My most unconventional lab is documented in a new zine by Sherri Wasserman, one available for download and screen-viewing now; it will be available in DIY print-and-bind-your-own format soon.
The publication is Restore [Return] Shift, and it’s the second in a series of zines documenting spaces that preserve and offer access to creative computing.
A rare color photo can be seen on the Instragram announcement.
Thanks to RA Erik Stayton, we now have a formidable catalog of hardware and software in The Trope Tank, my lab at MIT.
There are pages on each of the systems (or in one case a group of switched systems) that are regularly hooked up and ready to use:
Also, information is recorded about each display and about all the other working computers that are kept in the lab.
And while every last disk in the lab has not been cataloged, the VCS, Commodore 64, NES, Intellivision, and Odyssey cartridges and all packaged retail software on disk or CD-ROM are now listed in the extensive software catalog. For now, this catalog is presented as a simple, long Web page.
In other Trope Tank news, thanks to Jason Scott I’ve replaced a part in the Asteroids machine and the display no longer oscillates – the machine works perfectly.
The Trope Tank welcomes small classes, researchers, and artists and writers who are looking into the material properties of digital media. Please contact me if the lab’s resources can be of help to you. This Friday, while I will be out of town, Erik and Piotr Marecki (and a Commodore 64 system they are bringing) will be representing the lab at the MIT Museum and offering the public a view of how accessible and creative programming was in the early 1980s.
The Trope Tank has just issued a new technical report:
Creative Material Computing in a Laboratory Context
Nick Montfort and Natalia Fedorova
Download the full report
Principles for organizing a laboratory with material computing resources are articulated. This laboratory, the Trope Tank, is a facility for teaching, research, and creative collaboration and offers hardware (in working condition and set up for use) from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, including videogame systems, home computers, an arcade cabinet, and a workstation. Other resources include controllers, peripherals, manuals, books, and software on physical media. In reorganizing the space, we considered its primary purpose as a laboratory (rather than as a library or studio), organized materials by platform and intended use, and provided additional cues and textual information about the historical contexts of the available systems.