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    Engaging Audiences through a Participatory Design Approach with the Interactive Music Installation 'SoundField'

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2014)

    London, UK, 8 - 10 July 2014


    Alexander Deweppe, Nuno Diniz, Pieter Coussement and Marc Leman



    A rise in the availability of digital tools and interfaces that enable interactivity in a cultural context has kindled the interest from scientific research and creative industries alike. These technologies interface art in such a way that they create new collaborative and interactive possibilities for audience participation and artistic expression. A somewhat hesitant attitude of the cultural sector aside, the main adoption issue can be described as a dichotomy between the benefit of increased artistic opportunities, and the problems with readiness, eagerness and domestication from the part of the audiences.

    A set of exploratory studies was conducted to define the main problems that permeate the hesitant adoption process. A questionnaire and two interview studies (set up around actual interactive art installations within a museum context) elucidate the issues with technologically enhanced participation in receptive cultural activities. As a result of these preparatory studies, an HCI-based Living Lab methodology was advocated and applied to an open-ended interactive system to attempt overcoming some of the issues stated in the field studies. The adoption of an iterative, use case and scenario-based, user-centered design method is consequently presented in the description of the resulting ‘SoundField’-project.

    In the result section, the rendition of several use cases –created for six different artistic practices–is described. The merits of engaging the audience within the development process are discussed, as the participatory design strategy and the implementation of user-informed design decisions prove to be instrumental in defining viable application domains for interactive artistic technologies. Finally, aside from being an efficient probing methodology for artistic objectives, the participatory strategy helps bridging the gap between the developers' abilities and users' aspirations, establishing better acceptance of the technology among audiences.


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