ArtCade Machines

Commissioned by Dundee Contemporary Arts, in collaboration with Uniform and Denki.

We were tasked with producing an interesting way to increase donations in Dundee Contemporary Arts gallery. Studio PSK responded by creating a playful light installation for its visitors, making donating an experience rather than just an action. To do this, we made The ArtCade Machine. The machine consists of three giant LED pixels that respond to people’s donations by changing colour. By altering the colour of the pixels people can create individual and unique light installations.

We often work with a micro-network of creatives to build the right teams for projects and we wanted a really great team to build on the insights we had from Denki. We’ve worked with Professor Jon Rogers, Chair of Creative Technology at the University of Dundee frequently over the last few years and we knew he’d bring a playfulness to the code and Uniform, one the UK's most exciting digital agencies, and also good friends of the studio. This project seemed like the right opportunity to work together.

Our response was the three pixel ArtCade Machine. The machine consists of three giant LED pixels that respond to people’s donations by changing colour. By altering the colour of the pixels people can create individual and unique light installations.

There were quite a few constraints to the project, focused mainly on the lack of sound, which for an ArtCade Machine seemed like a difficult hurdle to overcome at the start. It also needed to be location specific (it lives just by the entrance), it had to be designed for both adults and children, attract people to use it and be durable enough to withstand late night revellers.

It was also important that what we created reflected the scope of activities at the DCA. We started out exploring a broad range of different physical digital concepts. As soon as we started to explore what we could do with LEDs we knew we had the right medium for the interaction. Using light and in particular exploring RGB felt right given the DCA’s multimedia art exhibitions and cinema. The more we played the more we became excited around the idea of creating single pixels of light. It’s like the ultimate reduction of the screen and we kept asking ourselves the question of what could a three pixel game look like.

Our machine allows people to play and explore the basic colour theory that underpins much visual art and combines it with a nod to an 8-bit aesthetic. In the spirit of classic computer games the ArtCade Machine also has a few hidden ‘easter eggs’ waiting to be discovered.

The result is quite simple, very addictive and hopefully beautiful!

KPIs:

We were able to increase donations by 600% from new and existing visitors in the first year after installation.

Nominated for Big Chip Interactive Award 2014

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