CATCH is a project I put together after a series of disappointing interactions with art. I felt very alienated from high art and was upset by the impression that it was something that was designed to exclude viewers instead of inviting participation. I wanted to make something that was simple, fun, and interactive; that disguised its artistic aspects by striving to make its interactive elements more immersive and physical, rather than intellectual.
What I came up with was a game of catch with a ball that housed a wiimote. I harnessed the accelerometer data from the wiimote via bluetooth and wrote a program using Max/MSP and Logic to generate and manipulate 5.1 surround sound and images. It took a couple hundred hours of programming and two days to install. I was fortunate that the space available to me had a professional light board that could take MIDI information and I was able to work with a lighting designer to implement lighting control from Max via a MIDI interface. The installation also featured three redundant projected images generated in jitter.
A participant might walk into the dimly lit room and hear a subtle murmur of sound. A poster would prompt them to pick up the ball and the motion would bring up sound and lights as well as brighten the projected images. Any rotation of the ball would manipulate filters and effect parameters, pan the sound in 5.1, and send a MIDI trigger that would start a lighting sequence designed to resemble the general sonic feel of CATCH. An algorithm designed (by my friend Chris Conover chrisrobertconover.com) to detect shaking of the ball would trigger a flash of light, randomly select and playback one sample from a pre-loaded set, play a low frequency sine sweep, and would switch the harmonic content and effects of the sound in conjunction with the visual processing of the generated image. The idea behind this was that the change would be triggered when a person caught the ball, indicating a change in turn in the game of catch.
The accompanying video exhibits much of what CATCH can do. The footage is taken from the first day of the open installation. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for actual interaction with the ball & wiimote. As such, I would like to make it clear that this video in now way attempts to simulate the experience of CATCH.