0arankindfer3.jpgI just realized today that although my stay in Zurich for the Digital Art Weeks last month was super short, there's still a couple of links and projects i'd like to share with you. High on the list is the paper DIY: The Militant Embrace of Technology that documentary director, independent curator and new media artist Marcin Ramocki presented during the DAW symposium.

Marcin sees his paper as an attempt to clarify some of the theoretical issues sparked by 8 BIT, a documentary about art and video games which he created together with Justin Strawhand.

His expose dealt with cultural practices involving the subversion of consumer technology, be it hardware and software. According to Marcin, if the DIY approach in the field of fine art is almost taken for granted, it is still relatively new in the world of consumer electronics and software design.

The PDF is online, Hurray! So i'll let you enjoy that fun and smart text and will just blog a few links to make the reading easier:

A Hacker Manifesto, by McKenzie Wark.

Artistic critiques of technology:

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Cell phone piano, each key on the keyboard is wired into a key on a phone so as you play, you are dialing

- when artists are actually hackers who break something they
shouldn’t be breaking, like in circuit bending. Paul Slocum’s Dot Matrix printer hacked to be a drum machine or Joe McKay’s cell phone sculptures.

- classical hack such as the early works by Cory Arcangel and Paul Davis opening and reprogramming of a Nintendo game cartridge.

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- structural game works, legal game modifications and machinima. One example of re-dressing the code is SOD, a Castle Wolfenstein modification by JODI.

- re-purposed and prepared hardware such as Study for the Portrait of Internet (Static) in which Lance Wakeling, Ramocki's own Torcito Project, Alex Galloway's Prepared Playstation and Arcangel's Two Projectors, Keystoned.

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Still from a video re-enactment of "E.T."

- remaking of a piece of software (and hardware), mostly retro-engineering and custom electronics. Plus, fake hacker websites, games rewritten from the ground up, alternative browsers and Hollywood movies. E.g minimal re-enactment of ET by Kara Hearn and Jamie Allen's custom 4 bit synthetiser housed in an old cigar box.

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Some of the most popular images on my flickr stream are those game-inspired flags that Vuk Čosić introduced to the Next2006 audience a few months back.

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From left to right: Pac-Sweden, Nipong, Tetriss, US Invaderz.

The Game Flags have finally moved from pixel to textile and are on display at Art Radionica Lazareti, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

More flag images.

In case you have some time to kill in front of the screen, here are some vids for your personal enlightenment and hopefully pleasure.

Adam Zaretsky´s just announced a 3 part documentary about his VivoArts lab, in particular the last one which focused on transgenic quail and pheasant embryology.

Part 1, 2 and 3.

Related: Adam Zaretsky on Future Body (part 1 and 2)

"Videogame Violence & Effects on Youth" is a documentary directed by Edmund Wong, a graduate student at San Jose' State University (via videoludica.)


Part 1 (Introduction & Background on Games)

Part 2 (Mortal Kombat & the ESRB), 3 (Doom & the Columbine Massacre), 4 (Addiction and GTA Controversy), 5 (California Videogame Law), and 6 (Causation & Correlation. Final Thoughts.)

"The virtual communities created by online games have provided us with a new medium for social interaction and communication. Avatar Machine is a system which replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming, allowing the user to view themselves as a virtual character in real space via a head mounted interface. The system potentially allows for a diminished sense of social responsibility, and could lead the user to demonstrate behaviours normally reserved for the gaming environment."

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That was the blurb i read on the website of Charming Disaster , an exhibition featuring several works created by students of the Royal College of Art’s Design Products department (thanks Noam for telling me about it!) What i like about Avatar Machine is that, like the One Eye Ball but unlike several similar projects i've blogged in the past, it's not just about coming up with a nice, funky, geeky project before everybody else, it is also a very eye-pleasing work. I love the way that the designer pushed the concept further by making the user wear the costume of an avatar, i imagine that it allows observers to participate (albeit in a much more discreet way) to the experience. So i asked design student Marc Owens to tell me more about the work.

How does it work technically?

The system works in a very simple way. The user wears a body harness, which has three 2m long aluminium rods protruding from it, to form a type of tripod. A wide angle pinhole camera exists at the point where all three rods meet. The camera is pointing directly back at the user. The video footage being recorded by the camera is transmited to the monitor inside the headset so it can be viewed by the user. Therefore the user can see themselves in the third person, from head to toe on the monitor interface.

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It is WoW that inspired the kind of costume that the player has to wear in your installation, did i get that right? Any reason why you chose to refer to WoW?

You are correct in thinking that the project is World of Warcraft inspired. As the worlds most popular online game, the asthetics and characters of WOW are the most easily recognisable, also i wanted the character i created through the costume be be large in stature, so the user could experience a sense in invincibility when controlling the avatar on the interface. Also, WOW, is more classically fantasy based than other MMORPGs, like second life for example, so that is an element i wanted to bring into the experience of the product.

Thirdly, i am ashamed to admit, quite a fan of World of Warcraft!

Which kind of behaviour did you observe when visitors of the Charming Disaster were playing with your work?

At the Charming Disaster show a few weeks ago, the screen within the headset burned out after an hour into the performance. So only one or two people had the opportunity to experience the system. However since then, i have carried out some avatar sessions in Hyde Park, allowing ample room for the user to do as they wish, and behave as they like.

The types of behaviour i observed were all quite similar. That being, everyone was quite cautious with their movements to begin with, moving around with baby steps as they slowly got used to controling their movement from the third person perspective. After a few minutes, users began to gain confidence not only with faster and more fluid movement, but also began to mimic the types on movement that they imagined the avatar would demonstrate, ie: stoping around and swinging of arms. Another element to the type of behaviour i observed was that after getting used to using the system, users felt comfortable enough to approach passing 'humans' and observed their reaction through the interface.

All images courtesy of Marc Owens.

nOtbOt, by Walter Langelaar, is a self-playing videogame. Viewers who try to get hold of the controller can only be disappointed as the interface is controlled and deranged only by the reactions to its own virtual environment in a kind of loop where the bot is driven by the joystick and the joystick responds to the bot.

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An old Logitech force-feedback joystick was modified so that it is used as input data to control a 'first-person' videogame. The view-angle data generated by the virtual player is sent to a PD app, which in turn loops the incoming data back into the force-feedback system of the joystick. The robotic maneuvers are projected in real-time in front of it.

Human interaction with the game/controller becomes obsolete, resulting in a completely erratic form of [art]ificial intelligence.

Video.

The work is part of the Gameworld exhibition at Laboral, Gijon, Spain. Runs until June 30.
Via Yves Bernard.

More controllers: [giantJoystick], Voodoo Doll controlled game, five joysticks combine to move the single PacMan, hard-wired devices, SweetPad replace joysticks to allow three persons to play Quake 3 Arena with tenderness, RoboGamer, a robotic system which plays video game together with you, Rehearsal Joypads, Control Freaks are devices that attach to everyday objects or living thing, eTech - Tom Armitage.

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.

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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.

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