Generative Art – Twitch Plays Pokémon

Clip taken from YouTube, featuring TPP against the Champion

Twitch Plays Pokémon (2014) 

Beginning on 12 February 2014,  Twitch Plays Pokémon was a social experiment that ran for 16 days with an estimation by Twitch of over 1.16 million participants, with peaking simultaneously at 121,000, while with a total of 55 million views during the experiment.

So what is it?

Twitch Plays Pokémon was a stream of a Twitch bot playing the original Pokémon Red, but with a twist that the controls was by the players in the chat, with no restrictions. This meant that the bot will accept the commands of thousands of viewers’ inputs and run them all, resulting a chaotic flow throughout the entire run.

“TPP not only inspired an entire generation of Pokemon fans, but it directly inspired Twitch” – Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, Twitch Studios director

TPP opened up the medium of streaming to new means of innovations, enabling new perspectives at interactive content. This greatly interested me back then since it memes and the cult aside, showed relations and explores giving control and goals of participants, how an exceedingly large number of participants can affect a piece of work.

Is it generative art? Generative art requires human interaction against a computer algorithm, which results in chaos and unpredictability. TPP is an extremely powerful example of thousands of human commands working against a bot that computes and returns results, often times undesirable.

How does this relate to me? My FYP leans towards chaotic player interactivity, caused by multiple players simultaneously. TPP can be said as a powerful pioneer in the direction I am headed for.


Assignment 3: Reflection on New Media Art Essay

The first point brought up by Henry Jenkins in Game Design as Narrative Architecture is the relationship between games and story.

“Interactivity is almost the opposite of narrative; narrative flows under the direction of the author, while interactivity depends on the player for motive power.” – Adams, 1999

As a game and as a narrative, there are conflicting interests. Giving freedom to the player to control how the world builds will derail from an intentional narrative, however limiting said freedom may be harmful an experience in a game.

While there is some truth to the statement, I don’t quite agree with it for it assumes that there is no complements between interactivity with narrative.

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Retro text-based adventure games

Early text-based adventure games usually involve putting your character in scenarios, where the player inputs commands to get up, interact with items, move to locations, etc. Whether the game is linear or not, the interaction of the player was necessary for the game to continue on and progress the narrative. Unlike a novel, the player is put into the first person perspective with control over the actions players may take.

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Life is Strange, choosing breakfast
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Life is Strange, choosing who to blame

As games advance over the years, the quality and variety of choices and how much they affect the narrative improve. From simple choices as omelette or waffles for breakfast, which may affect little but flavour for the player, to bigger choices which may affect where your character goes and how other characters perceive you. The expansion of multi-linear narratives also aid on how a player would like a story to flow, perhaps the same “happy ending” isn’t the ending the player would like. Perhaps to player does not want to get along with a certain character they dislike.

Overall, what really matters is how this interactivity shapes the experience for the narrative to the player. Interactivity, however incorporated may aid or harm the player’s perspective of a story, and as a designer, it is up to us to decide what to do with such power.

Room for one colour

Room for one colour, by Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson was the most “wow” exhibition for me. Having an entire space illuminated with only a single colour of light, yellow, from mono-frequency lamps, I experienced what I’d like to call, an experience in 20th century television.

It takes a little while for the eyes to adapt to a sudden change in environment, as our notion of colour is instantly wiped, and yellow and black floods into our vision. Once our eyes adapt, we can once again have a close look at our surroundings, the details.

What I found really awakening about this exhibit was that it makes us think; what reality is to us can be highly shaped by our own vision of things. While the surroundings are nothing out of the ordinary, we are definitely “seeing things in a different light”.

The cleanliness and blank space of the room only guides us to wonder further on how different the world we see can be, how through another perspective everything around us can be different, even the presumably white walls, though ordinary, becomes dyed new.

Olafur Eliasson’s installation Room for one colour (1997) is the final work in the National Gallery’s exhibition Monochrome: Painting in Black and White (until 18 February 2018). The exhibition spans seven centuries and includes 50 works by artists who have—in most cases—deliberately turned to monochrome in their art, whether it me black and white paintings, grisaille drawings, yellow and black stained glass or a room filled with yellow light. “

On further reading, this exhibit lets us alter our perspective on things; consider that other animals have different visual spectrum from humans, the very same world can be seen in complete difference. Finally, it reminds us of how even the human being, though a social animal, could be invisible or isolated while physically together.

Post Presentation Essay

Memphis art, an anti-design movement founded by Ettore Sottsass in 1981 with a group of other Italian Designers, which acted against the concept of what is “aesthetic”.

Art Deco, Kitsch, Pop Art, and Futurism alongside other art movements were inspired Memphis art, which can be seen as opposition against the dull designs of the 1970s. Memphis artists felt that buildings, cameras, cars, furniture, typewriters, and many other items in this era was lacking individuality and was giving the impressions of mass production. Feeling that these designs were outdated, Memphis artists sought to breathe life into such items; sometimes as crudely as possible, all the more to oppose the concept of what tasteful design was seen as then. Memphis art supports the concept that “anything goes”, that there should not be a standard for how design should or should not be. In fact the name origin supports such an idea: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again by Bob Dylan was played throughout the evening during the first meeting with Ettore and fellow designers, and thus they went along with it.

Despite being wild and unpredictable in nature, Memphis art does have some prevailing features that appear more often than others. Laminate and Terrazzo materials which are normally more found on floors, are incorporated due to the unevenness of the pattern in comparison to checkered or stripes. However as expected of Memphis art, these designs are not found where they normally would, as you can see them on tables and lamps and such.

Memphis art appears to place emphasis on uneven and unexpected design qualities, as suggested by the anti-design properties. Squiggles, sometimes known as the bacterial print, was designed by Sottsass in 1978 is a pattern of uneven curvy lines that give the impressions or squiggling, was also a common pattern used in Memphis to show the unevenness even in solid objects. Bright, multi-colours were also used in items, especially in mismatching shapes to further push away the concept of design. Chair legs may not be rectangular or cylindrical; they could be triangular and be in a bright red while the rest of the chair may be a cool blue. Memphis goes out of their way to tell you that things should not be what you expect them to be.

A contrast to Memphis art is Modernism, which places value in the notion of functionalism over aesthetics. Derived from modern architecture with inner structure dictates outer form; modernism is about scientific objectivity and values mathematical and functional exactitude. In the concept of functionalism, the notion is that objects made to be used should be simple, honest, and direct. Designs should be well adapted to their purpose, bare of ornament, standardized, machine made and reasonably priced. In the process they should be expressive of their structure and materials. Memphis art conflicts this by turning it around, making the pieces loud and irregular, with bright colours and shapes that would be less than practical for the purpose. As Scotsass views the design movements that emphasises such functionality, he feels that the creative aspect and personality is being sacrificed, this led to the birth of anti-design movements such as Memphis art.

The original group of Memphis designers created a wide range of bizarre creations that won celebrity fans from David Bowie to Karl Lagerfeld and arguably the most iconic of all is Ettore Sottsass’ Carlton. Exploring how its bright coloured laminates and playful form typified Memphis’ challenge to Modernism’s impersonal aesthetic[1], the Carlton could be seen as a bookcase, a room divider or a dresser – or all three; similar to other pieces by the Memphis group, it fits well as modern art installation. Designed in 1981, it can be found in design museums around the world, and in fact it’s still available for purchase from the Memphis Group website – at a grand sum of €13,200.40[2]. Sottsass’ Carlton bookcase – designed for the group’s first collection – epitomises his use of brightly coloured laminates, graphic forms and non-functional elements that became the defining style of the decade, and that with Memphis, Sottsass wanted to define a new approach to design that broke free of the restrictions of functionalism. To challenge the concepts of minimalism in modernist art, Memphis art was quickly associated with postmodernism.

The Carlton is constructed of medium density fibreboard (MDF) sections, which are laminated in different colours. Featuring horizontal, perpendicular and angled surfaces, the bookshelf and has two red drawers just above the base; but the seemingly haphazard arrangement of partitions and voids is actually based on a logical system of equilateral triangles, which support both the slanted and flat shelves. So while it is a disaster in the concept of form and function, there was engineering put forth in creating a piece that balances itself, despite seemingly outrageous. But if you could afford one, you’d need a substantial living room to house it, as the Carlton is enormous – almost two metres square. What are the rewards of getting the Carlton then? A bold colour palette, strong, stark lines, and a geometric structure: its various partitions, voids and shelves are based around a system of equilateral triangles – the perfect example of Memphis art.


[1] Howarth, D. (2018). Postmodernism in design: Carlton bookcase by Ettore Sottsass. [online] Dezeen. Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2018].

[2] Memphis Milano. (2018). Carlton. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Nov. 2018].

Creative Responses

My name in Rebus

A Bauhau Poster illustrating the humidity of Singapore, where evaporation is more commonplace than rainful

Illustration of contrast in emotion – Beauty and Disgust

Cubist portrait of a classmate


My name in block typography

Freeze – the end

how it started and how it went wrong

Freeze was supposed to be an interactive experience where a single user interacts with a switch in an enclosed room of visual and audio sensation; the switch freezes the user in time, pausing the installing in the sense the user “freezes” the world.

The idea of interstice comes from the gap in one’s life, as one looks at this frozen world through a more third-party perspective, detaching themselves from the moving flow of time in life.

However working alone with a bunch of foreign code was a task I tried to hard to achieve, yet not getting enough results. It started with missing a few classes due to medical conditions. But it wasn’t long before I realised I was starting to be further and further behind my classmates. Working along only further pushed the slow start since the reluctance to grind on the code alone slowly build up.

Mid-project progress

After some reconsideration, the idea was the refit the switch as something more ephemeral to fit the project’s theme better. Hence I started swapping to a light based switch using the light theremin.

Controlling with light however, was a wonky step. Since my project made use of Modularity – being build up of many small pieces that may be swapped in and out, and being transitional, where the project only moves forward from phase to phase, the light switch had to be very receptive, and one wrong detection ruins the experience.

A preview of what the project would have resembled on completion:

After freezing the entire screen from interaction, the next phase begins, which would be a series of frozen landscapes (similar to the previous video) built in a way to try capturing the attention of the user for around thirty seconds, before the user may begin to lose interest and release, bring the user back to “reality” which is the default state of the project.

So why was the project unfinished?

Poor management of time and overestimation of abilities. Missing out the chance to work with a group, I was plowing through the content alone with a slow start. While part of the issues could be solved by consulting the professors, the consultations start to become increasingly hard since the questions start to rack up and progress was underwhelming.

Finally I lacked the ability to picture it as an actual project. The installation was to be displayed in public but I had not reached that point of imaging the project. Needing to present the idea in a way that was pleasing to interact with was scary for what I have to show. In the end, I failed to deliver punctually, and the project never reached the final presentation.

If I were to rework the project, I would step it up sooner, and got more support before it was too late.

Freeze- Progress Update

Here’s an update to the project, currently named Freeze

Previously the design was to use a physical lever to trigger the mechanisms, however I felt that just like the project, the trigger had to feel more ethereal, hence I replaced it with a photo resistor to detect the user’s inhibition of light, which would “freeze” the project.

Based on the Light Theremin tutorial (video below), I attempted to create a reaction when a user acts against the project by performing an action (to be decided, will update in near future).

For the actual item, I’ve created a short series of second-long videos to transit from as the mechanism is triggered. Currently the first transition will be the regardless of which part the passive video is at, as I’m currently finding difficulty to make it seem like it’s a render of the current frame, hence the force freeze of the first frame (with the merlion).

On the other I have successfully managed to add delays in the project, where the mechanism will need to lose detection of light for a couple of seconds before the freezing begins; this helps prevent the mechanism from accidentally activating, which may spoil the experience.

Future plans:

Rather than having the user interact by blocking light, I’m considering working with the reverse, to have the user pick up and item (which was initially blocking light), hence having the light being detected will trigger the mechanism.

More updates coming in the near future!

Principles of New Media

Today, as the rhetorics, forms, and institutions of new media develop, scholars are aware of the significance of the new forms. But as happened with the birth of cinema a century ago, the details aren’t being recorded, as said by Lev Manovich in The Language of New Media. Its most important argument is the careful development of a record of the present state of new media which focuses on the complex relationship between cinema and new media. Manovich also confronts the problem of terminology for new media, suggesting several revisions for widely used terms, and proposing additions to the lexicon. 

The 5 principles that new media operate under, according to Lev Manovich are:

  1. Numerical representation
  2. Modularity
  3. Automation
  4. Variability
  5. Transcoding

Numerical Representation

Lev Manovich mentions how new media are “composed of digital code” and thus can be “described using a mathematical function” and can undergo “algorithmic manipulation”.

As with the usage of Arduino and coding, and those being the core interactions and activity of the project, it can be said the project can be broken down with 0s and 1s as with projects that consist or is derived from digital code.


New media objects are object-oriented, composed of parts made up of smaller parts reminiscent of a “fractal structure”. Being modular, elements of new media can be swapped out or modified to emphasize or define certain elements, directing or even controlling thought invocation.

With my project, the experience is split into multiple short phases of sound and video, in attempts to invoke certain emotion in a certain manner. As the user experiences short and separate phases back to back, it can be considered as a collage of media. As it is made of individual elements, the pieces can be swapped out for more suitable pieces if they fail to induce the ideas intended or even confuse the users.


To have numerical coding and modular structure allow much of the “creation, manipulation, and access”, projects can reduce the need for human control for it to function as intended. Automation is a big deal for it is what really separates new media from olden forms; self sustained and multi-part experience created by the project itself compared to a single experience from olden projects is what really makes new media “new”.

In my project, users only have a single item to interact with, which results in the experience to “begin”. Said project also ends with the same item when interaction with it ends. In this sense, the project is automated from a single trigger, and the user will gain the full experience from a single point and they would be led to the end(s) of the project.


“A new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but something that can exist in different, potentially infinite versions”. Unlike older media forms, new media is a more flexible experience, where the human interaction can lead to different results, whether they directly affect it, or the project passively reacts to them. The curator designs the project with the user in mind and have the project revolve around them, instead of directly controlling what they will experience.

In my project, the project stays in a passive state, until the switch is actively triggered by the user, where it will start flowing into various transitional states of sound and video before approaching the final stage. The timing where the user interacts with it can create variance in how they will passively experience the project.


This is the “reconceptualization” which occurs during computerization, the transformation of media into computer data. The same idea or object can be perceived differently when placed in different contexts, which can invoke different sorts of thought. By juxtaposing certain ideas such as radio controls, but placed in a digital view, while unnecessary from a physical point of view, does invoke ideas of older and complex forms of technology, and the gain or loss of certain elements when transcoding can create a new impression, for better or worse, compared to the original item.

My project derives from the idea of stopping time, where human experience is transcoded into a digital format through a screen. The difference in the sense of time and space alongside the view should create thoughts of detachment which is the idea of the project.

Interactive Project Sketch

  • How does your audience experience your project?
  • Is it for a single person to engage with your project or for multiple participants concurrently?

The project involves a single person entering a room surrounded by screens playing moments in peoples’ lives in the urban city, but in fast forward, making it seem like a collage of people living in the urban city. Slow Jazz/classical music is also being played in the room.

  • What is the interaction or situation you are creating for your audience?

In the middle of the room, there is a lever; nothing else can be interacted with, hence the audience would instinctively attempt to pull it. However the lever takes some effort to pull, and effort is continuously needed to hold it down. When the lever is held down, within five seconds the collage of videos suddenly slow down and pause an a certain happy scene (such as a scene of a birthday party), out of many possible scenes. The music also fades out in the meantime.

Sounds of water start to play, as if the audience sunk into a large pool of water. Meanwhile the images on the screen slowly darken over time. Large bubbles slowly float out from the bottom of the screen to the top occasionally. The microphone on the lever also turns active and the audience will begin to hear sounds of their breathing after a few seconds.

After a minute of holding down the lever, heartbeat sounds start to play, with increasing intensity. After two minutes of holding down the lever, the scenery starts to change to childhood scenes such as playing in the park, in sepia. Sounds of nature such as trees swaying, birds chirping start to play. If the lever is actually held down for five whole minutes, the music fades out, and the screen fades to white, with black seeping in from the sides until everything turns black. The lever’s pressure will also increase, making it harder to hold down. Nothing else will change until the audience releases the lever.

At any point of the interaction, if the lever has been released, the interaction resumes to the initial stage, with the slight difference that the collage and music was not “paused”, but rather just muted for the duration; the audience will notice there was a skip in time in that duration the lever has held down. Additionally, if the lever was held down for at least fifteen seconds, once released, the lever would be locked, and cannot be pulled down again until the audience leaves the room.

  • What is the intention of this interaction?

The intention of the interaction is for the audience to feel the continuity of life in their absence. When the lever is held down, the is a pseudo imagery of sinking into water, and one has to “hold their breath” of sorts, as the need to continuously pull down the lever for the scenes to continue changing. The lever’s pressure will increase as the stages pass, so it is expected for it to be released after the second minute.

Once released, the audience will be able to notice a gap in the fast forwarded scenes as well as the jazz/classic music, making them realise life still goes on despite the lack of one’s input.

  • How does this interaction relate to the concept of interstice?

The interstice I’m working with here is the gap in life. When the lever is held down, the audience jumps to another space, some trapped in nostalgia and happy thoughts, but however these memories of the past trap the audience from facing the future, and hence when they return, they seemingly jump into a further point in the “present”. The idea of the lever not being able to be pulled down again is to show that a second chance does not always prevail.