Ryota Kuwakubo's talk at LDM, EPFL

This afternoon, Ryota Kuwakubo gave a talk at the Laboratory of Design and Media (EPFL).

He presented his now classical pieces such as Bitman, Bithike, the video bulb. These projects are based on 8x8 animations that Ryota used to show how simplicity can make complex things (the reconfiguration of the bitman on the portable device or on the TV screen on which the videobubl is plugged).

Then he showed the PLX game: a two player game in which users are separated by a display that show the same moving icons but they both play a different game. To him it's a way to depict simple model of misunderstanding in communication. As he told us, it looks at gaming from "conflicted perspective": it looks at how miscommunication and immerse users in an intriguing simulation of such situation. This is very intriguing from my CSCW perspective and clearly resonates with some experiments in social psychology (cognitive conflicts). Using this idea for a game is very neat and it'd be curious to see the range of players' reactions.

My favorite was certainly the loopScape: a 2-players device that engage uses in a shooting game on a cylindrical LED screen. The rotating screen made people wandering around it. Judging from the video, the immersion is quite interesting. He presented lots of his projects and I won't enter into much details.

Then he switched to the Perfektron's projects, for instance the "one-button game" (which actually reminded me of this Gamasutra article), a very simple installation that you can play by pressing only one button. It is described here in japanese. The button controls a trampoline game.

What was interesting in this talk were, more than the projects presentation (that I knew already) the ideas that Ryota had behind them. For instance, he explains that he was interested by how systems like the one he designs (or others) are apprehended by people ("I don't like to make some machine very purpose-oriented", "I want to let people see it for a long time, but I noticed that people don't stay for a long time at exhibition... it's the same as watching picture"). From that standpoint, the fact that the videobulb is a sold device is interesting and I am wondering about how people use it: is it something like you leave on your tv all day long or that you only show to friends when they visit you (I am sure shops would like to display it in the facilities).

Also, one of the attendant here remarked that these projects are about "taking control or loosing control through interactivity", a curious topic that such interactive media addresses, which led to some discussion during the coffee break.