Active Points – Interactive Dancing Performance

Name of piece: Active Points

Name of author: Vicky Bisbiki

Description: Free will narrative with changing but similar simple visualization and sonification.

Technology used in piece: Max, Projector, Kinect?



The part I like here starts at about 3:00.  Most of this performance does not show what interaction designers call “strong mappings”.  I enjoy the variations that can be accomplished with similar “paint”.

Measuring Direct vs Indirect Paths, an Initial Prototype

In thinking about the sketch 1 assignment, which is to create a performance that looks at direct vs indirect space, I’ve been thinking about how measure in/directness.  The following example images come from a live demo in HTML5/Javascript I made yesterday.  Drag your mouse around to see the last 30 or so points your mouse moved.  The intuition behind the metric is to measure the predicability of the path.  For each point, I try to predict the next 5 steps by assuming the actual path will continue in the same linear predicted path.  The following screenshots show a various paths and a scale from 0 to 100 of in/directness.










Here, the green path shows the actual mouse path.  Each red line is the predicted path at a point.  The more often the red path matches the green path, the more direct the path is.

One can imagine using a Kinect or Wiimote to generate this path.  Once that is accomplished, interactive visualizations and sonifications can be mapped to this metric.



Portfolio tpoem as Interactive Art

Tpoem is an interactive environment for writing lyrics or poetry.  The web application makes rhyming suggestions as users type, placing the rhymes for the last of of each line in the right margin.  These suggestions can be used to explore possibilities in writing poetry.  Double clicking on a word sends it to a teacup that steams related words (near to distant synonyms).

Seeing rhyming suggestions is hands off and calm in the sense that no user initiation is needed beyond typing.  Authors could use tpoem just a text editor and ignore the rhymes and steaming.  Rhymes are most prominent where the text cursor is place.  Moving one’s mouse over a line of rhymes reveals the complete set of provide rhymes, which can be pages long.  This interaction creates a system and user feedback loop.  As author changes what tpoem suggestions, the author changes the poem and tpoem modifies its recommendations.

Steaming is a lightweight and easy to implement generative suggester that hopes to inspire authors as they write.  Instead of showing all realed synonyms, tpoem shows streams of words selected randomly from the pool of words related to what is inside the teacup.  These simi-random juxtapositions are meant to inspire the author to make connections and see conceptual combinations.  As words steam up in the left margin, they are juxtaposed with lines of the poem itself, affording many possible associations.

Tpoem also lets people publish tpoems.  You can a list of user published tpoems I curated here.

The Art of Interaction: Interactivity, Performativity, and Computers Summary


In The Art of Interaction: Interactivity, Performativity, and Computers, Satlz discusses emerging questions about whether interactive technology is indeed new or simply art with technology tacked on.  As a paper witten at most in 1997, hypertext and virtual reality are hot topics and mentioned throughout.

Performative technology and art requires:

  1. A sensing or input device translates certain aspects of a person’s behavior into a digital form that a computer can understand.
  2. The computer outputs data that are systematically related to the input (i.e. the input affects the output).
  3. The output data are translated back into real world phenomena that people can percieve.

But these components might be applied to all interactivity.  Saltz uses hypertext to distinguish interactivity from interactive performances. Web browsing is about attention on a work rather than the user in the work.  Virtual reality invites and requires an amount of imagination for a viewer to be immersed in virtual world.  This contrast between interactions in a web browser and a virtual reality environment highlights the components of  performative interaction.

The aesthetic understandings of virtual reality are about the realities they portray rather than the pixels used to “see” them.  Saltz says we can draw these conclusions,

  1. Some but not all participatory interactions are performative.
  2. Participatory interaction is performitive when the interation is an aestheitc object.

Improve performances contain elements of randomness.  Saltz concludes by mentioning that computer performers do not suffer from the fatigue an non-neutrality common to human actors.  This always ready state is useful for creating interactive performances for interactive spectators.

Live Media: Interactive Media and Theatre Summary

In Live Media: Interactive Media and Theatre SummarySatlz’s describes the role of live media in theatre, the classical western performance of scripted interactive plays.  Highlighting experience from his own productions, Satlz emphasizes the need for fluid and forgiving forms of technology to interact with live performances.  Enumerating a taxonomy of relationships between performers and media, Satltz concludes with an example of interactions from The Tempest.


An example of played media from Hair.

Musical instruments are forms of interactive media devices.  Newer technologies for playing, synthesizing, and manipulating media in realtime help complement the improvisational spirit of performance.  In the IPL production of Hair, the productions crew mapped a library of images, sounds, and video keyboard keys using MIDI.  This media instrument transfered the immediacy and spontaneous nature of improv on to the stage.   A similar MIDI triggered approach is used in The Tempest to change backgrounds and manipulate the set.

Saltz’s taxonomy provides a foundation for thinking about interactions between human and technological performers.

  • Virtual Scenery – serves as a background, which may be interactive or passive.
  • Interactive Costumes – costumes with sensors, lights, or other dynamic aspects.
  • Alternate Perspective – depicts a new perspective in a narrative.
  • Subjective Perspective – shows a view of thoughts or gives insights into a character’s perception.
  • Illustration – shows an illustration of a performers words.
  • Commentary – supporting evidence in parallel with the overall narrative of a performance.
  • Diegetic Media – media that exists within the world of the performance, such as a radio character listen to.
  • Affective Media – media designed to change the audience’s emotional state.
  • Synesthesia – remediates one kind of sense into a different modality.
  • Instrumental Media – technology that creates an instrument from performer actions.
  • Virtual Puppetry – technology that acts a character in a performance, usually controlled by a performer.

Saltz concludes by stating that his ultimate goal is to create performances that have dramatic relationships between media and performers, to the extent that media has as much as a role as performers do.  This goal is now within reach.

Kung Fu Dance Related

For body movement art that doesn’t involve technology, I had to go back to just after my high school years.  I took up martial arts as a sport and discipline from ages 15 to 20.  The following is an example called Tun Da, which my instructor called Shaolin number 6.  I saw a student perform this form with the same skill in person during a black belt test.

The forms in kung fu encapsulate narrative and philosophy that has been handed down and modified for generations.  The style is formalized form where you are instructed to visualize an opponent and interpret meaning.  A simple raising of the arm could be a block, an introduction to a grab, or a strike.  The aim of the performer is to go through the motions of the form as fluidly, quickly, and with the most defined postures possible.

My experience in learning kung fu and forms caused me to see and understand body movement in terms of punches, kicks, stance  and motive.   The effect of doing on perception is interesting.  I think of it as the body and mind as building a vocabulary of moments.  This gives me a better perception and memory of fighting and other body movements.  It also helped me tuck and roll during a bike accident last month.





Rhema’s Interactive Performance and Technology Intro

Rhema Linder’s introduction for this course.

Department:  I’m from the department of Computer Science
Academic  Background:
I have been a Master student here at Texas A&M since Fall of 2009.  I am in the process of joining the PhD program.  The Interface Ecology Lab works on a variety of projects.  My research has mostly been in understanding how to evaluate creativity support environments in laboratory and field studies.  I want computers to support human expression, information needs, and fun.  People like to use existing images, text, and thought from the web and synthesize them as their own curations, and novel works.  I want to make that process easier.

Artistic Background:
My artistic background includes creating software that supports creativity.  One course project that I created is tpoem, an environment that shows rhyming suggestions and lets artists juxtapose words from a thesaurus as they write.  When I was 15, a close friend and I made 3d game applications, which was my introduction to programming.  Along with that came some introduction into adobe products.

Technical Background:
I’ve worked on interaction design and implementation, search systems, scripts for statistics, computer graphics, machine learning, obscure networking protocols, and visualizations of complex data.  While I know most popular programming languages, I prefer to work with Python.  I’ve also designed processes on Mechanical Turk for generating and filtering text and image content.  I also designed and implemente an ipad app for my 2 year old, which I suppose works for all of these three categories.


The following post in this new category are meant to record my process and process in the Interactive Performance and Technology  course.

The Know/No Space

I don’t know why it’s so interesting to me, but if you say the word no/know twice, you construct a surprisingly large space of meaning.  Perhaps it strikes me as interesting wordplay or pun based humor.

We have 2^2 = four possible word permutations.

  • No no
  • Know no
  • No know
  • Know know

Each of the above can also be ambiguous.  I will list out the interpretations I have considered but I expect that there are more.

No no

  • There is nothing off limits.  There is no no for me.
  • No.  No I mean it.  Really no.  No no!
  • As  a noun.  That off limit item is a no no.

Know no

  • You should know what is off limits.
  • Knowing the opposite of the right answer can lead to the right answer (especially true in probability).

No Know

  • You can’t know.  Is Schrodinger’s cat dead?
  • You don’t know, but it’s possible that you can learn.
  • You are not allowed to have knowledge of that.  Classified information.
  • Nobody knows anything.  Ignorance all around.  There is no knowledge anywhere.

Know Know

  • You should know what it means to know.
  • You really need to know.




What’s it Like to Google? – A Small Experiment in Experience

Changing Perspective

My wife is an artist.  When she draws a portrait of person, she usually puts a photo of the person nearby and starts sketching features.  How does she do this?  She consciously alters her perception of the object: the face.  She forgets she is looking at a face.  She suppresses the concepts faces, eyes, and circles.  Instead of interpreting what she sees as a thing she understands, she sees shade and potential pencil stokes.  She describes this process as looking at something as if you had never seen it before.

In contrast, my drawing technique (if it can be called a technique), is to use some basic shapes like circles, squares, eye shapes, continuous line, or other mental templates for imitation.  The underlying difference is that my wife’s interpretation is data based and my interpretation is assumption based.  I see a head and assume that an oval shape will be sufficient.  I won’t show you any drawings I made but they all look like a fairly talented 6 year old created them.  I don’t really see what’s there.

The above shows that, at least in some contexts, consciously altering your perceptions by suppressing normal aspects of thought can positively affect your ability to analyze.  Can we do this with search experience?  I’m going to try.


What’s it Like to Google?

I’m presented with a box.  My cursor blinks and brings my attention to the left center of the page.  Bright letters sit above this bar spelling out G-o-o-g-l-e.  What a strange nonsense word.  It sounds like a mantra.  Was this word generated from an infants ramblings?  The word has a two step feeling, “goo – gull”.  One two, left right, punch hook.  Ninety percent of my screen is filled with whitespace.  Two buttons, “Google Search”, and “I’m Feeling Lucky” sit under my blinking cursor.  I suppose I know what search does.  What about feeling lucky?  Is this a Dirty Harry reference?  What does it do?  I ignore it for now.

I want to experiment with this interesting box that contains nothing.  What should I type?  Dinosaurs comes to mind.  Typing dinosaurs brings up a small picture on the right with a Wikipedia summary.   Suggestions comes up:

  • dinosaurs tv show
  • dinosaurs videos
  • dinosaurs games

I type in gibberish: sai odsi oisvoij odaisj avds.  No results.  I try more searches, randomly finding things of interest.  I try this over and over.  I begin to type in more words until I find no search results.

***The above text describes a common task through the eyes of an individual who has never seen a search engine before.


To google is a two step process.  One can estimate knowledge and discover the depth of content available by interacting with the little enlightening white bar.

An Accident in R – Plot

While going over some data for an unrelated research project, I accidentally discovered a very useful feature of R.


First, I load a CSV File:

> heat<-read.csv(“MiamiHeat.csv”)

For this example, I’m using a data set from the Miami Heat NBA team here.  The Wikipedia article on Basketball Statistics describes the columns in this sheet.

Normally, I might plot something I find interesting, let’s plot rebounds vs steals:

> plot(heat$Rebounds,heat$Steals)


That’s kind of interesting, but we have many columns in this csv file that might provide some insight about the NBA.   The plot looks pretty muddled, but we might as well check for a correlation:

> cor.test(heat$Rebounds,heat$Steals)

    Pearson’s product-moment correlation

data:  heat$Rebounds and heat$Steals
t = -0.0943, df = 80, p-value = 0.925
alternative hypothesis: true correlation is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
-0.2270342  0.2069341
sample estimates:

We see can’t show a correlation for this.  Is there anything interesting here?  Well, we can actually plot each column against every other column with one command!

> plot(heat)

While, from this blog post, this image may not seem useful, it is quite useful on a decent sized screen.   Here’s a closer look from  a subsection:

It looks like FGA (field goals attempted) and Points are positively correlated.

> plot(heat$FGA,heat$Points)

We also see that a positive correlation with some effect:

    Pearson’s product-moment correlation

data:  heat$FGA and heat$Points
t = 3.394, df = 80, p-value = 0.001074
alternative hypothesis: true correlation is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
0.1492569 0.5309065
sample estimates:

You can see how using R’s plot on ALL of your data can be useful for exploring possible relationships among your data.