Computational Arts Research & Theory Blog

Post 7 - Nov 22nd, 2018
Ready, Set, Group Project!

My Research and Theory group project is underway. I have met with my group - just myself and one other student - and we have decided on an overarching theme and area of research for the project. It was not easy to come to consensus and to write the proposal because aligning people and writing as a group is never straightforward, but I feel like we landed on a solid idea with a strong approach.

Our group will look at configurations of currently accepted human-machine interactions and through speculative design processes, will imagine alternative ways to engage with devices and smart technology. These proposals will encourage reflection on whether the current landscape is detrimentally effecting society and interpersonal relationships.

We will ask how does the way we use technology influence interpersonal interactions and how could technology be reconfigured to be more emotionally fulfilling and meaningful? Our team will approach this question from two directions:

The first approach will center on ideating and creating a prototype which complicates the standard on/off switch. Digital interactions usually offer responsive, uncomplicated, and non-transactional interaction but what if empathy and patience was required to use a device? Would this intervention create empathy beyond this experience?

The second approach will explore what a role reconfiguration might look like in a smart product. It will imagine a tech application that is an independent entity, has its servant attribute changed if not completely removed in the hope to improve interpersonal relationships amongst humans.

Both approaches will inform each other through open discourse and iterative evaluation.

I am doing the first approach - that of complicating a simple switch and of introducing transaction into an interaction. I have begun to explore some ideas through physical computing and was thinking about using a PIR motion sensor to move a device away from a person. The PIR sensor reacts to motion in a broad range even when adjusted to the lowest possible amount so I am researching other sensors. This is a test of the PIR.


I have a long way to go in about three weeks! My goal is to produce a rough working prototype - maybe made with cardboard. If I can't produce a working prototype, then I'll aim to submit sketches and descriptions of my ideas. These speculative devices might move away from a person or they might need to be held. Maybe they only perform within an exact temperature range. I have several ideas of how to introduce friction and I hope these devices will be both humorous and thought provoking - as well as a little frustrating!

We are calling our project Ideating the Other: Proposals of Alternative Technological Interactions and we are meeting this week to brainstorm our approaches and discuss our independent research.
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