The Capture and Understanding of Participant Experience in a Breath Controlled Interactive Video


Session Title:

  • Tactile, Participatory, Interactive Video

Presentation Title:

  • The Capture and Understanding of Participant Experience in a Breath Controlled Interactive Video




  • This paper will explore the video-cued-recall method as an ethnographic tool in the evaluation of an interactive installation utilising bio-sensed data. It builds on a body of research by Lucy Suchman and Randall Trigg, Bridget Costello, and George Khut and Lizzie Muller who have used this method to document interactive art as lived-experience. The artwork which forms the test-bed for this paper is Inspiraction, an interactive video installation that uses bio-sensed data to enable participants to explore how their breath affects their engagement with others.

    It has been eighty years since John Dewy pointed to the importance of audience experience in completing an artwork. More recently Dourish highlighted the need to capture user experiences of interactions to fully understand their generative nature. Only then can a fuller understanding of the artwork be gleamed, as Dewey put it, “in experience”.  Dialogue with participants provides the only way to understand these lived experiences. While self-reflexivity in the interviewer is paramount, the biggest challenge in understanding these experiences, for both the interviewer and participant, is the limitation of words to describe an embodied experience. The interviewer must find creative ways to help the participant verbalise their body language and taking time to unearth meaning where ambiguity exists.

    The video-cued-recall method uses video to record participants during their interaction. The recording is then played back to support participant recollection of the reflexive, conceptual and reflective aspects of their encounter with the work. Using video to record individual experiences honours the temporal, embodied and emotive nature of inward focused interactive artworks. The medium can record all the tonal and rhythmic subtleties of the participant’s voice as they articulate their experience. A video record preserves body language, gesticulations and breathing quality, simportant elements in a work focusing on embodiment. However the performative nature of this evaluative method affects the encounter and the sharing of lived experience when participants preempt the expectations of the interviewer. This paper presents a critical analysis of the video-cued-recall method’s advantages, disadvantages and characteristics, using the Inspiraction work as its test-bed.

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