I attended two conferences at the end of Nov/beginning of Dec. The Interactive Entertainment conference 05 had some great papers and some very good keynote speakers. I presented a paper that was co-written with Lizzie and Shigeki. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Tracy Fullerton’s game design class at USC that focuses on paper prototyping. If you haven’t already seen it, the cloud game that some of her students ended up developing out of this process is worth a look (PC only).

Another keynote speaker, Mark Meadows, had an interesting definition of interactivity:
“A system that becomes more complex due to exploration, discovery, enjoyment and reciprocal change.” I like the way it focusses on evolving complexity and not so much on the nature of those who are interacting.

The two day e-performance conference organised by Yuji Sone at UNSW was also very good. Unfortunately I could only attend the first day. Philip Auslander gave an interesting paper around the question of whether machines can perform. In it he dicussed three art works; Sergei Shutov’s Abacus 2001, Max Dean and Raffaello D’ Andrea’s The Table: Childhood 1984-2001, and Nedko Solakov’s A Life (Black and White) 2001. Auslander ended up making a distinction between technical skills and interpretive skills and argued that all three works (some with human performers and some with machine) were mere technical performances. He felt that interpretive performances were something that only humans could give (with current state of technology). On the other end of his scale though were what he termed hypertechnical performances. These were something that only machines could give (e.g. search all of the internet and return a result in seconds). There was much audience dicussion about his definition of interpretation.

Yuji Sone gave a paper in which he discussed the japanese concept Kata and applied it to technology and performance. He said that in the concept Kata there is no split between the form of something and its content. As an example he talked about the way that a calligrapher’s movement of the brush as they draw a character is expressive of their whole life.

The day finished with a talk by Stelarc and I’m afraid I can’t make much sense of my notes from that (it must have been too entertaining) apart from this quote from Nietszche

“the doer” is merely a fiction added to the deed - the deed is everything

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