• Heart sensing sound fountain

      Locke, Caroline; The University of Derby; Nottingham Trent University (FACT, Liverpool, 2015-07)
      The term ‘ Performing Data’ was first used by the artist Dr Rachel Jacobs and became the title of Caroline Locke’s research residency at Nottingham University. The Performing Data Project was developed by an interdisciplinary group of HCI (Human, Computer, Interaction) researchers, artists and creative technicians based across the Mixed Reality Lab and Horizon Digital Economy Institute. The Heart Sensing Sound Fountain was developed as part of this project and residency. The previous work Sound Fountains, where sound is visualized through water has been developed so that audiences can engage in their own unique and sometimes very personal experience with the Sound Fountain, using their body data to make changes within an installation environment. The audience (or 2 participants) are asked to place their fingertip on top of the heart shaped sensor, to hold in place for as long as they like to see what happens to the Sound Fountains. The sensor locates the participant’s heart rate and their pulse triggers tones, which are sent to the Sound Fountains. They watch as the waves synchronize with their own beating heart. The sculpture involves live performance on many levels. An element of performance is at the end of the data flow in the water but also between the two individuals facing each other and the dialogue that occurs between them. The surrounding audience watch as the two participants become performers. Perhaps there is a feedback loop as participants attempt to slow down their heart rate or it speeds up with levels of engagement/excitement. The activity is part of a long period of original and significant research and development. Locke’s research, in its wider sense, reflects on the relationship between the spectator and the performer and the opportunities to blur their respective roles within Contemporary Art Practice. It investigates ways in which a spectator can engage more in the work through direct interaction. For example, spectators became performers and integral to the work by triggering sensors within the exhibition space, allowing their presence to orchestrate changes within the installation.
    • A utilitarian antagonist: the zombie in popular video games

      Hunt, Nathan; The University of Derby (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
      This article takes as its starting point the prevalence of the zombie in video games. I argue that, although the zombie games often superficially resemble filmic texts in their use of aesthetic and narrative, they must be understood, less as a set of conventions and thematic metaphors in the way that the zombie text has been read in film and television scholarship, and more as a utilisation of the zombie as a utilitarian antagonist that facilitates and permits the pleasures of violence and fantasy in video game play. Beginning with the Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead series of games I examine the way that games necessarily update the notion zombie as mass antagonist via the need to vary gameplay activity through different styles of adversary for players. At the same time I will demonstrate that, far from simply being the province of the survival horror genre, the zombie appears across an array of game forms, game cultures and game productions. The zombie highlights the participatory nature of game culture in the array of zombie 'mods' that users create to transform existing games into zombie based games, in particular in relation to titles such as the Call of Duty series. At the other end of the production spectrum the zombie features heavily in the little studied area of online flash games where the zombie can be found in a variety of game genres and forms. The zombie here often operates as a pastiche of popular zombie narratives in survival games (The Last Stand), parodic engagements with zombie conventions (Jetpacks and Zombies) or play with the notion of zombie pandemics (the Infectionator games). Here I situate the zombie game as a aesthetic genre that works to provide an easily understandable context for such interactive genres as survival horror, text adventures, shooting games, physics games and driving games, with the popularity of these enough to drive numerous dedicated hosting and link sites such as zombiegames.net. The pastiche element of these games extends into gamers social engagement with games. Online debates over the the appropriate actions or preparation for a zombie holocaust are commonplace on the internet in such spaces as Zombieresearch.net. Whilst many of these sites feature decidedly tongue in cheek engagement with the notion of the zombie apocalypse, the users of fora for games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Island tend to debate this directly in the terms of the games themselves, discussing their relative merits or realism. Some of these games also highlight the specific pleasures of identifying the zombie as protagonist of sorts. In discussing this I will return to online gaming and the Left 4 Dead games in which players may compete online as part of the zombie horde. Such games raise major questions for the issues of identification and immersion that are said to be at the centre of the game experience. I will also explore the parodic pleasures of many flash games that situate the player in the role of spreading zombie infections. Throughout this article I aim to demonstrate that the zombie in game culture is less a cultural metaphor than a combination of utilitarian antagonist and a persistent aesthetic; a means of providing style or pleasure to many games that relies on the intertextual and flexible nature of the zombie as popular cultural phenomenon.