[ISEA2011] Panel: Andy Best & Atau Tanaka (moderators) – Playing for keeps: social empowerment through physically interactive artworks

Panel Statement

Chair Per­sons: Andy Best & Atau Tanaka
Pre­sen­ters: Kristina Lind­strom, Åsa Ståhl & Merja Pu­usti­nen

This panel will pre­sent and dis­cuss meth­ods for cre­at­ing spon­ta­neous play­ful phys­i­cal and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. The focus is on deep user in­ter­ac­tion with art­works using phys­i­cal com­put­ing meth­ods with an em­pha­sis on the con­struc­tion of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion within the group of par­tic­i­pants. What are the con­tex­tual and prac­ti­cal de­sign re­lated thresh­olds for will­ing­ness to in­ter­act and how can par­tic­i­pants be stim­u­lated to en­gage with the art­work? Does fa­mil­iar­ity with art, toys, com­puter games or music help to lower thresh­olds to un­der­stand­ing the in­ter­ac­tion? How does age, gen­der or cul­tural back­ground af­fect will­ing­ness to par­tic­i­pate in a dy­namic tem­po­rary com­mu­nity of pres­ence? The cre­ation of deep user in­ter­ac­tion with and through the art­works maybe in­sti­gated via novel ap­proaches to in­ter­face or by fresh ways of pre­sent­ing the art work to the viewer/par­tic­i­pants within the con­text of the art in­sti­tu­tion or in Pub­lic space. As tech­nol­ogy be­comes ubiq­ui­tous in so­ci­ety, artists no longer have to ex­plic­itly pro­claim their use of com­pu­ta­tional tech­niques; rather the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­text of the art­work takes cen­tre stage. Strate­gies used in­clude in­ter­ac­tive in­stal­la­tions such as multi-touch screens, bouncy cas­tles, and phys­i­cal in­ter­faces, as well as in­ter­ac­tion through mo­bile net­works and lo­ca­tion based de­vices. For each of our pan­elists the pres­ence and in­ter- re­la­tion­ships of in­di­vid­ual hu­mans is the cen­tral mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor. Each will ad­dress these ques­tions from dif­fer­ent view­points, of­fer­ing ex­am­ples from their own work for dis­cus­sion.

  • Andy Best (MFA) is a media artist, sculp­tor and re­searcher, spe­cial­is­ing in play­ful and provoca­tive in­ter­ac­tions in phys­i­cal spaces such as gal­leries and mu­se­ums, in the pub­lic city space, as well as in the on­line vir­tual realm of cy­ber­space.  Andy is one half of the artist duo Andy and Merja, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with his wife and part­ner Merja Pu­usti­nen. Their work is pow­er­ful, provoca­tive and often tack­les so­cial and po­lit­i­cal themes in play­ful, phys­i­cal ways. Re­cent pro­jects have utilised “bouncy cas­tle” in­flat­able tech­niques to cre­ate large, phys­i­cally in­ter­ac­tive sculp­tures and in­stal­la­tions, which also com­bine sound, video, ro­bot­ics and the space it­self. In 2008 Andy and Merja were com­mis­sioned by folly dig­i­tal to cre­ate a new in­ter­ac­tive in­flat­able “Too Much of a Mouth­ful” for the Portable Pixel Play­ground, a UK Lot­tery funded pro­ject in the North West of Eng­land. Andy Best uses his in­ter­est in phys­i­cal com­put­ing and elec­tron­ics to seek col­lab­o­ra­tion in other di­verse spheres such as data vi­su­al­i­sa­tion, live per­for­mance, and phys­i­cal in­ter­ac­tion de­sign. Andy has worked as prin­ci­pal lec­turer in Dig­i­tal Arts at Turku Uni­ver­sity of Ap­plied Sci­ences since 2002. In 2010 Andy started re­search into the long last­ing so­ci­o­log­i­cal ef­fects of col­lab­o­ra­tive in­ter­ac­tion in media en­vi­ron­ments as a PhD stu­dent within the Cru­cible Stu­dio re­search group at Media Lab, Aalto Uni­ver­sity, with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on work­ing with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.
  • Atau Tanaka bridges the fields of media art, ex­per­i­men­tal music, and re­search. He worked at IRCAM, was Artis­tic Am­bas­sador for Apple France, and was re­searcher at Sony Com­puter Sci­ence Lab­o­ra­tory Paris, and was an Artis­tic Co-Di­rec­tor of STEIM in Am­s­ter­dam. Atau cre­ates sen­sor-based mu­si­cal in­stru­ments for per­for­mance, and is known for his work with biosig­nal in­ter­faces. He seeks to har­ness col­lec­tive mu­si­cal cre­ativ­ity in mo­bile en­vi­ron­ments, seek­ing out the con­tin­ued place of the artist in de­moc­ra­tized dig­i­tal forms. His work has been pre­sented at Ars Elec­tron­ica, SF­MOMA, Eye­beam, V2, ICC, and ZKM and has been men­tor at NESTA.