Disrupted Christmas – A live Installation by Holler

James Theophane —  December 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Advertising prides itself on disruption. But what if you could disrupt advertising?

This Christmas we got in to the holiday spirit by creating a live, and interactive installation allowing the public to do just that.

We hacked an Electric Muscle Stimulation units and hooked them up to the internet via IP cameras. Key members of our agency were connected to the EMS unit and the Internet via a live stream.

The public could watch our day, and disrupt it at will with the click of a mouse. The user simply needed go online, choose a stream, click the ‘Disrupt’ button, and watch as the EMS instantaneously zapped the volunteers. Momentarily interrupting their ability to continue the task at hand.

For each ‘disruption’ we donated a $1 to The Factory, a local community centre with a long history of engaging artists in community development projects.

The interactive webcast lasted for over 4 hours, raising a grand total of over $5500. We achieved precious little work.





How it worked

The EMS hardware is bespoke built to be controlled via MIDI protocol. We designed it to put out pulses of 60v maximum, but we are mostly working with a third of that, sending 20 pulses a millisecond. The engineer opted for a battery operated system, running off 8 AA’s, mitigating risk of mains surge.

To control the device we built a patch in MAX/MSP, designed to receive the “trigger messages” sent from the internet.

Our ‘disruption’ web interface was built with Backbone.js for view rendering and UI interactions and switching video streams. It connected to the server via Socket.io to listen to broadcast events (zap), and to trigger a zap.

We used a Single node.js server hosted on Heroku to manage queues and handle Socket.io connections. This server would receive and validate a ‘zap’ from a user, and then trigger a broadcast event which all users/clients were subscribed to.

Once a message was received, the socket server converted it to OSC format in order to communicate with MAX/MSP, and transmit that message over UDP protocol to MAX. Subsequently triggering the EMS device to deliver the shock to the desired user.

All within milliseconds.

By Holler Sydney in collaboration with Michaela Davies.


Advertising Agency: Holler, Sydney, Australia
Agency website: http://www.holler.com.au
Creative Director: James Theophane
UX: Vlad Ivanovic
Art Director: Ben Heath
Copywriter: John Gault
Photographer: Anton Sugianto
Developers: Michael Hazell, Scott Swabey, Can Ertel.
Designers: Catalina Gouverneur, Jessica Tong
Producers: Nathan Johnson, Brooke Tebbenhoff, Coby Walter
Streaming Technology by BlueCentral
PR Max/Spectrum


James Theophane


Portrait credit: Nadav Kander James Theophane, or Theo, is a dilettante residing in Sydney. When he's not dabbling, he's the Creative Director at Holler Sydney. He has worked with Clemenger BBDO, R/GA, Lost Boys, Modem Media, Framfab and Wheel. He has created the "World's first spoken-word trending engine", given telekinetic powers to everyone, created a gigantic interactive chandelier that played Christmas carols. Hacked an oil painting and launched a fully interactive round the world yacht. He has created work for Skittles, TED Talks, Nokia, Rankin, D&AD, Pepsi, V Energy Drink, Electrolux, Sony PlayStation, Channel 4, Oxfam, Brahma, Wired Magazine, Heineken and Audi. View all work He has won a few awards such as Adfest - Grand Prix, One Show, D&AD, Webby, LIA, Campaign, BIMA and Epica. Sometimes he gets called up for a little bit of jury service too. He's paid his dues with D&AD, IAB Creative Showcase and London International. james@iamtheo.com

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