A group project with students from Paris 8 and Hull, to do a live-action, retro-styled video game using motion capture and projection mapping.
In the game, a real player has to run backwards and forwards across a “bridge” (or mezzanine balcony) which is being attacked by projected “bad-guys” that are climbing the side. When the player jumps and lands this sets off a shockwave that dislodges the bad-guys making them fall and earning points for the player. If the bad-guys reach the top of the bridge, the player loses a life.
Because the player can’t see the creatures climbing the bridge, this is more of an audience participation game. Onlookers have to guide the player by shouting instructions. (Compare Punch and Judy shows with cries of “behind you!”)
This was a group project and I was involved at the start, co-inventing the game mechanics and writing the first draft of the code. But I wasn’t able to attend for the whole period, so this video is shot after I left, and after my colleages had done a lot more of the work writing the motion tracking, creating the graphics and tightening the whole thing into a workable game.
Inspired by the “visual pun” of the similarity between the potter’s wheel and the DJ’s turntable, and by my growing interest in craft-practice, I decided to turn a MIDI DJ controller into a tool for designing vases, cups and other objects which could be created through rotation.
The program outputs stereolithography (STL) files, suitable for 3D printing.
My search for deep engagement in interactive art makes me suspicious of the gallery and the computer screen. For most people, time in the gallery is so absurdly short (a minute or two with each exhibit) that it’s impossible for engagement to happen. Similarly, the computer is an enclosed world, seen through a small screen at specific times.
One solution I contemplated is to turn a computer work into a system to produce real-world stuff. So that the experience on the computer is continued into objects that you can take away into the rest of your life.
With Monster Stickers I tried to find an easy way of doing this, using a common ink-jet printer. Here the program creates pictures of monsters, but instead of showing them on the screen, generates a PDF file of images formatted to fit a standard size of address labels. You can print the monster stickers and then put them on objects in your world.
When doing this I was also very intrigued by the whole “designer toy” phenomenon. And doodlers like Jon Burgerman. At least, I find some aspects of the designer toys beautiful. At the same time, I’m put off by the elitism inherent in the high-prices and limited editions of some works (even if this is typical of other parts of the commercial art world). Monster Stickers were an attempt at engaging this world. It’s great failing is that the creatures themselves are a bit slapdash. Just random geometric constructions rather than something with greater attention to craft and personality.
The questions I am trying to address :
1) How can computer art get outside the computer screen?
2) Bearing in mind 1), how can we make computer art that’s “democratic” or accessible to many people. Not just something that a) requires a lot of expensive equipment and sponsorship, b) can only be experienced fleetingly in a brief gallery visit?
3) How can we use computer technology to make something fundamentally interactive? Ie. even though you can’t actually do anything with this program except run it (so far) there’s no point just looking at the output. It’s only fun if you choose a run you like, print it out to make stickers, and then stick them on things. The stickers aren’t the work. The activity of making and using them is.
FlowerBrush was a simple exercise in a painting program where multiple animated brushes interacted with the painting itself. In this simple example, they moved forward until they hit some existing colour.