Eye To Eyebeam: A Conversation With Matt Parker


Eye to Eyebeam is a new series on Eyebeam's artists in residence and fellows. The series will include interviews, photos, and other information and is authored by Eyebeam intern Katherine DiPierro.

For many years now, Matt Parker has been developing ways to redefine and subvert video games. Many of his physical games utilize interactive screens that represent participating players in unusual ways, such as his motion game Recurse, which was a finalist at Indiecade 2010. Eyebeam intern Katherine DiPierro, who’s still amazed how inexpensive it is to make your own 3D projector, sat down with Matt to chat about his work.

Katherine DiPierro: What projects will you be working on as part of your residency?

Matt Parker: Primarily I’ll be working on the Lumarca, which shows 3D digital objects and video in a real-world setting. My secondary project is Proclipsing, a plugin that simplifies using Processing in Eclipse.

KD: You’ve worked with Eyebeamer Kaho Abe at creating games which don’t rely on a screen interface (and recently exhibited your projects at Babycastles). How long do you think the rest of the world’s going to catch up with the idea of screenless or physical media, particularly platforms which encourage movement?

MP: I think it will take a long time. Our concept of media has been looking at a single display for a long time. The idea of shifting audience focus to the users and the users to each other is hard for a lot of people to understand. When I attempt to explain games like Kaho's "HIT ME!", my "Duello" or Doug Wilson's "Johann Sebastian Joust", most people don't understand at first. Many even struggle after seeing a video. Once they play, though, they understand. I think once more people have first hand experiences with this sort of work, then the rest of the world will be on board.

KD: What have been your biggest successes as an independent game designer? Will you be co-designing other mobile games like Lucid or are you more interested in kinetic gaming?

MP: My biggest success as an indie game designer is probably Recurse. It was sort of a Kinect game before the Kinect; it used a regular webcam. It was commissioned as part of the NYU Game Center's first No Quarter exhibit, which is now a yearly event. Recurse was a finalist for Indiecade 2010 and I've shown it all over the US (plus in Rio and Canada). I am currently working on several games, ranging from small mobile games like Lucid and big physical games like Recurse. I'd have to say I'm interested in all sorts of games.

KD: Lumarca, your volumetric display piece, allows users to create their own 3D visualizer and images using common objects (a box constructed with magnets and string, plus a computer and projector). How long did it take you and your collaborators to design the Lumarca, and how is it similar or different from other volumetric displays?

MP: Lumarca continues to be a work in progress. I started working on it in 2009, but it's based on a project called the WireMap that my collaborator Albert Hwang started in 2007. I'm not sure it will ever be "done", since we are constantly improving it. We've worked with other new media artist who are interested in their own takes on the project, so hopefully we will continue to see several different variations on the project. Lumarca is similar to other volumetric displays in the it shows the area inside of objects in true 3D. It allows users to get different perspectives on objects moving through 3D space. This is unlike 3D movies, where the perspective is set regardless of where you view it from. Lumarca differs from other 3D displays in that it is completely open source, DIY, and affordable. One thing we really hope to create by the end of my Residency is a DIY Kit, so people can easily create their own Lumarcas. Hopefully we can do for volumetric displays what Makerbot has done for 3D printers.

Thanks so much, Matt! For more information on his latest projects and exhibitions, be sure to visit Matt Parker’s Eyebeam page and personal website.

Projects: Eye To Eyebeam, Fellowships, Residencies
People: Katherine DiPierro, Matt Parker, Matthew Parker
Tags: fellows, interview, Katherine DiPierro, Matthew Parker, residents