Today our course made a visit to the London Science Museum, specifically to observe the latest interactive media installations there.
On one level of the museum was an area named “Who Am I?” which explored individuality and the sense of self through several interactive “tests” and visual installations that gave a personalized response, making each user’s experience truly unique.
This gallery takes the personalization of interactive media to a whole new level, making interactive pieces with a focus entirely on the user. The gallery uses cameras in a variety of ways – from drawing the silhouette of the user as they walk in to the entrance (shown at the start of the video) to taking an image of the user’s eye on one particular screen. Following this, the user can answer a series of questions about their individuality, and having completed this will be anonymously “showcased” on the far side of the exhibit, a silhouette generated of circles and showing the answers that the user input.
Exploring this gallery in the museum drew my attention to the way user interactivity is related with the sense of identity. Media pieces which rely on user input to be complete and functional make the user a part of the experience, splitting their attention – just as the user focuses on the media narrative and experience, there is also a degree of attention paid to the self and the role that the user plays in everything. “Who Am I?” made this far more apparent than other interactive media, as it is literally an exhibit about the self drawing your attention inward from the get go. This could strengthen one’s sense of identity as they have an active role to play in a piece of media, or draw it in to question as the user considers their self from a third person perspective, asking questions and making decisions they never normally would have to.
With the proliferation of digital technology in recent years, there are now many ways users can interact and input data. The traditional mouse and keyboard forms of input are still prevalent, but are now alongside touchscreens, motion tracking, audio input, and more. Something to consider when iterating and moving my project forward will be how exactly the user should interact with the work to get a response. This post will show and discuss some examples of innovative forms of interaction I have discovered through research.
http://donottouch.org/ is a crowd-sourced music video, providing the user with a set of instructions to follow in conjunction with previous recordings of other users’ cursors on the screen. Through the simple and traditional form of mouse input, a continually generative music video has been created as users make a permanent mark on it – adding their own recording of their input each time. Some instructions additionally apply to a sense of a group, such as “make a mask” over someone’s face – the user has to respond to what previous users did too, creating a unique experience for each user.
The below video is of an innovative digital art installation, a wall of LED’s which reacts to water. This form of interacting with technology blurs the line between the digital and the physical, as the response on the screen is much like throwing paint or other liquid over a wall, but it is still a digitized response to an otherwise non-technological user input that they perform physically.
These are just two examples of imaginative ways digital designers have experimented with user control and input in recent years. The next step for my project will be to consider how I want the audience to interact with and control my piece of data visualization.