Working With Useless Machines
A useless machine is a strategy employed to critique the current corporate agenda of productivity, efficiency, and consumption by creating devices that have no utilitarian function. They are purposefully executed to provoke a reflection on the current state of the technical and consumer culture of the time. This project examines the idea of the useless machine through four explorations subverting the function of personal assistants, and through the creation of one personal web server.
The projects are: SAD Blender, Fortune Tasker (with Alanna Predko), Calendar Creep, Home Hub, and Punchy (with Rob Russell).
Sad Home (Depressed Alexa 1.0)
Sad Home (Depressed Alexa 1.0) is an ongoing project that explores the concepts of system dynamics as it could be applied to depression. A custom system generates spoons (resiliance), moods, and perceptions for an Alexa Echo. As the device is used, its spoons are depleted, and the system dynamically updates itself. Alexa employs an avoidant coping strategy towards tasks by trying to frustrate the user into qutting with a yes / no dialog flow. It was developed at The Banff Centre's Digital Promises residency.
Punk Prism Power
Punk Prism Power is a cooperative 2-player Magical Girl party game, in which players wield custom built wireless peripherals to defeat bizarre evil monsters in a fantasy world. Each player has 3 different physical motions that can be registered by an accelerometer embedded in each weapon (similar to a Wiimote).
Collaborators: Alanna Predko
Fortune Tasker is an ongoing attempt to subvert the position of Amazon Alexa from a personal assistant to an absurdist personal mystic. A magical object rather than a spy.
Collaborators: Mudit Gangualy
Fascist Falldown is physical bowling game that is a cross between a carnival game, and beer pong. It consists of upwards of 20 mobile devices which act as pins. Users load the website (tinyurl link) onto their phone browsers and then are randomly assigned a dictator. They then place their phone on a cardboard phone stand that holds it in place and the users take turns bowling the dictators down using a ball (the ball of democracy). Take turns bowling over the Illuminati!
A Shock In The Dark
Collaborators: Sagan Yee, Lindy Wilkins, Jane Hacker
A Shock In The Dark is an experimental game prototype that looks at pain and emotional cartography in the context of board games. Its a two player game, where you explore a grid to uncover of islands. The catch is that the board is wired up to some RF dog shock collars worn by both players. The idea is to claim as much territory as you can, without getting shocked too much.
The Interesteller Selfie Station Photo Booth
Collaborators: Christine Love
The ISS Love was a travelling photobooth to promote Christine Love's ISS app for iOS. During its tenure it travelled to many an event, including The Indie Mega Booth at PAX East, the Fancy Videogame Party in Toronto, That Party @ GDC and Bit Bazzar at Gamma Space. It included a full controller, and full enclosure, and used a wireless sticker printer to print portraits. Though now long retired, its little sticky portraits still sometimes pop up on computers and mirrors around the world.
Long Time Coming
Collaborators: Sagan Yee
Long Time Coming is an "infidelity sim" in which you've just cheated on your boyfriend, and must lie your way through an evening with him without getting caught. It's also an experimental visual novel that involves literally throwing knives at the screen during tense emotional situations.
This is the literal Internet of Shit and a play on useless notifiers. Utilizing a custom made box, wireless methane sensors, and a cycling LED program to help indicate whether a public bathroom should be used or not.
Collaborators: Angus Fletcher, Jon Sharky
txtr is a small web based Python application come engine that allows you to turn interactive fiction into real time texting based text adventure games (say that five times fast!). It uses web based SMS services as its platform, and runs indepndent of whatever OS is on your phone.
Twitter and Tumblr Bots
Little strange digital creatures, released into the wilds.
Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon
Collaborators: Lindy Wilkins, Hillary Predko, Tom Hobson, Zak Kain, Alex Leitch, Jon Griffen
The Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas hackthon is an annual tradition to create complete garbage in the world.
A few things built by hands and machines.