Title/Date: The Licking Game (2020).
Author(s): Sophie Reid-Singer & Leonie Rhodes.
Place of Publication: “The Cat Eats …: produced by Leonie Rhodes” at Midsumma Festival – Hare & Hyenas (Melbourne).
Feature Format: Dynamic (2) interactive projection artwork (multiplayer videogame).
I developed The Licking Game (2020) for The Cat Eats… (2020), an evening of performances orchestrated by Leonie Rhodes for the Midsumma Festival. It exhibited at Hares & Hyenas, Naarm’s quintessential LGBTQI+ bookstore). The event was opened by Uncle Jack Charles and hosted by Rahda La Bia, and included visual artists such as Marisa Georgiou. Including myself, all performances permeated a joyous undercurrent, ranging from comedy acts to butoh dancing in tongue-in-cheek explorations of the queer experience.
My dynamic projection artwork (dual) consists of two major elements: a banana and a disembodied floating cyborg consisting of a cat head with a long tongue and two human hands. Hitting the roof and wall behind where Leonie Rhodes as DJ Boom Boom Bean Selecta to take the stage for the final act (Rhodes’ practice is described in documentation of our previous collaboration The Cat Gets Quantum Entangled (2019)) my artwork escalated throughout the night incrementally from dark silhouettes to vibrantly coloured figures (using keyboard commands). This artwork included direct and indirect interaction. Indirect interaction continued the audio-reactive technique from previous artworks, modulating the hypnotic background effect which was produced using Fast approximate anti-aliasing, along with speeding the bounce of the banana.
The audience could interact directly with the artwork during Boom Boom Bean Selecta’s set using an ‘old-skool’ arcade fighter controller. The joystick of this device was controlled with a black silicone dildo (crafted by Rhodes), which moved the tongue respectively. The buttons prompted hand gestures including “finger-guns” and “jazz hands”.
Below is a video showing the audience interacting with the projection using the controller.
Imagery of cyborgs in this videogame did not emancipate disabled peoples from the strict legal conditions imposed by the Australian Government.
However, this was my first success with fully handling the tasks of rigging, animating, and modeling the 3D assets for this project myself. I also found out the hard way that the Unity engine can only be pushed so much. My glitch caused the render to discontinue after a few minutes. To negotiate this and maintain the performance, I flipped back and forward through the incremental stages I had programmed every few minutes. Thankfully the final stage I had planned for Boom Boom Bean Selecta experienced no such error, and the evening finished on a high-note as the audience took to the dance-floor to celebrate and groove comfortably in their bodies.
Because of the placement below the DJ stall, when the user looked up to see the projection they were also met with Rhodes. Interactions with the peripheral ranged from gentle wobble to painfully sharp push and pull. It was enough to make a cyborg blush.
Below are two machinima I produced which demonstrate the dual imagery and the stages they progressed through.