Saturday, November 12, 2011

Novice to Intermediate Interaction

Yesterday, the group show "Shift" opened at the Elizabeth Patrick Dunlop Gallery. I had two pieces in the show, the first was a video piece in collaboration with photographer and colleague Phil Moody. The second piece was also a collaborative work with Shaun Cassidy and Seth Rouser that deals with communication, and information distortion over networks ( I will post video of the piece soon ). Viewers interact with the work by moving in front of it which triggers the movement of objects on the screen in a circular pattern. As the viewer gets closer the pattern movement speeds up and distorted sounds are triggered. What is interesting to me was the focus of the work became the viewers movement, even for themselves. As they became aware that it was them who was in control of the speed and sound they began to experiment with where they were in space. The focus shifted from the screen to, "what is the ideal location?" or for some "is it better if I move faster?". We have not fully become accustom to interaction where it demands attention and can override the visual experience in spaces that have an expectation of visual predominance. There is still novelty in interacting with technology even in very simple forms. I asked a few people who had spent some time in front of the work if they had seen something like it before? Many had responded that they had and gave various examples. I would categorize them as 'intermediate' users so their input was very valuable. As designers we tend to focus on the visual content which is important because 'expert' users will return to the visual communication over time. The interaction acuity diminishes as they become more familiar with the actions. However, the novice and the intermediate user must divide their attention between the content, the context and the interaction. A measure of time would be useful to determine how long it takes for users to transition from novice to intermediate and then from intermediate to expert. The gallery piece relates directly with the idea of communication technologies and how little we know about the information we upload on to it. We are too focused on what we are doing to notice the effect it has on us and on the rest of the web.