Critical Media Lab Salon: bodies, art, and technology

I am very excited about the last Critical Media Lab Salon talk of the semester, featuring Dr. Daniel Vogel, of the University of Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science, and Lauren Burr, PhD candidate, Department of English. Daniel Vogel’s installation
Siftor was the most fun I’ve ever had at an art gallery. Read more below.–JLH

WHEN: Wednesday, April 15, 4:00-6:00pm
WHERE: Critical Media Lab, in the Department of English Digital Space at 44 Gaukel St., Kitchener (across from the bus station; look for the new signage)


Subtle Interaction and Art (Daniel Vogel)
Efficiency and usability are universally acknowledged as important design criteria for interaction, but expressivity and aesthetics are often an afterthought or omitted altogether. In this talk, I will describe Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research focusing on expressivity and aesthetics using subtle interactions: interactions that are “fine or delicate in meaning or intent.” Conté is a pen-like input device modeled after an artist’s crayon that leverages subtle changes in contact geometry to make touch input more expressive. Siftor is a wall-sized interactive installation that uses subtle body movements and visualizations to create an aesthetic experience for serendipitous discovery of art works. These projects also demonstrate how art can inspire HCI research and even become a platform for conducting research.

Augmenting the Soundscape: A Tool for Aural Adventures in Urban Environments (Lauren Burr, David Jensenius, and Mark Prier)
In this presentation, we will introduce and demonstrate an early iteration of a sound-based locative augmented reality engine and smartphone game. Equal parts experimental game and artwork, this project will allow gamemakers with no programming skills to overlay physical geography with sonic psychogeography. Games created for our platform will incorporate prerecorded sounds, sampling, ambient noise, and sound synthesis, all of which can be modified through filters or by other game elements—duration of play session, player history, proximity to other players—in addition to extended geolocative data such as weather conditions and time of day. Gameplay will take the form of an investigative, playful sound walk, and the procedurally generated soundscape will shift based on each player’s unique traversal of their physical space. Our talk will provide an overview of the collaborative process, a brief contextual theorization of the project, an introduction to the engine, and a preview of HATFinder, an espionage-themed game set in Los Angeles that that we will be presenting on site at the end of April.

Image: Siftor, by Daniel Vogel


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