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Tarek’s Empty Can’s workshop - June 2008

Wii Can

Inspired and based on the Empty Cans workshop that started in France in 2004, the Wii Can is a game / installation that uses new technologies and new media in order to break boundaries and connect realities that would not normally meet.
The Empty cans project is a sound and image workshop conceived and given by Lebanese musician and computer programer Tarek Atoui.
Destined to teenagers between 12 and 18 years old, this workshop is about allowing groups of 12 to 16 participants to work on short movies, video clips and video objects where they choose their themes, build their scenarios, film and record the sounds and images they need for it. The originality of the project is that it used a computer game and software especially built for it where through Play Station joysticks the participants can assemble and play their film in live on a public presentation and performance where the film is recorded and then left to the participants.
After several tours and interventions in cultural summer camps in France in 2005, Atoui carried out his project to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon in summer 2006, then in 2007 with the help of the European Cultural Foundation, the Steim studios and the Today’s Art festival, he got to give to the project an international dimension, and do the workshop in Holland, France, Egypt and Lebanon before inviting groups of participants from each country to travel to Holland, work together and open the Today’s Art festival at the Hague on September 2007.

Wii Can is the new version of Empty Cans designed and conceived for the Stranger Festival.
The game is very intuitive and easy. With 4 Nintendo Wii controllers, 4 gamers are invited to play together. 2 persons play music, the two others play image.
The sound controllers allow to play distinct rhythmic and melodic elements and add audio effects to them, the image ones allow to mix and layer videos photos and text.
The audio and images that they will be manipulating are selections of the Empty Cans 2006 and 2007 databases that will get the players to discover stranger environments and realities different then theirs, such as the suburbs of Cairo, Palestinian Refugee camps in Lebanon, political demonstrations in Beirut,…
In a fun and amusing way, one of the objectives of Wii Can is to create sensibility and awareness towards some realities and contexts that strongly mark the Middle East and the region at the moment such as the Palestinian and Iraqi refugee crisis, the Lebanese political situation, the environmental and urban problems of Cairo,…
In order to do so, a camera is permanently filming the players. With the Wii controllers, players have the possibility of incrust their image and mix it with the other video layers already playing.
If they frequently do this, the game will start behaving differently and projecting other faces, photos, sounds and texts that deal and refer to these issues.
On the artistic level, the aim of forming such an audio-visual band is to incite the gamers to play together, to listen to each-other and therefore to respect and acknowledge one another.
Actually, in this game sound and image are tightly linked together. Algorithms of sound and image analysis will allow sound players to control and synchronize image to sound and vice versa whenever one of the players show s selfish or compulsive behavior.
Finally, linking sound and image to each other will also allow the players to start looking at image as something musical and to music as being a character itself in an audio-visual art work.

Technical means and requirements:
The Max / /MSP/Jitter software for programming and running the game.
A recent Macintosh computer or laptop with intel system and blue tooth
A video projector and screen
A digital video camera
4 Nintendo Wii controllers
1 sound system of good quality + amplification (the presence of subwoofers would be great).

Programming the interface and the controllers, re-editing and creating the sound and audio libraries, collecting and working on “educational” text, audio and photo material
21 days of work

This project in supported and co-produced by the Steim studios – Amsterdam that will be offering a work space and technical work facilities over three weeks for the programming and the building of the game, and that have already supported the Empty Cans project in 2007.

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