IM Reading Assignment

“The Second Self. Computers and the Human Spirit” by Sherry Turkle
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Part 1, Chapter 2: Video Games and Computer Holding Power. 

Write your impressions and reflections: min 250- 500+ words
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To be honest, I found it strange that quite a bit of the readings weren’t directly Interactive Media or art related (in my opinion), and when I was reading Turkle’s chapter about video games, I was trying to figure out how this was related to IM. And then I remembered that video games are actually art, and a great example of interactive media at that. So before I begin to discuss about some of the many points on video games raised in Turkle’s chapter, I would like to talk about my opinion on video games and its relation to art!

Video games have become so common in today’s society especially among the generations born into the digital age, that they have become their labels. People have lost sight of video games as a work of art. However, in my opinion, games are one of the most successful artforms; one of the most notable instances of coming close to a true Gesamtkunstwerk. There so many aspects of art and design in video games- Character design, environment/level design, soundscape, animation, narrative writing, etc. So many overlapping areas of art that I cannot even fully differentiate or name them all. You basically design every single detail in a whole new world! And if that does not include almost all, if not all, artforms then I don’t know what other artwork would be able to achieve so.

A normal video game would stimulate visual and audio sensory experiences, but with the advancement of technology, more senses are being incorporated into games. Gaming devices like the Occulus Rift, opens a whole new world of VR and allows us to have a deeper level of sensorial immersion, such as the addition of physical sensation, or a more immersive in game point of view. Maybe in the future, smell and taste might be possible in video games too! Who knows. Furthermore, there are video games suitable for all ages, making ir an extremely inclusive form of art. With so many genres to pick from, from first person shooting to puzzle games to horror, one is bound to find a game that would suite your personal tastes.  Additionally, each game usually offers an individualized yet universal experience to players. That is a quality that interactivity in many artworks try to achieve. For example in games such as Detroit: Becoming Human, players are given different options that will open up different pathways in the story tree, allowing them to craft their own story/experience in a way, but still having the same overarming ark, or being able to reply to try out different experiences.

Detroit: Become Human Demo Experience -
Multiple options to choose from in Detroit: Becoming HumanDetroit Become Human: Stormy Night Walkthrough 100%
At the end of chapter, the story tree shows how your choices led to an ending The Hostage - Detroit: Become Human | Shacknews


Now moving on to some points mentioned in Turkle’s writing! –

“There has been controversy about video games from the days of Space Invaders and Asteroids, from the time that the games’ holding power provoked people who saw it as a sign of addiction to become alarmed…

For Jarish knows that despite the complexity of the games, there is program behind, there are rules. There is the computer that Jarish mythologizes as the dream machine that can make anything possible and as the rule machine that makes everything that is crazy ultimately controllable…

Most people don’t become addicted to video games just as most people who diet don’t become anorexic. But when they use these powerful materials to measure themselves, they are at risk. And, of course, some people come to the material more vulnerable than others. The greater the anxiety about being out of control, the greater the seduction of a material that offers the promise of perfect response.”

Even till now, the social effects of video games are still being widely debated, and controversial.  Many still view video games as addictive, video games as violence instigators. Even recently, Trump suggest that video games are the cause of violent outbreaks such as mass shootings due to the glorification of violence in video games. Although I do agree that some video games do glorify violence, I find that this video game stereotype no longer holds true to many games now. Now, there are more and more games with different genres, and messages. Shooting and killing games aren’t the only genres in the game industry. There are numerous non-violent games that are immensely popular, such as the recently trending Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a wholesome video game where you create a home, interact with cute animal villagers, and just enjoy life whilst exploring.  There are even games that preach non-violence, such as Undertale.  In the battles in Undertale, you can choose to resort to violence, or to use words to talk  ourself out of the fight. Choosing not to resort through violence throughout the whole game will lead to a True Pacifist Ending, which is considered the “true ending” to Undertale, leading to a happy conclusion and the complete credits. If the player choose to resort to violence and slay enemies in some battles during the play through, they will complete the Neutral Route. Upon completing the Neutral Route, the protagonist receives a phone call after the credits that provides a hint to the next requirement for getting the True Pacifist Ending, prompting them replay and choose that pathway instead.

Undertale Act | Mythic Bios
Example of battle mechanics, you can choose to “Fight” or “Act” in different ways, and eventually spare “Mercy” instead of resorting to violenceGallop-a-Gus on Twitter: "Soulless True Pacifist! #KILLEDTHEMALL ...Ending for True Genocide Route, where you kill everyone (above) versus True Pacifist, where no lives are taken and the story truly ends (below)

Many people are drawn to games because of the power they hold in games. Unlike in real life, almost everything you do is solely controllable by the player in a game. Like what Turkle said, they get seduced by the control one wields in the game, compared to real life which is unpredictable, where many a times, things happen outside of our control. Is giving people power and control over something a good way to make them engage with your creation? Anyways, I think people who get addicted to games and are actually influenced to carry out violent acts already have pre-existing psychological issues, and the full blame (or any blame at all) cant be placed on video games.

“Marty is a twenty-nine-year-old economist who works for a large Manhattan bank. He is a nervous, wound-up man. “I’m a real worrier. A real ‘type A person.’ That’s me.” He says he plays the game because he needs “to have something to do which is so hard that I can’t think of anything else.” The games force him into another mental space where the thoughts and the cares of his day cannot intrude. For many years, Marty used transcendental meditation to relax. Now he uses video games.”

I feel like games are usually painted as a villain, often affiliated with connotations that people forget its positive impacts.  People go to museums to look at artworks, as a form of entertainment; or make their own art as a form of therapeutic release. Games are works of art, games can be the same too. Games are a great form of escapism from the real world. Like mentioned before, people are able to escape into a new reality which they have more control over, or one that is out so fictionally out of their wildest dreams, where they are able to choose their own story and  create a new identity. They can be transported into a world that allows them to relax, and provide entertainment.
Its interesting that some games are created with for relaxation in mind. Games like Journey or Abzu takes players into a beautiful tranquil landscape , and aims to create a really zen game play experience. There are even games you can play with friends to enjoy some time together and relax, such as Snipperclips or Animal Crossing.

Abzu review - It's a brand new journey that's, erm, not quite Journey Abzu A shader tribute to Journey - Making GamesJourneyAnimal Crossing: New Horizons – What to do with Friends- Attack of ...Animal Crossing

“Technological advances have enabled designers to create games that provide visually appealing situations and demand a diverse and challenging set of skills. But the ambition is to have the appeal of Disneyland, pinball, and a Tolkien novel all at once. Games like Joust do not offer the imaginative identification with a character and a situation that literature does.”

Its interesting that Turkle noted how people wanted more customization and literary in games. Perhaps thats what sets video games apart from other forms of art and makes it successful. The fact  that video games are such flexible amalgamations of both art and design. In more traditional artworks like paintings, the audience has no hand to play in creating or playing around with the work, and they could each have vastly different interpretations. Compare that to video games, where the audience has almost full interactivity and control of what they wish to do, with the power to personalize their experience; whilst they might all experience something different, the overall story line or overarching message they derive is still more or less the same. Video games are designed  so that everyone is still able to understand the basic narrative, although it still allows for some interpretations; while in art the fundamental artist message might still be lost to some; while in design, there is no room for interpretation for good designs.

The knights in Joust owe their appeal to associations the player makes with fantasies about medieval combat that have been sparked through other media. And even the graphically “advanced” Joust lacks the degree of individual characterization one has come to expect in animated cartoons. Designers are starting to break out of these limitations. New generations of computer graphics will allow game characters to have more realistic gestures and facial expressions. New programming techniques offer the hope of creating characters who have more specific and interesting personalities than the monsters in Pac-Man so that players’ interactions with them may feel more like a social encounter and less like controlling a pinball”

A good example for the above paragraph is the game Monster Hunter World. When you begin the game, you are free to customize your characters looks however you want. Whats so cool about MHW is that the graphics look pretty realistic and you can customize numerous details from the age of your character to the color of their hair, or if they have special markings on their faces, etc. During the game, there is even more ways you can create your own unique character, by mixing and matching whatever armor or weapon you prefer as you carry our your quests in the main story line. MHW also allows for co-op battles with your friends to slay the monsters. Being able to play games alongside your friends is something that many games are working towards today. By giving the option to play multiplayer, games can indeed feel more like a social encounter, and less like a solitary activity. Hmm, maybe its just my lack in knowledge of artworks, and the vastness of the artworld, but I struggle to think of works of art  that allows its audiences to partake in social interactions that help build or complement the artwork.

Monster Hunter World Character Creation / Character Customization ...Monster Hunter World character customization is irking some ...How To Forge And Upgrade Equipment in Monster Hunter: World ...
Different weapons to wield and different parts of different monster armours to choose fromMONSTER HUNTER: WORLD


“Woody Allen dreamt of the interactive novel. Video game designers plan to implement it, perhaps less voluptuously, by putting the player in control of a character who lives not in a maze but in a piece of literature.”

This got me thinking of Netflix’s latest Blackmirror movie, Bandersnatch.  The first time I played it, I found it to be an interesting experience, and thought that it was rather innovative, a movie that you could decide your own ending! But after finishing the whole film, I still thought it was cool that Bandersnatch was blurring the lines between movies and games now, but I was kind of disappointed at its level of interactivity with the literature. I realized that the choices you made did not really affect what happens in the story, or that they would kill the main character off, thus making it seem that there is a “Right Choice” in the film. Although Bandersnatch did disappoint a bit, I think that it set down the foundations for more interesting interactive novels, like what Woody Allen dreamt of, to come. Perhaps future examples would do well to learn from the diverse and deep interactivity found in video games. But by then, I wonder, would the film be seen as a video game then? What would set them apart? Simply the medium of presentation? One presumably using actors and cameras, while the other digital or hand drawn animations. But then again, more movies today are also starting to rely on 3D animations to create characters or scenes, and like what Turkle said, new generations of computer graphics are allowing games to appear way more realistic. Is it possible that if interactive films became more common in the future, they would slowly morph into games, while games morph into them? Would there be a clear line of distinction between the two, or will they be added to a long list of never ending debates such as “what is the difference between art and design?”.

Interactive II #1: Inspiring example of interactive art

While researching for an inspiring example of interactive art, I discovered a few artists who make quite a lot of interactive art pieces. Thus, I will be sharing a few works by each artists because I find them too interesting not to share!!

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born 1967 in Mexico. His work can be considered a blend of interactive art and performance art, using both large and small scales, indoor and outdoor settings, and a wide variety of audiovisual technologies. Lozano-Hemmer is best known for creating and presenting theatrical interactive installations in public spaces across Europe, Asia and America. Using robotics, real-time computer graphics, film projections, positional sound, internet links, cell phone interfaces, video and ultrasonic sensors, LED screens and other devices, his installations seek to interrupt the increasingly homogenized urban condition by providing critical platforms for participation. His smaller-scaled sculptural and video installations explore themes of perception, deception and surveillance.


Under Scan is an interactive video art installation for public space. Passers-by are detected by a computerized tracking system, which activates video-portraits projected. The portraits projected were recordings of volunteers who were free to portray themselves in whatever way they desired. These portraits are projected at random positions.  When the viewer covers the projections with their shadow, the portraits are “revealed” and thus “wake-up” and establish eye contact with the viewer. As the viewer walks away, the portrait reacts by looking away, and eventually disappears if no one activates it.
Every 7 minutes the entire project stops and resets. The tracking system is revealed in a brief “interlude” lighting sequence, which projects all of the calibration grids used by the computerized surveillance system. Under Scan was inspired by

The piece was inspired by mise en abyme in visual works such as Jan Van Eyck’s paintings, where the portrayed (who is also the viewer) makes eye-contact with the viewer. Other inspirations for this work include the post-photographic device described in La invención de Morel, written by Adolfo Bioy Casares (1940). In the novel, a character called Morel tells the tourists he has been recording their actions of the past week with a machine he invented that is capable of reproducing reality. The recording capture their souls, and  enables them to relive that week forever through relooping the recording. As such, the recording is able to overlap with reality.

My thoughts: I found the concept of using peoples
shadows as an input to trigger an output really
interesting. I am also amazed at how their shadows
makes the projections clearer, instead of obscuring
them completely. Additionally,I think that the small
details like how when the viewer walks away, the
portrait looks away, and "sleeps" if there is no 
input anymore. I find the whole trigger and 
deactivating system well thought about. I can also 
see how the artwork relates to Morel's photographic
device- The portrait projections and viewers shadows
parallels (in the novel,)the recording overlapping 
with reality.

SANDBOX (2010)

Sandbox is a large-scale interactive installation.  On two small sandboxes tiny projections of people appear.  These projections are actually real time projections of people on the two larger sandboxes (a.k.a the beach). As participants reach out to touch the small projection of people , a camera detects their hands and relays them live to two of the world’s brightest projectors, which hang from a boom lift. Their hands are live-streamed and projected  over the beach.  In this way people share three scales: the tiny sandbox images, the real human scale and the gigantic scale of special effects. These images are amplified by digital cinema projectors which create an animated topology over the beach, make tangible the power asymmetry inherent in technologies of amplification.

I really love how simple, and yet complicated this 
project is. It is amazing to see how participants 
are able to interact with each other indirectly and
yet directly, through the clever manipulation of 
scale. The use of live-streaming and real time 
feedback is a very immersive way to get participants
to play with each other through the artwork. Perhaps
something we can think about! This work amplifies 
human connection, and I think it is a very successful
interactive media artwork as it is v engaging.
Lozano-Hammer's use of projections as a medium, 
although tricky, is also something I think we can
consider using. I find the technical execution of 
this work really impressive, as it looks rather 
seamless and considering this was made back in 2010!
RAFAEL LOZANO-HEMMER has a lot of really cool works,
you can check them out!! :
- Pulse (2019)
- Cloud Display (2019)
- Pareidolium (2018)


Jeppe Hein  was born in 1974, and is an artist based in Berlin and Copenhagen. His interactive sculptures and installations combine elements of humour with the 1970s traditions of minimalism and conceptual art.


Path of Frequencies is a site-specific installation of steel tracks that responds to the architectural configuration of the museum, assembled to run through the entire exhibition space like a guided path. As each visitor enters the space, a sensor is activated and releases a ball on a string. The ball is then set in motion along a dynamic and meandering track, creating various tones as it collides with singing bowls dispersed throughout the space. Visitors are accompanied by a unique and continuous sound during their visit, experienced physically in the vibrations that the singing bowls produce. In addition, the emerging melody becomes a connecting element between visitors as they unconsciously make music together.

I personally like how this artwork is both an 
individual and a collective experience. Each 
visitor experiences the same path that the ball is
set on, yet depending on other fellow visitors,
the collective sound this work generates in the
end is different. I also enjoy how input is the
viewers presence, while output is the motion of the
ball; and that the motion of the ball creates an 
additional audio output for the viewers.


A large mirror hangs on the wall with a small bench positioned in front of it. Upon taking a seat on the bench, visitors begin to observe their own reflections. However, a small trigger activates a fog machine within the bench, releasing smoke from small holes that surround the seat. Thus while contemplating their reflections in the mirror, they see themselves engulfed in a cloud of smoke, gradually reappearing only as the fog dissipates.

I like the idea of how you can see yourself go through 
the process of the artwork, but not through a digital 
medium such as live-stream or recording. Instead a 
mirror is used for the viewer to see their own 
reflection and to witness what is happening to them as
they are engulfed. Being able to see yourself through
the mirror provides a sort of out of body experience
due to seeing your entire self through someone else's
pov (instead of first person); And I feel that this
enhances the ephemeral and other-wordly experience
that the fog also comes with. The visuals of the fog
coming out through small holes in the chair due to
the viewer's pressure (upon sitting) is definitely
eye catching, and pretty engaging.



At first sight, with their black leather and white-painted wood, Jeppe Hein’s benches seem to be a permanent fixture in the museum’s décor. Looking like any average bench in a museum institution, each bench is positioned parallel to the architectural form of the space.  However, this benches are also motorized. The moment visitors sit on them, the benches unexpectedly move.  The benches reposition the seated visitor by moving a calculated distance when activated by the weight of the body. By adding this surprising element Jeppe Hein creates food for discussion and puts a smile on people’s lips. At the same time, he draws attention to the bench and its function.

Although the execution of this work is rather straight
forward, it is not only fun, but also quite meaningful.
Thebench is a common item in a museum, but this time,
it has become the artwork itself. However, if no one
were to sit on the bench, then it does not function
as how it was intended to as an artwork. So then, if
there is no human input, the bench is still just a
bench right? But once there is human input (weight
via pressure sensors), the bench comes to live and
moves- becoming the statement piece of art it was
programmed to be. It is interesting that the work
only comes into its own right, when visitors use it.
It is also interesting that the artwork in focus is
now a bench, instead of the artwork that the bench was 
placed in front of. This is a simple interactive work 
of art yet worthy of discussions, which I think is
something our works should strive for too!
JEPPE HEIN has other interesting works, you can check:
- Appearing Rooms (2004) 
- Self Destructing Wall (2003)
- Let Me Show You The World (2000)
- Bear Your Consequences (2018)
- Today I Feel Like (2018)

Gelitin is a group of four artists from Vienna, Austria. The  group consists of Wolfgang Gantner, Florian Reither, Ali Janka and Tobias Urban. They were formerly known as Gelatin and changed their name in 2005. They are known for creating sensational art events in the tradition of Relational Aesthetics, often with a lively sense of humor, and the occasional nudity involved. 

ZAPF DE PIPI (2005) 



In the Moscow Lenin Museum, a hanging hut outside was mainly built to keep the cold temperatures outside the museum halls and to offer some privacy. However, Gelitin did a cheeky move and turned it into an outdoor loo where people could “support(ed) Gelatin by donating a watery solution of metabolic wastes (such as urea), dissolved salts and organic materials”.  This waste would then be poured down a chute in the hut. In the cold temperatures of russian winter, the hot piss was frozen really quickly and formed an ice sculpture.  In the end, this collective ice sculpture was made with the help of  “some 200 thousand kidneys” (aka. museum goers who volunteered to play a part in this artwork). The iceicle eventually ” turned into a handsome 7 meter tall and one meter fat pipi amber colored iceicle” after some weeks.

This interactive artwork is amazing because it is 
cheeky and really funny. It is kind of provocative?
Some people might call it a piss-poor work of art: 
how is frozen pee art?? Its hilarious. I think that
this is a really unique artwork that invites 
participants to come and do something really weird 
together. And evidently, the appeal of this project 
was really strong... so many volunteers, with such 
a tall and fat icicle as a final product... 
It works well as an engaging work of interactive art! 
Obviously, in a school setting, I doubt we can use 
such controversial materials, but this work can 
inspire us to start thinking out of the box when we 
are considering what mediums to use; or how/what 
every participant is able to contribute to the 
interactive artwork.


A wooden and metal structure was built for Parallel Vienna 2016. With the help of 30 strong men, participants were provided the experience of riding a human elevator. Participants were manually lifted several floors up by the men

Like Zapf de Pipi, I find that this work is a good 
example of interactive works that are non-digital.
There is no technological element at all in both 
these works, yet they are able to provide a very 
interactive experience for the participant. Human 
Elevator is a performance artwork that makes use of
volunteers in the process to create not only a
performative process, but also a personal experience
for other participants. It has definitely inspired me 
to think of how I can perhaps aim to create a work 
whereby, the whole process and end result is heavily 
dependent on the actions of those who participate/
volunteer, and to create a work that is more playful/fun
GELITIN has a lot of really weird and funny works, I 
implore you to check them out!! :
- Ritratto Analitico (2013)
- Klunk Garden (2009)
- Gedichte von einem Freund (2014)
- Normally, Proceeding and Unrestricted With 
  Without Title(2008)
- Die Tusovka Runde (2014)
- Gelatin at the Shore of Lake Pipi Kacka (2003)