Improvisation and Collaborative Art Practice for Human-Computer-Interaction
Intermodulation is an art-research project that explores improvisational activity as both topic and tool of multidisciplinary HCI inquiry. Building on theories of improvisation drawn from art, music, HCI and social science, and two ethnographic studies based on interviews, participant observation and collaborative art practice, we seek to elucidate the improvisational nature of practice in both art and ordinary action, including human-computer interaction. For the collaborative art work, we have collaborated with three groups of musician (The Electric Golem, Min Park, Powerdove) to produce diverse audio-visual concerts in NY, US since 2015. The experience of these participations has been deliberately captured and studied through a general auto-ethnography approach with an extensive process of documentation and reflection, captured through a rich combination of cameras, video, audio recording, and field notes.
From this integrated study, we argue for improvisation as (a) a form of active learning that fosters emerging creativity through tension between structure and freedom, and (b) a holistic and complex socio-material practice that transcends and transforms the experience and capabilities of individual creative actors. We identify five key features of collaborative improvisational practice - reflexivity, tension, transgression, listening and interdependence - and explain their relevance to other linear and open-ended methods in HCI and design research. Finally, we explain how a process of intermodulation can be one way to explore multidisciplinary creativity and knowledge for HCI design.