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THE ROLE OF THE INTERFACE IN ARTS - THE ART AUDIENCE AS USERS

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please fill out this questionnaire for our friend axel_Vogelsang@gmx.de


!!!!!!!Please post the answers to the 5 questions under comments. Thanks!!!!!!!!!

The questionnaire is part of a research project that is exploring:

1. how artists, who make interactive artworks, anticipate and gather feedback about the nature of their audiences' interactions with the work;

2. their range of opinions towards user centered design.

It is intended that the result of this questionnaire be presented in next year's Pixelraiders conference (http://www.pixelraiders.org/). Any contributions you make will be credited to you in the notes. This paper will also be made available for everyone who took part in the questionnaire.


ABSTRACT:
In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the "usability" of software and digitally augmented devices. Since Donald Norman in his 1990 book "The Design of Everyday Things" demanded "user centred design" usability engineering, software ergonomics and extensive user testing have become standard practice for major software developments and product design.
In webdesign the discussion has been very heated. In July 2000 the "usability-guru" Jacob Nielson declared "The end of Web Design" (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000723.html): "Websites must tone down their individual appearance and distinct design in all ways". The idea was that common standards across all websites such as navigation on the top or the left of a website would make things easier for the user. The outcry in the design community was fierce. Nielson's ideas were seen as the final triumph of commerce over individualism and creativity.

The discussion has cooled down since and ergonomic aspects seem to have prevailed: Even small webprojects are mostly designed according to basic usability standards relating to cross platform compatibility, screen and type sizes, navigation, etc.... On the other side even people like Donald Norman and Jacob Nielson have admitted that "fun factors" are important in using software or digitally augmented devices. Accordingly a session at the 2003 Mensch und Computer (human and computer) Conference in Stuttgart/Germany was called "If it doesn't feel right-who cares if it works".

How do artists relate to these issues? If art sets out to intervene and interrogate conventional processes how do you insure the user is not confused by the interface? Do you have to assume the user has has an advanced level of technical literacy? Do artists rely on the user's cultural literacy i.e. they know it's art so they'll persist with an unusual interface? What part do ergonomic concerns play in your decision making ? We would like to know more about how artists like yourself, who work with interactive digital media think about these issues and if/how they deal with them in their work. Therefore we would be most grateful if you could answer this short questionnaire.


Replies please until the 20th of October by email to: axel_Vogelsang@gmx.de
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---------------QUESTIONNAIRE--------------


Name:



E-mail address:


1. Do you think about your audience as a specific target group and
anticipate how they will interact with the kind of media used in your work?


2. Do you think about your audience as users and the ergonomic aspects of
their interaction with your work?

If yes, what implications does that have for your work?

If no, what is your opinion on usability related issues in your work?


3. Have you ever tested the usability of your work before or during exposure
to an audience?

In what way did you do that and did it produce useful results? (Please
specify the piece of work and give a relating web address if possible)



4. Have you ever experienced ergonomic/usability related problems with your
or other artworks? (Please specify the piece of work and give a relating web
address if possible)



5. Further comments:


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Replies please until the 20th of October by email to: axel_Vogelsang@gmx.de


TRICIA AUSTIN
Course Director designate
MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments
Central Saint Martins College

Research Project Leader
For Central Saint Martins Innovation Centre Project "Environment as
Interface"

AXEL VOGELSANG
PHD Research Student, Arts & Design, Central Saint Martins College

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