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

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Family Communication Technology Design in Rural and Low Income Parts of Kenya

Date created: 
2015-05-28
Abstract: 

This dissertation focuses on understanding how families communicate over distance when using technology in Kenya, and how we should think about designing technology to support family communication over distance between rural and urban settings of the country. It is divided in two parts with first part exploring family communication practices in rural and urban Kenya, while the second uses the results from the first part to inform the design of communication technology for these families.Results from the first part of this dissertation reveal that family communication focuses on economic support, well-being, life advice, and everyday coordination of activities. However, infrastructure challenges and social factors such gender and reduced access to technology complicates family connection efforts using technology. As a result, families living in rural and low income urban regions of Kenya are not able to share experiences beyond phone and textual exchanges. I help address this problem in the second part of the dissertation by using findings from the first part of this dissertation to inform the design of a photo-sharing application and service called TumaPicha. TumaPicha supports rural and low income urban families to share common experiences and feel connected with each other using intermediaries to overcome connectivity and literacy issues. TumaPicha also supports rural families in using technology to capture activities in the village and share these experiences with relatives who live in urban areas. The results, together with the five design recommendations presented here, articulate the opportunities that designers will face while exploring family communication technologies in rural and low income urban areas of Kenya. This work shows promise for simple media sharing applications in Kenya that rely on a mixture of technology opportunities and existing social processes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Carman
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Performing Political: Precarious Aesthetics of Digital Video in Capturing Activist Performance Art

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-05-04
Abstract: 

This thesis raises the question of the fundamental relationship between image legibility and the generation of viewer’s embodied reception and involvement in the context of activist performance art. The documentation of politically-engaged performance sets outto capture the body acting in a real, non-theatrical settings. The significance of the body’s corporeality, especially its representation on the screen and operation on the viewer is central to understanding how that actor’s body intervening in a public space functions to elicit corporeal response from the viewer. I argue that the limitations of technology particularly the imperfections present in networked digital video such as glitch, interruptions and blurred images, elicit active participation of the viewer based on their familiarity with these digital aesthetics of video poverty. I reflect upon the complexities behind the electronic images that in media aesthetics are referred to as precarious aesthetics. Based upon my proposition I selected and analyzed two video artworks documenting activist performance. My analysis was guided by the understanding that the low-fi quality of networked digital video activates the viewer’s sensory responses to video poverty building a sensory embodied bridge to the video performer.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
This is one of the videos I analyzed in my thesis. It is mentioned in the appendices and approved for use (see copyright memo
This is the second video I analyzed in my thesis. It is mentioned in the appendices and approved for use (see copyright memo
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Poetics of Stereoscopic 3D Cinema: Narrative, Attraction, and the Design of Cinematic Space

Date created: 
2015-08-19
Abstract: 

This study examines the poetics of stereoscopic 3D cinema through the close reading of scenes drawn from four exemplary works of 3D cinema: Dial M for Murder, Avatar, Hugo and Life of Pi. The thesis identifies and analyzes the forms of creative decision-making that are used to construct a stereoscopic cinematic space within each of these films. These spaces are designed to support the needs of storytelling and narrative immersion. In addition, these creative decisions can also be used to support another type of viewing experience: the “cinema of attractions”. These moments of stereoscopic attraction can support narrative intent, but they can also provide a different form of engagement: cinematic spectacle and visual pleasure. The thesis details the application of stereoscopic visual design decisions in conjunction with the more standard cinematic techniques of composition, lighting, and an array of monocular two-dimensional depth cues.

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

Exploring User Experience and Affect to Enhance Creative Artificial Intelligence Systems

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-07-15
Abstract: 

In recent years, Creative Artificial Intelligence Systems (CAIS) have transformed the nature of creative practices. This transformation has created a need for research on the importance of the human collaborator, the user experience (UX) and practical applications of CAIS.This dissertation addresses the need for research in this respect through three interrelated studies, that focus on supporting the collaboration between users and CAIS in the generation of creative artefacts. The first study investigates the adaptation of a research based autonomous CAIS within a practical design environment from a UX design perspective. This study focuses heavily on redefining modes of creative practice through co-creation with the system. The second and third studies broadly explore the role of affect in the creative process. Specifically, they focus on integrating an affective model within CAIS to acknowledge artistic intention and support the user's reflection and emotional expression throughout the creative process. These studies inform the future design and possible practical applications of CAIS within various domains, such as interactive art, art education, health & well-being and movement visualization.This dissertation enriches our understanding of practical uses of CAIS by emphasizing the role of the human collaborator through an exploration of affect and UX principles.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: Interactive Art and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Eliciting user-sourced interaction mappings for body-based interfaces

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-07-08
Abstract: 

Thanks to technological advancements, whole-body natural user interfaces are becoming increasingly common in modern homes and public spaces. However, because whole-body natural user interfaces lack obvious affordances, users can be unsure how to control the interface. In this thesis, I report the findings of a study of novice and expert users mock controlling a balance-based whole-body natural user interface during a Think Aloud task. I compare the strategies demonstrated by participants while controlling the whole-body natural user interfaces and match them with known categories of interaction mappings (metaphoric, isomorphic, and conventional). My findings indicate that designing whole-body natural user interfaces around conventions is useful for novice users, while expert users are more likely to expect metaphors.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa Antle
Carman Neustaedter
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Hierarchical representation of tagged data for visualization, aggregation and navigation

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-04
Abstract: 

Digital social networks generate massive amounts of data that are sometimes tagged by their users. In this work we have developed an analytic pipeline to extract and visualize a hierarchical representation of the data for navigation and aggregation purposes.For this thesis, we gathered a collection of Q&A forums containing millions of tagged ques- tions. Our objective is to create a navigable structure from the data that provides a con- tinuum of views from the big picture, down to the details.We also devised a new algorithm to prune the data while preserving the important parts and relationships among data for very large datasets. We also showed a recursive aggregation approach to generate labels and timelines for intermediate nodes in the hierarchy.

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

Encouraging Physical Activity with Gamification Approaches: Goal-setting, Social Community, and “FitPet” Game-based Mobile Application

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-08-17
Abstract: 

Wearable trackers and mobile applications can facilitate self-reflection of doing physical activity. The gamification process incorporates game design elements with persuasive systems in order to encourage more physical activity. However, few gamification strategies have been rigorously evaluated; these investigations showed that using the same gamification mechanism to promote physical activity could have contradictory effects. Therefore, I developed FitPet, a virtual pet-keeping mobile game for encouraging activity. I evaluated its effectiveness, and compared it with the goal-setting and social community strategies in a six-week field study. The findings revealed social interactions were the most effective intervention. Contrary to prior research, goal-setting was not perceived as an effective way to provide motivation compared to social interactions overall. Although FitPet was not able to promote significantly higher activity, participants showed great interests in this approach and provided design insights for future research: implementing social components and more challenging gameplay.

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

Amateur Ice Hockey Coaching and the Role of Video Feedback

Date created: 
2015-05-14
Abstract: 

Amateur minor hockey coaches have recently begun to capture and play back video recordings as a teaching tool, but it is not clear is whether such video feedback is useful or how video feedback systems could be designed to suit coaches’ and players’ needs. I wanted to understand coaches’ current practices for communicating and teaching and their current use of video. I observed games and practices and conducted in situ interviews with amateur coaches. I found that teaching and learning at competitive levels of minor hockey focuses on decision-making and comprehension rather than individual physical movement. One-on-one teaching happens opportunistically and in brief moments throughout games and practices. However, video feedback is currently used mostly away from the ice because of technological limitations. Based on these findings, I suggest video feedback systems be designed for use within the context of games and practices while balancing players’ needs with coaches’ goals

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Carman Neustaedter
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Transductive Praxis in BioArt: Relational Ontology and Aesthetics of Nonhuman Experience

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-05-11
Abstract: 

In this dissertation, I utilize the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon to form a theoretical framework for making BioArt. BioArt, for this research, means artwork that incorporates living, nonhuman organisms. Because Simondon addresses physical, living, and technical individuation, his philosophy is well suited for a consideration of BioArt. Simondon adopts a relational ontology to argue that individuation, or how things come to be, is ongoing and processual. The processes of individuation, he argues, must become the starting point of philosophy, rather than beginning with the individual and trying to then identify the processes by which that individual came to be. His philosophy is emergent and dynamic; it provides an understanding of the relations between entities, between individuals and their sustaining environments, as entirely real. Simondon argues his philosophy is generalizable across all regimes of existence (physical, living, technological, psychosocial, etc.), but specific to the context of a given set of relations. Simondon offers critical concepts for the consideration and creation of BioArt, especially techno-aesthetics. I use Simondon’s techno-aesthetics to build a method and approach to creating BioArt. I adopt a broader definition of BioArt; I eschew an understanding of BioArt that only emphasizes the practices, tools and processes from the biotechnology industry as the underlying requirement of the genre. Rather than limiting our understanding of what BioArt is, I argue for an opening up of our understanding of what BioArt can be. It represents a research path that brings relations between humans, technology, and living, nonhuman organisms to the fore. My research seeks to understand how BioArt can foster shared experiences between humans and nonhumans, aided by technical mediation. I discuss the development of two different BioArt projects, one in the final stage and one in the nascent stage, which are part of the research for this dissertation. They offer both physical instantiations of the theories and arguments of my research, as well as objects of analysis through which I explore and expand upon Simondon’s philosophy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Diane Gromala
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Identity Transformation and Agency in Digital Narratives and Story Based Games

Date created: 
2015-03-13
Abstract: 

In this dissertation I propose a reimagining of two of the central pleasures of digital media: Agency and Transformation. The first of these pleasures – Agency ¬– is a concept that has received significant attention in the discourse around games and storytelling. The second pleasure – Transformation – has received comparatively little deep investigation. In this work I will first undertake to map the territory of the discourse surrounding these two central concepts, returning first to the foundational work of Janet Murray (Murray, 1997), and then expanding my discussion to incorporate a wide range of theoretical perspectives from the different disciplines surrounding game studies. I argue that agency has been systematically misconstrued within the digital games and interactive digital storytelling communities in ways that overlook the core pleasure of agentic action within a narrative. To reframe agency, I draw on theories of communication and speech act theory to build a new understanding of how the pleasures of agency operate within a participatory narrative. This new approach to agency illuminates the ways in which the pleasures of enacting narratively meaningful moments in a game are equal to or greater than the pleasures of unrestricted action in a simulated world. I then turn my attention to transformation. I argue that understanding the pleasures of transformation can profoundly alter how we imagine, analyse, and design digital narratives. In order to build a robust theory of transformation, I turn to a field of study where identity transformation is a central concern: the dramatic arts. Drawing heavily on theories from Method acting, I identify a core poetics of transformation for digital stories. This new understanding of transformation highlights the importance of external frameworks of meaning (such as narrative scripts, rules, and goals) in guiding and supporting the enactments of a player in a story. I ground these two theoretical lenses in a close reading of the Mass Effect trilogy of story based games, from which I derive a framework of design poetics for digital narrative.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa N. Antle
Jim Bizzocchi
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.