Gameboy Camera Experiments #1

As part of a larger project I’ve spent a few days exploring the possibilities of the Gameboy Camera and Gameboy printer combo in animation.  I’ve been in love with the impressionistic almost-machine-vision aesthetic of the Gameboy Camera ever since I was given one as a kid, and over the last several years I’ve found myself returning to it.

My aim is to eventually create a project that is larger in scope than the Gameboy Camera’s tiny resolution and limited palette of greys would seem to allow.  So far my attempts have failed, and the experiments presented here are the latest in this line of failures. But failures are important to creativity, and with each disappointment I hope I’m getting closer to understanding how to achieve my goal.

In this experiment I was aiming to create animations reminiscent of the images sent back by early space probes. I began my exploration with the thought that the most basic form in space is a single point of light and attempted to capture images that would convey a feeling of luminosity. In isolation I’m pleased with how the animations achieve this goal. Unfortunately they really don’t fit within the greater context of the group project I designed them for, so I present them here as a pleasing dead end.

I had originally planned to run the camera through a Super Nintendo / Super Gameboy and capture the video feed on my Powerbook G3 Pismo. I love playing around with dated multimedia technologies, so I thought it might be fun to cut the footage together on an early version of Avid. 

Unfortunately this didn’t work out - the video signal from the SNES confused my old video capture card. I tried a number of things but I couldn’t solve the problem so I turned to the Gameboy Printer, and the experiments lead me to a delightful process that produces a kind of  intermediate thermal-printed-film-strip from the Gameboy camera that is then scanned and animated frame by frame. It’s a digital-to-physical-to-digital process.

Under a magnifying loupe the dots and dashes of the Gameboy Printer look like delicate brush strokes. They’re rough with a strikingly human inconsistency that adds a layer of expression to the images that is absent from the digital files.

I fiddled around with a several different captures - I even attempted to use two Gameboy Cameras simultaneously to create a 3D image - then scanned and animated the results in Photoshop. These experiments created an interestingprocess, but one which is perhaps more interesting than the results it produces.

I’ll keep experimenting with the Gameboy Camera, I have some big ideas. But I’m not there yet.