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Cynthia Lovett's NYU grad school project
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Art and technology tackle skully at NYU

Cynthia Lovett demonstrates her project
Click for bigger picture
Cynthia Lovett demonstrates her project
(NEW YORK, 5/11/2000) Much of skully's appeal is its geometrical precision and its physics. A skully board and a pool table have a lot in common--in pool, the balls are numbered; in skully, the boxes. Both balls and caps hit each other, and the various angles and speeds at which the projectiles move determine success or failure. Skully's precision leads to a unique artistry that, for some reason, appeals to the technically minded who aspire to art. At least that what Streetplay staffers think, anyway.

Apparently, NYU first-year graduate student Cynthia Lovett thinks like we do. Cynthia debuted her end-of-term project at a student exhibition called User Illusion on May 10-11, 2000. Her project was a computer-enhanced skully game. She fashioned a small board made of projection screen material (see photo), made special skully caps filled with magnets and luminescent wax, and projected the lines of the board itself from above onto this appartus using a computer-driven projector. When a skully game is played on this board, magnetic sensors beneath the projection screen surface detect the location of the caps. When a cap goes into a box, the sensors alert the controlling computer program, which then tell the player what to do next (by drawing an arrow pointing to the next box). To top it off, the program plays sound clips of reminiscences of long-time skully afficionados as players course through the game. Cynthia developed all aspects of the project, including the controlling software (for you gearheads, it's a Macromedia Director application with special interfaces to the magnetic sensors).

While she currently resides in Brooklyn, Cynthia is not a "city girl." She describes herself as suburbanite from Virginia. However, as a student in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (www.itp.nyu.edu), she's obviously influenced by her adopted urban environment. Upon discovering skully, she saw it as a way to synthesize the disciplines of technology, media, and art. NYU's Tisch School terms such efforts as "physical computing." This elaborate project took Cynthia the majority of the term to complete.

What's next for Cynthia? Well, she still has a lot of work to do before completing her master's degree--we don't know if she's going to tackle more street games though. She's made an auspicious beginning with this project; indeed, her professor was quite proud of her achievement, and marvelled at her discovery and adaptation of such an indigenous city game. Many NYU students and faculty alike were no doubt introduced to skully for the first time with her work. The only thing we want to know is: "Cynthia, when are you going to adapt your program to Shockwave so we can have virtual skully on Streetplay.com?"


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