As a project inspired by the work of Blast Theory, in groups, we had to create a piece of public performance art that played “off of real interactions with each other, Singapore, public, and media”. The artwork had to be site-specific, and partially scripted, with enough room for accidents and glitches to occur. It also had to incorporate the elements of the different micro-projects that we had been creating throughout the semester — namely DIWO (Do-It-With-Others), the Glitch, and the Third Space.
Initially, some of our inspo material included:
- The Shed at Dulwich: A fake restaurant that gained popularity through its eccentric menu items, fake online restaurant reviews and “experimental” dining experience that tricked people into believing it was real.
- Big Brother: A survival gameshow in which people were locked into houses with other strangers, and interactions between them would be viewed by external audiences who could vote them off.
- Butler Cafes: Cafes where the ‘butlers’ would address customers as masters, and play along with fake narratives that the customers would be free to come up with.
- Pillow Talk: People in a bunk hostel would talk to one another anonymously, in a sort of personal pillow fort that would create a sense of intimacy with one another.
- Real Life RPG: We would become RPG characters that could be guided around a space by our audience based on their commands.
“Final idea”: labyrinth
So we finally agreed on a specific interactive game whose name in the works was “Labyrinth”.
- Location: Bugis Street
- Number of players: 6 people who are strangers to one another
- Duration: Hopefully around 1 – 1.5h
- What exactly was the game about
- A sort of ‘catching game’: The 6 players are split into 3 pairs, and of each pair, one is designated the ‘Renegade AI’ and the other the ‘Guard/Chaser’.
- They would start on two different levels in Bugis Street.
- The Renegades’ task is to run away from the Guard (neither of them know who the other looks like).
- Renegades will have personal access to an Instagram account (the Third Space aspect). While they run they are required to take a picture of the space around them every 10 minutes. All Renegades will upload to the same account, meaning pictures will be jumbled up. (The Glitch aspect)
- The Guard is required to monitor the Instagram account to track down where the Renegades are — but they need to find their specific Renegade using a “Finish the sentence” passcode.
- The Renegade will have access to a group chat with the facilitators (us), where we will give them clues to go to specific locations within Bugis Street to complete missions tailored to the location while they are running away. Their missions will be monitored by us as well.
- The Guard will have access to a group chat with the other Guards at the same time. If ever they spot or catch another Guard’s Renegade, they are free to coordinate within themselves.
- If the Guards catch the Renegades, the Guards win. If the Renegades manage to make their way to the final pitstop, they win. Interaction will take place at the end of the game when everyone is together.
test run — sat, 7 april 2018.
We were really scrabbling find players for our test run, so in the end we had to settle for 2 players only instead of 6. The 2 players were Sihui’s friend, Daniel, as the Guard/Catcher. The Renegade was Yinghui’s friend Zihan.
We actually came up with the clue ideas at the last minute, and went ahead with the test run. The four of us (excluding Maythu) were located at each station to monitor their whereabouts. I was located outside the Bugis tattoo parlour. Here’s a video of me trying to monitor Zihan and Daniel (who eventually got caught aaa). Zihan was the guy with the backpack whereas Daniel was wearing a checkered shirt!!
Basically!!! The run was pretty much a failure. Zihan got caught pretty fast in the middle of the third mission (out of five) in like 1.5h, Daniel managed to catch me as I was?? Super obvious in filming Zihan?? Help. Apparently the Instagram feed wasn’t helpful at all to Daniel, and the game just wasn’t interactive enough within payers. It was already a giant hassle trying to coordinate one pair, so three pairs was….wow…
The game just wasn’t fun if it was simply one person completing missions (even though they were meant to be funny) without any company that they were familiar with. There wasn’t the thrill of competing with someone you knew.
Basic, biggest problem: There was no objective in the game. Zihan was pretty confused as to why he was carrying out all the missions in the game. There wasn’t any solid motivation for him to finish the game.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD 🙁
We realised we had to come up with a fresh new idea that could be completed within the coming weekend as we only had 10 days to the deadline after our failed test run. AAAAA. So we went back to our original ideas about Pillow Talk. After a 2h 20min Skype call we finally came up with a simpler plan.
really the legit final idea
At this point you can tell I’ve given up on writing formally. :’)
The realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
- Location: The MRT lines (Specifically, the Downtown and East-West Line)
- Number of players: 2 strangers per game
- Duration: Around 45 minutes
- What is it about?
- One player boards the MRT at Bukit Panjang (DTL) station, the other player boards the MRT at Jurong East (EWL) station.
- Both players take the train towards Bugis Interchange.
- Throughout the duration of the MRT ride, they will communicate anonymously through a Telegram chat with the other player, with their contact names as the ‘Downtown Line’ and ‘East-West Line’ respectively.
- A ‘Breadbot’, a helpful chat facilitator will be present in the chat as well to start off and drive the conversation with the players.
- At one point they will be required to draw a portrait of the other player. :))
- When reaching the station, the Breadbot will prompt them on whether they want to meet the other player.
- Depending on their responses, the players will either meet and exchange portraits and talk irl, or not meet at all. 🙁
BREADBOT BOT SCRIPT
- Supppp I’m back! So quick question — (insert question here)
- So we’ve reached a point in the conversation where we need to know — do you want to meet this person in real life? I will contact you privately to get a personal response. Gimme a sec!
- Both said yes: Both of you said yes! Exciting choice!! Once we reach Bugis, you two are on your own in navigating the Saturday crowd to find each other. Feel free to converse, take a selfie, exchange numbers. You’ve made a friend today! (insert sun emoji)
- Both said no: Unfortunately, both of you rejected that idea. Bummer. 🙁 Perhaps you might bump into each other in another life (or another train), but would you ever know? It’s time to say goodbye! I hope yall at least had a nice time with each other. 🙂
- Yes/No: Unfortunately, one of you said no. Bummer. 🙁 Perhaps you might bump into each other in another life (or another train), but would you ever know? (shruggo) It’s time to say goodbye! I hope yall at least had a nice time with each other. 🙂
We used a more informal tone for the question to keep in line with the personality of the Breadbot as a informative, helpful and casual outsider in the conversation.
- Have you ever eye-candied a stranger on the train?
- Do yall have an MRT station is the closest to your heart?
- Do yall have any plans for the rest of the day?
- What was the weirdest thing you’ve seen on the MRT?
- Describe the people sitting around you!
- What do you think the person you’re talking to looks like?
day one — first run
- Sihui — East-West Line (Teri and Niki accompanying)
- Yilin (Yinghui’s friend) — Downtown Line (Maythu and Yinghui accompanying)
HOW WAS IT LIKE ON THE RIDE?
Sihui and the guy seemed to get along pretty well online as they had a lot of common points of interest and both even came from Ngee Ann Poly and had mutual friends??? Even though Sihui was lying about herself half the time lmao. The Breadbot had no need to step in as the conversation continued flowing along throughout the ride. He seemed to buy into her lies and play along with her. I thought the meeting would be okay!
HOW WAS IT LIKE IN REAL LIFE?
The meeting was not okay!!! It was kinda hard to find the guy as we had no idea what he looked like. Once we did find him though, Yilin seemed to be a pretty shy guy with a lot of monotonous answers and didn’t try to interact with Sihui at all. He did mention in the interview that he was a pretty awkward guy so..
It was interesting reviewing the texting screen recordings as you could see the other party curate their answers. Yilin apparently fidgeted and curated his answers, so you can tell from that that he’s probably a pretty private person that’s conscious of the impact of his answers.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TRANSCRIPT
|T: Like how did you find the experience of this game?||YL: Ok lor. Like, why am I — just talk what. There’s nothing else mah.|
|T: Do you think that you would…talk to someone on the train like, on a regular day? Just like, make conversation in real life?||YL: If, if people make conversation with me, I won’t mind replying back ah.|
|N: How did you know Sihui was lying?||YL: A bit unrealistic lor. Like, guy, but yet, say until customised rock — a bit off ah.|
|N: How did you know Sihui was a girl?||Cos when, when, uh, they saw the message that she look like a picnic mat, then they both said yeah, she really look like.|
|YH: How — what did you think about when you guys were like meeting, like you, you end up side by side but you didn’t know?||YL: A bit hesistant cos like I don’t know, is it her or maybe another person? Then also like, then also like, then also because I also a bit, quite awkward in real life also ah, but, once strike a conversation it should be fine ah, after that.|
|YH: How did you know it was her?||YL: Can tell from her outfit ah. Once she say is picnic mat meaning like checkered, or anything like squarish and all of the design ah.|
|How was the experience like?||Ok so for my experience, I thought um, that he bought into all my lies all the way, and, um, because he carried on the conversation very like naturally, as if I was telling the truth, yeah so like he just continued um, like, uh talking to me as if like, like, as if I was telling the truth or so like, um it was guess like a really weird experience because it was like I thought I was quite obvious that I was lying, but he just kept asking me like more genuine questions.|
|Is he different from what you expected?||I think for me right, in real life like, um he’s very different from what he seems on text because he’s more talkative on text than in real life? Yeah, in real life he’s very…very quiet. Yeah.|
day two — second run
- Cheng (My friend haha) — East-West Line (Sihui and Niki accompanying)
- Yinghui — Downtown Line (Teri accompanying)
HOW WAS IT LIKE ON THE RIDE?
So it started off quite playfully because (as you might be able to tell from the video) Cheng is a naturally playful person? (Also I told him to dial up the weirdness for the day) And then it devolved into a serious of really weird answers to questions posed by the Breadbot. The Breadbot actually had to step in a few times for the conversation as it would come to a halt after they had their weird time answering the questions. But towards the end they had quite a lot of weird banter hahahahaha. Some moments were really funny on the train ahahah. And Cheng was very accurate in drawing his portrait?? It was kinda scary.
HOW WAS IT LIKE IN REAL LIFE?
It was alright I guess!! Both were quite receptive in talking about the experience and expectations, and exchanging drawings. While I doubt any lasting friendships were made I’m sure the interaction left an impression on the both of them. :O
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TRANSCRIPT
|N: Okay, why did you agree to meet this person?||C: There’s a practical answer; cos curious ah. Plus we already made the trip to Bugis, why not? For someone who’s willing to be weird on Telegram to a stranger, I feel like this person’s worth meeting. If not ah, like the usual conventional “Ah? What you mean? What?” Like don’t understand, like no sense of humour then I’ll be like, okay, goodbye, I don’t wanna meet, at all.|
|Y: Like would it make a difference if like, we will approach — you were approached like, un-, how to say like…
N: Unexpectedly, like in the middle of the MRT we approach you like, hi, can you talk to a stranger on Telegram for us?
|C: If there’s a mediator, I would. I would like, I would agree. But if it’s like, the stranger say hi, would you like to randomly talk to me, I’d be like. Maybe not. But I’d give it a shot but I’d be very weirded out.
Y: It’s very dubious right.
C: Yeah. Like okay, you’re tryna sell me like Great Estern insurance right?
|N: What was your experience like talking in the chat?||C: Not bad. I think I lol-ed. I actually like burst out laughing when you told me the train started moving. With the bubble tea milk tea thing. Like wah, that was really funny.|
|N: Is it different talking to them in real life compared to being on the chat?||C: Uh…I would say…there’s not really much to compare to cos I’ve never met her in real life. I think in real life there’s not enough chance yet to like, have a good enough comparison. But I’d say that even for many people, real life and online can have a bit of a difference, in style especially.|
|N: Was the anonymous part…like did it, did it make it different, to when you can see their face, or when you can don’t see their face and stuff?||C: I think it just feels like. I don’t really have the full picture to the whole thing. Cos if I have the face, then I can attach like, an image to whatever this person says.|
|C: I think is just feels like. I don’t really have the full picture to the whole thing. Cos if I have the face, then I can attach like, an image to whatever this person says.||C: Yeah sure why not.
C: If I’m free — yeah that’s it if I’m free I’ll just do it again ah.
N: Like talking to random strangers on the Downtown Line.
C: Yeah why not, I don’t find it very….unless, unless, the person has like no sense of humour. Then I’d be like ugh, maybe not.
|N: Why did you choose to met this person?||YH: So like, cos like, the conversation was quite interesting right, so like, um, you know it seems like, kind of, kind of a waste, if you don’t like, meet the person cos like, this person could be your friend, and then like, you know. You’d want to know about him. It could start something new.|
|N: What was your experience like talking in the chat?||YH: It’s uh…very free when you talk without knowing who you’re talking to. Like you can say anything, you won’t care whether they’re offended or not, like you don’t really care about what they’re feeling, like you just bomb whatever you want to write, yeah.
C: Yeah that’s exactly what, that’s like exactly what I said ah. That’s why, that’s why there was a point of the conversation I just said, let’s just make it weird lah, since we’re like strangers and we are never gonna experience this again.
YH: Yeah. So you can say whatever you want and the other person’s like, if he wants to you know, reply, don’t reply, I don’t care, you know.
|N: How is it different talking to them in real life?||YH: I guess, like, um, online right, I would, personally I would be more like daring in my, in the way I talk, cos like I also can think before I actually say anything, but then when like in real life you cannot, pause in your conversation in real life right! That’s like super weird. Yeah, then like uh, like, you get to see like another person’s like expression also and like, I think that can like affect how you feel and like how you express your thoughts and stuff.|
|N: Would you do this again?||YH: Maybe.
N: Maybe? Why the maybe?
YH: Yeah it depends lah — my feeling.
- Lack of volunteers: Our initial plan after Day One’s run was to go back to BP and JE station to find strangers that would participate in our experiment.
- However we realised it was really hard to find people specifically travelling to Bugis, who were willing to waste their train ride on chatting to a stranger, and willing to be filmed. Plus the trains kept arriving and people kept disappearing so there wasn’t enough time to talk to people. 🙁
- Filming: Sometimes we were prevented from filming some things on the MRT, like me and Sihui were lectured by an uncle, and Maythu was told not to film the DTL tunnel view. There was also a whole ton of people so it was hard to film wide shots of the players aaaaaaa
- Difficult to go deeper: As the duration of the ride was only 30 minutes, which seemed like a lot but actually passed by really quick, the conversation stayed at the surface level at what they studied, what they looked like, etc. It wasn’t really their fault though considering that the Breadbot questions were quite casual.
- Breadbot interruptions: Especially on the second day, sometimes Cheng would ask for the Bot’s help to give another question. But sometimes even without prompting Teri would send another question even as the conversation was going to continue (although I can’t fault her because the conversation really looked like it was halting). Perhaps if the Bot hadn’t sent another question the conversation could have gone in a different direction?? :O
- The awkwardness of the first run VS. The silliness of the second run: As you can tell the first and second runs were drastically different!! As Yinghui is a bit quiet I thought the second run would also end up awkward. But she was quite receptive to Cheng’s answers and questions and played along with him and so it all was alright!! :))
- Filtered thoughts: I think we realised after watching the screen recordings that the speed and amount of backspacing the players did corresponded with how open and conscious they were. Yilin’s fidgeting and backspacing (even on funny answers!!) were a great contrast with Cheng’s fast typing and replying, and this kind of corresponds with their shy or playful personalities. Its actually quite interesting to think about the composing of a text — in the virtual space, without visual indicators, the words exist in a limbo between being sent or being deleted. I think a lot of the time the words that we type out at first thought but then backspace on, might the most telling of our actual feelings, rather than a slowly edited and curated text.
What would I have changed
- Duration: I would love to extend this from 30 min to maybe 1.5 hours or so? Like 30 minutes seems kinda long but it was actually super fast. If the players had more time to interact with one another they would have had more incentive to interact more with each other at the meeting point. And the conversation would have probably gone a lot deeper.
- Questions: We did plan the questions to be more lighthearted so it wouldn’t be weird but if we changed the questions to be deeper along with the extended time, maybe we could let the players warm up to each other and over time the conversation would, again, become deeper.
- Players: It would really be cool if we could get people from outside our social circle to participate in our game as it might reap more interesting glitches and accidents as we wouldn’t know what to expect from these people!! But unfortunately Singaporeans are busy bees. 🙁
bye bye experimental interaction!!
Alright time to keep the end of my OSS sweet and short because god knows how many other OSS posts I still have to do!! Plus my Philo essay!! I hope I don’t die!! Tbh I’m really glad that we didn’t go through with the Bugis Street catching idea. While it was a fun-sounding idea, I think we really needed more manpower to help us out, and tbh it doesn’t really fit…my idea of fun…ahaha but that’s just a personal thing. But I’ve learnt that the simplicity of an idea can really bring out much more substantial in terms of human relationships rather than a complicated, entertaining game :O Also s/o to everyone, especially Sihui for editing the video in our incredibly short timeframe HAHAHA.
Oki!! Year 1 with Lei out!!!! Bye Lei I’ll really miss you and your lessons!! And your colourful pants 🙁 Hopefully we’ll still see you around!