Puncture the Screen: Malper

Forming part of the Data Driven Film Festival at Puncture the Screen, Rachel Parry’s “live chatbot” piece is perplexing, fast, and curious.

It is a work in progress in which the audience member is guided through a number of responses; the ultimate choice being theirs.

“Weird and wonky web-based, interactive, clickable”, this show uses the personal data of Parry and creative technologist Rachel Smith.

Their project, “Malfunctioning Perfectly” seeks to inform AI bots about liveness from a neurodiverse perspective.

Starting with a sense of lightness, Malper soon descends into chaotic texts, images and videos where the choices become both disorienting and disasterous.

The hope is to develop this work in progress into other areas such as embedded content and voiceovers. These, with the background music and effects, would create a strong user experience.

At the moment it can be played on a mobile phone, a desktop, or a laptop. I screen mirrored my phone to my TV to better enjoy the experience and see the text and images.

Much of the show is silent and text-based, but the conversation bubbles move very quickly.

You can pause, restart or watch a loop again; and of course there is a chance to replay at the end of the game and take a different route.

Beware though – some choices bring you to a dead stop and multiple restarts as different ideas pop into the chat. Rachel, the artist, may be malfunctioning. Are you?

Being WIP, this has potential but needs to slow down and also to maybe consider some personalisation.

It could also move into much darker areas and explore how even routine conversations and journeys can be overwhelming on the spectrum.

Malper is an intriguing piece, but it doesn’t quite make the most of its initial ideas yet. It will be interesting to see how it progresses in the future.

Malper is available on-demand from 18-31 July at the Puncture The Screen festival.