avatar around, video chat with people nearby, and interact with objects to view media or visit external sites.

It was definitely a huge challenge to coordinate all these moving parts, making sure everything—particularly everything we were building from scratch—was functional and worth putting out there, and there were inevitably many bugs and technical difficulties. However, I am so proud of all the work we did to really challenge how an online music festival can be something uniquely imaginative and exciting, and I’ve saved a treasured screenshot of a viewer who said, “this is beyond a show it truly is an immersive experience i love it”.