[ISEA2011] Paper: Geoffrey Shea, Michael Longford & Elaine Biddiss – Art and Play in Interactive Projections: Three Perspectives


This paper will examine how three recently developed, art-related, video projection projects approached the issues of user control, viewer participation, collaboration and artistic expression differently, while emerging from a common starting point within academic research. The three projects all involved the authors, but they each demonstrate different modes of collaborative, team-based conception and development:

Tentacles is a large public projection with game-like user controls accessible through an iPhone. Tentacles was a collaboration between faculty, staff and students in three academic media art, design and entertainment labs.

Trio, an interactive video art installation displays three folk musicians playing a song together. Viewers dialling in on mobile phones can swap in different musicians to create different arrangements of the song. Trio was largely a solo production, but used tools and techniques developed in a university media lab.

The Art of Waiting is a collaboration between researchers at a kids rehabilitation hospital with undergraduate design students to create engaging, calming and social user experiences for children waiting for clinical appointments. The interface includes a video projection wall in the waiting room and 100 in-floor sensors making it accessible to users with all levels of physical ability.

These three productions share many common elements. They all present video projections to a non-specialist audience with software controlled interactivity. Each is meant to be discovered, enabling individual viewers, players or passersby to participate in a multi-user, location-specific experience in a public space. Although they share some features with simulations, they all avoid standard gaming conventions. There are no levels, no overt objectives, no winners or losers.

At the same time, these three projects started with different assumptions about the user, different communication goals and different production and collaboration strategies. Additionally, the core requirements of each project were linked to the contexts they emerged from: experience design, healthcare delivery and art practice.

In this examination the interdisciplinarity of these three, linked projects will be highlighted through their commonalities and differences, their relationships to the envelopes of art, design, engineering and healthcare, and their adoption of  co-creation, play and social collaboration as elements within their participatory frameworks.

  • Prof. Geoffrey Shea, OCAD University, Canada geoffreyshea.com
  • Prof. Michael Longford is the Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University, Canada. He is a Co-Director of the Mobile Media Lab (MML), which is made up of an interdisciplinary research team exploring wireless communications, rich media content development for mobile technologies, and locative media practices. He was a founding member of Hexagram: Institute for Research and Creation in Media Arts and Technologies in Montreal, and served for three years as the Director for the Advanced Digital Imaging and 3D Rapid Prototyping Group. He is a co-editor of the recent publication, The Wireless Spectrum: The Politics, Practices and Poetics of Mobile Media (2010), and a co-editor for the Visual Communication Journal published by Sage. His most recent project, Tentacles, co-developed with the Ontario College of Art and Design and the Canadian Film Centre uses the iPhone/iPod touch to create a multi-user ambient gaming experience projected into public spaces.
  • Elaine Biddiss  [ISEA2011 provided no biographical information]

Full text (PDF) p. 2226-2231  [title slightly different]