Rewilding Human-Computer Interaction

Tim Murray-Browne

Playlists: 'emf2022' videos starting here / audio

I'm an artist creating interactive installations. The hardest part is devising open-ended interaction, spaces that invite people to reveal their authentic selves, and to connect with those around.

But trends in technology have gone in the opposite direction. Whether it's for usability, profit, safety, profit or 'sparking joy', or profit (it's usually profit), 'User Experience Design' was the flavour of the 2010s. Human-Computer Interaction has become a very planned affair. And the more planned it gets, the less room there is for the ambiguous messy bits that make us human.

Could it be another way? Presenting...
✯✯✯ Rewilding Human-Computer Interaction ✯✯✯
where, instead of designing micromanaged user experiences, we create open-ended spaces that embrace the unknown, the messy and the human. The ills of the online world are not problems inherent to its users but to systems that prevent those users from existing fully as humans. The solution is not more design, but more wildness.

Soapbox aside, I do have a speculative project to share on this front.

In a collaboration with artist/AI researcher Panagiotis Tigas, we've been training Variational Autoencoders on improvised dance, and from these devising personalised interfaces that respond to creative movement. The resulting system allows you to move through a 16-dimensional parameter space while following the intuitions of the body. As an entangled black box system, I can't explain how to use it, but it can be learnt by the body through exploration and play.

We have it here at EMF as in Latent Voyage, letting you navigate the hallucinatory latent space of an image generating AI.