“Tentacles” is an art installation, created by Rob King, Michael Longford, and Geoffrey Shea and was featured in Toronto’s Nuit Blanche in 2009. The visual design and concept is incredible, as each tentacle that belongs to the unique avatar is representative of each user. The app is available on the Apple App Store and on the Android Market. Using the touch-screen, the participant is able to control their avatar. The visual representation is projected onto a large screen so that all the audience members can watch. The avatar is “linked to your mobile device via WiFi or the 3G/4G network” (Tentacles, 2011) allowing one to use their fingers and hands to control the movement of the tentacle. Most recently, Tentacles was displayed in the Museum of Modern Art last November.
The interaction and navigation occurs in large public spaces. King, Longford, and Shea have adapted their idea to be displayed on many surfaces, including “elevators, train platforms, and billboards” (Tentacles, 2011). The real motivation behind the development of this installation was simple: allowing one to play and enjoy oneself. The flexibility in use is demonstrated by how new players may join the experience at any time, just as existing players may depart at any time, all without any interruption to other players.
The installation can be played casually or competitively, where each organism on the food chain can eat, or be eaten, by the other creatures. Although this may sound like Grade 11 or 12 biology, the unique representation and extremely creative approach feels completely unrelated.
We can observe scientific theory in this game, as we see the relationship between this game and Charles Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest. Darwin’s theory claims that organisms that survive and live have their traits passed to the next generation. We see that when players begin to compete and see the same individual playing using their mobile device.
The perspective that Tentacles shows is unique because the projection is usually quite large scaled, but the graphics and visual display make it seem as if we
are looking directly into a microscope. It is quite ironic. Overall, the work of King, Longford and Shea is to be commended, not only in terms of their thought-process and theme, butalso their final execution.