Mood Pinball

Ben Neal and Edie Jo Murray and Harmeet Chagger-Khan 2019 - 2020

Multipart mixed-media digital pinball machine encompassing: online game, Android app, CGI short film, animated GIFs and digital pinball machine with custom software and bespoke graphics on wooden frame

What’s your city sweet-spot? Mood Pinball playfully reimagines how city-wide data might be used by an individual to find their comfort zones, and improve their experience of a city. Through a physical digital pinball machine, an online game and downloadable app with a data set buried deep in the heart of the code. It invites us on a sonic journey through the dreamlike city-scape of neurodiverse artist Edie Jo Murray. You play as Edie in the form of the ball and you travel around the playfield designed by her as a futuristic, alien version of the city. The otherworldly qualities of Edie’s highly stylised graphics and rich saturated colours are based on her experience that autistic people can “feel like aliens”. When visiting different locations volume levels in decibels are shown. As the clock progresses noise levels change. For Edie, her sensitivity to noise – which has an impact on how well she feels at different city locations – is part of the “alien experience”.

The goal of Mood Pinball is to keep its Mood-o-Meter at ‘happy’, by responding to noise-level data revealed by gameplay. The ball also has an energy level, and constant, long-distance movements makes you tired. Mood and energy boosts can be achieved when visiting locations and represent a successful days shopping or a pleasant visit to the park.

Accessing data about noise levels in public spaces is difficult, so the data in this artwork has been synthesised by computer scientists at Southampton University. Mood Pinball acts as a reminder that individuals, as well as businesses, need to use information and data to better understand the world and improve people’s lives. Accompanying the games are a series of animated GIFs created by the artists to raise key questions which informed and are raised by the work, and a short CGI film offering us a “pinball’s-eye-view” through the inner landscapes of the game.

Mood Pinball was created following a series of workshops for autistic and neurodiverse people at BOM in Birmingham in 2018. We are grateful to the participants, who wish to remain anonymous, for their insights.

How to play

Download the free Android app

Play the online game

View the artists website

Bonus materials

View and download the animated GIFS

Watch the CGI film, provocations and project summary

Credits

Wooden Cabinet by Joseph Welden with lasercutting by Juneau Projects and Music by Arc Vel

Original Digital pinball machine commissioned by ODI Data as Culture in partnership with the University of Southampton / King’s College London Data Stories project, supported by the EPSRC, grant number EP/PO25676/1. Produced by BOM centre for art, technology and science, Birmingham.

Online developments commissioned by ODI Data as Culture. Android app co-commissioned by Now Play This Festival

Materials

Digital pinball machine with custom software and bespoke graphics on wooden frame, online game, Android app, CGI short film, animated GIFs

Exhibition

Copy That? Surplus Data in an Age of Repetitive Duplication
Visit the online projects, physical exhibition closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Data Types

Geospatial, Identifiable, Object, Open, Retrieved, Social, State

About the Artists

Ben Neal (UK) is a creative technologist, performer, musician, artist and educator. His work often uses audio-visual and digital technology to create bespoke electronic gadgets, interactive art, musical instruments, virtual content and games. He is part…
Read more

Edie Jo Murray (UK) is a West Midlands-based digital artist who focuses on exploring the subjectivity of reality from a neurodivergent perspective. Her practice includes virtual and augmented reality installations and computer generated imagery, used to…
Read more

Harmeet Chagger-Khan (UK) is an artist and filmmaker producing site specific projects with a diverse range of individuals to harness their polymathic qualities and create subtle behaviour change within communities, organisations and cities. As a BOM…
Read more