Pong Prom (2009)

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Pong Prom (2009) is an art project designed to produce an experience which is both competitive and collaborative. Participants don specially-designed hoodies and engage in a game of Pong by slow dancing with each other. The form of the interaction playfully evokes the awkwardness of junior high school dances.

The goal of the project is not to make any particular statement about the subject matter, but rather to create a framework which allows participants to connect, both physically and virtually, and determine the course and quality of the interaction on their own. There is the potential for a correlation between the outcome of the game and the outcome of the interaction, but there is no direct causal link between the two. That is to say, winning the game does not necessarily lead to winning the interaction. The overall interaction, bearing all the complexity of typical interpersonal relations, is in fact unwinnable. The project has little to do with how the game is meant to be played and everything to do with who is playing.

Pong Prom uses the Lilypad Arduino platform to control game play, run the display, and communicate between devices. Patches of conductive fabric on the shoulders, hips, and cuffs of the shirts are used to create a serial connection between the Arduinos. An accelerometer attached at the back of the neck allows each player to control their game paddle by rocking their partner back and forth.

Pong Prom has been exhibited at:

  • Meta, Toronto, 2009

  • Panoramas, Bordeaux, 2010

  • Toronto Mini Maker Faire, 2011

Models: Carly Benkendorf and Devin Hunt
Tunes support: Rob Bergamin
Special thanks to Mark Argo for help with the hardware.

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