Engage 2006
26th - 28th November 2006, University of Technology, Sydney

Participatory Systems
Beryl Graham, Professor of New Media at Sunderland University

ABSTRACT: 'Interactivity' is a notoriously vaguely used term. Different kinds of reactivity, participation and collaboration are explored with reference to contemporary artworks including those by Harwood, Harrell Fletcher & Miranda July, Ritsuko Taho and Rafael Lozano Hemmer. Using a metaphor of 'conversation', different strategies of interaction are explored, and the tension between fine art venues and the question of "why would you want to interact in an art gallery?" is addressed. With reference to Robert Morris in 1971, and the CRUMB discussion list, some of the conceptual and physical barriers to interaction in art venues are discussed.
Despite occasional interest in 'relational' art from the world of fine art, and explorations in 'dialogical' forms from the world of socially engaged art, there is very little understanding between the fields. Studies of behaviours in museums, including those by Christian Heath, are illustrated as examples of the importance of 'human-human interface', but in practice there is little crossover between HCI and HHI. In London, the only new media art currently on permanent display in a museum is in the Science Museum, which highlights the divisions between what Lev Manovich has called "Turing-land" and Duchamp-land".

Can knowledge be shared between these lands? Can a common language be found for a conversation? What would Rirkrit Tiravanija say in a conversation with an HCI researcher?

References for Engage Lecture 2006

BIOGRAPHY: Beryl Graham is Professor of New Media Art at the School of Arts, Design, Media and Culture, University of Sunderland, and co-editor of the CRUMB web site resource for curators of new media art . She is a writer, curator and educator with many years of professional experience as a media arts organiser.

Her Ph.D. concerned audience relationships with interactive art in gallery settings, and she has written widely on the subject for books and periodicals including Leonardo, Convergence, and Switch. Her book Digital Media Art was published by Heinemann in 2003, and she is co-authoring with Sarah Cook a book on curating new media art for MIT (Cambridge, Mass.). She has chapters in the books New media art: Practice and context in the UK 1994-2004 (Arts Council of England), and The Photographic Image In Digital Culture (Routledge). Dr. Graham has presented papers at conferences including Navigating Intelligence (Banff), Museums and the Web (Seattle and Vancouver), and Caught in the Act (Tate Liverpool).


The economy of Interaction in public art galleries and museums
Mike Stubbs, Head of Exhibitions at the Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne

ABSTRACT: In 1968 I had an early museum experience, watching the 20th scale steam engine stir into life on pressing a button at the Science Museum in London. I pressed a button, something happened. Later as an art student I stood in an art gallery of abstract paintings by Rothko, both experiences burned strong images into my memory. As an artist and curator I have attempted to challenge and progress models and contexts of making and showing art, using strategies, tools and processes within a range of exhibition sites and settings. Sometimes made within practice defined as 'new media' and a period of utopian desires to convert consumers into producers, however has this lead to good art or exhibitions?
Increased provision of interactivity whether touch screen interfaces for didactic information or contextualising podcasts as part of the visitor experience in museums and galleries mirrors everyday experience of ubiquitous technological enhancement. These interactive and networked technologies sit across daily life, and a broad range of communities. Within a constant state of emergent technology and society, the distinctions between stand alone new media experiences, interactive museum design and art, are in need of constant re-assessment.

How do we then differentiate discrete media art from new media enhanced display, context and exhibition? With the distinctiveness gone, what are the new values? Has the art gone or become clearer to see, when the creation of technical systems and open source networks are no longer the avant-garde?

BIOGRAPHY: As Head of Exhibitions at ACMI Stubbs has curated and produced cutting edge and award winning exhibitions including Proof and White Noise, the blockbuster retrospective of Stanley Kubrick and 2006 Contemporary Commonwealth. During his career, he has commissioned over 250 artworks many of which are interactive, site specific and moving image based including works by Perry Hoberman, Granular Synthesis and Ryochi Ikeda. As founding Director of Hull Time Based Arts, he established the ROOT Festival, the European Media Art Residency Exchange and Timebase Media Centre.

Stubbs has worked as an advisor to the Royal Academy of Arts, The Science Musuem, London, Site Gallery, Sheffield and NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and Art), ACID (Australian Centre for Interactive Arts) and the Banff Centre, Canada. He has been Production Advisor to artists such as Roddy Buchannan, Luke Jerram and Louise K Wilson.

Trained at Cardiff Art College and the Royal College of Art, Stubbs' own internationally commissioned art-work encompasses broadcast, large scale public projections and new media installation. In 2002 he exhibited at the Tate Britain, 2004 at the Baltic, Newcastle, 2006 at the Experimental Arts Foundation, Adelaide. He has received more than a dozen major international awards including 1st prizes for Cultural Quarter, at the 2003 Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan, WRO Festival, Poland 2005, Golden Pheonix, Monte Negro Media Art Fest 2006. In 2003 he was awarded a Banff, Fleck Fellowship.


Physical or Virtual, it's all Real
Tim Boykett, founding member of Time's Up, Linz, Austria

Tim Boykett's attendance is sponsored by the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)

ABSTRACT: This presentation will investigate several of the projects and processes that have inspired Time's Up in the past while as they pull the threads of art, science, entertainment and technology together to make their worlds. Pulling ideas from Stanislawski the theatre director and Damasio the neuroscientist together to investigate the actions of so-called public individuals in constructed situations, Time's Up projects are very physical and attempt to use this physicality to avoid the "crisis of media art." The grinning faces of visitors leaving installations are evidence that this is being at least partially achieved.
One main thread is the idea of the Exploration Narrative to describe the actions of visitors to large-scale interactive situations. Bringing together the observation that people attempt to build experience into narratives and to find causality where it can be found, the visitors begin to act as "protoscientists" (Bob Fischer, anthropologist) investigating the constructed world. Multiple perspectives and world-internal possibilities to reflect upon the behavior of the space and its visitors encourage a discussion between visitors and the social level of interaction is raised. This discussion is less about the technical "how" of the installation as about the relational "why" and incorporates the unique experience of every visitor.

Time's Up's work lies in the development of physical real-time interactive situations. This talk will discuss some of the more theoretical questions that have arisen in the process of developing these pieces, as well as discussing some of the technical issues surrounding the development of real time reactive audio-visual environments.

This talk should be of interest to people interested in both the theory and practice of interactive design.

BIOGRAPHY: Tim Boykett was born and grew up in Australia and has been living in Austria since 1991. Operating between the areas of mathematics and media art, performance and interaction: the boundaries have been and remain fluid.

As a continuing founding member of Time's Up, Tim has been involved in conceptualising, planning, building and presenting extended interactive mediated physical environments for the past ten years. There have been three main phases of work: the Hyperfitness Studio series, the BodySPIN series and the ongoing Sensory Circus. Interwoven in these projects have been a series of smaller experiments, workshops, performances and other events, including a series of "Closing the Loop" workshops. Essential to this work is the ongoing theoretical development that rests upon a protoscientific world view (both for the creation of the work and for the experience of the participant) with an understanding of the axes of Control, Perception and Biomechanics. Parallel to this, Tim has been active as a researcher in algebra, combinatorics and computer science with several publications in international journals. His work in this area has included the analysis of computational models for physical processes and the generation of combinatorial designs.


Modes of Creative Engagement
Andrew Brown, Associate Professor, Program Manager - Digital Media Program (ACID, Australia)

ABSTRACT: There is good reason to think that making and interaction with a computer are both inherently engaging, given the amount of time people spend at these activities. However, it is also possible for computer software to be boring or frustrating so, as interaction designers and artists, we still need to pay attention to the modes of creative engagement that different systems foster. The modes of creative engagement proposed by Dr. Brown are different ways of relating with creative activities and his presentation will outline how these modes can inform the design of computer systems that support creativity.
BIOGRAPHY: Associate Professor Andrew R. Brown teaches music and sound at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), is the Digital Media Program Manager for the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID), and coordinator of the Computational Arts Research Group at QUT. Dr. Brown's expertise is in technologies that support creativity and learning, computational music and art, and the philosophy of technology. His current research focuses on the aesthetics of process and adaptive music for interactive entertainment. He is an active computer musician and a builder of software tools for dynamic content creation.

Probes and Commentators: Placing Interpretation at the Heart of Design
Bill Gaver, Professor of Design at the Goldsmiths College, University of London

Bill Gaver's attendance is sponsored by OZCHI 2006 - design: activities, artefacts and environments.

ABSTRACT:Designs for everyday life must be considered in terms of the many facets of experience they affect, including their aesthetics, emotional effects, genre, social niche, and cultural connotations. Methodological approaches that emphasise convergent, unitary interpretations are questionable in this context, whether they are aimed at understanding situations for design, creating experiences for users, or assessing the results of one's practice. In this talk, I describe several approaches we have developed that encourage more open-ended and multi-layered interpretations as resources for design research.
To understand contexts for our designs, for instance, we use Cultural Probes and Design Documentaries in order to reveal provocative, fragmentary and subjective accounts of people and places. In our designs, we offer open-ended resources, block obvious interpretations, and suggest exaggerated ones, all in order to undermine the designer's authority and promote the user's. For our field trials, we often use ethnographic observations and Cultural Commentators (people whose profession it is to inform and shape public opinion) as resources for multi-layered assessments of designs. Together, these approaches allow us to approach interaction design with respect for the multiple meanings that characterise everyday life.

BIOGRAPHY: Bill Gaver is Professor of Design at the Goldsmiths College, University of London. He gained his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego, in experimental psychology for work on everyday listening, which he applied in auditory interfaces for Apple Computer and Rank Xerox EuroPARC. Over time, he became increasingly interested in issues concerning mediated social behaviour, developing several experimental systems for supporting social activities over distances. To reflect his changing practice, he moved to the Computer Related Design department at the Royal College of Art, where he worked for about 10 years, most recently as Professor of Interaction Research, before joining Goldsmiths.

Over the last years, Gaver has been concerned with finding new cultural and emotional territories for digital devices. Projects have included Presence (sponsored by the EU) in which telecommunicating furniture showing older people's statements and images was deployed in a Dutch housing estate, and the Appliance Design Studio (sponsored by Hewlett Packard and Appliance Design Ltd.), which explored ludic information appliances for the home and knowledge workplace. Gaver is currently Principal Investigator of Equator (an EPSRC IRC with 7 academic partners), which explores merging the virtual and the real, initially in the home, and a project exploring well-being in the home sponsored by Intel Corporation.