for whom: Victoria & Albert Museum

where: V & A, London

when: february 2010

with whom: this project is a team work; here’s a brief summary of the people involved (in no particular order):

  • ben – media artist, ideator of the human pong concept for the show
  • Adrian – interaction designer, inventor and magician
  • Henner – flash developer, media artist
  • Peter – digital artist
  • Christian – freelance developer
  • Stewart – engineer, media artist
  • Arber – coder, visualist
  • me – interaction designer, computer vision guy

what: (the Amazing) Human Pong installation was realized in the scope of the Decode OF Lab, a generative art event hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum during which new media artists from all over the world joined their efforts in some kind of generative jam session: we had one day and a half to create from the ground up, under the eyes of visitors, a set of complete installations using OpenFrameworks, our immagination and whatever we could our hands on.
Given the impromptu nature of the whole event, I almost immediatly decided to join Ben on his human pong idea. What we wanted to do was to make an easy and funny experience like the one from the original Pong game, even more direct: we wanted that visitors could play Pong using their bodies in a natural, instinctive way, we wanted to take a game that is both a piece of the pop culture and a symbol of the history of the computer age, mix it with some new school technology that still tastes like sci-fi to most people and create a human/machine interaction where the interface would fit so comfortably that people could use it without instructions, actually forgetting that there even was an interface.
The final result lived up to our expectations: the visitors were charmed by the “magic” feeling of the touchless interface (a couple repeated a few times that is was “ammaaaaazing”, hence the name we gave to the installation) and lots of kids ad as well as adults spent a good amount of time playing human pong.

human pong #1 from videosynthesis on Vimeo.