Suite for Overhead Projectors

Suite for Overhead Projectors is a series of Fluxus-inspired art scores to be performed on a pair of analog overhead projectors. The game consists of a series of “movements” each of which involves a set of artifacts and some simple instructions, displayed using a second projector. The game is designed to be played at night games, nuit blanche or projection art events, and had its debut at the BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) party in Boston in March of 2015.

Suite for Overhead Projectors came out of a visit to “Illuminus,” a nuit blanche projection-based art event that took place in Boston in2014. Inspired by the magical nature of this event, we wanted to make something interactive in which players were generating the art as they played. We had been thinking about developing a game for an overhead projector for many years. We also really liked the “retro” aspect of the technology and it fit well with our work around creating Fluxus-inspired scores and rule sets. When we were invited to participate in a BYOB (Bring Your Own Projector) Party, we used this as the impetus to create the first iteration of the game.

Our projects typically begin with a high concept, followed by an exploratory “R&D” phase where we play with the affordances of the media and materials we want to use. We were able to “appropriate” some retired overhead projectors our university. We experimented with placing a variety of objects on two different projectors, including a portable and lightbox-style projector. We placed a number of different of nursery school toys (some of which we had leftover from other game projects), transparencies, shadow puppets, our hands, etc. We also experimented with the heat of the lightbox by melting ice and popsicles on it. Additionaly we did some experiments with mirrors and reflection. Our best ideas are often inspired by failure. During GDC we were planning to do some experimentation with our portable projector at our AirBnB, but discovered we had left the cable behind. We decided to try and construct an overhead projector out of mirrors in the house. While we were not able to do this, this process led to the idea of including a mirrorball with the piece.

The piece promotes all manner of emergent behavior. At the BYOB party where the game had its debut in March of 2015, one player spent the bulk of the evening with us playing our game. Others returned to keep experimenting and trying things. Based on that iteration we are planning to make further refinements to the game for subsequent showings.


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