An interactive art tram designed by a Swinburne academic is dropping travellers directly at the hub of Melbourne International Games Week 2018, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Running along Melbourne’s Route 96 from East Brunswick to St Kilda Beach, the tram has been designed by games and interactivity senior lecturer Dr Troy Innocent. The artwork features a geometric design that incorporates augmented reality technology.
Using an app named Accelerando, a layer of animation and sound is revealed when the tram is viewed from the camera of a smartphone. The app plays a musical score as it detects fragments of the design.
Image: James Morgan
“The speed of the tram generates different musical compositions, whether it’s stationery, accelerating, at full speed, slowing to a stop and so on,” Dr Innocent explains.
Creating playable cities
While on a residency in Barcelona this year as part of his time as a Melbourne Knowledge Fellow, Dr Innocent began to develop his design.
“I started thinking about how to make urban infrastructure playable; to take something functional and everyday and turn it into something poetic. So I proposed transforming a Melbourne tram into a musical score playable via augmented reality,” he says.
Dr Innocent’s design was inspired by the language of geometric abstraction and how it blends with machine vision and code.
“I’m interested in art that is readable by machines but that can also be appreciated by people. In this case, the inspiration was the concept of turning a 32.5-metre C2-class Melbourne tram into a visual music score – to literally make the tram playable.”
Dr Innocent’s design was inspired by the language of geometric abstraction and how it blends with machine vision and code. | Video: Melbourne International Arts Festival
The future of play
Dr Innocent’s tram is just one example of how he sees the future of games and play.
“Games and play have become increasingly embedded in daily life over the past two decades. They have become pervasive. I’m interested in games and play that is situated in unfamiliar contexts and locations, that crosses over disciplines, that gets us thinking and seeing the world in new ways,” he says.
“As games and play become not only about entertainment, but also challenge and reimagine our ways of being in the world, we will experience a wider range of creative expression and possibilities. Play can literally create alternate realities for us that are not separate to the world but reshape the world in which we already live.”
Image: James Morgan
Dr Innocent’s work focuses on how cities come into being.
“We often take them at face value, seeing them as fixed structures made of concrete, glass and steel – but actually they are fluid and changeable, constantly emerging via flows and processes.”
Take a ride
Dr Innocent’s tram is part Melbourne International Arts Festival’s ‘Melbourne Art Trams’ project, which started in 2013.
The tram will travel along Melbourne’s Route 96 for the duration of Melbourne International Games Week, 20–28 October 2018 and PAX Australia, 26-28 October.
To experience the interactive design you’ll need to download Accelerando for Android or iOS devices.