Displaying Interactive Piece at Redweb

I had the opportunity to display my interactive project on Redweb’s window. My project was displayed for the week and proved to be successful with users. Passing by were interacting the piece, trying to obstruct the various falling shapes. Due to it being down a busy road, my project was noticed by many users and also made it onto Redweb’s website (http://windowreflections.redweb.com/):

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 08.05.28

I went down to get some pictures and videos of users interacting with my project. However, due to the sunlight and the bright light from the projector the images and videos didn’t come out as expected. Therefore, here is a visual of what it looked like to users:


Here is a screen recording of when I initially put my project up and tested it with the guys at Redweb:

Random people walking past the window, stopped and asked about the project and some choose to further interact with it. The project worked better when users were wearing darker clothing as this meant they appeared as more silhouette-like figures. The shapes did unfortunately get obstructed by the parked cars on the roads. To overcome this, next time I will look more thoroughly into background subtraction. Overall, I am pleased with my interactive project and I am happy with the outcome and the responses it received when displayed at Redweb.

Testing in Public Space

Here are the some videos of users interacting with my piece in the public space:

I feel that these show that my piece was successful in the public space as all users were easily able to interact with the piece without difficulty and they understood that they could use their body to obstruct the surreal falling shapes. I think that users enjoyed interacting with my piece and found it quite fun. The fact that multiple users can interact at once was good as it meant those that were more shy to interact could join others rather the interacting singularly. Also, those that didn’t wish to participate themselves were still able to see the piece. At the time of displaying my piece, the public space was fairly busy meaning I was able to get a fair few people to interact and many who watched the tv screen to see what was going on.

Barthes (1964 p.148) believes that

‘the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author’.

I feel that this can apply to my piece, as the power is given purely to the users. They are able to interact in any way they want, and without direction from me (author/producer), the users (readers) were able to understand my piece and seemed to enjoy interacting with it. It is the users that then appear on the tv screen of which passers by can see, meaning that they actually become a part of my piece. As mentioned in a previous post, Gray (2010 p.166) also suggests that

‘a text only becomes a text, only gains social meaning and relevance, at the point that it comes alive with its audience.’

This highlights how in order for a text to be successful then it needs to have an audience. I feel that my target audience seemed to enjoy interacting with my piece and users had fun obstructing the falling shapes in various ways. Some viewed the piece on the portable tv screen and asked questions, showing that they were interested and intrigued with the piece but maybe were too embarrassed to interact in front of others.

Overall, I am pleased with the end result and feel that my piece worked well within the public space. Next, I will go on to briefly evaluate my piece in relation to the brief, and discuss the iterative processes that I followed.

Barthes, R, 1964. Elements Of Semiology. New York: Hill and Wang.

Gray, J, 2010. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York and London: New York University Press.

Concept: Surrealism

Surrealism is the concept that my interactive piece will apply to. Surrealism is a 20th century movement that was shaped by emerging theories on our perception of reality. It is dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, which is most commonly done through the irrational juxtaposition of images. Rene Magritte is a famous surrealist artist…

‘much of the work created by Rene Magritte, takes everyday, normal objects, and he would simply rearrange the figures, and locations, forcing the viewer to take a deeper look at what was in front of them, and at what the image truly represented.’ (Renemagritte.org)

Here are two examples of Magrittes surreal artwork that stood out most to me:

Ren? Magritte, The Son of Man, 1964, Restored by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009  øðä îàâøéè, áðå ùì àãí, 1964, øñèåøöéä ò"é ùîòåï éðåáéõ, 2009-The Son of Man, 1946. This painting is a self-portrait that features an apple covering up his face. Magritte says

‘Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present’ (ReneMagritte.org).

This idea relates to the surrealist idea of the ‘real’ and ‘imagination’, as in this case we know that hidden behind the apple is his face, but what individual people imagine his face to look like behind the object may differ. Hence the viewers will experience conflictions between what is actually present and the hidden.

golconda-Golconda, 1953. This painting relates nicely to my idea as you have various men that look as if they are falling from the sky. The ‘raining men’ are positioned against a row of buildings and blue sky. The inclusion of the men encourages viewers to explore deeper into the painting in order to try interpret what is being presented. The juxtapositioning of the men blurs the boundaries between the ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’, as you would expect to see buildings and men in bowler hats but you don’t expect to see them floating/falling from the sky. This relates to my idea as I plan to have falling objects that users can interact with by obstructing them from falling. From looking at this painting, I have decided that I will experiment with different objects/figures that I could use and what would be best to create this surreal effect.

The concept of surrealism and the juxtaposition of objects/images relates to my idea as the user will be captured on the screen along with various falling objects. Likewise to Magrittes’ work, it makes the users more attentive as it encourages them to explore deeper into what is being represented on the screen. It also helps to appeal viewers in as the paintings are unusual compared to most artworks, which I believe makes them more unique and memorable. Linking this to my idea, I feel that users would typically expect to just see themselves being captured on camera, however, their perceptions of reality may become blurred due to the addition of the unexpected objects. The addition of the objects on the screen blurs this idea relating to the ‘real’ and ‘imagination’ and the fact it is interactive could in fact enhance this surreal idea. I feel that incorporating my piece to the concept of surrealism is a good way to engage users as it encourages them to explore the text deeper in order to fully understand what is being represented.

Carrying out previous requirements gathering on my target audience has made me realise the complexity of contemporary audiences and getting users to decode the concept of my piece (surrealism) may be challenging. As Hermes (2002, p.285) states:

‘the meaning of a text is always subject to negotiation.’

Some may decode the surreal concept, whereas others may decode other varied meanings and concepts from interacting with my piece. Liebes (2005, p.363) suggest that:

‘the dominant paradigm has shifted from audiences as users of texts to the process of reception, based on the idea that viewers are capable of creating a plurality of meanings, and allowing for the possibility of oppositional, or subversive decodings’

hypoanimContemporary audiences are more active consumers of texts, rather than the outdated idea of passive audiences, related to the hypodermic needle theory (1920s). Due to my target audience being mainly Media School students, I feel that a range of meanings and concepts may be decoded from my piece – dependant on many factors including the individuals experiences, course, level of interaction etc.


Hermes, J, 2002. Active Audiences. In: The Media: An Introduction By Briggs And Cobley. 2ed, 282- 293. Harlow: Longman.

Liebes, T, 2005. Viewing and Reviewing the Audience: Fashions in Communication Research. In: Curran, J and Gurevitch, M eds. Mass Media and Society. 4th edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 356-374.

Renemagritte.org, 2009. Rene Magritte And His Paintings [online]. Available from: http://www.renemagritte.org/ [Accessed 1 December 2014].

Renemagritte.org, 2009. The Son Of Man, 1946 By Rene Magritte [online]. Available from: http://www.renemagritte.org/the-son-of-man.jsp [Accessed 1 December 2014].

Science Museum Trip

sm_logo_0Today, we went on a trip to London to visit the Science Museum. It allowed us to further understand media spaces and to see how different people behave within public spaces. Due to our project being an interactive piece, I focussed on exploring the interactive media pieces and how audiences engaged and understood them. Due to the fact it was a museum, it was clear that the people were looking around and engaging at the various pieces and artefacts. However, due to my project being based at University, I have to find ways to ensure people look and hopefully interact with my piece.

I observed that there was a vast range of different ages of people present, but would argue that majority were children there on school trips. Within the museum, there were only a few interactive pieces as the majority were historical and scientific artefacts. However, I feel that the interactive pieces seemed to engage more people, due to their appealing visual aspects. I found that the older people in particular seemed to be more interested in reviewing the more historical artefacts, and weren’t as interesting in the interactive pieces. I found it was the children in particular who engaged with the interactive pieces, of which they seemed to find very entertaining and fun. This highlights how different age generations engage with things different, dependent on their own experiences. It is clear that some older people may not be as experienced as the younger generation with using all these new technologies, but it is important to also be aware that sometime are assumptions can be challenged.

The interactivity was mainly incorporated through touch screens and buttons, as well as a movement based interaction in the Who Am I? exhibition. From observing people engaging with the interactive pieces, I noticed that children seemed to think that everything was touchscreen. They weren’t really engaging with the true concept, rather they were playing with friends, pushing buttons as fast as they could and touching various things on screen in the hope that something will happen. Throughout the museum there were various information touch screens to support the historical and scientific artefacts. However, I found that these were only used by those wanting to find out further information about the artefacts. Due to children growing up with the revolution of touch screens, most children seemed to depend on pieceWAI-Me3-1-WEB_6s being touch screen and weren’t as aware of other interactive features. For example, in the Who am I? exhibition (image on left), some children didn’t realise what the interactive feature of piece was and just saw it simply as a white wall; it wasn’t until someone stepped onto it that they realised it’s interactive and therefore they decided to engage with it. This piece stood out most to me, the multi-coloured particle objects follow peoples footprints and then reflect their movements visually on the screen. I like the interactive idea of this piece and similarly I plan to use motion and objects within my interactive piece. This has highlighted to me that it is important that my piece is easy to engage with and that it doesn’t require lots of prior technological knowledge in order to interact with it .

filename-do-not-touchAnother piece that stood out to me was the ‘Do Not Touch’ piece that appeared to give slight electric shocks to people. The idea behind this is to do with reverse phycology, the ‘Do Not Touch’ label on the floor around the piece in fact encourages people to touch the piece of which is intended. It also shows how peoples can behave in various ways, go against orders and it is extremely hard to assume how different people will behave. Although I noticed that the majority of children touched the piece which was the intention of it, there were a few that saw the ‘Do Not Touch’ and didn’t understand why people were touching it and so told them not too. From this, I have understood further that even people of a similar age will behave in different ways, of which I have to take into account for my piece. Although, the majority of people who see my piece will be students of similar age, they will all behave differently based on their own background and experiences. By going to the museum and observing the behaviour of people, I have learnt more about interactivity with public spaces. Most of the interactive pieces present in the museum don’t require a high amount of knowledge to use and this has made me realise that simple pieces can be just as successful as they are easy for all ages to directly and freely engage with. Linking this to my idea, I feel the piece will be easy for anyone to engage with, no matter how long they want to spend in the space. I have further learnt that the behaviour of people is very complex and even though I have studied my public space and the typical people, anything could happen and peoples behaviour can alter at any point.

a_1webWhen walking around London, we came across an interactive advertisement for Alcon contact lenses called ‘The London Stare’. We saw it displayed at a bus station and it encourages people to compete in a staring contest with a person on the screen. It displays whether you win or loose and then automatically prints out a contact lenses voucher. I found the piece quite interesting and more engaging than simple print advertisement which you see displayed all over London. Although due to it being at a busy bus stop, people seemed to notice it but were embarrassed to actually engage with it. However, after we engaged with the piece, we noticed a lady then interact with it. From this, I have learnt that some peoples actions can be influenced by other people. Therefore, if someone sees someone else engaging with my piece when it is in Weymouth House then hopefully it’ll influence them to engage with it too. This idea is quite a simple concept, which again has taught me that sometimes simplicity can actually be just as good or even better than complex ideas.