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August 2014
Design, Development
Node.js, DMX, HTML5
Massive outdoor game x Harpa Concert & Conference Center, Reykjavik

PONG is a massive interactive outdoor artwork that allows two people to play the classic game against each other on the monumental facade of Harpa, Iceland’s flagship concert hall in downtown Reykjavik, designed by Ólafur Eliasson.
Conceived and produced by Atli Bollason, the project began as a chance meeting between myself and Atli at a birthday party in Reykjavik, and over the next few months developed into a reality – with not only the CEO of the building coming on board very quickly, but for the first time for a project like this, Ólafur himself (the first time he has allowed a project like this to take over the facade’s lighting system). Vodafone Iceland also agreed to sponsor the project, and supply us with some of the equipment.

The project was launched on Menningarnótt (Culture Night) on the 23rd August 2014, and ran for a week afterwards as part of the Reykjavik Dance Festival.
For the launch night, we setup a stage in front of the building, and players used a pair of phones to control their ‘paddles’ on the 43m-high screen.
Afterwards, players were able to join a special Wi-fi network which took them directly to the game, which was transmitted from a hill overlooking the building. This would allow them to join a virtual queue, and play against friends or complete strangers.
Our roles were split with Atli handling the concept, creative direction, project management and publicity, and me handling the design, hardware, networking and programming.

Three separate Node.js servers run together to create the experience; one running in the basement of Harpa which outputs DMX to control the 35×11 pixel display (6 universes of 512 channels each), one running in the cloud which actually simulates the game physics, and receives WebSocket connections from the player’s phone, and another which handles the game queue.

An HTML5 mobile front-end was also developed to give visual feedback to the player of their paddle, and current score.

The code for the entire project is available on github:
Github repo: github.com/owenhindley/harpapong

Links / Press:

Main site: site
Menningarnótt site (Icelandic): site
Reykjavik Grapevine : site
Iceland Magazine: site

Owen Hindley 2016