On 14 September the lovely Tine Bech joined us in the Studio to give a Lunchtime Talk on ‘Playful experiences for curious visitors.’ Tine is a visual artist and researcher working with interactive installations and public art. Her work combines electronics, location tracking technology and the environmental elements such as gravity, water, sound and light to create playful experiences for curious visitors.

Her work has been shown both nationally and internationally, in venues including Victoria and Albert Museum, Sackler Centre, The Science Museum, SIGGRAPH Art Gallery (USA) and Aarhus Centre for Contemporary Art (DK).

Tine joined us to talk about how the development of artistic projects inform her doctoral practice-based research at the Digital Cultures Research Centre, her projects Catch Me Now, Chromatic Play and Tracking You, a new piece she is currently developing.

Tine opened the talk by briefly giving an overview of the doctoral research, which focuses on the development of a model for making playful and interactive artworks and the creation of a directory of play that demonstrates the different kinds of play that are initiated through interactive artwork. The model aims to encourage audience engagement through play and physical participation.

Tine talked about the way we interact within galleries, she explained there has been a shift due to the digital age; as more work is interactive, we are being encouraged to be tactile, to explore, and to most importantly play within galleries. Tine then went on to introduce
her recent projects: 

Catch Me Now

Catch Me Now is a unique interactive spotlight, which plays with the audience. A small spotlight is moving randomly around on its own, until the audience steps into the light, when the light stops and opens up to the user in a play of light via a variety of programmable motion cues. The focus is moved to the audience, the playful light when caught will grow, enabling the person to step into the light and take centre stage, encouraging participation and possibilities for play and performance.

Tine explained that Catch Me Now is based on a very simple concept, it is the opposite of a spotlight; instead of the ‘player’ being followed by the light, they have to chase it. She explained that one of the first things she always thinks about at the beginning of a project is how she can make an interface that makes it really clear that you are meant to play and touch, without having to read a sign first. While observing the project she found that kids were captivated by the light and would immediately follow it around the room trying to catch it. Tine said she started to wonder if she had created a piece of artwork that was super child friendly, but no adults would play. Tine realised that if a child starts to play, our first reaction is to stand back and let them have the experience. However after observing the project at an adult only night at the science museum she found that adults were just as likely to experience the work, suggesting a hierarchy of play with young people at the top of the pyramid.

You can watch a video of Catch Me Now at the Victoria and Albert museum here: http://www.tinebech.com/interactive/catchmenow/video.html

Chromatic Play 

Three light sculptures change in colour as you move around them. These sculptural creatures communicate with each other and generate playful colour schemes as they detect spectators. They create a space of immersion which encourages interactions and exploration. It was programmed by Louis Christodoulou.

Tine explained that Chromatic Play was a more immersive experience rather than playful, it was a much more intimate experience than Catch Me Now. Tine spoke about the tension between the aesthetics of the piece and the interactivity of the work, but ultimately as a visual artist the aesthetics normally takes precedent. When observing Chromatic Play she said the main thing she took was how much better children recognise an invitation to play rather than adults and will invent their own rules and game mechanics without prompting.

You can watch a video of Chromatic Play at the Victoria and Albert museum here: http://www.tinebech.com/interactive/catchmenow/video.html

Chromatic Play was commissioned by Surrey Light Project, an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Surrey, part of a research project by academics in Arts, Engineering, Sociology and Physics at Surrey, exploring the science, performance and experience of light in the environment.

Tracking You

Tine went on to introduce her latest piece Tracking You that showcased at the V&A Digital Design Weekend. In Tracking You visitors are invited to wear a cape augmented with RFID tags and use movement to generate sounds. Participants can wear one of five beautiful digitally printed silk capes and identify and change the rhythm of their sounds according to how fast they move.

After Tine introduced Tracking You, Tom Mitchell who programmed the piece led us over to the testing area over the Studio kitchen and invited everyone to have a go.

Tracking you was supported by the Digital Cultures Research Centre, UWE and Ubisense.

You can watch a video of Tracking You at the Victoria and Albert museum here: http//vimeo.com/51016294

You can find out more information about all of Tine’s projects and her research on her website here.