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A chess set that could teach aliens how to play

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ChessCloseUp3

ChessCloseUp2

What if you could learn how to play chess simply by looking at the pieces? (more…) That's one of the ideas behind Orthogonal/Diagonal, an exhibition where artist Nova Jiang has reimagined chess with 3D-printed pieces designed to convey their rules of movement—and their relative importance on the board—at a glance.

"I remember having a lot of trouble learning checkers because the forms of the pieces didn't suggest their functions, so here, the instructions help you pick up the visual language," says Jiang. In other words, if an alien encountered the game for the first time, they'd be able to intuit some of the game simply by looking at it.

It's similar to the idea behind the Bauhaus chess set created by Joseph Hartwig in 1924, where the pieces convey their movements through clean, minimalist lines. Jiang's designs are a bit more intricate, thanks in part to the 3D printing process, which allowed her to make complex forms difficult to manufacture by hand.

The queen, for example, towers over the pawns, and splays outward in a many-pointed star shape that gestures at every direction it can move. The bishop is shorter and squatter, shaped more like an X to indicate its diagonal movement. chessmoves

Jiang also created boards and pieces for seven regional chess variants beyond Western chess: Makruk from Thailand, Janggi from Korea, Shatar from Mongolia, Sittuyin from Myanmar, Shogi from Japan, Xiangqi from China, and Shatranj, a Persian and Arab predecessor to modern chess.

Many of the customized pieces she created can be used across multiple games, since all of the variants are derived from the ancient Indian game Chaturanga, and have analogous pieces and movements thanks to their common roots.

"Once I stripped away the culturally specific design for each variant, it became easier to focus on the underlying system and see how each variant evolved," says Jiang. Focusing on the universal aspects of the games can make it easier for new players as well, especially for those learning variants that involve characters from foreign languages.

"It's difficult to play Chinese, Korean and Japanese Chess if you can't read the characters used to mark the pieces," says Jiang. "Part of Orthogonal/Diagonal is about overcoming language and geographical barriers. Once you learn the visual language, then theoretically a Japanese Shogi player can have a friendly game of Mongolian Shatar with someone who's only familiar with Western Chess." Chess cover

Jiang has invited chess players to try their hand at the different variants through her exhibitions in New Zealand, Austria, and most recently, at the UCLA Game Art Festival in Los Angeles. Despite the visual inuitiveness of the pieces, she still provides players with written instructions for each variant.

Although she loves the idea of the games being readable to completely new players—or alien civilzations—she notes that "players also really seem to like having instructions. I think the pieces work well as guides in addition to the instructions."

Orthogonal/Diagonal is also the first step in a longer-term project for Jiang, which involves developing software to generate abstract strategy board games and game pieces via artificial intelligence. Players would get to define some aspects of the game, an AI would create playable rules, and a script would generate game pieces that visually represent their movements.

"In my imagination, the project would help non-game designers like myself make unique board games," says Jiang. "Perhaps every visitor to a gallery where the software is shown can take home a 3D-printed game and become the world champion of their own special board game?"

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danlurie
1827 days ago
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Protopiper: tape-gun-based 3D printer extrudes full-size furniture prototypes

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beRA4sIjxa8

The Protopiper (white paper [PDF]) is a modified tape-gun that extrudes regular, precise lengths of hollow tubing made from packing tape, with which you can prototype room-sized objects at full size to get a sense of the masses and scales involved. (more…)

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danlurie
1842 days ago
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Computer graphics circa 1968

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"The Incredible Machine" (not to be confused with the 1975 film) is a 1968 documentary about experiments at Bell Labs focusing on graphics, voice, and other art and media applications. Technicians draw circuits using an electric stylus, animate titles for a movie presentation, and look at sound waveforms of different words trying to replicate speech.

It's a treat to see the state-of-the-art the year of 2001: A Space Odyssey, especially when one of the Bell Labs computers sings "Daisy Bell"/"A Bicycle Built For Two".

Also, mind the rabbit hole: the related links bar on YouTube leads to dozens of similar vintage computing videos.

(Via @katecrawford)

Tags: 2001   classic computing   computers   graphics
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danlurie
1893 days ago
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1 public comment
cinebot
1897 days ago
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saving this for later since i cannot dive into the rabbit hole right now
toronto.

Real-life first person shooter on Chatroulette

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These folks created a real-life first person shooter game and invited strangers on Chatroulette to control the action.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how they did it. (thx, oren)

Tags: Chatroulette   games   video games
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danlurie
1913 days ago
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Watch profile of Alan Adler, inventor of the Aeropress coffee maker

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I use my beloved Aeropress coffee maker every day when I'm at home. Cory actually travels with his! Filmmaker and photographer David Friedman profiled the inventor of the Aeropress, Alan Adler.

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danlurie
1913 days ago
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Dueling car ads highlight subtle sexism

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Overt sexism runs rampant in advertising, but sometimes gender biases are almost invisible. Read the rest

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danlurie
2016 days ago
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