Niamh Houston (aka Chipzel), is a BAFTA-nominated (Super Hexagon – Best British Game) and award-winning composer, producer and performer. Niamh will use her award to finance a ‘sprint’ development period working with regional talent on TieYourLaces (TYL). TYL was first developed in 2021 when Niamh worked together with Craig Fairweather and Andrew Dyce from, We Throw Switches, to develop a prototype inspired and constructed around her powerful chiptune beats to get inter-generational communities more active. TYL is a punksport, movement-based videogame installation, which combines modern videogame design; original music composition; and cutting-edge hardware to answer the question: 'In 2022, what would a real-life, community e-sport look like?
The laser-tracking technology at the heart of the installation will invite participants to intuitively move around a pre-set physical ‘court’ sized space (4mx4m), indoors or outdoors, and these movements act as digital inputs for the installation. Participants can create competitive scores and opt in to generate digital user content. The game is intended to be accessible to users of any ability who can increase movement and create meaningful social interactions that are motivated by sound. TYL will make previously underused public spaces come alive.
Niamh Houston (aka Chipzel), who is originally from Strabane but is now based in County Down began her journey with the Chiptune music genre during her time as a student at Lumen Christi College in Derry-Londonderry when she started composing on a Game Boy. Previously, Niamh teamed up with Terry Cavanagh, a video games developer from Monaghan, they worked together on the BAFTA-nominated mobile game Super Hexagon which led to an established career in games scoring. Chipzel has become best associated as a pioneer of the Chiptune scene - a style of electronic music created on retro consoles and computers. Chipzel is renowned for her use of a Nintendo Gameboy in both composition and performance.
Commenting on the project Chipzel said,
“This project is a playable and scalable installation that is designed to get you moving. It is a videogame that is designed for public spaces so it could be installed at a music festival, at a gym, outdoors, the possibilities of location are endless and you in your body are the physical controller of the game.”
The project is one of four partnership projects that use the arts within new and emerging digital, immersive technologies to expand the possibilities of how the arts can be distributed and utilised in new and innovative ways. The Creative Industries Seed Fund, worth £100,000, from The National Lottery and Future Screens NI, is now in its second round of the programme and the current four awardees include: Niamh Houston/Chipzel, Bad Girl Barre/Jill Rose Jacobs, Accidental Theatre and Belfast Photo Festival.
Matthew Malcolm, Creative Industries Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,
“The Arts Council is delighted to partner with Future Screens NI on the Creative Industries Seed Fund programme and thanks to The National Lottery, it will support four ambitious projects that distribute and utilize the arts in new ways using digital and immersive technologies. This programme reflects our continuing commitment to encouraging innovative practices that cross artform boundaries and build digital capabilities within the Northern Ireland arts sector. Chipzel’s exciting project expands on how arts audiences can engage with the arts through accessible experiences that combine her music, immersive technology and physical activity to reimagine how a real-world physical space can be interacted with.”
The Creative Industries Seed Fund is now closed with all available funding allocated. For details on all Arts Council funding opportunities visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding
To find out more about the work and music of Chipzel visit https://chipzel.co.uk/