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An Explorative Approach to Interaction Design in Mixed-Reality Performances

Dissertation von Gesa Friedrichs-Büttner (2014)

Digital media have become an important element in performing arts. Artists and audience can interweave their actions on stage with digital content as they perform with and through responding interfaces. This co-play can extend the narrative and aesthetic possibilities of storytelling. However, digital media is still not well understood as a means for dramaturgy. As directors are exposed to many challenges and difficulties when combining live performance with digital elements, technicians at the same time have to learn about the theatrical frame.

This dissertation aims at the development of a fundamental understanding of dramaturgical interaction design as well as at the creation of new theatrical experiences. The major research question is whether there are general criteria that can guide the design of interactive storytelling in participatory settings. Approaching this question, this work is structured into two parts.

First, I examine how the inclusion of media and technology has reconfigured traditional means of storytelling during the last decades. The dramaturgical potential of digital media is presented and the most important design challenges for performative works at the intersection of HCI, interaction design, and the performing arts are discussed.

Second, I describe the design of the two participatory mixed-reality performances Parcival XX-XI and Operation:Parcival. Their evaluation reveals different audience reactions concerning its involvement in these plays and the use of digital media. Based on these specific results, we develop in a more general manner the four major performance components of participatory mixed-reality shows mixed media, spectatorship, limitations, and timing as well as the four interaction-enabling criteria interest, ability, experience, and sharing. Using the findings from these two plays, we finally outline a methodology for dramaturgical interaction design.

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