Artifactual Playground

In 1958, the American physicist William Higinbotham created what is one of the first instances of what we would today call a modern “video game”. The game, named Tennis For Two, was built at the Brookhaven National Laboratory for their yearly open-house presentations of the lab’s activities. The game was built using an oscilloscope and a programmable analog computer, the Donner Model 30. It simulated a simple tennis match between two players, with a sideways perspective of the net and a ball bouncing back and forth, controlled by two player-manipulated inputs.

Proteus Proteus /clouds/

Exhausting gameplay

A significant percentage of video games employ in one way or another the figure of death. The thanatological sub-species of video game representations are practically endless: dismemberment, infection, untreatable wounds, explosion, etc. Players can be eaten, crushed, sliced, diced, quartered, electrocuted, impaled, and so on. Many of these representations are more or less approximate: in Doom, for example, a player’s state of “health” is represented by an abstract percentage value where players do not die of any specific organ failure, but instead from some sort of provoked exhaustion. In role playing games, players kill their opponents in a similar manner, i.e. by reducing this all-encompassing numerical value of their enemies to zero. In other games, players simply keel over, or disappear in a puff of smoke when touched, as in Pacman. In Super Mario Bros. players can just run out of time. Death in gaming is more a question of symbol than of substance. While we are still in the realm of simulation, the simulation is so figurative as pull us into an wholly other realm of representation. In his 1972 article on transcendence, gaming and “computer bums”, Stewart Brand used the term “symbolic” to describe the flickering figurations of death slowly taking over university computer science research consoles: “Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums“.

Inume Pass In the Kai Provence, Hokusai Journey, That Game Company

(char)playable podcast

Invaders! @ Leipzig

Déclaration de guerre

For all the English readers out there, I’m sorry, but this one’s going to be en français: the land of « Liberté Égalité Fraternité » is yet again dangerously close to passing what many have been calling a « liberticidal » law, but that might… Continue Reading →

Invaders! video

Some time has passed since my Invaders! installation started something of a $#!¥storm back in August at the Leipzig Games Convention. I tried to give the piece some context and gave a few interviews to responsible journalists, but ultimately the whole thing just blew up as people lost all sense of scale and started taking for granted all sorts of assumptions about the work. Ok, so that’s the backstory, and you can think of all that what you will.

Internet, mon amour

There is a new French law currently in preparation on the subject of (yet again) « Création et Internet ». I think you’ve already figured out the translation, but in case you haven’t, it is (yet again) about pitting « artistic creation » against… Continue Reading →

Some context…

I’ve been following the various forums commenting my Invaders! installation as much as my busy schedule allows me (I’ll be away for a residency all week, so the assassins will have to start looking elsewhere). At this point, it goes… Continue Reading →

Director[11] = #@§!

Ok, so now I’m really pissed. So I’ve bought the damn upgrade, simply because I have so many old projects languishing on this dying platform. I’ve also been getting email from people because some of these projects are online, and… Continue Reading →

Magic Marker versus Magic Screen

Also known as: Perceptive Pixel‘s multi-touch marvel is no match against Tim Russert’s felt-tip pen. My favorite part is actually all the noise Russert makes as he drags out his chart ;-)

Pakistan

I’m not much for petitions. A pure formality, at best. I’m far more impressed by more creative forms of communication. But given the speed at which events are unfolding, all I’ve found to do concerning the actual crisis in Pakistan… Continue Reading →

Beneath the Surface…

Ok people, you can stop sending me emails about Microsoft Surface. I’ve seen it already. And as I mentioned in this interview and this one the experimentation phase of interactive surfaces is over. Everyone knows that Microsoft is the pretty… Continue Reading →

Flash in the pan

Note to readers. Please observe that I am just about to condemn myself from all future speaking engagements by unabashedly biting the hand that feeds; even worse — coward that I am — from the comfort of my little countryside… Continue Reading →

Shoot an Iraqi

As you may or may not have noticed, I was teaching last month at the Chicago Art Institute. I met some pretty amazing people while there, but the person who really stood out for me was the very charming Iraqi… Continue Reading →

Playlist

A few weeks back, the cool French journalist Marie Lechner asked me to collect a list of interesting YouTube videos. I was originally going to do something more interresting than what I came up with, but I was busy travelling… Continue Reading →

Stereoscopic Processing, Torque, zzzzzz…

Vincent Cogne found some time (between evaluations and the whatnots of end-of-semester madness) to put up the source code to the solution he found for creating stereoscopic Processing sketches [link]. We tried a few different solutions before this one (well,… Continue Reading →