Last night was the big night — I unveiled my installation at the Indianpolis Museum of Art, and I’m pleased to say it worked, finally answering the old question “can you play Pole Position using a clapped-out old Lancia?” I’m happy to say the answer is yes. I’m sure you’re all quite relieved.
The unveiling wasn’t without a few hitches — the battery tender I installed so we could run the Lancia’s lights I think somehow fried the battery, so no lights for last night, but other than that the system to connect the car’s controls to the vintage Atari 400 installed in the dash worked well.
This was also the first time I was able to see the blocky old video blown up to over 20 feet tall, and it was just what I was hoping for. The 8-bit world of curving roads, rich green grass, oddly blank billboards and unapproachable mountains all filled your view out of the windshield, exactly like I was hoping. I think the pixel-ization of the car worked well, and hearing the square-wave music and rumbly, crude sound effects from those big speakers was great.
Some of the younger players weren’t sure what the ‘skidding’ sound was. Kids! Don’t they know that a series of high-pitched beeps is what skidding sounds like?
The highlight of the night for me was watching this little kid sit on his dad’s lap to play the game. The look on his face was fantastic:
That makes it all worthwhile right there. I also gave a talk last night as well, about cars and our odd relationship with them. If you like, you can watch it here. It’s like a TED talk except nothing I’m saying has the slightest hope of “disrupting” anything, anywhere. Oh, and I don’t have one of those weird little face-mics.
The Driving Artificializer System (that’s the clunky name I gave it) will be up and available for trying out at all of the IMA’s Summer Nights movie screenings — and right now, all shows are sold out except for the one on Aug 29. However, if you want to try playing it, you can contact the museum and let them know — if enough people ask, they can likely set up another date, maybe one just to play big-ass Pole Position.
In the future, the car may get moved inside, or used for other interactive things — who knows? I’m still just delighted how well it actually turned out, and I hope it’s available to be used as much as possible.