TFT Tennis

Dirk Eijbouts

16 December 2005

Dirk Eijbouts / 2005 / The Netherlands

“TFT Tennis” is a contemporary reconsideration of one of the videogame medium’s most archetypal experiences, electronic tennis. In Eijbouts’ interface experiment, two participants rally back and forth using steel beam-mounted flat screens as both the primary 3D interface and as rackets that can be maneuvered and rotated to determine the direction of the virtual ball. Four position sensors process the player’s movement of the screen, scrolling the virtual play field accordingly. “TFT Tennis” recalls the seminal uses of electronic tennis to explore new forms of screen-based interaction, from Willie Higginbotham’s oscilloscope-driven “Tennis for Two,” Ralph Baer’s 1968 invention of home video game consoles with the Brown Box (1968) and the Magnavox Odyssey (1972), and Atari’s “Pong” (1972), the first successful video arcade game. The recently released Nintendo Wii extends this tradition with its racket-like wireless controllers. But none of these exercises match Eijsbouts’ giddily disorienting experiment, which reunites electronic tennis with its non-electronic roots as a physical experience.