Just wanted to share a few snapshots taken just prior to the opening of the installation of Blood Sugar at the UCLA Art | Science Center (the exhibit runs through February 20). The event went quite well—people seemed to really be engaging with the content of the piece, and we got lots of positive feedback about the use of the Wii remote and nunchuk as controllers. “Feels like Minority Report,” one visitor commented.
One interesting tip that might be of use to other folks wanting to create Wii remote-driven installations using the sensor bar: we found that stacking two sensor bars one on top of the other resulted in significantly more reliable pointer control.
This Thursday, January 29 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm, UCLA’s Art | Science Center & Lab [directions] is hosting an opening reception for a three-week exhibit of two documentary projects by Sharon Daniel: Public Secrets and the forthcoming Blood Sugar—any interested Angelenos are welcome. I worked with Sharon designing and programming both projects. Here’s a description of Blood Sugar:
Blood Sugar is a “new media documentary” that examines the social and political construction of poverty, alienation, and addiction in American society through the eyes of those who live it. Blood Sugar provides an interactive interface to an audio archive of conversations with 24 current and former injection drug users recorded at the HIV Education and Prevention Program of Alameda County and in California state prisons. Since addicts must fear encounters with regimes of enforcement, they are afraid to be seen-but they do want to be heard. Theirs are the most important voices in the discourse around addiction, public health, poverty and belonging in America. Through the stories of those most affected by addiction, Blood Sugar challenges us to address question such as, what is the social and political status of the addicted? Is the addict considered fully human, diseased, possessed or wholly “other” and thus rendered ideologically appropriate to her status as less than human?
Barring technical issues, you’ll be able to navigate Blood Sugar with a Wii remote and nunchuk at the opening, which makes for quite an immersive experience. We’d love to see you there.
Last week’s event at LA Flash was a lot of fun; thanks to all who attended. I promised while I was there that I would make Swing 2.0 available for download—at the moment this is proving more difficult than I hoped, mainly because as soon as I take the project files out of their Flex project folder, they stop working. It’s not a matter of files being missing or anything, and I’ve seen this with other projects, where the project files must be in the folder FlexBuilder has blessed as the official project folder to work. I’m sure there must be something really simple I’m missing here, but I’m stumped at the moment. Any suggestions would be welcomed!
SoCal folk: come on out to 2009’s first meeting of LA Flash, this coming Wednesday, January 21st, from 7 - 10 pm—I’ll be giving a talk called “Music, Lyrics & the Wii Remote: Creating ‘Swing,’" followed by Amir Fischer covering “The Emerging market of 3D in Casual Gaming,” a raffle, and networking. I’m going to cover some background relating to the creation of “Swing,” and provide a brief introduction to WiiFlash, the ActionScript library that allows Flash to talk to the Wiimote, nunchuk, classic controller, and balance board. Would love to see you there!
LAFlashapaloozastock III was another well put-together event—I enjoyed Ralph Hauwert’s talk on Flash effects and 3D as it was one of the best at bringing some perspective outside of the immediate world of Flash. Hauwert wove Escher, Pink Floyd, and the Amiga demoscene into the mix in a talk that otherwise would have just been a sequence of “ooh, cool!” demos (though they were quite cool… fluid dynamic bump maps on 3D objects, for instance...).
It was a challenge getting people comfortable enough with “Swing” to try it out—I had only one song request ("This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan) and that came early in the day, before a lot of folks started showing up. Over the course of the day I started calling the piece “karaoke for introverts” since no singing was required, but all the same people seemed reticent to pick a song and give it a go, just as if I had brought a real karaoke machine to the proceedings.
A student asked if I had considered adding greater variety to the visuals (color, etc.)—a valid question, given the apparent simplicity of the display. I explored this both during the original development of the piece and for this new version, but in both cases found that adding additional visual elements or processing made the experience too complex cognitively. While the YouTube video makes it look easy, trying to synchronize motions, syllables and pre-recorded music is actually a pretty challenging task for a novice, and glitz just makes it harder.
All in all, I came away with three keys to a successful “Swing” experience:
- You’ve got to feel comfortable
- You’ve got to love the song you’re performing and know it inside and out
- You’ve got to be tuned into the rhythmic implications of whether your text is broken down into words or syllables
All of these things are easier to realize at home than in an installation space, so I’m planning to post the new version of Swing (which will now run in a browser for both Mac and PC users) soon, probably after Ruben & Lullaby is released.
Speaking of which, I met a lot of great folks during the event and got a lot of interest in Ruben & Lullaby (my upcoming iPhone/iPod touch game). I’ll be putting the finishing touches on over the next week or so, so stay tuned…