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User-testing in the Wild

I have a new project underway in the Ohio State University Motion Lab focused on hybrid-digital experience. What a term, people! What a term. Let’s use a few more words to call it something less opaque:

I am making a piece of theater that enlists a whole host of software and an absence of performers. 

GOALS:

  • Interactive mediated space in the Motion Lab in which the audience creates performance.
  • Interactivity is both with media and with fellow participants.
  • Delight through attention, a sense of an invitation to play, platform that produces friendly play.
  • Documentation through film, recording of the live feed, saving of software patches.
  • Design requirements: can be scaleable for an audience of unexpected number, possibly entering at different times.

CONTENT:
Current ideas as of 10/25/15. Open to progressive discovery:

  • A responsive sound system affecting live projection.
  • Motion tracking and responsive projection as interactive
  • How do sound + live projection and motion tracking + live projection intersect?
  • Brainstorm of options: musical instruments in space; how do people affect each other; how can that be aggressive or friendly or something else; what can be unexpected for the director; could I find/use “FAO Schwartz” floor piano; do people like seeing other people or just themselves, how to take in data for sound that is not only decibel level but also pitch, timbre, rhythm; what might Susan Chess have to offer regarding sound, Alan Price, Matt Lewis.

RESOURCES

  • 6+ Videocameras projecting live feed
  • 3 projectors
  • CV top-down camera
  • Mutiple standing mics
  • Software: Isadora, possibly DMX, Max MSP

VALUES i.e. experiences I would like my users (“audience” / “interactors” / “participants”) to have:

  • uncertainty –> play –> discovery –> more discovery
  • with constant engagement

Drawing from Forlizzi and Battarbee, this work will proceed by including attention to intersecting levels of fluent, cognitive, and expressive experience. A theater audience will be accustomed to a come-in-and-sit-down-in-the-dark-and-watch-the-thing experience, and a subversion of that plan will require attention to how to harness their fluent habits, e.g. audiences sit in the chairs that are thisclose to the work booth but if the chairs are this                    far then those must be allotted for the performance which the audience doensn’t want to disrupt. Which begs: how does an entering audience proceed into a theater space with an absence of chairs. Where are mics(/playthings!) placed under what light and sound “direction” that tells them where to go/what to do. A few posts ago in examining Forlizzi and Battarbee I posed this question, and it applies again here:

What methods will empower the audience to form an active relationship with the present media and with fellow theater citizens?

LAB: DAY 1
As I worked in the Motion Lab Friday 10/23 I discovered an unplanned audience: my fellow classmates. Seemingly busy with their own patches and software challenges, once they looked over and determined that sound level was data I had told Isadora to read and spit into affecting a live zoom of myself via the facetime camera the mac, I found they were, over the course of an hour frequently “messing” with my data in order to affect my projection. (I had set the incoming data of decibel level to alter the “zoom” level on my live projection.) They were loud, soft, laughing aggressively seeing the lowest threshold at which they could still affect my zoom output.

SO, discovery that decibel level affects the live projection of a fellow user seems, through this unexpected prototype due to the presence of my co-working colleagues, to offer an opportunity to find that SOUND AFFECTING SOMEONE ELSE’S PROJECTION ENGAGES ATTENTION OF USERS ALSO ENGAGED IN OTHER TASKS. okay, good. Moving forward …

 

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