Creation of Meaning in Processor-based Artefacts

At the ISEA2017 proceedings, a paper with Pedro Cardoso:

Processor-based artefacts are often created following conventions inherited from analogue media forms, allowing the development of experiences that, in spite of the new platforms, are not fundamentally different from those that were already possible in the previous contexts. But contemporary media and arts often use processor-based artefacts focusing on conceptual and mechanical principles that do not attempt to simulate earlier forms but rather explore their computational nature. These systems bring about new modes of reading and new challenges, to both readers and artists or designers. In order to optimize the usage of processor- based media, creators need to understand how these artefacts are interpreted and how readers develop processes of creation of meaning in procedural contexts. This will allow authors to ground their practices on procedurality rather than only on surface con- tents, and to make a constructive use of contingent behaviour, learning, adaptation, selection, and other traits of these systems, not being limited to the emulation of well-established media forms. This paper outlines some of these challenges and proposes designing for the meaningful interpretation of computational artefacts.

Valuably Unsought: Systems for Digital Serendipity

At the ISEA2017 proceedings, a paper by Ricardo Melo and myself:

Contemporary interaction with media is mediated through a plethora of digital systems, conditioning said interaction to the experiences that these systems anticipate and limiting the potential of the medium for surprise and serendipity. Through a literature-review and system analysis, we assert the value of serendipity in our digital interactions, arguing the necessity of a distinction between Natural and Artificial Serendipity, while establishing key areas of action of serendipitous systems: Information Encountering, Experience, Collaboration, Creativity and X. We identify specific systems within each of these key areas, as well as their methods and mechanics for achieving Artificial Serendipity in the Digital Medium.

Artificial Aesthetics reviewed by Neural

Neural issue 55 / Autumn 2016 has published a review of Artificial Aesthetics.

Over the years, Miguel Carvalhais has developed a consistent practice producing music compositions, graphic design, live audiovisual performances and sound art installations. Furthermore, this practice is accompanied by academic work teaching and publishing. Artificial Aesthetics manifests all of the aforementioned work in a single, coherent articulation around the fulcrum of his research: the aesthetic qualities of programmable media. The autonomous quality of programmable media emerges as a key factor in Artificial Aesthetics and the author goes through an attentive historical analysis of the processual systems for its creation, from the recombination of elements to various degrees of artificial intelligence. Here Carvalhais is developing an analytical model for the analysis of procedural systems. This is arguably a new methodology, but one with the concrete potential to become a standard. One of the most valuable aspects of this book is how every single chapter includes relevant content emerging across specific visual, audio and textual artworks, all of which are drawn together in a coherent presentation. The “artificiality” of processes is constantly referred to when the author qualifies elements with or without acknowledgeable human qualities. As Carvalhais brilliantly defines it, we are still in the historical phase of “computational incunabula”, already with a substantial history behind us. This book can potentially become a classic, but it already looks it could become an essential reference for digital art and culture in the future.

Regarding Value in Digital Serendipitous Interactions

The Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts vol. 8, number 2, has just been published. This issue includes a paper by Ricardo Melo and myself, “Regarding Value in Digital Serendipitous Interactions”.

Digital technologies have become our privileged method of interacting with information. With their ubiquity, and focus on personalisation, optimisation and functionality, chance and accidental interactions in the Digital Medium are being replaced with filtered, predictable and known ones, limiting the scope of possible user experiences.

In order to promote the design of richer experiences that go beyond the functionally-driven paradigm, we propose that digital systems be designed in order to favour serendipity. Through a literature-based analysis of serendipity, we explore the distinct meanings of value that are possible with serendipitous systems, offering examples of the current state of the art, observing the methods used to do so, and proposing a possible typology, while highlighting unexplored fields, experiences and interactions.

Special Issue of the Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts: xCoAx 2016

The Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts, published by the Portuguese Catholic University in Porto, has just released its special issue with a selected set of extended papers from the xCoAx 2016 conference. The issue includes works from Agustina Andreoletti and Alice Rzezonka; Rodrigo Hernández-Ramírez; Romi Mikulinsky and Yanai Toister; Anna Daudrich; Catarina Lee and Luísa Ribas; Pedro Cardoso; and Hanns Holger Rutz. It’s open access at

Defamiliarisation towards Divergency

The xCoAx 2016 proceedings have just been published, including a paper by Ricardo Melo and myself.

Digital interactive systems have systematically been designed in order to cater to the user’s desires, through user-friendly and user-centred design methodologies, privileging pleasurable and effective experiences. While this may be necessary and a worthy pursuit in many cases, it led to the rise of convergent systems focusing mainly on efficiency, productivity, and optimisation not only in those areas of our lives that require this mindset but to all areas regardless, relegating the interactor to the role a client experiencing a product, while limiting the creative and exploratory potential of the digital medium. In order to introduce divergency, we propose the concept of defamiliarisation as a method to reduce the predictability of interactions with digital technology, and suggest possible methods to accomplish it in interactive systems.

Playing in 7D: An Action-Oriented Framework for Video Games (A Summary)

The xCoAx 2016 proceedings have just been published, including a paper by Pedro Cardoso and myself.

This paper is summary of our Ph.D. thesis, a work that proposes an analysis on the player-game system relationship through the perspective of an action-oriented framework. This framework is centred on the existence of actors, which are the entities through which action is enacted in the game, and in which the player and the game system are a part of. The grounding principles of this framework are seeded on a transition of action into experience, based on communicational systems that structure the dynamic formation of networks of actors from which distinct behaviours emerge, which, in their turn, promote the enactment of diverse sequences of events establishing narrative, which is a source of experience of the player.

Chronology, responsiveness, thinking and actuation, transcoding, focus, depth, and traversal are the 7 dimensions we unveiled by focusing on the relationship of the player-game system pair through the lens of this action-oriented framework, a framework that, despite seeing both as actors, is able to consider their distinct natures and roles.

We do not consider this work to be an ultimate theory of action. Above all, it is a proposal that video games can be regarded as action-based artefacts, a call to awareness for game designers that when designing for action they are working with the fundaments on which video games are built upon.

Augmented Space in Artistic Production: The Relationship Between Moving Image and Physical Environments

The ICLI 2016 proceedings have just been published, including a paper by Ivo Teixeira, Pedro Tudela, and myself, “Augmented Space in Artistic Production: The Relationship Between Moving Image and Physical Environments”.

In this paper we establish a relationship between virtual elements and physical environments (both in the private as in the urban context). We review both theoretical and empirical works on which we base our methodology of performative-led research. The outputs are works that promote Augmented Space experiences in the artistic context with the purpose of creating new readings and experiences of the place through audiovisual installations and live performances.