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Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel


Designing Spontaneous Connections

Maria Stangel

Th e D yna m ic M e d ia Institu te, M ass a ch uset ts Coll e g e of Ar t a n d D esi g n























P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

This thesis is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Design and approved by the MFA Design Review Board of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston. May 2012

Jan Kubasiewicz Coordinator of Graduate Program in Design Professor of Design Dynamic Media Institute, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Brian Lucid Thesis Advisor, Professor of Design Dynamic Media Institute, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Joe Quackenbush Thesis Advisor, Associate Professor of Design Dynamic Media Institute, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Evan Karatzas Visiting Professor, Co- Chair of Advisory Board Dynamic Media Institute, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Gunta Kaza Professor of Design, Dynamic Media Institute, Massachusetts College of Art and Design


Staromestské námestí, Prague experienced guide waiting for tourists, 2009


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Abstract I am researching the factors that influence social behaviors in public spaces. More and more, people separate themselves from their surroundings by their headphones, personal electronic devices, and have become more connected to their online community than to their real world neighbors. Becoming a part of a community can be a challenge as living with mobile technology distances us from each other. I am curious about the unexpected moments that inspire strangers to share attention and momentary experience. These mysterious feelings, which allow sudden emotional communication between two human beings fascinate me. During my thesis research, I have been investigating how spontaneous connections are initialized and what role “play� has in facilitating these moments. I believe that we can take advantage of digital media installations in order to encourage interaction between people.



Introduction Traditional Ways of Interaction When I think of people interacting, I recall memories of people I have met during my adventurous student trip in the south of Europe. I met my best friend Kazia about five years ago. At that time I was an exchange student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, which is the capital of a tiny country on the Mediterranean coast — Slovenia. Ljubljana sits in a valley, around a castle hill surrounded by river. In the morning the whole valley is usually foggy, but by noon, from the middle of the main street, one can admire a beautiful panorama of the Alps. This part of Europe reminds me of the Shire — the home village of the hobbit Frodo from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. At the end of our final semester, Kazia and I were planning a sightseeing trip. Our goal was to explore the eastern part of the Mediterranean coast — Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. In most places we visited people still lived in the original stone houses and sell homemade wine in Fanta bottles. The rhythm of life is slow and peaceful. We called this adventure the “Balkan Trip.” One night, when Kazia and I crossed the Croatian border, we arrived in the village of Zyrnavnica. It was 11 p.m, so we started to search for a place to sleep. The village was quite tiny having only one church, one cemetery, one fire station, and just a couple of houses, all surrounded by breathtaking limestone rocks. The street was dark and empty as we searched for an accommodation. We noticed some teenage girls giggling in the shadow of the church. The group suddenly became quiet when they saw us. As I glanced at one girl, she became anxious. With an uncertain smile she touched her lips with a pointing finger — “it is a secret” — the gesture told me. A little confused, I smiled back and agreed giving a sign with my head. We walked around for half an hour, but we failed to find lodging. We returned to the car and met the teenagers again. They must have realized that we needed help. My “hiding friend” approached us and after few minutes of conversation, she explained their situation. They had been celebrating the 16th birthday of one of the girls, and at the church they shared a can of beer. Since all teenagers were too young to drink alcohol, they were afraid we might notify someone. The village was so small that everyone knew each other, so it would have been very easy for them to get caught. They


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Budva, Montenegro, 2007



Me and Kazia, Budva, Montenegro, 2007 RIGHT: Old man in Portoroze, Slovenia, 2007


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel



were so honest and frightened that we promised not tell anybody. In return for the favor, the girls helped us find an accommodation at the fire station and organized some local firemen to make us breakfast the next morning. During our Balkan trip, a temporary disconnection from the Internet forced us to adjust ourselves to the circumstances as they arose and made us more aware of our surroundings. This approach allowed us to connect with local people without feeling embarrassment. We opened up, eagerly reflecting the emotions of others learning a new quality of social interaction. This experience revealed to me similarities between humans. How many gestures, youth stories, and life observations we may have in common, even if we grew up in different cultures? Once a friend said to me: “every journey changes a

person; one comes back with the luggage of an experiences that changes the perspective of how we see the place that we return to.” As a result of these interactions during the Balkan Trip, I became curious about how this type of an emotional connection could be transferred and adapted to the urban environment.

Full-time Access to Information Thanks to ubiquitous technology, we have gained a degree of personal independence while in public space. In the wireless Internet era, an answer for almost any question is carried in one’s pocket. Young people get used to the constant flexibility of maintaining a virtual self. In this new reality, asking for directions has become a romantic memory of vintage tourism. There is no doubt that portable devices makes communication more efficient and faster, but they have also taken away opportunities for casual interaction. Living in London, Prague, or Boston, I have noticed that people in a public space are often self-occupied. Connection to Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Google takes up much of our attention. Some suggest that “with these interfaces we think

we can control the way we are perceived by the world” (Antonelli, 13). But by being able to constantly curate our virtual image, we lose ourselves in the Web and risk losing our real life experiences. How technology changes behavior


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

RIGHT: Kazia Kalitan–Młodkowska at the Firestation, Zyrnavnica, Chroatia, 2007



in modern society is a subject of research and concern for many professionals (Turkle, Rushkoff, Ishii). One of the key figures regarding this topic is the psychologist Sherry Turkle. For the last fifteen years, she has been exploring how our digital culture defines privacy, community, intimacy, and solitude. In her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other she highlights that “We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted

by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere” (Turkle). As humans, we still have a need to belong to a group. Authentic communication is challenging. Therefore, people join diverse online communities and mark their existence in the world with a digital footprint. In one of her interviews Turkle defines the online connections as an “illusion of companionship” that doesn’t have the demands of friendship. As Turkle points out, in reality, intimacy and relationships are complicated. They involve negotiation, which is the difficulty of adolescence. From my own experience, I know how digital shortcuts make life easier. For over twenty years, I had lived on the same street as my boyfriend Piotr. We knew 16

P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Velká Amerika, Canyon, Karlštejn, Czech Republic, 2009

“The reason I dislike Facebook is because it has devalued the concept of friends” (Andrew Lippman, WordOfLip)

each other from the playground since we were children. We were acquaintances and would always wave “hello,” but we never had an actual conversation. When I moved out from my parents’ place, I moved to the apartment building next to his gate. Just before receiving my diploma, I had been spending a lot of time working at home, and as a result we started noticing each other anew. From my window, I watched when he walked his dog, and we smiled to each other on the street. After a month of this distant observation, he added me to his friends list on Facebook and wrote on my wall, “Hi neighbor, would you like to have a cup of tea on the balcony?” For next few days we were chatting and flirting on our Facebook walls until we met on a real date. I remember the impatient feeling in my chest when I was refreshing the page and the excitement when I could finally read a response. After another month of meeting in person I was happy to change my status to “In a relationship.” Facebook is an easy platform and informal enough that it allows us a step back at every moment. Modern Solutions for Socializing Many people have become aware of the sociological problems that are a result of the disconnection between virtual and physical worlds. However, the recent solutions to bridge that gap, in my opinion, may lead us too an even more uncomfortable reality. In the article by Barrett W.Sheridan for Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine we can read the review of the new iPhone application — Highlight. During launching presentation designer Paul Davidson explained his approach:“When you walk by someone you don’t know anything

about them. It’s as if you were perusing Facebook, but a version where every profile is a single picture, with no names or bios or relationship statuses attached. That version sucks” (Barett). Davidson predicts that in five-to-ten years we will be able to identify each person in a room with names, jobs and people whom we might know in common. The application he introduced falls into the new apps category called, “ambient social networking.” Highlight is designed to encourage people to open up and talk to strangers who might have similar interests. A phone gives an alert when a person is close by another Highlight user, who may be a friend of a friend, or an alumni of the same school. They can secretly send each other messages, and “connect.” The growing market for these types of applications Introduction


scare me. Where is the mystery of discovering information? In fact, in my opinion, facilitating the connection reveals new obstacles. It is uncomfortable to start a conversation referring to personal information even if it is accessible. So how does one person approach another knowing in advance the answers? For example: he or she feels great, comes from Brookline, has a dog, likes swimming... Having this information doesn’t make conversation less awkward. With so many excuses to make a question, there is nothing to ask without

Will assumptions discourage us from interacting with people we might think are not interesting or worth our attention?

being mistaken for a stalker. A similar approach seems to be a foundation for the latest invention of Google X Labs. According to the New York Times Bits article by Nick Bilton, the company is about to release electronic glasses. The device will use a camera system to monitor the surrounding and a lowresolution display to augment our reality. In real-time, we will be able to view information about location, passing people, businesses, buildings, and friends near by. Additionally, this product will be fully compatible with all software applications from Google. We would “be able to check in to locations with

your friends through the glasses.” But what would be the side effect of these types of human-computer-human interactions? I am worried that already today, people avoid real-life conversations. By the time digital glasses become as popular as a cell phones, natural eye contact may be even more challenging. Is this “personal transparency” necsesary to start a conversation? How will 18

P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Mario and Batman, new friends met during our Balkan Trip Trogir, Chroatia, 2007.

this knowledge effect natural curiosity? Will assumptions discourage us from interacting with people we might think are not interesting or worth our attention? Perhaps looking at the world through someone else’s eyes may be an amazing experience. This feature, in combination with Skype or Google+ may create new, bizarre job opportunities, for example: a “real-life avatar” or a “personal surrogate” position. These are my concerns regarding further advances in the technology. Every time we spend hours on the Internet, our presence is missing somewhere else. When socializing in the virtual world, we slowly distance ourselves from natural face-to-face interaction. By using social networking we may lose an opportunity to observe the complexity of human emotions and to learn tactful social behavior.

What is an Interactive Moment ?    I began reading The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White in the MassArt library, I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the latest edition to continue reading at home. Unfortunately, when I opened the package I didn’t recognize the book! The look of the fourth edition of The Elements of Style surprised me. On the front cover, the designer mixed four different typefaces, four colors, and eight sizes of a type, writing only the title and names of authors! Fortunately, that was just a dust jacket. Immediately I removed it, much preferring the original hard cover – plain blue surface with elegant letters on the spine. The book stayed “naked” until one rainy day. Before leaving apartment, I put the front cover back on in order to protect my book. Several hours later I was returning home sitting on a subway train, exhausted after the long day’s rush, with a big backpack on my lap and a wet umbrella between my legs. I was reading while balancing the weight of my luggage as my stretched arm was holding the book. I realized that people on the train were staring at me. After two stations, a man on the opposite side of the train approached me, asking: “Excuse me ma’am, are you reading this book upside down?”   ...We all laughed. Introduction


As humans, we are interacting constantly with other people, with objects, and with the environment. Over the course of time, those behaviors and their meanings form a system that becomes characteristic for certain groups. The qualities of basic social interactions are important factors that can influence our everyday social life and play an important role in forming culture. In public spaces, situations like the one described in the previous paragraph usually happen unexpectedly. Most of us walk through our everyday lives focused on our individual thoughts, and we do not pay direct attention to our surroundings. Sometimes however, the paths of two individual minds cross, resulting in a shared experience. Despite being a rather shy person, interacting with people makes me feel more human. I don’t like public speaking and feel uncomfortable starting conversations with strangers, but in some situations even I open up. Moments of shared attention and mutual understanding between strangers are especially intriguing to me. While discovering life in larger cities and abroad after leaving home, I have realized how valuable and important are interactions in public places. Even with a language barrier and cultural differences, common threads exist, and connect people. These mysterious feelings, which allow sudden emotional communication between two human beings fascinates me. Becoming a part of a group in an unfamiliar place is challenging, but those important moments are what makes me feel supported and secure. Evan Karatzas (DMI MFA 2005, Founder, Director of Experience Design at Proximity Lab) described this phenomena in following words: “Emotional responses

result when we form personal and physical connections. We draw on our experience, consciously or subconsciously, to evaluate and understand. Direct multi-sensory interaction in three-dimensional space provides unique opportunities to form these connections.” During my thesis research, I have been exploring how these spontaneous connections can be initialized. What conditions are needed to focus people’s attention and create enjoyable interactive experiences? In this document, I am presenting the key findings and ideas for the implementation of the socializing aspects of our everyday lives. In the following chapter, I will explain the meaning of play in my interactive projects, as one possible activity that supports socializing in a public space. 20

P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

“Interaction Design is design for people – design for human use. When we interact with technology or with others through technology we are increasingly faced with computers. Computers are what make interaction design challenging” (Bill Verplank)

When investigating my thesis subject, I had a chance to test my assumptions with public space project prototypes. For example, testing the user scenario for my Brush Ball game revealed the weaknesses of the initial concept which resulted in projection on the floor, instead of having the standard wall image. This new setting allowed users to face each other and to monitor both the game and its visual outcome simultaneously. Testing and reflecting on the design has been invaluable to my learning experience at DMI. A broad description of my process is Bill Verplank, schema for designing interactions.

included in the second part of this research document.



Playful Experience

“‘Free Play’ as scientists call it, is critical for becoming socially adept, coping with stress and building cognitive skills such as problem solving.” (Wenner, section 3) Socializing Play After my first month in Boston one of my memorable observations involved a socializing interaction. My boyfriend Piotr, wanted to play soccer. He would wake up everyday and complain about the lack of people to play with here. He bought a ball on Amazon and would kick it against the sofa. Since I always was confused with the rules of soccer, he didn’t consider me a potential player. Eventually, lacking options, he asked me to be his goalkeeper. As soon as we arrived at a park in the Fenway, we noticed a group of students warming up for a soccer game. Secretly relieved, I let Piotr join the group and the action began. After five minutes everyone knew each other’s name and after another five they would shout, curse and laugh together sharing all of the emotions that the game aroused. Time passed unnoticeably to them and even though they started playing as strangers, their common goal allowed them to enjoy the activity. The game quickly became a platform for cross-cultural understanding. In the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains the factors that can influence the state of life–long happiness. His study reveals that most important components of our self–contentment are the moments when we are completely involved in an activity. He calls this state an optimal experience — flow. Csikszentmihalyi defines eight major elements in the phenomenology of that feeling. When people experience flow at least one of the following is present. The activity needs to facilitate concentration and create an opportunity for learning or improving skills. The goals should be defined and possible to achieve; participants need to feel “in control” of the situation and should be able to receive immediate feedback; it is important that the involvement removes all worries and frustrations of everyday existence, and finally, the experience is so engaging that the sense of time disappears. (72) The above elements may serve as guidelines in designing scenarios in which 22

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

“Even the least technologically advanced societies have some form of art, music, dance, and a variety of games that children and adults play.” (Csikszentmihalyi, 76)

optimal experiences would be easier to achieve. Developing a state of flow involves a thinking process or a physical exercise, it may also be in response to a challenge that one is trying to manage. However, the resulting satisfaction is so rewarding that people willingly offer their energy and attention to experience it. Would it be possible to enrich an existing environment by a stimulus that transforms an everyday routine to an optimal experience? Is it possible to temporarily co-opt places that are meant to serve other purposes?

Play in Practice In 2009, during one of the cold September nights in the old-town of Stockholm a group of friends gathered in front of a subway station. They were determined to finalize a project that they had worked on for several weeks. It required a lot of effort to prepare everything for that night. They received the permission from the city authorities, applied for funding and carefully planned their work. Now, everything was ready. For the next few hours they would be transforming an ordinary stairway at the subway station into a giant piano keyboard. After Piano Stairs, Odenplan subway, Stockholm photographs by K J Vogelius

a whole night of installing, they shared the excitement and curiosity by observing people’s feedback. Minute by minute the crowd grew as more people appeared. Initially, pedestrians chose an escalator and watched black and white keys from the side ramp. When a person finally used the stairway, others immediately noticed the sound. Later that day people were playing, jumping, walking forward, then backward, and afterwards returning with their children. The group is known as The Fun Theory. They are “dedicated to the thought

that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.” (The Fun Theory, home). The Piano Stairs project became renown as an successful example of using dynamic media in a public environment. It inspired people to interact with the space and each other. For the last two years I have been exploring the field of an interactive design that can bring joy to everyday public life. For my research case studies I have designed projects that use simple and intuitive methods, which are based on my memory of childhood play. Referring to the period that evoke a nostalgic feelings for most people, my goal has been to create an opportunity an the optimal experience to occur. Play requires a certain element of freedom. According to Roger Caillois, author of Man, Play and Games, it can happen only if participants free their mind, isolate themselves from their daily routine and their real responsibilities. In practice, convincing people to slow down their personal rhythm to participate in a project, is a challenge by itself. Therefore, when developing my prototypes I was also researching diverse methods of focusing people’s attention while encouraging them to cooperate. My collaborative project with Daniel Buckley can serve as an example for this process. Playful Experience


We wanted to test our assumptions and ask questions relevant to our projects. For me, the subject of interest was a “playful experience”, for Daniel it was “empathy.” Both of us were interested in memories and emotions that people associate with those two mental states. Additionally we wanted to test how willing people would be to participate in a “public survey.” First we measured the round tables in MassArt’s Peet’s Cafeteria and wrote our questions on

“Play must be defined as a free and voluntary activity, a source of joy and amusement.” (Caillois, 7)

large sheets of a gray paper. We stayed at the school until most of students left. Around 2.00 a.m. we distributed our “survey” in the lounge. On each covered table we tied a pencil to emphasize a doodling “invitation.” The next morning, when I came back to take some pictures of our project I was surprised by the enthusiastic reactions. Some students from the neighboring Pharmacy College approached to congratulate me! Others would stay longer on a lunch break to finish their drawing. We received a lot of verbal and written feedback. Some people were making jokes, others would build a story on the previous person drawing or text. Some would answer very seriously or with simple honesty: “Crowds make me cowards”; “My biggest regret is losing my virginity”; “I will play if I am allowed to change the rules”; “I am full of joy when pigeons land on my window sill”, these are just examples among many other comments. A project conceived on a piece of grey paper with a pencil grew beyond our expectations. During the same night that we installed the second part of the project: a post-it notes “wallpaper” in the MassArt’s Tower building elevator. It took considerable effort to place the stickers and mount large sheets of paper on the automatic door (it required a ride from the Lobby to the 13th floor without stopping so we would have enough time in the cabin to carefully stick the adhesive tape...). Unfortunately by the morning the guard had noticed our project and contacted the Public Safety officers. Although our work was uninstalled very quickly, we received feedback from the few people who had a chance to see it. When I was sticking the post-it notes in the elevator, my car was called to the fourth floor. At the same time two other elevators stopped. One was empty and the other was almost filled with post-it notes. The group of students who called the 24

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

MassArt, Peet’s Cafeteria, November, 2011

Playful Experience


Daniel Buckley preparing table survey, November, 2011


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Playful Experience


Feedback on the table survey, November, 2011


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Playful Experience


elevator were entering the free cabin when suddenly one girl looked back and said: “no no no, lets go to that one, there is something interesting going on!” It was four in the morning and I was very happy to see such an enthusiastic reaction. We were also surprised when the next day a student came too us and offered to give us an answer on paper because he heard that the project had been taken down. He was going back home in the early morning after working the whole night and said he saw some answered filled on the walls. He had written some notes and felt sorry that we had not received them. The survey project gave us an opportunity to test a public space installation. In the Peet’s Cafeteria our project worked well — the space was designed as an environment to rest so the participants would have more time dedicate to fun. When choosing an elevator we didn’t realize the danger or the fire department regulations. It was a memorable lesson in project implementation.

Working with Daniel Buckley, MassArt Elevator, installation was taken down during the same night, November, 2011 30

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

“Summing up the formal characteristic of play, we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings that tend to suround themselves with secrecy and to stress the difference from the common world by disguise or other means.” (Huizinga, 13)

Playful Experience


Contextual Research An intuitive interaction with a computer interface has been a challenge for engineers and designers for over 60 years. In the beginning the field of computers was the domain of technically oriented specialists. Communication between machines and humans required knowledge of specific programming languages. The introduction of a computer mouse designed by Douglas Engelbart in 1970 enabled a direct manipulation of content and began a revolutionary change in the computer industry. For the first time one was able to control the Graphical User Interface (GUI) without typing a code. Since then, depending on the needs of individual users, GUI interactions were improved and adjusted in many ways. With today’s technology, we may use voice, pens, our fingers or even our full bodies to communicate with a computer. For digital applications designed for multiple-user interactions, the body movement becomes a particularly successful system of control.

Myron W. Krueger Myron W. Krueger is one of the pioneers in the development of fullbody interactions. Since 1969 he has explored the concept of responsive environments, in which machines could become invisible to the participants. In Responsive Environments, published in 1970, he claims: “Man-machine

interaction is usually limited to a seated man poking at a machine with his fingers...I was dissatisfied with such a restricted dialogue and embarked on research exploring more interesting ways for men and machines to relate” (Myron W. Krueger). By changing an ordinary space into a tangible, physical interface, he created scenarios in which users could experience an element of “magic.” Krueger’s first installation — Glowflow (1969), was constructed from pressure sensors, loudspeakers and light tubes. Every time a user stepped on a sensor, the space would give him or her an audio-visual



Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

feedback. Krueger’s installation influenced my own project titled The Perfect Human, which was based on a similar floor-sensors technology combined with a video projections. I will further describe this concept in the next chapter. Another work by Krueger, Videoplace (1970) — was the first installation in which he introduced the innovative technique of combining video cameras with a co-located projected animation. When a person entered the room, her silhouette appeared on a screen in a “simulated two dimensional world” (Krueger). An interaction with the interface included a playful activity with an animated character and a possible remote collaboration with another user. Byron Fredrick describes the installation in the following words:

“The VIDEOPLACE concept is simple, it consists of two or more rooms that can be placed anywhere from next to each other to thousands of miles apart. With in the room, a 8’ x 10’ rear projection screen is utilized so that when a person enters, they are confronted with their own image as well as the images of those in the connected rooms. Those in the connected rooms are also witnessing the same image that the user himself sees. By moving about their respective rooms, the user’s image itself moves about and can interact with other users’ images. In addition, the user’s image can be shrunk, rotated, colored or keyed in various ways. The user also has the chance to interact not only with the other users, but with graphically represented objects.” LEFT: Myron Krueger speaking at Ars Electronica, 2004 RIGHT: Still image from installation Videoplace by Myron Krueger

Works by Myron Krueger introduced new methods for the direct manipulation of virtual reality. Today, full-body motion control has become a standard for video-games and interactive installations. This type of communication with computers is intuitive and therefore it is also a great solution for applications Field



designed for multiple participants. The field that uses augmented reality in public spaces to promote social interaction is called Social Immersive Media (SIM). This term was defined by Scott Snibbe and Heyes S. Raffle in an article published for the 2009 Computer Human Interface Conference (CHI 2009) in Boston. Social Immersive Media (SIM) Snibbe and Raffle, who have ten years of experience developing interactive systems for galleries, public science and cultural exhibits, describe in detail the aims and principles of their work. “We strive to engage users at this

phenomenological level by creating interactive media that is first

“What is the language of this social medium; how do we control and modulate people’s responses and behavior; and how can we design experiences for the greatest educational and cultural impact?” (Snibbe, Raffle)

understood by the body and later understood rationally.” This approach was called visceral design philosophy, and according to Snibbe’s and Raffle’s study, it had influenced SIM projects in two important ways. First, installations in which the message is discovered by physical play, can engage participants of all ages. Second, by using a universal language of body movement the projects can be easily understood by participants from different cultural backgrounds. Another important characteristic of successful SIM interaction is a storytelling, narrative model, often based on cinema language and animation. In addition, Snibbe and Raffle developed and proposed six design principles for SIM applications in their seminal paper. The SIM installations should be: visceral; responsive; continuously variable; socially scalable; socially familiar; socially balanced. Visceral implies that participants should enjoy a full body interaction before they discover or analyze a symbolic metaphor. Responsive means that the computer application should provide immediate feedback. By continuously variable the authors mean that media response should evolve and change with infinite variability to the user’s input, so the experience remains engaging.

“Interactions are designed to share with others” therefore the experience should be socially scalable and become richer when more people interact together. When socially familiar, the digital feedback should reinforce and augment existing social behaviors. And finally the socially balanced emphasizes that the interaction should provide an equally balanced experience for all participants. In their paper, Snibbe and Raffle analyze several case studies and describe of the role of each principle. They explain unique techniques developed during the design process of each particular project, for example the meaning of a nonresponsive, blank screen in comparison to that role of silence in a music piece. Another important observation led to the conclusion that participants are more willing to interact with their own shadow than with a full-color camera image. Color images tend to distract users with concerns regarding their looks and clothes. The advantage of a shadow image is that each participant can 34


Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

RIGHT: Interactive installations by Snibbe Interactive, from the top: Wood Sprites; Social Floors You and We; Deep Walls; Get in the Action; Fear.

easily recognize herself and her friends, but the silhouette remains anonymous to strangers. (Snibbe, Raffle). The theory and the detailed descriptions of these designers’ experiences and their work process helped me to shape my own projects. Guided by this publication, I was able to test user feedback and avoid difficulties I might have encountered in my installations. Contemporary Inspirations After my first semester at the Dynamic Media Institute (DMI), I was amazed by the numerous possibilities for using dynamic media. I was also a little scared of the technological challenges before me. Not being sure about my thesis and research subject, I still had so much to learn. One night after my second review at DMI, Andrew Ellis took me and some other “first years” to the final class presentations of MIT students from the Media Lab. The class subject primarily involved creating installations to be displayed outdoors at night. After an hour walking from place to place on the MIT campus, I admit I was bored by most of the students’ projects. We were happy to hang out together as the DMI group. Yet we were tired and cold, thinking mostly of the nearest bar. But then from the distance I saw a group of people gathered and yelling next to a fence lit by lights. Andrew then told us that we were coming closer to the key presentation of the evening. This heightened our curiosity. The project was an array of lamps that were spread across a ten foot long fence. On both sides people were standing and screaming along the edges. The lighted bar on the array display was indicating which side of the fence was louder. My friend Fan started to shout some words in Japanese, then in Chinese to see which language would have a stronger effect. Some other Japanese student appeared from the crowd and started to play with her. They would try to “push” the light bar to the other side, and when one of them finally managed, the whole fence would light up and change color. The “pixelated” lights and the animation on them gave a sense of an old computer interface. This reference made the project look a little “old school” and accessible. The construction required building and programing skills, but for participants the rules were easy and intuitive. This project was designed and prototyped by Pol Pla iConesa, a first year MIT’s Media Lab student. That was the first time I saw Pol’s work. I was impressed by the emotional response and enjoyment that his work inspired using such a “simple” interaction. After that experience, I started looking for other examples of installations which would engage people in a similar way. As mentioned before, Scott S. Snibbe is a founder of Snibbe Interactive. His San Francisco-based company specializes in designing multi-users scenarios for galleries and museum spaces. Among their many projects I was exceptionally intrigued by the idea of Boundary Functions (1998). This installation is meant




for more than one user. When there are two people in the active area, the installation starts to project a line between them as they walk on the large floor. The line is a symbolic representation of each participant’s personal space. As the users move, their boundaries change and adjust in real-time, this visualizes the changes relative to other people. The work reveals that the “personal space” is an abstract concept that changes dynamically when we interact with others. “The themes of Boundary Functions, interdependence and a social

construction of reality are ones that can be found in much of my work.” (Scott S. Snibbe) Snibbe’s concept impressed me by the simplicity of rules and a symbolic, intercultural meaning that relates to a humans nature. Another example is an installation designed by the New York based interactive design studio Antenna. “Antenna’s people-centered design approach aims

to make the experience of objects and environments more meaningful and exciting.” The company creates diverse projects encouraging interaction in a public space as well as in gallery spaces and commercial installations. In 2005 Antenna presented a project called the Nosy Parker, at the Balance and Power, Krannert Art Museum. designers set up two cubes on which people could sit down and rest in the gallery. One corner of each cube had a hidden photo–camera that started to take pictures as soon as it detected a person.

“These pictures get projected floating around the occupied seat. Once more than one stool is occupied, the images from each stool start floating towards each other, thereby invoking a social exchange between visitors, possibly complete strangers” (Antenna). Children understand the installation immediately and react enthusiastically. The installation exposes people’s fascination with acting for the camera. Additionally, the technology behind this application suggests the potential of positive communication power for a surveillance camera to invoke a social exchange between people. 36


Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Snibbe Interactive, Boundary Functions

Arcade Fire & Chris Milk, interactive visual performance Summer Into Dust, 2011

When looking for an electronic object that stimulates a playful social experience, I found video documentation of a concert by the band Arcade Fire. This installation was being sponsored by The Creators Project foundation, a global platform that helps to promote projects that combine art and technology. The Arcade Fire music performance was directed by Chris Milk, a well known interactive designer. The artist curated a large scale experience for the concert audience by letting the public become a visual display. In the key moment of the songs chorus people were surprised by hundreds of beach-balls falling on them from overhead. These translucent balls were filled with LED lights and a wireless control system. When the audience started to play and bounce the balls around, the director remotely controlled the colors and tempo of the flashing lights. People got even more excited when they realized that they could take the balls home and register them online. Chris Milk created a memorable moment for the audience and introduced a system that allowed the experience to continue even after the event. The installations I have described are just few examples of a new discipline that joins the world of technology and art. These inspirations helped me to develop concepts of my own during the learning process at DMI. I have evaluated my ideas by analyzing the work of professionals in the field of Social Immersive Media Installation while following the principles established by Snibbe and Raffle in their seminal paper. By prototyping projects, I was able to test my work and learn from users feedback. I will now explain my exploration of these case studies, in the following chapters.




Case Studies

Brush Ball, MFA Thesis Show, Paine and Bakalar Gallery, April 24 — May 3, 2012

Prototyping Interaction Designing interactive systems is a complex process. For examining concepts and developing new ways of interaction, a designer has to evaluate the project in different states and explore user needs. For multimedia applications, it is often impossible to prototype all functions of a project in the same way. Therefore it is essential to choose the appropriate method for testing each aspect of a larger system. Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill, in their paper What do Prototypes Prototype? Explore and classify the different types of artifacts developed for evaluating user experience at Apple Computers Inc. The classification they propose is especially useful for designing social interactive installations. Prototypes may not be self-explanatory and require an introduction. When designing a testing scenario, it is important to prepare participants and clarify the goals one will examine, so users won’t be distracted by elements, such as looks, colors, or sounds. Houde and Hill claim that: “By focusing on the purpose of the

prototype that is on what it prototypes we can make better decisions about the kinds of prototypes to build.” But how can one select the right method for specifying the function of a demo artifact?

This is a prototype of a Girl Talk Mash Up project touch disc. Each point is an active button that indicates a different moment in the music. The playing artist and (his/ her) position on the timeline were printed as graphic information on the side of each touch point, Spring 2011.


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

The authors propose three basic groups for classification. We can assign a prototype to one or more of them at the same time. To find the right class we need to ask three simple questions: What is the role of the artifact in a user’s life? How does it look and feel? How should it be implemented? The answers will help to select the focus of a prototype and narrow the field for open design exploration. The three classes: Role, Look and Feel, and Implementation can be represented on a graph by triangulation. By placing a prototype within the area of a triangle we can specify on which function the attention of the audience should be focused. However, the tested artifact may equally answer all three Graphic design for the Girl Talk Mash Up prototype

design questions. If this happens, we call it an Integration prototype. This fourth section appears in the middle of the basic triangle. Houde and Hill suggest that

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Prototype of the Tic Tac Toe game, realized in collaboration with  Stephanie Dudzic (MFA 2014).  In this interactive game participants can play Tic Tac Toe and create a music composition at the same time. Each shape has a unique sound.  When put together, sounds create a sequence based on the order in which users placed a cross or circle, Spring 2012

these kinds of prototypes are built for highly developed projects. According to the authors the Integration prototypes “may need to be as complex as

the final artifact, they are the most difficult and time consuming to build. Designers make integration prototypes to understand the design as a whole ” Prototypes support the concept and help to communicate complex information. They are invaluable for explaining interaction design systems that are usually difficult to explain with words. As Houde and Hill emphasize: “What is

significant is not what media or tools are used to create them, but how they are used by a designer to explore or demonstrate some aspects of future artifacts.” In the following chapter I will describe the case study prototypes that I developed to support my research for social, interactive installations. Most of my work needed at least two prototypes before the final concept could be improved and fully developed. Additionally it was hard to count how many ideas were rejected just by simple interaction tests that are taken using nearby objects. Each prototype contributed to the final project. Observations made during interaction sessions are the basic foundation for this thesis document. For various reasons, the projects were completed on different levels of development. Most often the concepts were too complex for my programing skills. However, with each of my prototypes I managed to evaluate some aspects of my ideas. These explorations were an invaluable experiences for my research process.


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Case Studies


Case Study One / The Perfect Human Inspiration . Discovering the story When I grew up, Poland was rebelling against the communist regime. People had to wait for everything and share everything with others. Adults waited in hours-long queues to buy groceries, furniture, cars or kitchen equipment. These were accessible only upon signing onto a waiting list. It could take weeks or months to receive an item – if it was available.  Neighbors would gather to view a TV show, at the same time everyday, because it was a common habit to share the TV. There was no “privacy” or “private property” as we know it today. People had to wait for everything and share everything with others. Adults had to adjust to constant inconveniences and children had to be patient as well. We had to enjoy anticipating things in lieu of actually recieving things. Today, Poland is a completely different country. Occasionally my aunt, who lived in Rome, would send my family a package. These packages were something special. My aunt would always send products that were unavailable behind the Iron Curtain such as: Italian coffee; parmesan cheese; fashion magazines (to show my mum what was trendy); Toblerone chocolates and...Barbie doll advertising catalogs, leftover from the original boxes in which my cousin received the Barbie’s. The Barbie catalogs featured dolls and accessories: Horse–Rider Barbie, Equestrian Barbie, Swimmer Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Rock Star Barbie, among others. It was impossible to buy an original doll at that time in Poland, so I had to enjoy “imagined play.” Looking at the catalog, I chose a different Barbie every day to dream about for hours. I thought about my cousin, asking - was she choosing the same doll? Which one would she take to play with when she visited me? I could identify with these images and plan different game scenarios. I developed my characters from the small photos that I was given. My imagined “little princesses” with sparkling Photoshop effects, were ethereal, bouncing, dancing, and blinking their eyes. This world was built on the images I was studying. It is hard to describe how disappointed I was when I got my first Barbie with her physical limitations. In my imagination she had no feet positioned “always on toes”; no hard plastic body; no still, staring eyes. The discovery of her plastic-disc neck was just shocking to me. Playing with catalog drawings made me feel in control of a whole Barbie–universe. I was creating my own interpretation of a given 44

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

The Polish Barbie Doll, birthday gift from Daniel Buckley and Gabriel Schaffzin, October 2011

picturesque character. The visual stimulus provided me a base for imagination and endless play. As a kid, I enjoyed that freedom and the subsequent ease of developing a narrative.

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Storytelling is an important element for creating an interactive experience as is building a narrative upon an existing work. Redesigning a masterpiece requires research and detailed analysis of the initial concept. During the first semester’s class, Design Studio One, professor Jan Kubasiewicz asked us to reinterpret a short black and white film produced by Danish director Joørgen Leth in 1967; The Perfect Human. Watching it for the first time was confusing. The narrator’s voice introduces the characters with words: “the perfect human in a room with no boundaries

and with nothing.” Leth presented a couple of people, living in an undefined space somewhere in the universe. A clean, white background contrasted with the grey tone of their skin. They lived an average life while functioning in this perfect, sterile world. The director places the viewer in an intrusive position of watching the couple locked in a space filled with hidden cameras. We can see how they walk, jump, run and fall, and how they use props: a pipe, a bed, boots, lipstick, and a bow tie. This relationship between observer and the couple reminds me of mice in a laboratory. The narrator’s voice emphasizes this feeling “How does the perfect human function? We will see the perfect

human functioning. We will look into that. We will investigate.” With simple words the voice provokes questions about the idealized perfect life. I was intrigued by these isolated people and wondered what would be the best way to close their story. How much do the objects we use tell us about our lives? What if everything we touch could record our life story? What would somebody who accesses this information experience? I have imagined how real people would use a room without boundaries. In one scene the male dances to the music, then the music stops and he is alone in the white space with nothing. He continues to dance. I thought, what if the perfect human state doesn’t exist permanently? Maybe it is just a momentary experience? When people laugh, they reflect a sparkle of perfection. I wanted


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

to create conditions for participants to enjoy an empty room, in that way they become what my classmate Gabriel Schaffzin called “a perfect example of a

human being.” Concept. Who is the perfect human? How can people recreate the storytelling experience of The Perfect Human film? Professor Kubasiewicz explained during one of his lectures that a designer can provide two types of interactive scenarios for a user. The first one can be called a “guided tour” and it uses guidelines and hints to lead the participant through pre-designed storyline. The second is classified as “exploratory mode” and provides multiple choices that allow the users to make individual discoveries. With the Perfect Human project, I was especially interested in the second method, transferring the experience of recreating the history of a place. How could people collaborate to investigate the story? I began to analyze the movie after watching it several times. I noted all the objects that appeared in the film — the pipe, lipstick, shoes, sun glasses, bow tie, razor, boots, flower, cigar, shoes, plates, bottle, table, bed, and sheets — while imagining how many stories a stranger could discover if all those objects were mine? Remembering my Barbie play and the many scenarios I was able to come up with just by watching the flat still image, I started to sketch the objects and transform them. I designed an installation that would allow participants to experience the perfect human story. For most of the experience I wanted to keep to the black and white convention of the original film. My installation was set in a completely white room. Participants should have felt as though they entered the space previously occupied by the perfect couple from the movie. Users would see black shapes of the used props drawn on the floor. Like detectives investigating the past, participants would need to interact with those objects. By stepping on shapes a person could trigger a single sound Still from The Perfect Human film, by Joørgen Leth

beat and a looped video showing the action involving that particular object. The rhythmic beats and videos would overlap as more users participated. The Case Studies


System logic, sketch The Perfect Human, December, 2010


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

play was meant to be different every time a new crew would enter the room. If people interacted long enough, or the number of participants reached a certain level, they received visual or sound feedback as an award. Prototyping The Perfect Human was the first project I was able to prototype in an interactive, tangible form. I began with a small scale model of about twelve by eight inches. Instead of using the real floor, I used rectangular pieces of foam with wooden Magnet board prototype, The Perfect Human, December, 2010

boards to make a small scale “active stage.” Underneath this stage I attached the touch and magnetic sensors prefabricated by manufacture company Phidgets. On the top of the foam I printed simplified shapes of objects used in the movie and placed them exactly above the sensing areas. It this way each object shape became an active sensor. The first challenge was to locate objects just far enough away so they would not be triggered accidentally. After trying different configurations I adjusted the sizes and distances on the board. The interaction was programmed using Flash Action Script 3.0. Each sensor triggered a loop of one sound and one video file. Videos revealing actions from The Perfect Human film related to the active objects. Choosing the music for my prototype was challenging. I tried to cut parts of the songs I liked, but soon realized that complex sounds would overlap and resulting in chaos. Ultimately I used single instrument beats from Apple’s Garage Band. Selected tracks had the same tempo so it was much easier to arrange multiple audio files at the same time. I used little human figures with hidden magnets to demo a small scale experience. When more than three users were stepping on sensors at

TOP: Objects — selection process, The Perfect Human, December, 2010

the same time, the black and white video was flickering with colors. This effect was designed as a “visual award” for real participants. Testing the program

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using this small scale prototype revealed difficulties for creating live music. Even when the music had an adjusted tempo, it was still important to “jump in” with the sound loop at the right moment, otherwise the sounds would become unsynchronized resulting in unpleasant noise.   With the second prototype, I wanted to test and document the experiences look and feel. I printed shapes of the objects and placed them on the floor. My classmate Nicole interacted with the shapes, as I was manually providing realtime feedback to her moves. Each time Nicole stepped on a shape, I activated sounds and videos with my mini-board-controller. Nicole was able to experience the installation as if the shapes were actually sensing. She developed different methods of interaction in a short period. Nicole started by stepping, but as she understood the system, she used her hands and legs simultaneously to trigger more than one sound. She pointed out, that she needed help of another person to reach sensors far away. Evaluation Testing the project in both a small and large scale led to some interesting observations. When using boards with magnets I was able to control the experience and instantly correct failures related to sound timing. It was easy to monitor what was happening under my hand and on the screen. However on a large scale, I observed a disconnection between the large projection on a wall surface and sensors spread on the floor. A user (Nicole) was more apt to focus on choosing a target to jump on than in looking at the visual output. It seemed that the combination of video, sound and body motion was too confusing.


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Stills from The Perfect Human film, by Joørgen Leth

User testing with Nicole Tariverdian, The Perfect Human, December, 2010

Maybe if the visual response appeared on the same surface as the sensors then the experience might be more accurate. In later projects I have tried to simplify the interaction by limiting feedback methods.   The Perfect Human project was an important step in my learning. Seeing my concept work on a small scale, encouraged me to try more complex prototypes in future projects. Finding resources on the web for writing the code made me feel more comfortable with programing vocabulary, which I have subsequently used in my research. The next step for the first prototype would now be to test it with more sensors, and to improve the code, that should result in better audio adjustments. Due to time constraints I have not conducted multi-user testing. I am interested in how people move in the space and react to sounds triggered by others, as well as whether shared control over the experience would encourage collaboration or discourage interaction. Although I lack the experience to construct a multimedia installation in a city environment, I am imagining how this type of work could function in a public space. I am confident that by using current technology this type of experience is possible. Were I to push this concept to another level, I would like to add different shapes and movies to the “visual library” in order to make the background story more complex. Case Studies



P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

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Case Study TWO / The Magic carpet

inspiration After developing a first prototype, I was eager to learn more about electronics and sensory techniques. I took the New Textiles 2011, a course at the MIT Media Lab. Professor Leah Buechley introduced us to both traditional textile crafts and conductive materials helpful in prototyping advanced electronic projects. I had a chance to experiment with new techniques, on small projects including a glowing necklace, a laundry pocket (the coin counting purse), knitted stretch sensors, and a magnetic paper. At the time, I was interested in technology behind touch surfaces. In The Perfect Human concept, participants had to use their entire body weight to activate the sensor as they moved around the room. For my second interactive project, I wanted to apply the same communication system on a smaller scale by creating a more intimate experience for users. One day, after class, I was brainstorming with my classmate, Judy Zheng Jia, who was interested in making a device for parents to monitor children’s activity in a room. We envisioned a bed sheet that could paint a projection in a living room when a child was sleeping. Next we got excited about a doormat that would indicate that someone is at the door before the bell rings. We finally decided that the most rewarding moment for a designer is when people interact with the surface intentionally! We decided to collaborate and make a single surface that could be used for various applications. We were imagining a soft rug that could sense pressure and the location of a touch, in different parts of the surface. Adding an “element of magic” to this electronic project, we wished to provide unexpected feedback for the interaction. Our friend Yoshinari Takegawa (Yoshi), than a researcher in Media Lab Opera For the Future group, postulated: how would a user react if this flat surface becomes a musical instrument? Concept Yoshi’s suggestion intrigued us since music has an invisible power to engage people. This concept shares similarities with the Perfect Human, but due to its smaller scale, we were able to make a more complex sound experience.

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We decided to make a soft, flat rug instrument for children. Its surface could sense the pressure at selected locations while creating an audio feedback. By pressing with more weight the sound becomes louder so a user controls the experience. Our project compares to physical games such as Twister, but in our model, the configuration of body postures generates acoustic effects. We wanted a pleasant, intriguing looking final artifact. The initial target group for this project was children. We made the rug bright and used picturesque shapes to indicate the active touch areas. For graphical decoration we looked for inspiration in our cultures. I am Polish and Judy grew up in China. After doing research, we realized that the folklore in both countries has similar motifs including the rooster, floral shapes, and various animals. Though the meaning of these symbols is different in each culture, they are all inspired by nature. Difference in form and shape comes from the traditional craft technology. Polish elements had sharper edges and triangular details because they originated from woodcuts. Chinese shapes were softer and more expressive, as they were painted mainly with an ink brush. When playing with these different shapes in Illustrator, I was designing a visual language to combine both sets of images, while remaining faithful to the original characters. Prototyping Although we have conducted previous experiments with electronics, neither Judy’s Urban Planning background nor my Graphic Design experience, prepared us for a multisensor project. After a consultation in basic circuit physics with professor Leah Buechley, we decided to use an Arduino circuit board to program the interaction. We required sensors which could detect a range of resistance occurring while pressing the surface. One of our assistants, Hannah Perner-Wilson, suggested we try velostat – a packaging material that is used to protect devices that are prone to damage from electrostatic discharge. The resulting Magic Carpet is a three by three foot flat surface, connected to speakers and a computer which runs the program. This interactive textile is a matrix of sixteen pressure sensors. Each sensor is constructed from one piece of velostat and two layers of light net plastic in between two pieces of


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

FROM THE TOP: Testing small scale construction prototype; composing docorative motifs; laser cutting graphic elements, MIT Media Lab, 2011

TOP: Judy with professor Leah Buechley LEFT: Judy programing the carpet; RIGHT: Yoshinari Takegawa MIT, Media Lab, 2011

Case Studies


conductive fabrics. To connect the sensors, we used two sets of parallel and perpendicular conductive threads. We used diodes to lead the circuit current unidirectional, allowing us to reduce the number of analogue inputs in the Arduino board. Using only four slots, we could read values for the entire matrix. More commonly, connecting circuits need one slot per sensor, which for our project would have meant sixteen active Arduino pins. Constructing such a circuit for textiles, increases potential errors in cable connections. Coding sixteen active pins would have been challenging for our programing skill level. Finally, the carpet matrix was connected to a computer and set of speakers. We wrote code to read the signal from the wires and transform it into a data using Arduino software. We used Processing 1.0 to interpret the data and activate the music. The combination of these two programs is a common method for designing interactive prototypes. The challenging part was designing the visual side of the Magic Carpet. The construction base was made out of red felt. On top of the sensing spots we sewed sixteen white, linen squares. Inside those squares we placed picturesque graphics. To translate the vector shapes from Illustrator to the textile form, I used a  laser cutter. Before cutting the pieces I prepared the material by attaching the fabric-adhesive on one side. This procedure made an even contact layer that secured the ornament. When the shapes were ready, they were ironed to the finished surface on the spots above sensing points. The red and white graphics with the decorative form of the carpet visually brings to mind a Kilim Rug. When the physical artifact was ready, with Yoshi’s assistance we used MIDI controller to test the range of audio effects. People experienced the carpet differently depending on what sounds are generated. When the audio simulated a traditional instrument, like a piano, users were willing to make music. However, when participants heard electronic sounds generated by a computer they tried once or twice and passed the turn to another person. It was interesting to observe how people who were not familiar with our project interacted with the carpet. During early tests in our studio, when the computer was close to the touchpoints, people immediately knew how to play with 60

P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Programing the Magic Carpet prototype. MIT, Media Lab, 2011

Case Studies


the Magic Carpet. But when we used professional speakers in a large room, the carpet seemed separated from the audio. When surrounded by sound, participants needed more time to realize that they themselves were making the sound. The distance between the actual feedback source and the interactive area was a key factor effecting the experience. Usually after approaching the surface, participants started to test the possibilities. Most, when they became familiar with the logic behind the system, pressed the buttons very hard. They seemed most interested in making the sound loud. After experimenting with the carpet, people noticed other participants. They would start a rhythmic sound and try to encourage another to join the composition. Some users during the presentation wanted to use their feet and jump on the carpet. The bright colors made them resist this temptation. The white linen and well cut shapes may have been mistaken as finished artwork, therefore people resisted playing with it freely.


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Final project presentation, MIT, Media Lab, May 2011

Evaluation After each test, we made improvements such as: change of sampled sounds for melodic piano; adjustments in the visual illustrations, finalize the size for the carpet. Initially, we were planning to add visual feedback, but we found that the sound itself is very engaging and projection might distract users. A visual experience was provided by the graphical form of the carpet. We kept the attention of users focused in one direction. Many improvements can be made to the code for this prototype. In our next version, we would like to try a sound repetition effect that would influence how participants play. What would happen if the sensors could keep the rhythm after one touch and pressure would just change the volume of a particular beat? We would prefer a wireless connection with the operating computer. Ideally, the artifact should be portable and easy to adjust to different surfaces. Judy and I had a chance to learn about building electronics, using hardware, and programing the code, even if it was not working as we initially imagined. The final outcome made us feel proud. I was pleased to explore the new graphic design technique of laser cutting pre-designed illustrations. I used this new method for another DMI project, the Girl Talk Mash Up sensory disc. Interactions observed during user tests focused our attention to relevant problems that I have tried to avoid in later projects. First, it is important to adjust the right distance between feedback source and the interaction point in a physical space. Second, people need to feel comfortable when interacting with an object, therefore when designing for playful activity, the finished piece should not look too precise and fragile. Finally, the experience should be consistent, so the sounds match the expectations set by visual form. Analyzing the Magic Carpet prototype gave me an insight for my next project, which was designed specifically to encourage an activity of play.

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P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

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Case Study Three / brush ball

When I moved from Europe to United States I needed to adjust to a new environment. My life was full of little discoveries, because everything seemed so distinct from what I knew before. For example: different units of measurement for length, temperature, volume, currency;  packaging for products in stores; , public transportation systems; and traffic rules among others. Every small daily action needed consideration. These everyday life obstacles were frustrating. Although these new systems were logical, it was challenging to assimilate so many things at the same time. There was a sense of satisfaction when I recognized how things worked. Meanwhile at DMI, we were asked to prepare our first project on the topic “You Are Here,” allowing me to pass my learning experience to others. I sketched a scenario for an installation in which people could approach an unknown system and enjoy a moment of discovery. After a short period of confusion, everyone would quickly master the rules and start enjoying the experience. Seeking a metaphor to design my own rules, I thought up a simple game, that can induce enjoyable interaction. I liked the simplicity of a ball and the fact that people all over the world know how to play with it. Concept A ball is a provocative object, it is an invitation to interaction. For my scenario I used a dark room with a glowing ball on the floor. People entering the room are not provided with any rules for interaction. When they lift the ball nothing changes in the environment, but when the ball is thrown through the air lines are displayed representing the movement. Recognizing this concept, participants will enjoy playing and keep the ball moving to build an image.  The ball becomes a magical brush creating more complex images the longer it is in the air. Using body movement, participants playfully interact with each other, while enjoying a shared experience. Brush Ball encourages people to creatively collaborate when painting an image with a ball in motion. Brush Ball, interaction sketches, 2010 On pages 64—67: research on body movement during activity of play, 2010 66

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Prototyping Brush Ball was designed during my first semester at DMI, but after the mid– semester review I put it away and moved to the next project. The construction seemed much too complex for me to prototype this concept. During my second year at DMI, one of my fellow students, Lou Susi (MFA’11), recalled this project. He suggested I could overcome the technical obstacles of prototyping Brush Ball by gaining experience with programming and electronic circuits. My first approach was to build an independent object that could wirelessly send data to a computer. After researching accelerometers, touch and pressure sensors, I consulted with Hannah Perner-Wilson, then a graduate student at the Media Lab. We realized that building such an artifact without using direct cables was beyond my programming skills. I searched for other solutions. Starting with simple tests using my laptop webcam, I wrote a program that tracked a chosen color. I tested it in different spaces and found that new lighting effected the hue of an object, resulting in software not functioning as planned. Also, when the camera detected an object with a similar color the image got messy. The next attempt involved an Infrared camera (IR). The image was filtered to the grayscale so the camera captured only the brightness of the objects. The object had to be equipped with IR LED light in order to be detected. This type of light is invisible to the human eye, but is detected by the computer sensor. Small white balloons with a glowing IR light inside were used in testing. Using a little flashing “party dot” light inside the balloon, the glowing ball was attractive in the darkness. My classmate Jeff Bartell (MFA ‘13) and I played with the balloon in the studio. It worked so well that I decided to keep the light for the visual effect. I prepared a different scale of balls using paper machèe and embedded lights inside. These small prototypes led to an idea of an installation in a room filled with small scale glowing-balls, each of them could be represented on the projected image with different color. However, my programing skills didn’t allow me to develop this idea further. The exploration had an important influence on the look of the final project. Case Studies



P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Brush Ball, movement analysis, 2010


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Case Studies


Using Kinect The IR camera tests failed when the natural sunlight accessed the room. Any daylight would cause a reaction in the software, creating problems testing the program during the day in different places. Although both Webcam and the IR cameras could make a prototype, they were problematic in the multiple tests required for writing the code. Tracked objects were leaving a trace in the computer image, but the response was unstable, causing noticeable delays in relation to movements in physical space. Someone with better programming skills may have fixed this by overwriting the code. Ready to give up, discouraged by computer feedback, I asked the advice of a more experienced student from the Media Lab, Valentin Heun. He suggested the new XBox 360 Kinect, an innovative video games console developed by Microsoft. Kinect, launched in November 2010, uses three cameras at the same time – RGB, IR and a second IR – depth detection in space. The sensor was quickly hacked for alternative uses. To adapt Kinect, the open source community developed suitable code libraries in various programing languages (such as Open Frameworks, Processing, Java). Depth detection allowed me to measure distance in space and track ball movement. The first code for Kinect I wrote, worked better than previous tests with other cameras, but it required more research and learning to write more effective programs. The most effective method I developed used two programs running simultaneously. The first is a TUIO Kinect library, initially developed for gesture recognition. This program detects movement in a specific area representing the moving object as a single blob. The advantage of this software, is that the blob ID number resets when the motion disappears from the screen. The sensor captures moving objects first. Other programs (e.g. CCV, OpenNI, SimpleOpenNI), add numbers to the ID until the whole program is restarted. Accessing constantly changing numbers of objects is a challenge to my programming capabilities. The stable data: ID number and its center point, are transferred to Processing 1.0. Using this program I could analyze the information, drawing an image based on the location of a moving object. Since the information to process was first simplified by TUIO Kinect, Processing 1.0 worked much faster relative to testing the other cameras.


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

First test of the Kinect sensor, Brush Ball DMI, January, 2012

Case Studies



P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

User Experience Following the initial concept, it is important to “clear” the “painting” area after each interaction allowing new participants to discover the system themselves. By adding a “fading out” feature, the image stays only for couple seconds after movement stops. While testing the first prototype with my classmate Shan Gao (MFA ‘12) and professor Brian Lucid, I observed how the disappearing projection changes the interaction. I set up the sensor on the floor, and projected the image to the wall. I noticed that while playing, we were so highly engaged in drawing an image before it was gone, that we didn’t look at the ball resulting in Shan getting hit on her head because we were not focused on the game itself. This observation led to the major improvement of shifting the projection from the wall to the floor. The change required mirroring the image, which later made construction of the prototype more challenging. Learning Carpentry When the programing part of the project was developed I started to design the physical installation, a large platform, six feet by ten feet wide and four inches high, that covers the Kinect sensor while working as a projection screen. With the help of instructors at MassArt’s wood shop, I worked with diverse tools such as chain saws, a drill, a sander, and a pressure nail gun. To cover up a few construction mistakes, I had to master how to plane wood and protect the edges with plastic corners. It was an exhausting week full of learning carpentry basics. The new skills came in handy for the smaller parts of the installation, such as making a rotation mechanism for the mirror, or constructing a support LEFT: Building the platform for projection. RIGHT, from the top: Projector mirror installation; lights tested for the ball illumination; glowing balls made of paper machèe.

for the hanging projector. Evaluation During the design process, I was discussing my work with peers and advisors, and testing it at particular stages. However the first observations of multiple users interacting with Brush Ball, were conducted during the Fresh Media 2012 exhibition (18-th – 20-th, April 2012), a show featuring works by current DMI students. Due to the limitations of the gallery I had to present the Brush

Case Studies


Ball project at one third of its intended size. In this setup, the platform was four by six feet large and the Kinect sensor was placed in the ceiling. That configuration allowed users to move their hands in an area captured by the camera. As a result, participants could paint lines with the ball as well as their own body. I feared that this effect may make the interaction too obvious and that people would get bored. I decided to leave this as an option. Because the room prepared for the installation had bright light spilling from nearby projects, the ball’s glowing effect wouldn’t be visible. For Fresh Media I replaced it with a smaller white one. I was surprised how many ideas people visiting the gallery came up with for interacting with my work. One man, after discovering the possibility of drawing with his hands, kept his arm stretched towards the middle of the platform, and ran in circles around it. Because the movement continued, the line didn’t break, or fade out. The “painting” was filling the whole projected area and the man kept running around for about a minute. He tried this two more times as other people stopped to observe him. He had to pause when he got a little dizzy, spilling his beer on the floor. Another participant was hanging out in the room while observing people playing with the installation. When he felt he was alone in the room, he came closer to the projection. With a slow, precise move he put his bottle on the floor. Stepping forward he made a sudden sequence of moves: jump, kick with a straight leg, and band his knees with two quick hits of his fist. Everything was so fast that it looked like a Japanese martial art move. I was standing in the doors with my jaw dropped, surprised that this work provoked an interaction I would never have expected. The biggest challenge for my project started when Jeff and his friend came to the room. Jeff was familiar with the project, so he wanted to test it in an extreme way. They took positions on opposite sides of the rectangular platform and started the serious play. They quickly developed rules where a point was scored when the beach ball touched the platform making a line. The game became so intense, that I was concerned if the wooden platform survive such energetic hits. 76

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Fresh Media 2012, DMI exhibition, April 18– 20, 2012

People were taking turns and painting their names while others were trying different heights to see it that affects the projection. Others examined the beach ball in the light looking for the sensor – them I had to stop, and explain how the installation worked. Several participants made circles by holding the ball and treated it as a brush. Overall, I have observed two types of users, those who tend to understand and trick the system, and others who simply enjoy the interaction by losing themselves in the flow of play. The positive feedback from the students show was encouraging. It was deeply gratifying observing people interacting among themselves enjoying Brush Ball while simultaneously gaining valuable insights for design improvements or an alternative development of this concept. An alternative configuration of the software is being tested in the second version of the Brush Ball. In this new setting, the images generated in a projected drawing no longer dissipate, but collect and gets richer with every new participant. I am interested what kind of collaborative image I will find at the end of the day. In the future, I would like to install Brush Ball or its descendant in a public space. The playful experience outdoors would likely be quite different than in the gallery. With this Brush Ball prototype, a sensor was tracking movement. In a large scale installation, electronic construction as well as different sensors would be required in the ball itself (to sense human touch, pressure, acceleration and height for positioning). I can imagine how creative play could become if participants are not limited by architectural boundaries. I will be designing the new version of Brush Ball using the projection mapping software Mad Mapper. This program will allow me to map large scale surfaces and distort the image accordingly to the texture. This method is used by architects and VJs for music events. My plan is to prepare a setting where the projection appears on a building facade, thus changing the experience of a well known public environment.

Case Studies


MFA Thesis Show, Paine and Bakalar Gallery April 24 — May 3, 2012 Pages 76 – 81 present images drawn by participants during the shows.


P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Case Studies


Conclusions These two years of intensive research have strongly influenced the evolution of a lifelong design approach. The experience I gained at DMI allowed me to evaluate my ideas in their practical implementations. Encouraged by discussions with classmates and advisors, I was eager to develop my initial concepts to levels that were not on my horizon before joining the program. Confronting projects in a group critique strongly supported theoretical background and provided inspiration for final work. I have learned to question my ideas and search for solutions beyond the familiar field of graphic design. The experience of prototyping and observations made during user tests changed my traditional way of thinking about confronting design challenges. When working with Daniel Buckley on the tables survey, and Judy Zheng Jia on Magic Carpet projects I noticed that collaboration makes work faster and more fun. Discussing ideas at each stage results in avoiding mistakes that may otherwise occur during the process. Dividing the design part into steps and talking about each of them aloud is a form of examining a concept. Immediate feedback from another person becomes an impulse to generate and improve final outcome. User Feedback With electronic and analog installations, early user testing is an essential part of developing design concepts. Prototyping allowed me to integrate play in my own process. By examining basic ideas in small scale experiments, I was able to quickly examine possible interactions. Weather it was a magnetic board for The Pefect Human, the small model of Magic Carpet or paper light balls for Brush Ball. Daniel and I were surprised by how people reacted to the grey paper and pencils at the survey tables in Peet’s Cafeteria. I noticed a free table with a lunch on it. The owner of this lunch was walking from one table to another asking other customers if he could look at the answers they had written. Observing this type of interaction was one of the most rewarding and inspiring aspects of the design process. 86

P L A Y FU L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

User feedback has been an invaluable for my projects. Using prototypes I am able to observe actual interactions. In my first case study, The Perfect Human, testing revealed that the prototype was overloaded with media — videos, music beats, graphical images on the floor — the complexity of which limited the possibility of user interaction. An important insight came from tests of Magic Carpet. When designing for interactivity, a project should not look too complete and fragile. People need to feel comfortable touching and exploring objects. Brush Ball was most successful because of its simplicity. While contributing to visual feedback, users had partial control over the experience. Natural and simple interactions with a beach ball provided an opportunity for playful engagement. Participants could not resist passing the ball back and forth to the point of fatigue. The projection feedback was equally engaging for both multiple and single users. For those whose focus was on creating visuals, they developed unexpected ways of “painting” with the beach balls. One girl realized that targeting the projector on the ceiling with the ball, left an interesting trace on the floor-screen. By bumping the installation she happily discovered new possibilities for creating an image.

“This leads one to believe that human to human interactions are more engaging than interactions with an electronic medium”

Generating visual feedback encouraged play but was limited enough not to disturb real interactions between people. Interactivity with a multimedia piece usually lasts less than two minutes (Snibbe and Raffle), however interactions with Brush Ball lasted much longer (up to seven minutes). When discussing this project with my friend, Edward Slattery, we surmised that the reason for this was that after first approaching Brush Ball, people quickly started to share the experience with others. This leads one to believe that human to human interactions are more engaging than interactions with an electronic medium. The observation of many participants joining a game initiated by strangers underscores my hypothesis that social interactions support social relations. Participants suggested practical improvements for the project, such as adding guidelines for various sports and games, transforming the installation into a children’s therapy tool, or using it commercially in urban environment. These comments are inspiring for a potential continuation of this project. When interacting with projection, users looked for an encouraging smile from their neighbors. Participants brought friends to share the experience with them as they teamed up with strangers to comprehend the system. By such play, people developed a momentary community based on the experience of flow.



Flow Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as an optimal state that influence perception of happiness in the course of life. He describes flow as the moments when participants facilitate concentration by controlling activity. The involvement is so intense that it allows us to forget about the worries and obstacles that we face in our daily routine. When enjoying flow, participants often loose their sense of time. A core concept of my work involves creating an opportunity for an optimal experience to occur. Contrary to the virtual space, that can keep people’ attention for hours. I tried to provide stimulus for total engagement in a real space. By dedicating their physical energy and sharing this experience with others, participants became more creative in techniques they were using for play. This process was mostly visible in the Brush Ball installation, for example, when people asked others to collaboratively throw balls in order to achieve new color on the image. These short moments when one is focused on interaction rarely happen in everyday life. Most of us are focused on our personal lives and hardly notice the surrounding. However, I have noticed that going “goofy” with the balls makes participants happy and often creative, especially in a group activity. Installations meant for play can be an alternative for the ubiquitous screens and, soon, virtual reality. Tangible Objects All of my case studies have used tangible objects that made reference to the physical world. Enriched by electronics, these artifacts remained easy and intuitive to use. People of various age groups and cultural backgrounds have experienced the projects I have designed. I would like to take advantage of this universality for future public space projects. As technology progresses, the socializing installations will hopefully become integrated into urban design. I believe that when implemented in a city environment these installations will help us to balance between virtual and physical worlds. Today most interactive devices can be used for social media, however the emotional resonance generated while socializing in real space creates a different experience. David Small (Founder of Small Design Firm) contextualized museum installations, during his Annual Lecture at DMI (April, 19, 2012), by mentioning that his goal is

“to build something that will last when everything changes.” The medium may change in the future, so therefore developing a conceptual model for work is extremely important. Creating meaningful connections with digital media will change the experience of digital media itself.


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

“Creating meaningful connections with digital media will change the experience of digital media itself.”

Teaching others Given an opportunity to pass this experience on to students in a design curriculum, I would ask them to recreate a playful moment from their childhood. For this challenge they would have to design and prototype a scenario in which they share a moment of happiness, curiosity and joy from their own experience. How would one explain this moment to others and how would technology influence this experience? Some people may describe play as an individual activity, but for others it would be a memory involving peers, parents or animals. I am curious about what kind of interactions students would recall through the filter of their own lives and how they would transform these moments into an experience. The assignment would involve writing out memories of playful interactions and then analyzing the answers to the following questions, how many people took part in these experience and what kind of objects were involved? I would encourage students to describe these scenarios, participants, smells, sounds and other images as they write these memories and create a story. Answering these questions would provide valuable information for designing a multi-sensory prototype of a playful experience, a social game or an interactive tangible object, depending on a student’s concept. Context Mark Weiser wrote in 1991 that “The most profound technologies are those

that disappear. They weave themselves into a fabric or everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Today, we are not only surrounded by digital devices, but also tied to them by various contracts, memberships and accounts. Devices wake us up and “keep us posted” during the day. Thanks to technology, contact with other people becomes effortless, and often loses its value. These new, “virtual” responsibilities have an impact on social behaviors. Graduate studies have given me an opportunity to rethink the new reality of to which I belong in a global perspective. I have noticed the consequences of cyber-culture in modern society while researching the latest technologies. Their possible usage has at times scared me, but the use of dynamic media in supporting interactions in public spaces fascinates me. This constantly changing landscape is an exciting field to explore as new environments open opportunities for creative applications. Observing smiling people engaged in play makes me happy. By embracing this feeling and important social behavior, we will be able to sustain comfort in our own world.



Works Cited Antonelli, Paola, Hunt, Jamer, Alexandra Midal. Talk to me, Design and Communication between People and Objects. New York: The Museum of Modern Arts, 2011. Print. Bilton, Nick. “Google to Sell Heas-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End.” New York Times Bits, blog entry by, February 21, 2012. Web. Caillois, Roger. Man, Play and Games. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1961. Print Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. Print. Houde, Stephanie, Charles Hill. What do Prototypes Prototype? Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1990. Web. Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. n.p.: Beacon Press, 1944. Print. Interview with Sherry Turkle. Frontline. Sept 22, 2009. Web. frontline/digitalnation/interviews/turkle.html Ishii, Hiroshi. Tangible Bits: Beyond Pixels. Cambridge: Tangible Media Group, MIT Media Laboratory, 2008. Web. Karatzas, Evan. Proximity Lab, Studies in Physical-Computational Interface and Self-Directed User Experience. Boston: Dynamic Media Institute, 2005. Print. Krueger. Myron W. Responsive Environments, AFIPS 46 National Computer Conference, 423 – 33, Montvale, N.J.: AFPIS Press, 1977 Ars Electronica 2004, festival in Linz, Austria. Leth, Jørgen. The perfect Human (Det Perfekte menneske), video, Denmark, 1967. Novitska, Karolina. forWordPlay/Experiential Learning of a Fereign Language via Interactive Play. Boston: Dynamic Media Institute, 2006. Print. Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. n.p.: Basic Books, 2011. Print Sheridan, Barrett W., “An App That Helps You Cozy Up to Strangers”, Bloomberg Businessweek Technology. March 8, 2012. Web. Snibbe, Scott S., Hayes S. Raffle. Social Immersive Media, Pursuing Best Practices for Multiuser Interactive Camera/projector Exhibits. San Fransisco: Sona Research, 2009. Web. Small, David. “Designing for Experience.” Annual DMI Lecture 2012, Boston: Massachusetts College of Art and Design, 19th April 2012


P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

Strunk, William, E.B. White, Roger Angell. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 1999. Print. Verplank, Bill. Interaction Design Sketchbook by Bill Verplank. Stanford: The Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), 2003. Web. Weiser, Mark. The Computer for the 21st Century. Palo Alto: Palo Alto Research Center, 1991. Web. Wenner, Melinda.“The Serious Need for Play�. Scientific American Mind, Februar/March 2009. Web.

Works Cited



Antonelli, Paola, Hunt, Jamer, Alexandra Midal. Talk to me, Design and Communication between People and Objects. New York: The Museum of Modern Arts, 2011. Print. Caillois, Roger. Man, Play and Games. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1961. Print Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. Print. Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. n.p.: Beacon Press, 1944. Print. Johnson, Stephen Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Riverhead Hardcover; 1st, 2010. Print. Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. n.p.: Basic Books, 2011. Print Strunk, William, E.B. White, Roger Angell. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 1999. Print. Karatzas, Evan. Proximity Lab, Studies in Physical-Computational Interface and Self-Directed User Experience. Boston: Dynamic Media Institute, 2005. Print. Novitska, Karolina. forWordPlay/Experiential Learning of a Fereign Language via Interactive Play. Boston: Dynamic Media Institute, 2006. Print. Research papers: Augsten, Thomas, et al. Multitoe: High-Precision Interaction with Back Projected Floors Based on High-Resolution MultiTouch Input. Potsdam: Hasso Plattner Institute, 2010. Web. Briones, Carolina, et al. A Socializing Interactive Installation for the Urban Environments. London: The Bartlett, University College London, 2007. Web. Houde, Stephanie, Charles Hill. What do Prototypes Prototype? Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1990. Web. Ishii, Hiroshi. Tangible Bits: Beyond Pixels. Cambridge: Tangible Media Group, MIT Media Laboratory, 2008. Web. Krueger. Myron W. Responsive Environments, AFIPS 46 National Computer Conference, 423 – 33, Montvale, N.J.: AFPIS Press, 1977 Ars Electronica 2004, festival in Linz, Austria Snibbe, Scott S., Hayes S. Raffle. Social Immersive Media, Pursuing Best Practices for Multiuser Interactive Camera/projector Exhibits. San Fransisco: Sona Research, 2009. Web. Verplank, Bill. Interaction Design Sketchbook by Bill Verplank. Stanford: The Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), 2003. Web. Weiser, Mark. The Computer for the 21st Century. Palo Alto Research Center, 1991. Web. 92

P L A Y F U L I N TE R A C TI ON S Designing Spontaneous Connections Maria Stangel

ARTICLES and interviews: Bilton, Nick. “Google to Sell Heas-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End.” New York Times Bits, blog entry by, February 21, 2012. Web. Fredrick, Bryon. Wiki entry. Web.( Krueger) Interview with Sherry Turkle. Frontline. Sept 22, 2009. Web. digitalnation/interviews/turkle.html Small, David. “Designing for Experience.” Annual DMI Lecture 2012, Boston: Massachusetts College of Art and Design, 19th April 2012 Sheridan, Barrett W., “An App That Helps You Cozy Up to Strangers,” Bloomberg Businessweek Technology. March 8, 2012. Web. Mind, Februar/March 2009. Wenner, Melinda.“The Serious Need for Play.” Scientific American Web. Resource FILMS and Websites:

Victor, Bret. “Inventing on Principle”, CUSEC 2012, Montreal, Quebec. Lecture: ( Leth, Jørgen. The perfect Human (Det Perfekte menneske), video, Denmark, 1967.

L ecture: UX Week 2009, San Fransisco. Lecture: Works Cited


Thank you I would like to thank the following people for helping me along the way: Jan Kubasiewicz, for endless inspiration and energy to aim high George Creamer, Jenny Gibbs, Evan Karatzas for creating the opportunity for me to complete this program

Brian Lucid, Joe Quackebush, Gunta Kaza for teaching, encouraging and challenging me, for all your time and advice during these two years

Marta, Michal, Dorota and Krystian Stangel, for years of love, support, energy and trust

Edward Slattery for friendship, advice support and dedicated teaching Piotr Paul, for patience and understanding Amber Vistein, Saul Baizman and Daniel Buckley for being with me during the hardest time

Valentin Heun for teaching, helping and inspiring conversations Nicole, Shan, Kid, Daniel (again), Martha, Cindy, Jeff, Gabi, Zach for being wonderful, inspiring classmates. I am grateful I had a chance to learn from you

Stephanie for a fun collaboration! Thank you to Lou, David, Kent, Pol for your comments, general support and for listening to all my presentations (wow!) Good luck to: Fish, John, Jeremy, Yael, Kim, Alex, Stephanie, Saul, Jeff, Martha, Cindy, Zach, Gabi! — Thank you all for being the DMI family.

dynamic media institute 2012

Playful Interactions  

Designing Spontaneous Connections

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