Intimate Game Controllers, by Jennifer Chowdhury (she of The Cell Atlantic CellBooth!) and Mehmet Sinan Ascioglu, is a platform where game controllers are built into undergarments so that players must physically touch one another to play.


Jenny started her research by crafting a pong controller made from a bra. Touching the left breast made the pong paddle go left and the right breast made the paddle go right. I then found out about a phenomenon called gamer widowhood where men essentially abandoned their wives to play video games night and day. I wanted to create a type of video game play that would center around a couple's intimacy and where two people would touch each other in order to play the game.

The woman's controller is a bra with 6 sensors. The man's controller has 6 sensors as well but in a pair of shorts. Man stands being woman and each has access to others sensors. The project will be presented at the ITP show on May 8 and 9, but with mannequins so visitors can try the interface out without having a partner with them.

Loads of videos on the project website.

Related: The Pong Dress or the little black dress as erotic playground for pong.

Sponsored by: Wilson is a San Francisco author, artist and professor who explores the cultural implications of new technologies. His computer mediated art works probe issues such as interaction with invisible living forms, information visualization, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc. But most of all he's interested in exploring the role of artists in research. He is Head of the Conceptual/Information Arts program at San Francisco State University.

I actually first got to know his through his writing. When i started getting interested in new media art, i was so clueless about the field that i asked people who knew (and still know) much more than me about it which books they'd recommend me. Most of them advised me to get my hands on Information Arts – intersections of art, science and technology. I did. It's a hefty volume, a wonderful reference i usually turn to when i need some information on a particular aspect of the domain where science/technology and art meet.

You wrote "I am simultaneously awed and troubled about the course of scientific and technological research. Historically the arts kept watch on the cultural frontier. I fear that in the contemporary technology-dominated world they are failing that responsibility. Historically, the arts alerted people to emerging developments, examined the unspoken implications, and explored alternative futures. As the centers of cultural imagination and foment of our times have moved to the technology labs, the arts have not understood the challenge." but surely there must be some artists around who are doing a good job at engaging with the advances of research, don't you think so?

Yes, I didn't mean to imply artists were not involved in these kind of explorations. In fact, many of the artists highlighted on WMMNA are good examples of artists willing to engage frontier areas of research. But there are some problems. One is the mainline definitions of art. Technology/science art research is still marginalized as a fringe activity. In a technoscientific culture, artistic probing the world of research is a critical, desperate need.

We need people looking at these fields of inquiry from many frames of reference, not just those sanctioned by academia or commerce.

Another is scope of artistic interest. Scientific and technological research is proceeding at breakneck speed - moving into fascinating areas of great cultural impact. Examples of areas are: genetic engineering, designer drugs, brain functioning, bionics, stem cells, materials science, alternative energy, extreme environments. There are tools now available such as microarray biology labs on a chip that enable research that used to take years to be accomplished in minutes. And these tools are becoming affordable for independent artists. There are a few artists beginning work in these areas but there should be many more. Where are the artists? It worries me to read about exciting, provocative new research areas without artists even aware of them. Also artists may need to get involved at a deeper level than they have so far.


Maybe the other problem is that even though the work of some artists comments on science and technological advances, they strive to find an audience. Where and how do you think works like yours can find an audience? Are festivals and museums the only channel to exhibit challenging projects?

Audience and support are major problems. Alternative art spaces and festivals have been a lifesaver for my practice over the years. They have been willing to show exploratory work. Mainstream museums and galleries have not been very interested. There are hopeful signs. For example WMMNA and sites like it attract not just people in the arts. In the Conceptual Information Arts here at San Francisco State University where I teach, I get students who come from outside the arts and media. They seem to have a more generalized cultural thirst for experimentation. Now the challenge will be to convert this spectator interest into a producer interest. The DIY and open source movements are other hopeful signs. They encourage people to think of themselves not only as passive consumers but potentially as producers and innovators. The web makes for a whole new venue for finding audiences but the museums need to do some catchup.

What triggered your artistic interest for scientific or technological research?

It started when I was finishing college. It was America in the 60's so social change and justice movements were important foci in our lives. Everyone had to do a senior thesis. I was in humanities/social sciences so professors thought I would do something in those fields. I noticed, however, that electronics were critical forces in our lives. We listened to radio and music. Radio and TV were shaping the political mind of the society. It struck me that we didn't really know how radio worked. How did this device capture sounds from far distances? For most of us it was a 'black box'. I thought that was culturally dangerous - to have something so central be a mystery. I made self study in electronics and radio the subject of my senior thesis. My professors were not happy but I did learn how radio worked. Even more importantly I learned that things that had been mystified could be understood and that one didn't need to be an expert in a field to do interesting work with it.

Later in 1980 when I was an art student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was in a program called Generative Systems run by a fascinating artist named Sonia Sheridan. She encouraged us to tear things apart to understand them. Microcomputers had just come out.Up to that time most people thought of computers as specialized devices only relevant to science and business. My gut told me they were going to have a more profound cultural impact than that. I wanted to work with them artistically.

Most of the other art students and professors thought it was a waste of time. There were few information sources in the arts. Even academic computer scientists thought the microcomputer was a toy, not worthy of their attention. I was somewhat on my own. I had to search out resources. I had to teach myself. I had to find other researchers wherever they were. I came up with ideas that people told me were impossible. I experimented. I did them anyway. It all taught me to be somewhat skeptical about common knowledge in any field. Learn what there was to learn but be willing to follow unpopular lines of inquiry. The arts have a long venerable tradition of iconoclasm that will serve them well as artists pursue frontier areas of scientific and technological research.
Does the public understand immediately what is at stake in your work? How do they react to your installations?

I try to create installations that can be appreciated at many levels. The audience can be provoked, intrigued and have fun even if they don't understand the bigger issues. For example, children usually get involved in my installations. I'm not sure how many in the audience think about the larger issues. That's a problem not only with general audiences but even the judges in festivals. IntroSpection and Protozoa Games got shown in a few places but mostly got rejections. Some judges felt they were too much like a 'science fair'. (Protozoa Games let people play games with protozoa - single cell animals. IntroSpection let people play games with their own cells and microorganisms.)

Many audience members dealt with Protozoa Games and IntroSpection only as unusual games. But the installations did have more critical agendas. In Protozoa Games I wanted people to think about the complexity of life even at the single cell level and the relationship of humans to other animals. In IntroSpection I realized maybe 99.999% of people had never looked at their own cells and the microorganisms living inside of them and never had experience with basic biology research processes such as taking samples and using microscopes. I felt that this level of unfamiliarity was culturally dangerous in an era where biology research was becoming so critical. I thought it was an fitting role for the arts to appropriate the tools, bring them into public media, and comment and intervene in this situation of unfamiliarity.

0scoperitou.jpg 0indamouth.jpg

What do scientists make of works such as Protozoa Games (video) and Introspection? Are they "awed and troubled" or do they see the pieces as complementary to their own work for example?

Mostly they ignored them. In doing research for my book Information Arts I was distressed to learn of scientist attitudes. Many are rather arrogant - they doubt that even other scientists outside their discipline can contribute to their work - let alone artists. Even though many are great supporters of classical forms of art, music, theater, ballet etc., their interest and knowledge of the art stops in the 70's. They had little interest and familiarity with contemporary experimental conceptual, critical, and technological arts.

But there are hopeful signs also. There are several efforts around the world to involve artists in research - all based on the idea that artists can bring unique perspectives to the research process. For example there is the Artists in the Lab program in Switzerland, Interactive Institute in Sweden, SymbioticA in Australia, Hexagram in Montreal and many others. It's not clear how they will all turn out but its a great start. Web viewers can find a more complete list at my art/research organizations page.
In creating IntroSpection I got a glimpse of the possibilities. I consulted with a Biologist at my university who is a world expert in bacteria. I wanted to learn more about the bacteria in the mouth since they might be important in my art installation. I was amazed to find out that in spite of all her knowledge, she had never taken a sample of her own mouth to see what was there. We had a good time together seeing what we could find in our mouths. We found some bacteria but they were all immobile. At that time in the development of my installation I was planning on using the movement of the bacteria in my art game so it was troubling. She pointed out that most organisms don't move around if they have what they need in the niche where they are - it costs unnecessary energy. So we hypothesized about what could get the bacteria moving. She said she had never encountered that issue in the literature. We did several mini-experiments with coffee, alcohol, sugar, stimulants, drugs without much luck. We both learned from each other. I doubt it had any profound impact on her research, but I think it opened up some new ideas and approaches for her. I hear similar stories often repeated from artists who have worked with scientists.

Would you say that Protozoa Games and IntroSpection belong to the bioart category? What happened to bioart? It seemed that it was booming around 2003, at the time of the L'Art Biotech exhibition in Nantes (France). Is it back into marginality now?

I guess a lot of the fields in this hybrid art/science/tech world dwell in marginality. Some rise in attention and then recede. Bioarts continues to be an area where many artists are working around the world. In the last few years there are several books that have come out. As is probably clear from my work, I think it is cultural suicide for the arts not to pay attention to new developments in biology research. My hope is that gradually the importance of many of the art/science fields will be recognized and that it will become part of the mainstream expectations for artists to work in these fields. I joke with my students that the art supply store of the future will include sections for electronics and biology research supplies.

IntroSpection uses microorganisms. What is/are the biggest challenge(s) when working with tiny human cells?
There is so much to learn when working with microorganisms. I guess the biggest challenge artistically is how to bring these cells into cultural and art discourse. They are so alien at first for viewers and so easy to dismiss them as science. Also, many of the cells you can get to easily - eg on the skin are not very active. More lively stuff is more intricately involved in bodily processes - eg blood, sexual fluids, feces. You can well imagine art venues don't want to deal with this stuff or the processes to get it.

What did you try to achieve with the work Body Surfing?

At the time of installation there was much discussion about the irrelevancy of the body. Virtual experience (eg Internet, online, games, vr, animation, etc) was seen as more important for the culture. I felt those themes were being oversold and people were ignoring the ongoing importance of the physical world. I have great interest in crossover areas where information and computational technology intersect with the physical - for example, physical computing, tangible interfaces, biology, materials science. I tried with Body Surfing to create an installation that didn't do much unless the viewer exerted their body.

One section had digital movies that required viewers to run around the room; the speed and direction of the running directly controlled the speed and direction of the movie. Another section required people to stretch and contort their arms and legs in order to access information. Another section required people to beat on an African drum to control the digital world. I wanted people to come out of the installation sweating and thinking about the joys and limitations of the physical body.

0informationarttt.jpgYou published Information Arts – intersections of art, science and technology. It was in 2002. Do you still keep a close eye on what's going on in that artistic field? Have the interests and practices of artists evolved since the book was first launched? Do you think that it's time for an Information Art, volume 2?

*** I do keep up. I love the risks artists take to work in these research areas. For example, I get such a kick out the artists that appear in WMMNA. It is a bit harder now to keep up because more work is going on. I am working on a new book for Thames & Hudson (a UK publisher famous for publishing big format art books). It will focus on artists working at the edges of scientific and technological research and will emphasize work created since 2000. It will be highly illustrated and will be aimed at the general public. I am looking forward to finding a way to explain this work that makes it understandable but preserves the integrity and complexity of the artists' intentions. People will walk into the art section of their bookstore and there, right next to the big books on Monet and Picasso, will be this book full of fascinating artists working in this hybrid research. Perhaps that will help reduce the marginality we discussed earlier.

Thanks Stephen!

More information about Wilson's installations, essays, books, and the Conceptual Information Arts Program at SFSU where he is teaching.

List of artists, organzizations, essays, books, and festivals related to the intersections of art, science, and technology.

Leonardo - International Journal of Art, Science and Technology (40 year history of monitoring this kind of art).

Already a couple days ago during re:publica, Aram Bartholl presented an overview of his artistic work which very much focuses on the ever-increasing resonances between the digital and the analog worlds.

To illustrate what this means to him, Aram told the audience about a situation when a friend visited his studio. aram0.jpgHe wanted to empty the trash underneath Aram's desk, but instead of simply doing it, felt like he needed to obtain permission and asked "Can I empty the trash?". In that situation the two realized that they were acting like an operating system and its user, applying the paradigm that Apple introduced to the public in 1984.

Trained as an architect, Aram naturally got interested in how spaces are perceived in virtual environments, mostly in the context of games where, in between DOOM in 1993 and the current craze about Second Life, most of the action has happened. Because of those games, the mainstream-audience is by now quite familiar with the simulation of three-dimensional environments, partly because in games – simply because your virtual life depends on it. Actually some gamers are so into it, that also they carry over parts from the game experience and make it part of their daily lives (like habitually checking if there's a terrorist crouching behind the door) or even re-enacting things from the game.

aram5.jpgThese breaches between the realms of the everyday life and game narratives is what many of Bartholl's works use as a starting point. One example is de_dust, basically the infamous crate from one of the most played maps in the game Counter-Strike. On a one pixel equals one centimeter-basis, he re-created the crate and put it up at several locations in Berlin, watching people figuring out why it seems so strangely familiar to them. Another piece which proved to be very popular with the gaming-crowd are his First Person Shooter-glasses (and they usually really don't dig media art). Cut out from a simple postcard, they put the terrorists' AK 47 in front of your eyes, absurdly poking in from the right side, just as in Counter-Strike.

aram4.jpgHow identity is communicated in massive multiplayer games is another thing that greatly differs from the physical world. In many games, players have their names hovering above their character which leads to a very special kind of social behaviour and also makes for an interesting group portrait-culture (photo from Joi Ito's album). Aram transferred this into physical space in his project WoW by cutting out letters and attaching them to a kind of fishing rod which then is carried by a person behind the "wearer" while he or she is walking around (video).

Views of urban space is an interesting realm to which Google with their mapping applications are currently developing a quasi-monopoly on. Yet, it's kind of funny how for example places are being marked in Google Maps – its slightly weird red markers don't scale with the aerial photographs below, cast a gigantic shadow but already have gained an iconic quality to them. aram3.jpgThe work Maps deals with this relationship in the way that Aram simply built one of the drop-shaped markers for real and put it up in Berlin. Not to much amazement since people are probably used to crazy artworks standing around.

If this is giving you the same déjà vu that the gamers have with the de_dust crates, it might be because you've seen Aram's Random Screen at this year's Transmediale. Also check out Jonah Brucker-Cohen's interview with him over at Gizmodo.

Related: Speed, Punchcard Pixels and Bits on Location.

A few weeks ago, Rafael Mizrahi told me about the 4th Kinnernet, a hyper-geek event organized each year on the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret Lake) in northern Israel. I checked out the website and started bombarding Rafael with questions "What's this robots?" "And that vehicle?" "How about this gaming arcade?" Here's a few notes from our conversation:

0computercraaa.jpg 0artyuioppll.jpg
Computer Crash Course and Game Rider

Set up in cooperation with Hubert Burda Media, creators of DLD conference, and following Tim O’Reilly's Foo Camp, KinnerNet intvited about 150 technology addicts and creative people to gather informally and discuss topics and concepts such as software development, internet culture, social networks, web services, Wi-Fi, open source, cellular services, computer games, interactive TV, VOIP, technological trends, gadgets, security, etc. The general purpose is to share thoughts, work-in-progress, show off the latest tech toys and hardware hacks, and tackle challenging problems. The camp is a closed and private event and participating to it means contributing.

Rafael defines himself as an "artificial vision explorer" at Feng-GUI lab (which developed the ViewFinder, an algorithm that simulates the human eyes and brain and what would be the gaze path of the eye movements while being exposed to visuals. Similar algorithms are embedded into robots) and a member of GarageGeeks (which looks like "crazy projects paradise".)

As part of the Robot Extravaganza of KinnerNet 2007 camp, he presented the GuitarHeroNoid which he built together with Tal Chalozin. The full-scale humanoid autonomously plays the Sony PlayStation game Guitar Hero II (video of GuitarHeroNoid playing the song Woman by Wolfmother).

0guitarheoooo.jpgCan you tell us more about the robot that plays the PlayStation game "Guitar Hero"? How does it work and play?

At the game, each song is presented on a set of five columns, resembling a real guitar fret board, that scroll constantly towards the player. The five columns correspond to the five fret buttons and appropriately colored notes appear in these columns.
We connected the PlayStation video output using a capture device into a computer and by live video streaming filter capture the video frames as images. Each image is being processed and the detected notes are sent through the parallel output or through network cable directly into the robot. This distributed architecture is also used by a robotics bio-technology called Remote Surgery :) and actually this distribution saved us when my parallel output was burned by an electric shock coming back from the robot solenoids, and we separated the process into two laptops.

Tal built computer-controlled, solenoids fingers that matched the fret board and strings in the game. Getting the fingers to press the fret buttons and hit the strum correctly was the hard part.

Tal took a storeroom mannequin and positioned the arms to hold the guitar. But the arms couldn’t be put in the right position, so he had to break and glue them to hold the guitar right. All the robot wiring is inside the mannequin ending at a control panel on the back of its neck.

This first public demonstration of GuitarHeroNoid received a rock star ovation from the ultra-geek audience. We also prepared a multiplayer mode, so you can play against the robot. Pushing the envelope higher, maybe next year we will build a robot that plays the game “dance dance revolution? (known as Dancing Stage in Europe).

Now how about "Real Pacman"?

The Real Pac Man (Tal Chalozin, Niv Efron) main idea was to build some old school tech symbol using as much nowadays-technologies as we can find. Right away we knew that we want a large scale game that will give the feeling of the "PacMan come to life..."
The game board made of a projector mounted on a stand, projecting a 15-square-meters game board on the floor. The PacMan was a wireless Pac-look-a-like robot which "drives" over a game board, equipped by RFID reader, Bluetooth transceiver controlled by ATMEL microcontroller, riding on a game board marked with RFID tags.
At the button of the PacMan there is an RFID reader that reads the tag location and sends it back to the game "engine". The game engine is a java game we hacked, running on a laptop computer.


The result is that you are playing with a completely realistic PacMan over a full virtual game board, but they communicate as if they are one.

To make it more useless tech powered, we've written a J2ME application running on a cellular phone for controlling the PacMan. So, instead of playing with the laptop keyboard, you play the game on your cell, which sends via Bluetooth the control commands.
The next step is to make it a multiplayer, PacMan and ghosts...

Pac Man does not get anymore realistic than that!

All around the room were screens and gaming consoles and a hydraulic driving simulator, so you could just sit down and rumble. At the center of the gaming room there were two home made arcade tables, one crafted by Davidi Silberstein and the other by Amit Jurgenson, both musicians, handy-men and old-school gamers.

0lautrearcad.jpg 0premarcadee.jpg
Arcade Machine Quest and Amit's Arcade Machine

And the hydraulic driving simulator?

DidiWarmAndSpider.jpgPower tool drag racing took place inside a large and crowded tent. Crossing the middle of the tent, were two long wooden strip tracks in which the racers ran, dragging their electricity cables behind them. The race judges where Michael Shiloh, co-founder of MakingThings and an annual participant of drag racing, World class notorious hacker Pablos Holman who breaks and builds new technologies and Eyal Gever with the "from a designer perspective" opinion.

Image on the right: Vladimir's Warm vs. Shy Vardi's Spider (photo: Yaniv Golan)

Of course, the fastest racers were the ones Michael and Pablos brought. Michael had Jim Mason's blazing fast "monorail" that runs as a monorail train on top of one of the sides of the track, and Pablos had borrowed an "Old Killdoggie" model racer, which is a modified grinder with inline-skate wheels. But getting first to the end of the track is not the goal of such a race.

At least half of the races were built by Yedidya (Didi) Vardi and his crew. Didi, a junk collector, designer of hands-on science models and screws-and-bolts seller. On Didi's team were Shy Vardi, Vladimir Zviagintsev an aircraft engineer, who built the kites that were raised to thousands of feet in height, and Shlomo Abayoff.

Babylon Tower Racer was built by the GarageGeeks Zvika Netter, Yuval Tal, Ohad Pressman, Gil Hirsch and Tal Chalozin. A laptop sitting on a wagon with electric lawnmower wheels, motivated to move forward by SMS sent by the audience to Yuval’s phone number. Each time an SMS arrived, the light blob was blinked the message in morse code, and a Text-to-Speech algorithm announced the message using the racer's speakers.

More racers such as the bottle Xylophone, playing on bottles set at the sides of the track, containing various amount of water for different tones. A CleanTech racer that needed no electricity but the moments of falling parts, Vacuuming Hovercraft, Skateboard Ventilator, and Parking, which actually did park most of the time and didn't finish the race.

Crocodile "rocket" Handy by Naama, Achi and Yariv

KinnerNet looks like a hell of fun. Why is the number of participants limited to 150?
Are there like-minded events in the country during the rest of the year?

KinnerNet is a a lot of fun and in order to participate, you have to contribute and not act as a "camp potato". I guess that the number is limited because only super geeks are invited. Since there are many people who wish to share and expand their connections, forks of miscellaneous camps and events are being formed. For example, GeekCon, EureKamp, and even us, the GarageGeeks are hosting (images) content evenings, barbeques and Gaming Lan Parties (images.)

I saw on the programme that there was some place dedicated to digital art? What happened there? Any good work you'd like to highlight?

I think digital art was everywhere. In the evening we all gathered in the dining room and watched videos prepared by participants. Michal Levy, for example, a saxophonist and graphic designer, presented a beautiful visual interpretation that she made for John Coltrane's Giant Steps.

We were asked to bring from home any junk we don’t need anymore and Hanoch Piven hosted a face making workshop that was one of the most popular happenings. Hanoch has been making collages with objects - mainly illustrations of faces for magazines and newspapers since 1992.

The GraffitiPrinter

Ariel Schlesinger, presented his GraffitiPrinter, a handheld printer, feed from punch card that translates to spray writing on the wall.

Inside a large room, Ezri Tarazi along with the creative industrial designers Maayan Hagar and Yasmin Yotam, and anyone who wished to help, built a chain reaction sculpture called a machine that does something that does something.
Next to that sculpture, and the Superman Simulator, Didi Vardi presented his Vibrating Laser Balls Organ, a 400 pound golf-ball-and-aluminum Stradivarius, a wonderful, real musical instrument inspired by the Animusic's virtual Pipe Dream. (video)

I'm also very curious about the Cooking Madness event. Was there anything edible there? What does "Cotton Candy with ambient touch" taste like for example?

BurningBicycleMan1.jpgCooking Madness was more than edible all right. As you cannot be in all of the activities, I didn’t get the chance to taste that Fluffy Clouds Cotton Candy. But I ate two pieces from Tal's mother’s terrific passion fruit cheese cake, which was introduced by 3 Powerpoint slides at the camp's first gathering. Most of the time I stood next to Yuval Tal who prepared the Extra alcoholic chocolate drink, and verified the quality of the cocktail.

At night, things were getting weirder, people juggling, geeks playing arcades or fighting each other with light sabres, and Vladimir, inspired by The Burning Man Project, was riding a bicycle while dragging another bicycle with a burning doll, which was created earlier by Didi's team.

I’d like to finish by send a enormous thanks and hugs to anyone who helped in the great 2007 KinnerNet event and also thank Yaniv Golan and Alex Sirota for the photos.

Thanks Rafael!

A last tip from Rafael: Gil Rimon and Lior Katz's Supermarket 2.0 parody (video.)

More images at Flickr tag KinnerNet2007. Photo of GuitarHeroNoid by Yaniv Golan. More images.

0goooape.jpgThe Ludic Society's Tagged City Play for Real Players in Real Cities was recently presented at Social Hacking, a series of temporary public art commissions for the city of Plymouth (UK).

Attracted by the slogan Become a game figure by implant!, participants were invited to get an injection of “RFID Judgement tags? under the skin. They then become Real Players, 1st life personae who are also game figures in the Reality Engine while playing in a real city. They can drive tuned Plymouth racing cars to tag the city and receive a tagging toolbox containing graffiti, spray stencils, stickers, RFID stickers and implant injection kits.

Real objects in the city are subjectively chosen for tagging. The tags are functional but useless (RFID-tags with zero data.) By putting this zero-tag on an object, players de-valuate real world things into virtual play-objects. If the Real Players find a tagged object with a value assigned to it, they zap it. The goal is to change the value of tags into the value Zero by using their “Wunderbäumchen? (inspired by the car air fresheners in the shape of a pine), technical toys used for finding and reading tags and/or emitting a target-oriented electro magnetic pulse.

0aaadammap.jpgThe players come in person to the play's Pit Stop to be refreshed and to be read. The ID information carried by the bodies of game figures/real players is uploaded. The implants are scanned to receive an individual play time pattern.

The Pata Play Map, a collectively en-played graphical machine, shows the score of each player depending on objects tagged and de-tagged. Depending on each player’s RFID-number, it generates a graphical element to display the routes between tagging actions over a satellite map. Each location of a tagging action is marked with a Wunderbäumchen sign. The interface integrates GIS systems such as Google Earth and Wikimapia. The look of the map as game score and display, for uploading subjective play data, forms the uncensored on-line map of ‘the Internet of things’.

The difference to existing locative mapping games is that it is no Game, just play, according to the Ludic Society slogan: We sell Play – no Games!

Via internetactu.

0enjoyyyyy.jpgLike probably many people i wouldn't think of using a phone booth anymore but i feel a pang of nostalgia each time i see an old-style one. Many artists have created performances, installations or games around public booth. One of my favourite performances is Sophie Calle's adoption of a phone booth in Greenwich Village back in 1994.

When Paul Auster suggested that the French artist contribute to the improvement of life in New York City, she spent a week sitting on a chair next to a public phone booth in TriBeCa. She replaced the Nynex logos with Have a Nice Day and Enjoy, stocked the booth with snacks, cigs, drinks and flowers, listened to conversations, chatted with people and got comments on the notepad left at the booth.

In the end representatives of the telephone company threw all of Calle’s improvements into a trash basket (via).

More recently, Ryan Holsopple launched a public pay phone who-dunnit that invites people to make a toll-free call from any public pay phone in Canal Street Station and solve a murder mystery.

Set in the maze of tiles that make up the station, the Canal Street Station game puts participants in the shoes of a private investigator, as he searches the depths of Canal Street Station for a young French woman that may have committed a murder, or may be a figment of his own imagination.0fileletelef.jpg

The game uses a Trixbox server, a phone application platform based on Asterisk™, to collect caller ID from payphones in the Canal Street Subway, and pinpoint where the player is located.

Players are asked one simple riddle that can be solved by refrencing a subway map on the platform, the answer has to be entered into the keypad when they hear Niki (alias Tajna Tanovic) say the words, "Canal Street Station."

"If you answer the clue correctly you hear her say, "Great Work Detective!" Niki then tells you a more difficult riddle that takes you to another platform in the station. The riddles become increasingly difficult as you walk the creepy corridors of the Canal Street Subway station finding the answers," explains Ryan Holsopple. "You can start on any payphone, but no matter where you begin you will eventually end up on the same platform in the end of the mystery, when you answer the final question, you are told which train to exit the station on to take you to the last stage of the mystery."

It's not the first time that the artist works with payphones: one project recorded subway Buskers, busker dial up (in collaboration with John Schimmel) and Peter Stuyvesant's Ghost, a self-guided walk through the area of Peter Stuyvesant's farm utilizing pay or cellphones to access soundworks.

I asked Holsopple a few questions about his latest project:

Why payphone? Are you still using them to make phone calls? Were you interested in working with them for some nostalgia-related reason?

I love payphones and with the growing number of mobile phones, it seems that payphones are on their way out, but I feel they are still essential to the makeup of the city.

Payphones in the NYC subway are the only way to communicate with the outside world, so that puts a boundary on users in a piece such as this, which is great when it comes to a game/theater piece.

I also love the nostalgia theme and much of the work that 31 Down does is based in nostalgia and the technology of the past and how it relates to the present.

0canalstreeeeeee.jpgThe theater company centers around the ideas and cliches of the 'Private Investigator', so this became extremely relevant when I started working with Asterisk, which is an open source PBX created by Mark Spencer. Asterisk (and the voyeuristic possibilities that it offers) has a very 'seedy' side to it and seems to me to be the perfect fit for a private investigator obsessed with surveillance and eavesdropping.

I was also interested in a report by the Straphangers about the state of payphones in the NYC subway.

When i first read about your project i immediately thought about some old films noir. Are there movie scenes that influenced the scenario or any other elements of your project?

31 Down's work is heavily influenced by film-noir. In this pay phone mystery, the audience gets to play the character of a private detective, Mike Sharpie. For clues along the mystery, you hear the inner voice of the detective through the phone handset, this convention has a direct relationship to the film-noir voiceover narrative, which I love.

You also hear the voice of a young lady who speaks with a heavy French accent (played by Tajna Tanovic), she may have killed someone in the station and she is leaving mysterious clues for the detective; this device is mostly based on the work of film director Krzysztof Kieslowski (Dekalog), and the use of obsession and voyeurism in his work.

Thanks Ryan!

The work is co-produced by free103point9 Transmission Arts and 31 Down radio theater and will be running until October 31, 2007. Photos of CSS by Christina Latimer.

 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10 
sponsored by: