Art and technology tackle skully at NYU
(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