Key Work Selection: I’d Hide You

I’D HIDE YOU by Blast Theory

For my Hyperessay, I chose a new media piece by Portslade-based artists’ group, Blast Theory, renown for their works that mix interactive media, digital broadcasting and live performance. The piece is an interactive, immersive, and collaborative work called, “I’d Hide You”. Linked below is the trailer for Blast Theory’s, “I’d Hide You”.

The basic premise of “I’d Hide You” is that people are equipped with live cameras and are divided into teams in which they play a game of tag around the entire city. The immersion lies in the second layer of the piece, in which these cameras send live footage to the internet; allowing anyone to watch the game as if they themselves were running. The interactivity can be experienced in the final layer of the artwork in which the viewer is now a part of the team, he or she can help the runners and chaser find one another through GPS location by updating the online the location of the other runner’s location.  This interactivity is not only personal but also collaborative. The outcome of this project can be seen in the video below by Blast Theory who summarizes the entire event.

Unlike the other works by Blast Theory, “I’d Hide You” is not a politically or socially stimulating piece meant to impress eager enthusiasts but instead a simple form of interacting with, collaborating together, and immersing oneself in the experience. When creating this collaborative work, the artists took the most rudimentary form of interactive games, filming oneself running. This simple idea of running and catching has been a form of human entertainment even before the onset of technology.  For example, physical games like “tag”  and animated cartoons such as “Tom and Jerry” revolve around the idea of a runner and a chaser. The entertainment comes from the adventure the runner and chaser experience during their journey as well as the ultimate conclusion that follows the long arduous journey. In the case of the participants for I’d Hide You, they get to experience this entire journey alongside the runners.

“For all its apparent simplicity as a player experience, “I’d Hide You” is actually doing something very radical in terms of its relationship with an audience and with space.”

From the Blast Theory Website

During our History of Design class, as mentioned by our Professor, New Media art contains three aspects that make it unique and stand apart from any other forms of art. Interactivity. Hypermedia. Immersion. Under interactivity, there is also collaboration, which I believe is also very important in the work that I chose by Blast Theory.”I’d Hide You”, as mentioned before, contains interaction, collaboration, and immersion. There is Hypermedia in this work, but it is limited to the interface used by the team in order to communicate with the runners as well as the live streaming cameras used to document the chase.

Picture from Blast Theory

The interactivity in “I’d Hide You” can be seen between the runners themselves as well as the audience and the runners. The interaction between the runners refers to the actual game of chase that they are playing where each person is simultaneously trying to hide from other runners while catching them. The interaction between the runners and audience is documented by them watching the live stream and helping the runners either hide or find each other. Through this journey, the participants, runners, and artists all become collaborators who have created a whole new experience and outcome by dabbling with the different variabilities in the work. Variability. One of the five Principles of New Media discussed by Lev Manovich. In “I’d Hide You”, variability, is the strongest principle as the integration of multiple human interactions have created a multitude of different end results. Not only is there a man to man interaction but also a man to machine, or even a machine to man interaction. The audience is also interacting with technology (and vice versa) as they use it as a tool to communicate with the “performers”. But by inserting themselves in this experience with the use of technology, they themselves have become “performers”.

A scene from “I’d Hide You”

This immersion into the experience happens both virtually online as well as physically offline. The physical immersion occurs amongst the runner as they are literally thrust into the outside world to complete this piece. The places they are running around are completely candid with none of the passerby or store owners having been told what was happening prior to the game. The virtual part of this piece materializes onto the digital screen in through the live streaming video. This video is made possible by the camera and LED ring light each runner is equipped with before the start of the game. The runners are also given GPS trackers to constantly locate and update their location online, as well as given a phone that updates them to Intel given by their team members. The runner is constantly holding up the camera for their team members to see, this makes the participants the runner’s new “eyes”. Eventually, the participant immerses himself or herself into the experience and becomes one with the runner. Not only does the participant get to see what the runner sees, but he or she also gets to see it at real time. This real-time immersion can be seen in older works such as Ivan Sutherland’s “Head-Mounted Display” and newer games like “Pokemon Go!”.

The interface

“I’d Hide You” is a simplistic and exhilarating game that brings together different people for a fun night together. Participants follow runners on a tour of the nightlife in the city while playing a rigorous yet digital game of Tag and Hide-and-Go-Seek.