Fall 2013 Taicang Workshop – Interactive Patina of Culture

Introduction

The core assignment of these three weeks revolves around the concept ‘Interactive Patina of Culture’ (IPoC). The concept of ‘interactive patina of culture’ (IPoC) is a multi-layered concept, let us explain it by briefly unpacking the elements that make up the concept.

A patina is often understood as a trace of repeated use. The stem of a hammer acquires a sheen, a polish of repeated use by a carpenter. This polish tells a story about how it was used.

Connecting the concept of ‘patina’ to ‘culture’ changes the meaning of it. We posit that culture ‘rubs off’ onto the artifacts in use. That is to say the artifacts in a culture are shaped by the values of that culture; they are part of the patina of culture. This is best elucidated by an example: during the previous workshop we felt intrigued by a particular rolling pin in the kitchen section of a local supermarket. A few days later one of the Chinese hosts asked us which variant of rolling pin we were so interested in, and explained that different varieties of rolling pins exist that have different thicknesses and lengths and these properties are instrumental in the type of dough that is created when using them. To us this told stories about how the way that food is enjoyed has influence on how it is made. The values of a culture are expressed in the artifacts that it produces.

Connecting interactivity to the concept of ‘patina of culture’ extends the concept further but not in ways that we can immediately predict. This is for us the challenge for exploration as it extends the concept of ‘patina of culture’ beyond the artifact into new territories where the dynamism of culture is opened up and explored and where cooperation is both a mechanism to come to insights and a result.

Assignment

Following this line of reasoning we put forward the following assignment to explore further and elaborate the concept of IPoC:

Design an interactive installation that engages the public in the act of transforming a nondescript public space into a classy dwelling. It lets the space meaningfully grow by the interactions with the public. These interactions range from the intentional to the implicit behavior. Thus the public is instrumental in growing a valuable and thus socially meaningful public image of their city deeply rooted into the culture of China.

We seek inspiration in the dynamic arts for this assignment. Theories and techniques from drama, film, opera and contemporary art offer an interesting perspective on the design of interactive experience design in public spaces. Participation in an interactive experience, especially when it comes to happenings in public spaces, is about: what one does is experienced by someone else, and that the others are seeing and experiencing that one is experiencing something. So, the participant of an interactive public art installation is more than a passive user. Participating in creating and interacting with a public art installation is about transferring roles among the roles of operator, performer, and spectator at any time. On many occasions, participants are both operating and performing, and one is also a spectator of actions of the others.

Related publications

1.  Joep Frens, Mathias Funk, Jun Hu, Shengxiong Zhang, Kai Kang and Feng Wang,  Exploring the Concept of Interactive Patina of Culture, in 8th International Conference on Design and Semantics of Form and Movement (DeSForM 2013). ISBN 978-90-386-3462-3,  Wuxi. Pp 211-124 [PDF]

2.  Yu Zhang, Jing Gu, Jun Hu, Joep Frens, Mathias Funk, Kai Kang, Qi Dong, Yuanyuan Wang, Feng Wang, Matthias Rauterberg, “Learning from Traditional Dynamic Arts: Elements for Interaction Design,” in International Conference on Culture and Computing 2013, Kyoto, Japan, 2013, pp. 165-166 [PDF]

3. Jun Hu, Feng Wang, Mathias Funk, Joep Frens, Yu Zhang, Thom van Boheemen, Chenxi Zhang, Qi Yuan, Hongrui Qu, Matthias Rauterberg, Participatory Public Media Arts for Social Creativity,  in International Conference on Culture and Computing 2013, Kyoto, Japan, 2013, pp. 179-180 [PDF]

4.  Kai Kang, Tiantian Yang, Feng Wang, Interactive Art Installation for Creating Sense of Belonging in a Working Environmentin 8th International Conference on Design and Semantics of Form and Movement (DeSForM 2013). ISBN 978-90-386-3462-3,  Wuxi. Pp 204-208 [PDF]

5. Shengxiong Zhang, Tiantian Yang, Feng Wang, Social Blobs, an Interactive Art Installation in an Urban Public Space, in 8th International Conference on Design and Semantics of Form and Movement (DeSForM 2013). ISBN 978-90-386-3462-3,  Wuxi. Pp 196-198 [PDF]

6. Sophie Brenny, Jun Hu, Social Connectedness and Inclusion by Digital Augmentation in Public Spaces, in 8th International Conference on Design and Semantics of Form and Movement (DeSForM 2013). ISBN 978-90-386-3462-3,  Wuxi. Pp 196-198 [PDF]