Fresh Pixels: Mermaid Sushi


After years of miring other Mermay submissions, I finally made my own!

She's using chopsticks, of course. Most mermaids don't even own a dinglehopper. If there's a better place to eat raw fish than the beach, I've never been there. Unless you're thinking of the bathtub. I'll give you that one. The lobster fight was inspired by a bad game that knows what it did and has remained in timeout for the month. The palette is 16 colors.



Around this time last year, I worked with Cicada, a Boston-based art collective, to create an installation for the new Grubhub headquarters. I crafted the environments and animation in addition to the physical logo signage and decals. After several months of visualizations, the development culminated with my in-person visit to fine tune the experience on the actual hardware.

(Night sky background)

The elevators now open to a custom, interactive LED wall that spans 30 feet in length. This is the largest screen my art has ever been displayed on, a stark contrast to the mobile phone games that started my career.

We built around the concept of public signage, visually unifying all the mini games and even the physical instructions into the theme. The environments were inspired by places we played in as children.

(Court background)

Players are detected with two body-tracking Kinect cameras and represented on screen as stick figures with flat colors, mimicking those on public signs. For the rendering, I chose an undetailed style to complement the simple figures. I relied on the classic arcade motif of red versus blue to code the characters and introduced purple as universal neutral messaging. Due to the additive nature of light, the color palettes underwent many adjustments for readability on the LEDs.

By default, the game runs in "passive mode," cycling through several scenes where the players interact with falling particles. Water flows, sand clumps, balls bounce, and jello... does its thing.

(Splash pad background)

The players make associated gestures to enable "active mode," where they can compete against each other in three mini games. Each gesture activates the appearance of gear on the character body: a helmet for laser dodging, gloves for handling chemicals, and a martial arts belt for the fireball throwing. This feature serves as confirmation; both players must make the same gesture to agree on the competition.

(Intro animation for the Fireball Faceoff minigame in the "active mode" liminal space/holodeck/danger room)

To see some footage of it in action, check out my thread on Twitter. A coworker on the project, Jyro Blade, also uploaded some relevant media here on his site.

(No lava lamps were harmed, I promise)