RENATI: Recontextualizing Narratives for Tangible Interfaces

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Presentation Title:

  • RENATI: Recontextualizing Narratives for Tangible Interfaces

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Abstract:

  • Intro: RENATI
    RENATI is an acronym for recontextualizing narratives for tangible interfaces. It serves as an umbrella term for our artistic experiments within a hybrid environment that uses various forms of narratives, such as oral narratives, diaries, essays, screenplays, and non-generative and immersive art with sensing technologies, to create tangible narratives. The roots of RENATI are in oral storytelling and filmmaking. We have been inspired by the growing interest in oral narratives and their convergence with digital technologies such as the growing use of mobile phones, the significant number of oral narratives housed in public and grassroots community institutions, the use of digital technologies by ministers of mega churches worldwide, and the weaving of spoken words into various forms of digital media by international hiphop artists. The explosion of documentary films, both commercial and non-commercial, and the use of digital cameras as tools for activism have also inspired us.

    RENATI connects one of the oldest forms of communication, the spoken word, with one of the newest forms of communication, tangible interface technologies. It is part of a tradition of placing stories into physical embodiments to explore the sensing and manipulation skills that are a natural part of human interactions. Our artistic motivations grew out of our cultural and political motivations that include using technology to give voice and visibility to marginalized, submerged and suppressed voices. RENATI is designed to have participants engage with stories (and thereby points of view) that they might not consider if presented in more traditional artifacts such as text, broadcast television or long-form cinema.

    To create tangible narratives, we interconnect three environments: narratives (personal experience narratives, creative stories), digital narratives (digitally recorded narratives), physical narratives (installation art). While tangible narratives can be considered a branch of interactive installation, adding the ability to access information specifically through tangible manipulation defines a new category. Generally, this type of work cannot exist if the participant does not “do” something with something, i.e. it is through some form of touching of a physical artifact that participants access or construct information.

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