Tentacles gaming application is part of MoMA exhibit in New York

The newest version of Tentacles, a unique gaming application that turns your mobile device into a controller linked to virtual creatures projected onto giant screens, is part of an installation at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

The MoMA exhibit, Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, investigates the communication between people and objects. It opened July 24 and runs to Nov. 7.

Introduced in 2009 at Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Tentacles has enabled spontaneous public performances in Montreal and Victoria, and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and  Weimar, Germany.

It was developed by faculty and students at the Mobile Media Lab at York University and the Mobile Experience Lab at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University in partnership with Addi.TV and the Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre.

 An example of what Tentacles looks like when someone is interacting with it on a screenRight: An example of what Tentacles looks like when someone is interacting with it on a screen

“Players are immediately engaged by a sense of wonder at the magic of radio waves and the Internet that enable us to interact in real-time from a personal handheld device with a public projection in urban space,” said Michael Longford, a research lead on the project and associate dean, research & planning, in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

Each “tentacle” participates in an accelerated life cycle. Born with the click of a button, tentacles glide through a fluid environment, eating and occasionally tangling with the other creatures, by accident or design. With another click, they expire and explode into tiny particles, ready-made food for those around them.

From within the crowd, players can step onto the stage of the projected environment to display themselves in action, engaged with other virtual creatures. Simultaneously, their personal space shrinks and expands as the tiny gestures made on the touch screen of their mobile device are magnified for all to see.

The three creative leads on Tentacles are: Rob King (Addi.TV), Michael Longford (Mobile Media Lab, York University) and Geoffrey Shea (Mobile Experience Lab, OCAD University).

Talk to Me was organized by Paola Antonelli, senior curator, and Kate Carmody, curatorial assistant, Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA – regarded by many as the most influential museum of modern art and design in the world.