Invited Speaker: Dr. Brenda Laurel
Tuesday, Oct 24, from 08:30 to 10:00, Portland Ballroom 252 to 254
Designed Animism: Poetics of a New World
Around 350 BCE, Aristotle set down in Poetics an understanding of narrative forms, based upon notions of the nature and intricate relations of various elements of dramatic structure and causation. Drama relied upon human performers to represent action. With computers, interactive forms and simulation inherit much of their dramatic structure from traditional narrative forms, but authorship is more explicitly shared among designers, engineers, and interactors. I and others have proposed extensions of the fundamental elements of Aristotle's /Poetics/ to understand these new narrative forms.
Ubiquitous computing is a horse of a different color. Today's new blends of sensors, networks, computation, and space create contexts for novel interactive narrative forms. When we embed what Rob Tow calls "perception-representation-action loops" in objects and spaces, we enter a realm that I call designed animism. What new forms of narrative and experience may emerge from such systems? How do we understand them in terms of structure, causality, narrative, and experience? What are the poetics of this newly animistic world? And, does it have a soul?
Biography: Brenda Laurel is a designer, writer, researcher, and performer. She is newly appointed as Chair of Graduate Design at California College of Art in San Francisco. From 2002 to 2006 she chaired the graduate Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. She was also a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Labs 2005–2006. Since 1976, her work has focused on experience design, interactive story, and the intersection of culture and technology. Dr. Laurel co-founded Purple Moon to create interactive media for girls in 1996, based on four years of research in gender and technology at Interval Research Corp. In 1990 she co-founded Telepresence Research, developing technology and applications for virtual reality and remote presence. Other employers include Atari, Activision, and Apple. She edited The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design (Addison-Wesley, 1990), and wrote Computers as Theatre (Addison-Wesley, 1991 and 1993) and Utopian Entrepreneur (MIT Press, 2001). Her latest book is Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (MIT Press, 2004). In addition to public speaking and consulting, Dr. Laurel is a member of the Boards of Advisors of several companies and organizations, including Cheskin, the Communication Research Institute of Australia, and the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT. She is active in the digital storytelling movement, the game design community (IGDA), AIGA, and the ACM.