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Designing from Within: Exploring Experience through Interactive Performance Open Access


Other title
Practice-Based Research
Experience-Centered Design
Interactive Performance
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Taylor, Robyn L
Supervisor and department
Boulanger, Pierre (Computing Science)
Examining committee member and department
Benford, Steve (Computing Science)
Wright, Peter (Computing Science)
Ruecker, Stan (Design)
Hoover, H. James (Computing Science)
Department of Computing Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This thesis describes a practice-based methodology in which an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists and musicians create, enact, and iteratively refine a series of technologically mediated participatory performances structured to investigate HCI research questions surrounding participant engagement with technological interfaces in public settings. We choose to “design from within” by taking active roles as performers in each piece, experiencing the performance alongside participants within an authentic public use context. We draw upon McCarthy and Wright’s pragmatic approach towards experience-centered design and evaluation, using their theoretical framework to interrogate the sensual, emotional, spatio-temporal and compositional aspects of collaborative behaviour through felt, lived experience. This self-situated manner of practice allows us to experience the enactment of our design interventions firsthand, and develop understanding of the performance scenario through our own personal processes of sense-making. Our participatory installations are intended for public consumption, meaning the works must always maintain production quality suitable for professional exhibition. However, they are intentionally implemented so that they may be constantly refined and re-configured, changing and developing as our understanding of and relationship to them grows over time. In this thesis, we describe the creation, performance, and evaluation of three in- teractive works: dream.Medusa (2007), humanaquarium (2009) and Nightingallery (2011). We explain how our experiences with the performances revealed insight into engagement with technologically mediated interaction in public spaces, allowing us to investigate how modifying performance design affected experiential issues such as the reduction of stage fright, the encouragement of collaboration, and the exploration of the relationship between legibility and expressivity. The novelty of our approach lies in how we have taken an active role as performer/designers within the use context of a series of performances, each subsequent performance being inspired by the research undertaken throughout the investigative trajectory. We draw upon personal, autobiographical experiences with the projects to develop understanding of public engagement with creative technologies, allowing our experiences with the projects to inspire avenues of HCI design intervention and research. Our method of investigation leverages interdisciplinary practice and expertise to inform interaction design for playful, ludic systems in a holistic, pragmatic, experience-centered way.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Taylor, R., Boulanger, P., Olivier, P., Wallace, J. Exploring Participatory Performance to Inform the Design of Collaborative Public Interfaces. Extended Abstracts of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’09). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 3721–3726.Taylor, R., Schofield, G., Shearer, J., Boulanger, P., Wallace, J., Wright, P., Olivier, P. Designing from Within: humanaquarium. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1855-1864.Taylor, R., Schofield, G., Shearer, J., Boulanger, P., Wallace, J., Wright, P., Olivier, P. Composing for the Interactive Medium. International Journal of Design and Innovation Research Vol.6:1, 2011.Taylor, R., Boulanger, P., Olivier, P. dream.Medusa: A Participatory Performance. 8th International Symposium on Smart Graphics, Rennes, France, August 27-29, pp. 200-206., 2008.Taylor, R., Boulanger, P., Olivier, P. Creating dream.Medusa to Encourage Dialogue in Performance. Smart Graphics 2009: 275-278.Taylor, R., Schofield, G., Shearer, J., Boulanger, P., Wallace, J., Olivier, P. humanaquarium: A Participatory Performance System. In Proceedings of the 2010 Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME 2010), Sydney, Australia, pp. 440-443.

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