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The (St)Age of Participation: Audience involvement in interactive performances


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In today's age of participation, co-creation, user-generated content and social networking have become part of a mass-appeal digital lifestyle. This contribution discusses potential implications for contemporary and future media art in the context of the stage. It reflects on why and how interactive performances could give consideration to this zeitgeist of empowered spectatorship and, moreover, proposes principles for participatory stage pieces that incorporate practice-based experience as well as findings from (social) flow theory, a psychological framework for optimal creative experience that we found to be valuable for fostering audience engagement in interactive dramaturgies.
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The (St)Age of Participation:
Audience Involvement in Interactive Performances
Christopher Lindinger1, Martina Mara1, Klaus Obermaier2,
Roland Aigner1, Roland Haring1, Veronika Pauser1
1Ars Electronica Futurelab, Ars-Electronica-Straße 1, 4040 Linz, Austria,
2 Media artist, director and composer, Kirchstetterngasse 45, 1160 Vienna, Austria,
Accepted for publication in Digital Creativity
Corresponding author:
Christopher Lindinger, Ars Electronica Futurelab,
In today’s Age of Participation, co-creation, user-generated content and social networking have
become part of a mass-appeal digital lifestyle. This paper discusses potential implications for
contemporary and future media art in the context of the stage. It reflects on why and how interactive
performances could give consideration to this Zeitgeist of empowered spectatorship and, moreover,
proposes principles for participatory stage pieces that incorporate practice-based experience as well as
findings from (Social) Flow theory, a psychological framework for optimal creative experience that
we found to be valuable for fostering audience engagement in interactive dramaturgies.
Key words: media art, interactive performance, audience participation, social flow
“Today, the mass audience (the successor to the ‘public’) can be used as a creative, participating
force. It is, instead, merely given packages of passive entertainment.” (McLuhan, 1967, 22)
The history of the theater reveals that dramatists down through the ages have taken advantage of
the technical innovations of their respective times to transform artistic performances into emotional
happenings that impart unforgettable sensations to audience members. Most recently in our own
Digital Age, the technologies that have repeatedly made the greatest impact are those that have paved
the way to a mass-appeal lifestyle of co-creation, user-generated content and social networking. In our
present Age of Participation, as the Economist called it once (Kluth 2006), the passive recipient is free
to morph into an active contributor, at least if he or she is lucky enough to live in a country without
political or economic restrictions on access to the World Wide Web. Game researcher Jane McGonigal
(2008, 2011) even speaks of an engagement economy in which it is becoming less relevant to compete
just for an audience’s attention, but more and more important to harness their participation bandwidth
and their individual contributions to a larger whole. She argues that, for users, the emotional payoffs
of active participation are rooted in the natural human desire to join communities and contribute to
something meaningful, something much larger than ourselves: the rescue of a whole virtual
civilization in a video game, for example, or a piece of art.
How can the contemporary practice of stage-based media art, defined as multimedia plays that
embed real-time interaction between professional performers and digital technology in a dramaturgical
concept, give consideration to this Zeitgeist of content contributors and empowered spectatorship?
And for what reasons should it be worthwhile to allow for the capacities of former viewers and
listeners as a “creative, participative force”? As a starting point for discussion, we reflect upon these
questions in this paper by building on theory reviews and initial practical experiences from (St)Age of
Participation, an art-based research project on audience involvement in interactive performances. We
propose design principles for participatory interactive performances that incorporate findings from
Flow theory, a psychological framework for optimal experience that we found to be very useful to
encourage audience engagement.
Performance in the Age of Participation
Audience participation in the performing arts goes back thousands of years to early tribal rituals
and dances. In the 20th century, the Italian futurists around Filippo Tommaso Marinetti were the first to
bring works to the stage that relied upon direct interaction with and reaction from the audience (e.g.
through a deliberate double booking of theater seats as part of a remarkably provocative dramaturgical
concept). It is said that the audience’s response—for example, throwing fruit at the stageonce
elicited the comment “Throw an idea instead of potatoes, idiots!” from futurist Carlo Carrà (Smith &
Dixon 2007, 559). In the 1930s, famous theater director Bertolt Brecht was already anticipating an
internet culture far off in the future when he wrote about the interactive potential of radio that could let
the listener speak as well as hear (Smith & Dixon 2007, 560). Several decades later, contemporary
theorists of interactive art speak of floating works of art in which parts of the authorship transfer from
the artist to the user, who at the same time “becomes conscious that he is an accomplice in a
fundamental sense” even if “he is only one of many controllers” in a “web of influences that are
continually reorganized by all participants” (Dinkla 2002, 38-39). As part of their conceptual
framework of interactional trajectories, Benford and Giannachi look at interactive installations and
performance pieces as new complex systems of roles in which artists and professional performers are
increasingly encouraging the audience to perform in the work by taking on the role of an orchestrator
(2011). As for the key roles, the authors describe the participant as a member of the public who is the
main target of the artistic experience, and the spectator who witnesses the actions of participants,
either intentionally in the role of an audience member or unintentionally as a bystander. Moreover,
there are professional roles including actors who perform to members of the public, and operators or
orchestrators who manage technologies and shape the artistic experience from behind the scenes
(2009). Whereas in most traditional theater pieces, the actor on stage is perceived as a third-person
“he” or “she” by the audience, the performer can become a second-person “you” when audience
members are directly addressed and able to respond meaningfully (e.g. by means of technological
interfaces in interactive artworks) (Smith & Dixon 2007).
However, Smith and Dixon also point out that most performance pieces still differ from
interactive installations “in the ability of the user or audience to activate, affect, play with, input into,
build, or entirely change” (2007, 559) what transpires. By taking digital media art out of the stage
context, interactivity and user participation have indeed been core elements since its very inception.
Partly building on notions from computer games and extending the more politically motivated
tradition of participatory art of the 1960s, the intention of computer-based media art to engage
audience members in some form of interactive experience is often even necessary for the realization of
the work itself (Edmonds 2010). Since the 1990s, there have repeatedly been interactive media art
projects that have used the entire spectrum of audience activities to trigger medial reactionsfrom
registering a person’s mere physical presence to complex tracking techniques. Nevertheless, such
usages have taken place mostly within the frame of user installations in the context of exhibitions or,
less often, public events such as Loren Carpenter’s massively multiplayer Pong game during a 1991
Siggraph show; actOpera by Klaus Obermaier and Robert Spour in 2000, an outdoor visualized
concert in Linz, Austria, with 60,000 participants who could control various aspects of the music and
visuals, and Golan Levin’s Dialtones (A Telesymphony), a large-scale concert performance whose
sounds were wholly produced through the choreographed ringing of the audience’s own mobile
phones and that premiered at the Ars Electronica Festival in 2001 (Levin 2001).
It is much more difficult to cite instances in which participative actions on the part of the
audience have been embedded within elaborate dramaturgical concepts in a stage-based context that
also involve professional performers. Several works of Stelarc could be mentioned here, who, for
instance, allowed his body to be controlled by a remote audience in the course of his Ping Body
performance in 1996. Also, some early pieces of the artist group Blast Theory fall in the mentioned
category, e.g. Stampede, a promenade performance with pressure pads on the floor of the auditorium,
where members of the audience could trigger audio and video samples (Blast Theory 2007). Klaus
Obermaier and Robert Spour conducted a participatory concert with natural sounds produced by the
Kronos Quartet. In this 1993 performance, titled The Cloned Sound, laser beams were utilized as
interfaces for real-time sound control by the audience. In 2005, performance practitioners Steve
Dixon, Paul Sermon, Andrea Zapp, and Mathias Fuchs played a drama called Unheimlich that enabled
audience members on a green-box stage at Brown University, Rhode Island, to step into the virtual
narrative of two actors who were physically present at the University of Salford, Manchester, and take
part in improvisation to visually merge with the actors on a screen.
Clearly, aside from aiming at a comprehensive dramaturgy that achieves a high level of
narrative, aesthetic, emotional and intellectual quality throughout the entire performance, stage pieces
also usually place much greater emphasis on the temporal parameter than interactive exhibits or media
installations, most of which can be exited whenever the user chooses to do so. These aspects already
address major artistic challenges that may emerge when audience members turn into co-creative
performance partners. But given the experience of interactive media art, in which user-generated
contributions often make for exciting results, and the performance piece’s advantage of simultaneously
integrating a large number of persons present at the same time, experiments in audience participation
should be of interest in the context of technology-enhanced stage pieces from several viewpoints. First
of all, the previously mentioned spirit of our age confronts not least of all dramaturges and
choreographers, performers and directors with a new reality in the lives of their audiences. People are
motivated to get involved, to become an active part of a creative whole, give their input as fresh
stimulus to professional performers, control the digital environment or decide on dramaturgical
contentand they might even bring with them the instruments to do so by themselves. Never before
have so many visitors carried mobile devices with such processing power and multi-functional
application possibilities in their pockets. The fact that we don’t even have to explain the handling of
most tools as long as we use common or intuitively understandable interaction metaphors increases the
creative potential that today’s networked gadgets impart for integrating audience members as
additional performance partners.
Second, the perceived level of liveness of interactive performances, the impression that the
communicative interplay between human performers and digital environment, whether visual or
sound-based, is happening in real-time, definitely increases when the audience members are able to
comprehend the relation between trigger stimulus and effect by themselves (cf. Shneiderman &
Plaisant 2004).
Third, the involvement of audience members as co-creators within the artistic frame of a stage
performance can be one way to enable especially strong feelings of immersion, engagement and
enjoyment on the part of the audience itself. “Why participate in the first place? Why not just
appreciate what others have made?” asks Rudolf Frieling (2008), curator of media arts at the San
Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as a polemic starting point in an essay. One possible answer comes
from renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who, in the mid-1970s, first introduced the
concept of Flow, a fundamental theory about optimal human experience in the field of positive
psychology. Flow represents a highly absorbing state in which people feel complete and energized;
they focus on an activity or creative form of self-expression they perform. It’s also referred to as
“being in the zone” (see, for example, Csikszentmihalyi 2008; Chen 2007; Walker 2010).
Co-Creators in the Flow: Principles for Participatory Performances
Following Csikszentmihalyi, being totally immersed in an activity that offers the right balance
between its inherent challenge and the individual’s skills to meet this challenge generates more
pleasurable feelings than being a couch potato relaxing in front of the TV set. At first, this statement
may sound somewhat counter-intuitive, but research on the conditions of the Flow mental state
provides much evidence for this. Interviewees over the last 40 yearsamong them many artists,
musicians and athletesreport situations of complete engagement in a creative or insightful activity as
the happiest moments of their lives. Flow is an autotelic, intrinsically rewarding state in which people
are so deeply involved in the so-called here and now that they even tend to lose their sense of time,
external pressure and the awareness of the self. Early research on such optimal experience mainly
focused on it as a phenomenon that happens to individuals performing alone, not as part of a group.
However, more recent findings show that some of the most enjoyable Flow experiences occur
during social interactions. Social Flow states were reported to be especially common in team sports or
shared expressions of creativity such as music or dance (Walker 2010; Csikszentmihalyi & Rich
1997). Walker (2010) differentiates between three levels of social contexts that may inhibit, facilitate
or transform Flow experiences, and that also could be taken into account in the conceptualization
phase of a participatory performance piece:
- In situations of “mere presence”, individuals are engaged in an activity in the midst of others
who are passive. This would be the case, for instance, when professional or amateur dancers
perform in front of a non-contributing audience.
- In situations of “co-activity”, people perform side-by-side, but do not interact with each other,
e.g. when many active audience members who are standing or sitting next to each other
simultaneously communicate with an interactive digital system on stage.
- On the other hand, people cooperate and interact with other members of their present social
group in situations of “interdependent interactivity” and might even coordinate their activities
with each other in a team-like spirit. In highly interdependent situations, people may even serve
as agents of Flow for each other. In the case of a participatory performance piece, this could
happen when opportunities for interactive communication are available both among as well as
within the groups of professional performers, audience contributors and the digital system.
In contrast to interactive user installations (e.g. in museums), stage pieces belong to a group of
prototypical events such as concerts or sports happenings at which, by definition, a large number of
persons are simultaneously present in a creative, immersive and thrilling experience and therefore
provide a good frame for Social Flow states to occur. Csikszentmihalyi (2008, 76) states that art has
always been one of the profoundest sources of enjoyment and Flow. Certainly, an immersive
experience also can occur when we only view a painting or watch a dramatic performance (together).
Perception itself is an active process and we know that we can deeply engage with an artwork even if
we do not change it ourselves (Edmonds 2010). Marcel Duchamp (1957) even claimed that the
recipient’s act of reflection is the final step in the artist’s creative process.
Nevertheless, the pleasure that active audience members could derive from expressing
themselves creatively during an interactive performance and thus being part of a co-creative crowd
consisting of professional stage performers as well as contributing spectators could be particularly
conducive to Social Flow states (also see the “pleasure framework” by Costello 2007).
In the following section, we propose principles that may facilitate audience engagement and co-
creative enjoyment in the context of participatory interactive performances. To accomplish this, we
adapted the main characteristics of optimal Flow experience to the context of interactive dramaturgy
and also gave consideration to practice-based experiences derived from our art-based research project
(St)Age of Participation that is situated precisely at the nexus of media art, on-stage dramatic
expression and creative real-time audience participation:
- Free choice to participate: One important precondition for mental Flow states is an individual’s
free choice to engage in an activity (Walker 2010). Relating this aspect to participatory
performances, it is clear that pressure should never be put on anyone to contribute or co-create
during a performance piece. “Participatory art is an open invitation” (Frieling 2008, 13).
Socially embarrassing or confusing situations can arise if individuals are forced to participate.
Since this should never happen, it always has to be perfectly acceptable that some audience
members want to completely or partially remain non-participant observers. It’s well-known from
the online sphere that there is a substantial subset of people who prefer to be “lurkers”—
watching others perform and participatethan to become visible as active contributors
- Clear goals and control: If active audience members understand what is asked of them, what
they can do and how they can interact with the digital performance environment or communicate
with the professional performers, they feel secure and in control, which, in turn, makes
conveyance into their personal Flow zones more likely. At least in the “here and now” that
people experience, the rules should be clear. This calls for adequate preliminary information
(also see Bilda, Edmonds & Candy, 2008), as well as appropriate interfaces and interaction
metaphors that are intuitively and quickly understandable.
- Immediate and direct feedback: The inability to grasp the connection between technical cause
and audiovisual effect during a co-creative act automatically diminishes the audience’s level of
excitement, involvement and Flow. Direct feedback should enable a good understanding of
cause-and-effect relationships on the interactive stage; success has to be perceived immediately.
If an upstretched arm triggers a higher tone in the sound environment than an arm that is
stretched downward, this logic should be maintained throughout the performance and not be
reversed suddenly (also see Shneiderman & Plaisant 2004).
- Balance of challenge and skills: If you don’t come out of a performance challenged, potentially
changed, with a feeling that you were taken further, you have been cheated in the opinion of
Geoff Moore (1993), who founded the experimental British dance group Moving Being in 1968.
In order to foster an individual’s optimal Flow experience, the inherent challenge of an activity
and the participant’s ability to address and overcome it (Chen 2007) should be in harmony.
When such balance between challenge and capabilities is not attained, non-Flow emotions such
as anxiety (challenge higher than skills) and boredom (skills higher than challenge) might be
experienced by audience members (Walker 2010). Here, we face one major difficulty in
designing social participatory experiences: audience members usually have diverse skills and
varying levels of experience with interactive technologies. To address this issue, we either have
to provide some dynamic interaction pattern that allows for adaption to different users’ Flow
zones or at least try to provide variable types of participatory interaction that address different
levels of ability.
- Phases for pause and learning: Switching back and forth between more active and more passive
phases in a participatory performance piece can be an effective means to create some “mental
space” for internalization and learning on the part of audience members (Bilda, Edmonds &
Candy 2008). This also might support a dynamic interactive dramaturgy: sometimes the
professional performers take center stage, sometimes the focus is on the digital technology,
sometimes on audience-generated contentand sometimes it all gets mixed up into one creative
- Creative expression within a defined artistic frame: Providing opportunities for audience
members to co-configure the performance environment or opening up space for creative self-
expression through interactive tools already constitutes a good basis for transporting people into
a state of Flow. For every creative activity, we get to make meaningful decisions, we feel proud
of something we have made and more capable than when we started (McGonigal 2011). But
certainly, audience participation in the course of an interactive performance piece can never
occur completely independently from a defined dramaturgical frame. As Benford and Giannachi
point out, “the very nature of interaction means that participant trajectories may diverge from
pre-planned canonical trajectories as participants make individual choices” (2012, 42). This calls
for processes of orchestration and a dynamic artistic concept within the boundaries of which
audience members can contribute and get the feeling of involvement and creativity.
Csikszentmihalyi (2008, 72) states that experiences “as distinct as possible from the so-called
‘paramount reality’ of everyday existence” are especially likely to generate Flow states;
accordingly, it is incumbent upon artists and developers who conceptualize participatory media
art plays to create shared realities that are aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually
outstanding and go beyond the borders of ordinary experience.
Letterbox: A Micro-Performance on the Stage of Participation
Your personal highlight of Letterbox?
- “That you have a shared virtual space in which you can leave behind messages.”
(Audience member Martin)
- “That the dancers further process the input from the audience. Actually, I’ve never
experienced this kind of thing before.” (Audience member Thomas)
- “That you can design what happens with the stage set yourself.”
(Audience member Melanie)
- “That, at the end, you can try it out yourself with the letters. That was a lot of fun.”
(Audience member Sonja)
As a three-year artistic research project, (St)Age of Participation aims to develop and evaluate
several participatory, short “micro-performances” involving real audiences in an experimental
interactive space in the presence of professional performers, a director, a dramaturgical concept and a
stage. Therefore, the conceptualization of our first micro-performance entitled Letterbox was based on
the following elements: the aesthetic and dramaturgical vision of the artistic director; the integration of
new interactive technologies, and the effective usage of devices that audience members brought with
them; and the previously mentioned principles of Flow through which we tried to intensify the degree
of engagement and social experience.
Fig. 1: In Letterbox, audience members co-create the visual performance environment by sending text messages
that appear in real-time on the 16x9 meters large screen and then get transformed by an anagram algorithm (part
1). Afterwards, two professional dancers interact through a Kinect body-tracking system with the audience-
generated character clouds (part 2).
In summer 2012, three audience evaluations of the experimental dance performance Letterbox
were conducted as first actual test runs of the (St)Age of Participation project (see for a video summary of Letterbox). The teamconsisting of director
and composer Klaus Obermaier, software and HCI designers, as well as a media psychologist from the
Ars Electronica Futurelabfirst created the participatory and interactive dramaturgy concept that then
served as the starting point for the development of suitable technological interfaces for two
professional dancers and about 50 audience members. The dramaturgical implementation of social
networking components and the design of an on-stage narrative that equally incorporated professional
dance and sound, interactive technology, and audience-generated content that, moreover, did not
quickly exhaust itself in terms of aesthetic or intellectual quality were crucial issues. Letterbox took
place in Ars Electronica’s Deep Space, a room with 16×9-meter images displayed on wall and floor
via eight 1080p HD and active stereo-capable Barco Galaxy NH12 projectors. The piece enabled
audience participation, first by means of a specially developed Smartphone app that allowed for real-
time control of the visual and sound environment and, second, by allowing audience members to
assume the dancers’ roles and interact with the audience-generated text environment through a Kinect-
based tracking system.
Fig. 2: In Letterbox, part 3, the audience controls the sound environment by using a character keyboard
app that automatically was activated on their smartphones. After a dance finale in part 4, the interactive stage
environment is opened for audience members to step into the role of the dancers and try themselves.
The dynamic Letterbox dramaturgy consisted of the following phases (also see Figure 3): In Part
1, which focused on pure audience participation, the visitors could spontaneously send text messages
with a length of up to 40 characters in real-time to the 16x9-meter screen environment. After reading a
preliminary instruction sheet and registering for the automatic activation of the Letterbox app on their
phones, most audience members had a clear understanding of what they could do at this moment
(clear goals and control). By the time they watched other visitors starting to create their personal text
environment at the very latest, they comprehended the goals. Immediately after sending, the original
text messages of audience members were displayed for a duration of 5 seconds on the screen
(immediate and direct feedback) and then transformed by an anagram algorithm. It was interesting to
observe that after only a short time, audience members started to use this interactive environment as a
personal communication channel, addressing and responding to other attendees (creative expression
within a defined artistic frame) and thereby generating a social situation with “interdependent
interactivity” (Walker 2010). In Part 2 of the performance piece, two professional dance performers
appeared on stage, and were then full-body tracked by two Kinect cameras, which transformed the
audience-generated text environment via their movements. This non-participatory phase enabled the
audience members to pause and learn about the interaction functionality of the Kinect-based system.
In Part 3, the two professional dancers were still on stage, but the audience members again had the
chance to interact through the Letterbox smartphone app, this time by controlling and co-creating the
sound environment through an easily understandable “character keyboard.” In this part, the dancers
even demonstrated the operation of the app live on stage by using their personal smartphones. The
audience members immediately understood that it was their turn again (clear goals and control). By
clicking a letter on the screen-based “character keyboard”, corresponding sounds and visuals were
triggered in real-time (immediate and direct feedback). A non-participatory dance finale followed in
Part 4. Then, in Part 5, audience members got the opportunity to personally try out the body-tracking
system whose mode of operation had already been established by the professional performers. Based
on their personal levels of technical understanding, dance skills or motivation, audience members
could use the system’s capabilities to greater or lesser capacity (balance of challenge and skills).
Throughout the whole piece and especially during the closing part that enabled audience members to
slip into the role of the dancers, decisions to participate always took place as free choices.
Fig. 3: The dramaturgical curve of participation for the micro-performance Letterbox shows which of the
participation principles we introduced was applied when in the timeline of the piece.
Conclusion and outlook
In this paper, we introduced the concept of optimal experience, often referred to as Flow, to the
digital performance community. We focused on its potential implications for participatory media art in
the context of stage performances. Several test runs of our experimental micro-performance Letterbox
suggest that an incorporation of the proposed principles in the conceptualization phase of participatory
performances is of value for creative audience engagement and the promotion of social Flow.
Building on this, the next steps of the (St)Age of Participation art-based research project will
include the development and evaluation of more micro-performance experiments, thereby further
deepening the Flow-based approach to audience involvement in interactive performances.
Many thanks to Malwina Stepien and Olga Swietlicka, the Letterbox dancers, to our colleagues
at Ars Electronica Linz who helped to produce the three Letterbox performances in Deep Space, and to
the highly engaged test audience. This research was supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF):
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...  In contrast, Rossitto et al. [80] see trajectories as being antithetical to their recommendation of "loose coupling between narrative and places".  Lindinger et al. [70] integrate the balance between canonical and participant trajectories and orchestration into their principles for participatory performances.  Lundgren et al. [72] see trajectories as an inspiration for their "mobile collocated interaction framework", and import concepts such as synchronization and pacing. ...
... (iv) Enabling dramaturgies -writing as HCI researchers, evaluating the outcome of trajectories in terms of new "dramaturgies" may be beyond our competence, but we have identified a number of papers that engage with trajectories to describe performances within performance studies and digital arts publications and relate them to theories from theatre and drama. Two of these clearly state their purpose as being to inform dramaturgy [60,70]. ...
Conference Paper
We present a case study of how Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) theory is reused within the field. We analyze the HCI literature in order to reveal the impact of one particular theory, the trajectories framework that has been cited as an example of both contemporary HCI theory and a strong concept that sits between theory and design practice. Our analysis of 60 papers that seriously engaged with trajectories reveals the purposes that the framework served and which parts of it they used. We compare our findings to the originally stated goals of trajectories and to subsequent claims of its status as both theory and strong concept. The results shed new light on what we mean by theory in HCI, including its relationship to practice and to other disciplines.
... Digital technology has brought about an important contribution to the implementation of audience engagement, first for its interactive nature (digital object have become something to interact with), and for its capacity to record data about this interaction. Based on these premises, it is not unlikely that more and more works have appeared where the design of the environment and the format are specifically targeted to audience engagement in live performance [11,22,25,48,50]. In live performance, the available technology extends the traditional stage with devices ranging from simple displays to virtual reality, and introduces sensors to collect feedback from the audience. ...
... An enterprise that has also been fostered by the desire of cultural institutions to embrace a participatory approach in the relation with the audience. Examples range from experiments in audience engagement developed through devices which measure the emotional response of the participants [48,50], to interactive performances which use mobile apps and sensors to communicate with the audience [11,25,40] and performances distributed remotely thanks to virtual reality [22]. These projects mix the traditional paradigms of theatre, videogames and installation art to study and create forms of interaction that engage the audience in novel ways. ...
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In the last decade, a number of projects have investigated the use of digital technologies to increase the engagement of the audience in live interactive performance. In this paper, we explore the relation between interactive performance and emotional participation of the audience through an experiment in the wild where perftormance is mediated by a computational system, DoPPioGioco. DoPPioGioco detects the emotional response of the audience, conveyed through face expression, allowing the performer to encourage or oppose it as the performance progresses. Based on the data collected during the experiment, we discuss the limitations and strengths of this approach for audience engagement, in the attempt to identify the factors which must be accounted for when affective technologies are employed to mediate between audience and performer in live interaction.
... Trajectories have been typically applied to experiences which have some form of associated narrative, whether as a dramaturgical tool e.g. in [27,49] or representing a journey or journeys though an experience, e.g. in [24,59]. While not all soma-designed experiences follow this kind of structure, the concept can reasonably be applied to anything that has a temporal aspect to it -our soma is never a snapshot, it is an ever changing continuous set of interconnected sensations, emotions, refections and infuences. ...
... As with all principles in creative practice, these can be fruitful both when they are followed and when they are deliberately broken. The Justice Syndicate differs significantly from The Letter Room (the project discussed by Lindinger et al., 2013) in how it applies the principles of flow. The Letter Room featured an alternation between active performers and active audiences (ibid.), ...
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The Justice Syndicate is an interactive performance, featuring an audience who take on the role of jurors considering a difficult case. Participants receive evidence, witness testimonies and prompts to vote and discuss the case on iPads. With this practice-as-research project we explored what are the most effective means of inviting people to participate; how to widen their ‘horizon of participation’; how to heighten the intensity of interaction in order to increase the level of ‘agentive behaviour’ of the participants; and how to create a sense of Flow in participants. We found that an effective solution to the fear of experiencing or causing embarrassment is for the invitation to participate to come from a machine and for there to be no distinction between ‘audience’ and ‘participants’. This also proved an effective way of stimulating a high intensity of ‘agentive behaviour’ among audience members, although it did not automatically lead to a greater feeling of agency. Applying an adapted version of Lindinger and colleagues’ [(2013). “The (St)Age of Participation: Audience Involvement in Interactive Performances.” Digital Creativity 24 (2): 119–129. doi:10.1080/14626268.2013.808966] codification of how to stimulate a state of Flow in audience members also proved effective in creating a highly immersive experience.
... 2015; Durrant et al., 2011a;Flintham et al., 2011;Fosh et al., 2013;Fosh et al., 2016;Marshall et al., 2010;Marshall et al., 2016;Rennick-Egglestone et al., 2016a;Velt et al., 2015Velt et al., . 2013Byrne et al., 2016;Calori et al., 2013;Cerratto-Pargman et al., 2014;Coughlan et al., 2010;Dalsgaard et al., 2011;Freeth et al., 2014;Friederichs-Büttner et al., 2012;Ghellal et al., 2014;Hansen et al., 2013;Höök and Löwgren, 2012;Hornecker, 2016;Huang and Stolterman, 2011;Kan et al., 2013;Leitner et al., 2010;Lindinger et al., 2013;Lundgren, 2013;Lundgren et al., 2015;Massimi et al., 2011;Maxwell et al., 2015;Mosleh et al., 2015;Nisi et al., 2016;Nissen et al., 2014;O'Keefe and Benyon, 2015;Rennick-Egglestone et al., 2016b;Rossitto et al., 2016;Stals et al., 2014;Sundström et al., 2014;Taylor et al., 2015;Underwood et al., 2011;van der Linden et al., 2011;van der Linden et al., 2013;Wouters et al., 2016;Yule et al., 2015;Zangouei et al., 2010. ...
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One major challenge for the academic Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research community is the adoption of its findings and theoretical output by the interaction design practitioners whose work they are meant to support. To address this “research-practice gap”, this thesis takes the example of trajectories, a HCI conceptual framework derived from studies of mixed-reality performances spanning complex spaces, timeframes, participant roles, and interface ecologies. Trajectories’ authors have called for their work to be used to inform the design of a broader variety of experiences. This thesis explores what is required to fulfil this ambition, with a specific focus on using the framework to improve the experience of live events, and on professional design practitioners as the users of the framework. This exploration follows multiple approaches, led both by researchers and practitioners. This thesis starts by reviewing past uses of the trajectories framework – including for design purposes – and by discussing work that has previously tried to bridge the research-practice gap. In a first series of studies, the thesis identifies live events – such as music festivals and running races – as a rich setting where trajectories may be used both to study existing experiences and to design new ones. This leads to a series of design guidelines grounded both in knowledge about the setting and in trajectories. The thesis then discusses multiple approaches through which HCI researchers and practitioners at a large media company have joined forces to try to use trajectories in industrial design and production processes. Finally, the last strand of work returns to live events, with a two-year long Research through Design study in which trajectories have been used to improve the experience of a local music festival and to develop a mobile app to support it. This last study provides first-hand insight into the integration of theoretical concerns into design. This thesis provides three major classes of contributions. First, extensions to the original trajectories framework, which include refined definitions for the set of concepts that the framework comprises, as well as considerations for open-ended experiences where control is shared between stakeholders and participants. Secondly, a model describing the use of trajectories throughout design and production processes offers a blueprint for practitioners willing to use the framework. Finally, a discussion on the different ways trajectories have been translated into practice leads to proposing a model for locating translations of HCI knowledge with regards to the gap between academic research and design practice, and the gap between theoretical knowledge and design artefacts.
... The first surveys conducted on crowdfunding in terms of cultural projects show that its development is not unrelated to physical and social spaces: participatory finance is experiencing a greater boom in spaces where forms of cooperation between cultural and social actors were already dense (Bonet & Sastre, 2016). From an aesthetic point of view, the new tools can be put at the service of creation, as illustrated by the case of interactive performances via digital tools (Lindinger et al., 2013). Admittedly, interactive art, as such, does not need digital technologies for its implementation. ...
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This book gives an important place to the controversies surrounding the question of participation in the cultural and artistic fields. This debate gathers researchers who have developed through their work an original and documented point of view on the issue. Then, it brings together those who have been active in the Conference “The Proactive Role of Live Performance Audiences” (Barcelona, November 2016). The publication proposes a dynamic state of the considerations that accompany the Be SpectACTive! project (funded by the EU program Creative Europe). The book is structured in two parts. The first contains an introductory theoretical chapter by the two editors (Lluís Bonet and Emmanuel Négrier) followed by the contributions of researchers who develop their vision of what participation means in culture, each one in his/her field and disciplinary environment. Jean-Louis Fabiani analyzes participation in its historical context and shows the possible resulting sociological and political ambivalence. Franco Bianchini and Alice Borchi highlight the forms that participation policies in contemporary cities can take. Dafne Muntanyola-Saura focuses on ethics and aesthetics of participation in the field of visual arts. These three different contributions enrich our vision and open up a critical perspective. The second part of the book extends this perspective to seven main goals of participation in the cultural sector. Each theme was proposed to be discussed during specific workshops at the Barcelona conference on the proactive role of live performance audiences. We commissioned to the conductors of each session to write their own reflections on the issue. At the same time, the synthesis of the debates was made by a second group of experts. These are the titles of the seven workshop sessions and the names of the authors in order of appearance: "Artistic quality and audience empowerment" by Jaroslava Tomanová and Giada Calvano; "Risks and opportunities of active spectatorship from a management perspective" by Giuliana Ciancio and Ricardo Álvarez; "The interactive role of participatory creative residencies" by Félix Dupin-Meynard, Bruno Maccari and Rafael Valenzuela; "The challenges of artistic programming with active spectators" by Luca Ricci, Ricardo Álvarez and Janina Juárez Pinzón; "Prosumer Experiences in Performing Arts" by Luisella Carnelli, Jaume Colomer, Giada Calvano and Janina Juárez Pinzón; "The organizational challenge of audience development and engagement" by Alessandro Bollo, Bruno Maccari and Kinga Szemessy and, finally, "Real democratization: involving audiences with different cultural capital" by Arturo Rodríguez Morató and Rafael Valenzuela. In conclusion, Ben Walmsley, one of the very first thinkers about participation in the cultural sector, will provide his original contribution to this debate.
... On the other hand, new technologies contribute to the aesthetics of cultural projects. This is the case of interactive performances via digital tools (Lindinger, Mara, Obermaier, Aigner, Haring & Pauser, 2013). Admittedly, interactive art precedes the development of the digitization of society (Popper, 2005). ...
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There is a participative turn in Cultural policy. Nevertheless, far from being coherent and generalized, it has first to deal with one of the peculiarities of Cultural Policies: the coexistence of several paradigms that induce distinct versions of participations. Secondly, it faces three major changes that affect the relationship between culture and society. Technological, societal and political trends explain the growing protagonist role of participation in today's western societies, with significant consequences in the reconfiguration of cultural behaviours and cultural institutions strategies. In order to enlighten the plural dimensions of participation and its results and consequences for cultural life we propose a model showing the distinct proactive roles of current citizens. This will then allow us to critically examine the arguments and organizational implications for the achievement of political goals, as well as its relationship with stakeholder's positions and people behaviours. This discussion will be inspired by some results of a European research-action project that aims to experiment active citizen participation in the field of performing arts.
... This work adds to these discussions, and considers how child audiences may use tangible and multisensory technologies to interact with live music performances. Although researchers have considered stages of audience interactions for music [2,17], to our knowledge no formal models of audience participation exist. ...
Live interactions have the potential to meaningfully engage audiences during musical performances, and modern technologies promise unique ways to facilitate these interactions. This work presents findings from three co-design sessions with children that investigated how audiences might want to interact with live music performances, including design considerations and opportunities. Findings from these sessions also formed a Spectrum of Audience Interactivity in live musical performances, outlining ways to encourage interactivity in music performances from the child perspective.
The use of wearable sensor technology opens up exciting avenues for both art and HCI research, providing new ways to explore the invisible link between audience and performer. To be effective, such work requires close collaboration between performers and researchers. In this paper, we report on the co-design process and research insights from our work integrating physiological sensing and live performance. We explore the connection between the audience’s physiological data and their experience during the performance, analyzing a multi-modal dataset collected from 98 audience members. We identify notable moments based on HRV and EDA, and show how the audience’s physiological responses can be linked to the choreography. The longitudinal changes in HRV features suggest a strong connection to the choreographer’s intended narrative arc, while EDA features appear to correspond with short-term audience responses to dramatic moments. We discuss the physiological phenomena and implications for designing feedback systems and interdisciplinary collaborations.
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Presents a framework of thirteen categories of pleasure that could be experienced dur- ing a playful experience. Suggests that this framework is a tool that could be used by interactive artists for conceptual development, for reflective practice and for participant evaluations.
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There is a fascinating and potentially deeply productive relationship between interaction design, theater, and performance. The net result is a complex, hybrid form of user experience in which participants employ diverse interfaces in multiple settings, but as part of a coherent overall whole. Online players were chased through a virtual model of a city by actors who, armed with handheld computers with GPS, had to run through actual streets in order to catch them, and who also streamed live audio so that online players could tune in to their experience. As the experience unfolded, the street players were invited to engage with props, locations, and actors in the city, for example, by entering Uncle Roy's physical office and getting into a waiting car. Beyond being landmark examples of an emerging form of artistic practice, these various mixed reality performances also provide vehicles for research.
This paper addresses the problem of understanding creative engagement with interactive systems. A model of engagement is proposed which represents modalities and phases of interactive experiences. The model was derived from empirical studies of audience interaction with art systems. The aim is to provide a means of facilitating communication between participants in the interaction design process. The intention is to help improve collaboration between participants through examining, understanding and agreeing on the set of concepts and modalities on interactive experience. The ongoing research involves refining and developing the model into a more general-purpose instrument.