Archive for the 'Interactive' Category

Debugging life : update on an open source readymade

Monday, May 28th, 2007

There is not that much of life debuggers yet, just over fifty, but a couple of people already told me that the interface is oppressive, confusing. And that I don’t give enough information on the home page for people to understand the project, before they sign-in. It’s true, and I don’t want to avoid that!

Bad marketing
Debugging life is really an open source readymade : I used a professional code, and put it to use in the way that seemed… an evidence. Struggling with the tool is part of the process, and simplifying the interface too much would change the byproducts generated.

Moreover, debugging life is mainly a text based project. Files and pictures can and have been upoladed, but narrativity is the central focus. I hope in time it will slowly evolve in a maze of connected texts, and the complex interface will be fully part of that maze.

I have slighty devoided of that line, thought. I have made a few changes to guide the newcomers when they’ll add their first bug: an emphasis on a link, a more logical redirection after the password choice, and that’s about all. I plan to ease just a little bit more the barrier to entry, too. As stated, the home page is clearly light, and adding just a few teasers won’t alter the project too much.

Good marketing
Since I gave it a new start, debugging life has been featured at Dorkbot Paris #2. I used the opportunity to play with a business like presentation, not a lot more than 10 slides, 20 minutes precisely, and a very, very big font. It was nice to be linked from here and there (Écrans, Bioject…)

And Juuso, from, was kind enough to mention debugging life to his readers - mainly game creators that could probably understand the idea of toying with a debugger just for fun…

Bugs severity levels

Debugging life (re)launched, bug track life with me

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Last year I worked on the development of a DVD Game title, in a small multimedia studio of around a dozen people.

One of the most fascinating tool that we used was a bug tracker. A bug tracking system is a resolution oriented project manager, with a very strong emphasis on ultra-communication through a web and e-mail based interface. Every single problem in the project is supposed to be filed, commented, revised, fixed, then closed.

It leads to sometimes endless back and forth message exchanges, vigorous denials, pseudo-retreats, all the bread and butter of a common project with a deadline.

As I was totally fascinated by the tool, I discovered that a lot of the others inside the company were slightly avoiding to use the bug tracker, or even clearly refusing to use it.

Because it was a tool we used at the client request, some of them saw it like an invasive surveillance of their way of work. Others viewed it as no more than useless additional work.

Tracking for fun and profit…

For my part, I used it a lot, even attaching notes only for myself to the various bug reported. I even found some fun in crafting a precise and detailed final report when closing a bug. And watching the list of unresolved bugs get shorter and shorter was a relief : there was an end to that tunnel of errors…

Mantis Bug Tracker

I am not sure that the bug tracking tool produced a better final game. But I found the process was producing an amazing by-product. Permanent exchange, endless argumentation, categorization and recategorization led to a unexpected amount of text. Even better, that text formed a snapshot of the relation between the people exchanging. Albeit a totally distorted one, as each one of the participant would play a role when using the bug tracker, carefully avoiding to report certain feelings about the issues.

Going big ! with

As an artist, I wanted to do something with that tool : I knew that it produced a amazing vortex of text, reports, categories and links about each issue. Moreover, the process itself was pure ideology of communication made real. I took the naive way, as I often like : if we use a so sophisticated tool for so trivial projects, what a great use of it we could do on a bigger scale. Everybody would like a better life. We had to debug life.

It’s a kind of joke, for sure. Because we know that we can’t resolve every problem with a bunch of PHP scripts. The definition of what is dysfunctional in life in general is not even possible : is death a bug ? is sleep a bug ? or features ?

But it’s a serious joke, that could teach us what people consider to be a bug in life - their life - and what they would like to see fixed. A tentative database of small and big grief, not unlike the “cahiers de doléances” of the french revolution : debugging life.

The photographer is not a vicious man

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

I probably like too much to undress people. Just a few days after the september 2005 session of Ex/timité - where dozens of people have pressed their skin on my scanner - iMAL made a call for participation in a workshop. They were setting up a three-weeks-long run, with a pack of talented people helping up to ten artists to piece together their interactive installations.
A few hours later, I came up with a nice idea for the call, an idea I’d really like to experiment : The photographer is not a vicious man. An interactive installation that could have the same effect on the participant as a low grade glamour photographer would have on a beginner model: push that person to undress more !

The Photographer, croquis

The title came from a song composed by Philip Glass. And the set mimic a photography studio set, where only the photographer is missing. iMAL liked the project. But unfortunately, I was unable to arrange to go to Bruxelles to work on it and set it up, for lack of time and fund for the project.

So this a stalled project for the moment.

But you can read more, in french, on the dedicated page.