Thursday, 28 January 2016

Pinball: Three Theme Concepts

Quick version:
Concept A
Never! replaces the Supersonic’s collecting numbers 1-2-3-4-5 mode with symbols and imagery based around warnings, expressions, sayings, as well as film and songs titles. (Jump to full)

Concept B
Physical Evidence (working title) replaces the Supersonic’s collecting numbers 1-2-3-4-5 mode with 2D geometric shapes. (Jump to full)

Concept C
Wrecking Ball is a breakable pinball machine. As you play, the targets must be chipped, smashed, broken or destroyed in order to score points. (Jump to full)

Full version:

Concept A

Never! replaces the Supersonic’s collecting numbers 1-2-3-4-5 mode with symbols and imagery based around warnings, expressions, sayings, as well as film and songs titles.

Original test lino prints
The concept has a bit of an unplanned history, it stems from the hashtag #never being a trending topic on twitter (from a previous project to use trending topics as originators for creating artwork). From this I made a set of linocuts based around the word never. The linocuts were originally made with the intention of creating an artists book with the same title, but ironically never came to fruition.

Never put your hand in the toaster
Later when revisiting the project and expanding on ideas around the word never, I came to the realisation of the potential as a theme for pinball.

An underlying meaning in using the theme of never, which only I seem to find humorous, is due to the complexity of building a pinball machine, it may never actually happen!




Concept B

Physical Evidence (working title) replaces the Supersonic’s collecting numbers 1-2-3-4-5 mode with 2D geometric shapes.

Each collected shape represents a face of a digital object which turns the 2D shape into a 3D object.
Transform 2D->3D
I've have an interest in exploring different possibilities for how a digital 3D objects can exist in the physical world

The 2D shapes would be printed on the playfield and the 3D shapes exist on screen and are displayed once you complete them.

Once you complete a 3D object you could be awarded with a physical representation of the 3D shape (maybe a plaster mould or 3D print), dispensed from the machine. This is just an idea - it’s likely to be too complicated.

Inspiration: Ben Jones


Concept C

Wrecking Ball is a breakable pinball machine. As you play, the targets must be chipped, smashed, broken or destroyed in order to score points.


The parts are cast from existing pinball parts using a silicone mould, from plaster of paris. Smashed parts could be displayed for a short time, before being ground down and remoulded.

Casting includes an element of relief printmaking, using lino blocks which are inked up to imprint the scoring or other imagery on top of the moulds.


The idea originates from a conversation about the steel ball which is designed to hit targets on a pinball machine at speed, it posed a question; what if the parts were breakable?


It's taken a while to piece together the different ideas, I feel the three concepts each have scope to be developed successfully for the final theme, however at this point one concept in particular 'Never', seems to be showing most promise for moving forward.

The concepts clearly have a strong artistic grounding, which is generally an unconventional approach for a pinball machine. This was always the plan for my project, partly it's a reaction to the types of themes which tend to be thought of when discussing pinball machines. Opening out to new ideas and storytelling.

It's been interesting when discussing my ideas with people who play pinball, the expectation is to theme based around some kind of popular culture like tv, movies, music, rather than a more abstract idea. It's hard to explain in a way for people to relate to, I hope that will will become easier when the project progresses.