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    FreePixel looks at video games as part of the moving image culture. Games are not movies. But games use moving image tradition in their presentation. That is why FreePixel offers a critical look at games and their expressive qualities that grow from the use of the moving image.

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    [May 14th, 2011]

    Georgia Tech at the Center for Puppetry Arts

    Posted by Michael

    Over the last term, Ali Mazalek’s, Claudia Rebola’s and my own class here at Georgia Tech worked toward a final shared piece involving digital puppetry. After some test runs, the resulting “Pictures at an Exhibition”  performance will be one short segment in the Experimental Puppetry show at the Center for Puppetry Arts. May 18-22 2011.

    Our piece tells the story of an almost slapstick-like heist as it unfolds in a abstracted art gallery space. We use five different hand puppets that are a mixture of rod and hand puppet – all of them equipped with various sensors. The movements of the puppets are mapped in real-time on a large projection in the background where they animate abstract shapes of Kandinsky’s On White II – modelled as a 3D scene in Unity. As the story progresses, more and more elements of the painting are added and finally the whole Kandinsky is visible at the end of the performance.

    We also use loops that are inspired by Zbig Rybcynski’s Tango video piece. In that way the painting becomes a performer in its own right while the physical/ tangible puppets operate almost in their own level in front of it. Each puppet has its own way to influence the painting. For example, here is the gangster character:

    and here are the elements his movements map on in the painting:


    Which looks in the proper perspective more like

    It is abstracted and experimental – but that is why it might just work.

    It remains often difficult for us to actually do a meaningful artistic realization of our often prototype-like projects in a research focused university like Georgia Tech. So I am extremely glad that we managed to really translate concept, design, and implementation on to a fully fledged piece. This was only possible because of the amazing Paul Clifton, Andy Wu, Nick Poirier, Brad Beglin and all the performers and other students who make this happen. There is a range of info on the project’s web site and we should eventually post a video of the piece somewhere.

    The preview is Thursday 5/18 and the XPT showcase runs 19-22 in May – it is an “over 18 only” event.

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