SIAT - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Visually exploring player strategies with Pathways, a visual analytics tool

Date created: 
2011-08-23
Abstract: 

Games User Research (GUR) is a specialized field of User Experience, (UX) adapting its methods to focus on videogames, where making a game ‘fun’ and improving engagement is as important, if not more, than making the game usable. Currently no published work has described a visual analytics system that uses a player's recorded gameplay events to uncover winning spatial strategies in competitive multiplayer matches or popular paths in open world casual games; both of which can affect the long term enjoyability of the game and provide designers with a focus for improving the game experience. This thesis describes the design and implementation of a visual analytics tool for gameplay data called Pathways which is developed to enable the exploration of players’ strategy and behaviour within the game world over time.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Magy Seif El-Nasr
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Investigating the effects of bimanual multitouch interaction on creativity

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-08-12
Abstract: 

This thesis presents the results of an exploratory comparative study investigating the potential effects of bimanual interaction on creativity. Recent research from cognitive psychology and neuroscience suggests that body movement influences divergent thinking performance in previously unexpected ways. Divergent thinking is the process of generating multiple valid responses to a situation, and is an important part of creative behaviour. To examine the impact of the body movements afforded by multitouch displays on divergent thinking, study participants interacted with a computerized version of the Alternate Uses Task, a divergent thinking measurement test. Participants were assigned to one of three different interface styles: mouse, unimanual multitouch, and bimanual multitouch. In order to evaluate differences in creative performance between the interface styles, participant responses from the AUT were scored along several subscales, transforming qualitative AUT response data into quantitative data suitable for statistical analysis. While no strong interface style effects on divergent thinking were found, important findings about language ability and representational modality were identified. The summary of this analysis and implications for the design of creativity-support systems are discussed herein. The main contribution of this study is that it is the first empirical comparison of multitouch interaction and traditional mouse-based interaction focusing on creative performance. A second contribution is a unique combination of current research and methodological approaches from psychology, neuroscience and HCI. A third contribution is the development of a computerized version of the Alternate Uses Task, capable of being run on diverse interaction platforms.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa Antle
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Exploring creative decision-making in choreographic practice: a phenomenological study of situated cognition

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-08-11
Abstract: 

This thesis explores creative decision-making in choreographic practice by studying phenomenological experience of choreographers. By using a digital tool named Scuddle that employs a genetic algorithm to introduce constraints for movement generation, we reveal creative decision-making processes in choreographic cognition. When a portion of the choreographic process is constrained to investigate tacit creative decision-making, the result is a heightened awareness of the process of making decisions. Constraining a choreographer's process challenges creative problem-solving skills, guides attention to the experience and facilitates verbal articulation of that experience. In this research, the digital tool, Scuddle, generates 'catalysts' for movement, which are incomplete movement data that act as constraints to provoke movement development. As movement material and compositional structure is often intricately entwined, the incompleteness of this data facilitates creative exploration, enabling multiple solutions to be generated from such a catalyst. Phenomenological interview methods were used to aid choreographers ability to identify and articulate attention to decision-making throughout their compositional process.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Aesthetics of immersion in interactive immersive environments: a phenomenological case study of light strings

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-07-28
Abstract: 

This dissertation examines the aesthetics of immersive experience in Light Strings, an interactive immersive environment. One of prominent aspects of Interactive Art is the notion of immersion. The concept of immersion is generally defined as a viewer “forgetting” the real world outside of the virtual environment and by a sense of being in a make-believe world generated by computational hardware and software. Immersion has been explored in various disciplines (Literature, Game, Architecture, Aesthetics, etc.), but many Virtual Reality (VR) scientists and artists have actively examined the concept by focusing on creating new immersive environments that push the boundaries of new technology. This approach is often aimed at countering the disembodying tendency of virtual reality concerns. As an interactive artist and researcher, I conceive of immersion as any experience where integrated bodily, conscious, and pre-conscious states thoroughly intertwine with the world. Moreover immersion is where mind, body and environment interweave and communicate with each other inside of technically-mediated, spatially enclosed, and sensuously-interactive computational environments. Light Strings was created based on my previous art practice and research into immersion as a way to study participants’ experiences with the artwork and how meanings are co-created by artists and participants. This research exemplifies ‘Research through Art’ applied in the context of immersion for interactive art. In the participant study of Light Strings, participants were encouraged to describe the felt experiences of the installation through phenomenologically oriented research methods. This allowed the gathering of different data about participant experience, focusing on various qualities of immersion and how they were constructed and assimilated over time. As a result, an experiential model of the participants’ experiences was developed by exploring bodily, spatial, and contextual consciousness with temporal considerations. Through this research, I bring insight into the aesthetics of immersive experience in interactive immersive environments where the ideas of materiality and embodiment are at the forefront.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Diane Gromala
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Gender differences in virtual route learning

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-05-27
Abstract: 

Past studies have found evidence of gender differences in route-learning strategies, indicating that men rely on configurational strategies (e.g., cardinal directions) and women rely on topographic strategies (e.g., landmarks). Whether and how these gender differences in route-learning strategies extend to virtual environments is not fully known. In this dissertation, I investigated gender differences in learning virtual routes from two frames of reference- egocentric and allocentric. One hundred and twenty participants volunteered for the two experiments. After completing two tests of spatial abilities, the participants viewed four separate virtual routes and their eye movements were recorded. Afterwards, they provided written route directions. In the egocentric viewpoint experiment, I found no support for the hypotheses predicting that men and women would differ in configurational and topographic route-learning strategies (visual and written). There were significant gender differences in configurational strategies when I analyzed a subset of compass users, suggesting that there is a more complex relationship between gender and virtual route-learning strategies than previously assumed. In part, visual scanning of route elements was significantly correlated with written directions. The predicted gender differences in spatial abilities (object location memory and mental rotation) were significant, but spatial abilities only partially correlated with written directions and eye fixations. Unexpectedly, the results yielded a significant negative correlation between women’s scores on the object location memory and written references to landmarks. In the allocentric viewpoint experiment, gender differences in route-learning strategies were significant or trended towards significance. Furthermore, visual scanning of the virtual route was significantly correlated with providing written directions. As in the egocentric viewpoint experiment, gender differences in spatial abilities were significant, but these abilities rarely correlated with route-learning strategies. Generally, the experimental results indicate that gender differences in virtual route-learning strategies are significant only under specific frames of reference. As well, allocating eye fixations on topographic and configurational elements of the environment correlates with making written references to those elements, regardless of viewpoint. Lastly, the use of a specific virtual route-learning strategy is not extensively associated with mental rotation and object location memory abilities, contradicting past assumptions about this relationship.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa Antle
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Snap/shot: identity, memory, and the digital mediation of experience

Date created: 
2011-07-14
Abstract: 

Demonstrating the remarkable popularity of digital photography in recent years, Vancouver has witnessed masses of Olympic revellers and throngs of Stanley Cup rioters actively employing camera phones. Created and shared in a matter of moments, digital images are used as evidence to construct character and illustrate personal histories on blogs, photo sharing and social networking sites. This investigation uses practice and photo-based research to examine two key themes related to amateur digital photography: identity and memory. Presented as two case studies, the web-based visual art project At Arm’s Length considers performativity in portraiture, while the video installation Waves unravels the role of images as triggers for memory. Exploring the making, manipulating and sharing of images, I suggest digital photography creates a sense of influence over lived experience. Bridging academic and artistic contexts, this work endeavours to provoke discussion around subjectivity and the construction of visual narrative in digital photography.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Designing distributed collaborative visual analytics systems

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-09-03
Abstract: 

Analysts should be able to collaboratively work on enormous amount of available information and share their findings and understandings to effectively and efficiently make sense of the situation under investigation. The general question this thesis addresses is “How can a distributed collaborative analytics system support efficient and effective distributed (in time and space) collaboration among analysts?” and we focus on answering “How can a collaborative analytics system support efficient and effective reuse of the reasoning artefacts such as arguments, causal maps, etc.?” Through deepening our understanding of the individual and collaborative sensemaking processes that analysts go through, we identified design guidelines for enhancing, facilitating collaborative processes, fostering sharing and reuse, and improving collaboration efficiency. The design guidelines informed the design of a collaborative analytics system called AnalyticStream. We validate the proposed guidelines through the evaluation of the system.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Brian Fisher
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Turkish liminal sexualities: A case study of social transformations beyond the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’

Date created: 
2011-06-10
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the formation of a social liminal metacognitive layer of sexuality situated between the ‘real’ of the physical world and the ‘virtual’ within cyber and internet culture of the Republic of Turkey. The case study focuses on the dimensions of sexuality defined as the interaction between sexuality and (1) Islam as a socio-cultural system; (2) online technologies - specifically the Internet – as a mediating environment of liberated sexual discourse; and (3) private practices of sexual acts. I argue that the internet as a communication medium has stimulated the development of a liminal layer of sexual representation that differs significantly from sexuality articulated in socio-cultural domain of physical reality within Turkey. This case study utilizes critical discourse analysis as a qualitative interpretative method to investigate sexual narratives shared on Turkish sexual confession cyberspaces. It focuses on the differences in representational patterns of sexuality. The analysis provides evidence for the existence of emerging liminal social understandings of sexuality. Sexuality as a socio-cultural form represented within Muslim Turkey is a phenomenon not yet well understood, and therefore demands further investigation. Previous research in this field has focused mainly on sexuality as articulated in physical social environments. In contrast, this study examines Islamic sexuality from a perspective of ‘medium specificity’, offering new insight into this field.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Interactive installation: Authorial control and narrativized design strategies

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-04-26
Abstract: 

In this thesis, I revisit the problem of interactive narrative and problematize some common underlying assumptions. I argue that a shift away from understanding the problem as an opposition between immediacy and hypermediacy can point to directions often neglected. Interactive narrative films have often been conceived of as screen-based systems where the interactor experiences the branching work by clicking on hotspots in the video. A future direction of interactive cinema however might lie not in a text that changes but a body that moves. Unlike linear media in which authorship is commonly understood as the control over narrative content, structure, and timing, in interactive media it also extends to the interface and the interactive design. I present three projects that contextualize this understanding in the form of embodied interactive narrative installation.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
James Bizzocchi
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The strange dance: 9 evenings: theatre & engineering as creative collaboration

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-03-18
Abstract: 

This dissertation examines the historical case study of 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, a 1966 series of technology-based performances created collaboratively by avant-garde artists and Bell Labs engineers in New York City. The 9 Evenings project, part of the 1960s Art & Technology movement, was a well-documented attempt to bridge C.P. Snow’s iconic “Two Cultures” of science and art. It inspired the formation of an international networked organization of artists collaborating with engineers called Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). Both the 9 Evenings artists and engineers were influenced by Cybernetics and other new ideas emerging from 20th century science, and they saw the value of experimenting with new communications technologies as part of their respective collaborative practices. I argue that the 9 Evenings project helped pioneer creative collaboration as a key aspect of today’s digital culture that to date has not been sufficiently examined. I also argue that technology had, and increasingly has significant roles to play in the creative collaboration process, including as translator, or “boundary object” in an emerging “collaboration aesthetic” that foregrounds dialogic processes and new knowledge rather than creating art objects. There is a review of a large body of historical and contemporary literature about mid-twentieth century art that includes original documents written by the 9 Evenings artists and engineers. There is an examination of recent writings about creative collaboration by business experts, social scientists, and arts scholars. Through case study methodology and research design, the artists’ and engineers’ first-hand accounts are applied to a matrix of successful creative collaboration elements and to technology’s identified roles in collaboration. I conclude that as creative collaboration, the 9 Evenings project was both revolutionary and transformational. It was revolutionary for its intentional focus on dialogic processes utilizing technology as both tools and boundary objects to generate new knowledge, and it was transformational emotionally, intellectually and professionally for many, if not all of the artists and engineers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Bowes
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.