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

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A Machine that Dreams: An Artistic Enquiry Leading to an Integrative Theory and Computational Artwork

Date created: 
2014-09-09
Abstract: 

What is a dream? What is the relationship between dreaming, mind wandering and external perception? These questions are at the core of this artistic enquiry. In this art-as-research practice, both arts and sciences are defined as practices that construct culturally relevant representations that function as tools exploited in our attempt to make sense of the world and ourselves. Through this research, novel contributions are made to both artistic practices and cognitive science where both are manifest in a computational system that serves as both a generative and site-specific artwork and as a computational model of dreaming - the Dreaming Machine. Visual mentation is the experience of visual images in the mind and includes visual aspects of perception, mental imagery, mind wandering and dreaming. The Integrative Theory of visual mentation unifies biopsychological theories of perception, dreaming and mental imagery and makes three major hypotheses: Visual mentation (1) involves the activation of perceptual representations, (2) is experienced phenomenologically due to the activation of these representations, and (3) depends on shared mechanisms of simulation that exploit these representations. The Integrative Theory is the theoretical foundation of the model and artwork that generates dream imagery. The Dreaming Machine is an image-making agent that uses clustering and machine learning methods to make sense of live images captured in the context of installation. Visual images are generated during external perception, mind wandering and dreaming, and are constructed from shared perceptual representations learned during waking. The difference between these processes of visual mentation are varying degrees of activation from external stimuli (exogenous) and feedback in a predictive model of the world (endogenous). As an artwork, the generative methods manifesting biopsychological processes create a rich diversity of imagery that ranges from abstract collage to photo-realism. The artwork is meant to facilitate the viewer's sense of his/her own fabricated perceptions and consider the relationships between computation, cognitive models and scientific conceptions of mind and dreaming.

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

The influence of visual structure and physical motion cues on spatial orientation in a virtual reality point-to-origin task

Date created: 
2014-08-06
Abstract: 

Virtual reality simulators have a serious flaw: Users tend to get lost and disoriented as they navigate. The prevailing opinion is that this is due to the lack of physical motion cues, but a growing body of research challenges this notion. In two experiments, 48 participants estimated their position after passive motions in a virtual environment without landmarks (ranging from pure optic flow to a structured city), by pointing towards the origin of the simulated movement. In half of the trials the visually displayed turns were accompanied by a matching physical rotation. Results showed that while physical rotation cues did not improve spatial orientation performance, structured visuals did. Furthermore, we observed that visuals experienced first by a participant significantly affected spatial orientation performance in subsequent environments. Our findings lend support to the notion that spatial orientation ability in VR may not require physical motion cues, but can be facilitated by a naturalistic and structured environment. This knowledge improves our understanding of how different modalities affect human spatial cognition, and can guide the design of safer and more affordable VR simulators.

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

Virtual Reality and Health Informatics for Management of Chronic Pain

Date created: 
2014-07-29
Abstract: 

Approximately 20 percent of people in North America suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than 6 months and that persists beyond the healing of its putative cause. The complexity of the disease involves neurobiological, psychological and social dimensions, and as such, there exists no universal treatment for this disease. Besides pharmacological approaches to the management of chronic pain, digital media has not been widely used as a method of treatment in conjunction with traditional pharmacological approaches. In this thesis, I designed and conducted several studies that constituted use of an Immersive Virtual Environment (VE) designed to assist chronic pain patients in self-modulating their pain, and ideally raise their pain tolerance. The VE, equipped with a biofeedback system, gives patients a chance to learn and practice mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). One of the primary goals is to enable users to consciously train their emotional arousal, measured by galvanic skin response (GSR) in a healthy manner. The results suggest that Virtual Reality combined with biofeedback, and in conjunction with well-known MBSR, can decrease the pain reported by the patients.

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.

The Evaluation of Selected Parameters that Affect Motion Artifacts in Stereoscopic Video

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-08-18
Abstract: 

This work investigates the role of various parameters on the visibility or strength of motion artifacts in stereoscopic video. The parameters examined in an experimental study were disparity, presentation protocol (double flash or triple flash), seating position of a viewer in the theatre and speed of a moving object in the scene. The results of the study suggested that disparity and presentation protocol had no significant effect on the visibility or strength of the motion artifacts. Speed of a moving object had a significant effect on both the visibility and strength of the motion artifacts. Although position does not itself have a significant effect, there was an interaction between speed and seating position that had a significant effect. The speed threshold for visibility of motion artifacts was significantly higher for viewers sitting closest to the screen, which is surprising. It is concluded that the effects of viewer seating position on the perception of movement artifacts requires further investigation.

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

Migratory Embodied Experiences: The Convergence of Sensory Ethnography and Experimental Documentary

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-07-07
Abstract: 

The thesis explores the capacity and operations of video-making to evoke, amplify and transmit our transcultural affects. I draw upon Spinoza’s notion of affect that simultaneously refer to both affect as a change in the state of existence, and affection, which suggests the effect of another body on another. To address this two-sided understanding of affect, I draw upon Simondon’s transindividuality, Bergsonian memory and Deleuzian film theory. I also would like to situate this project within the collaboration between anthropology and art, which takes into account the relational and processual understanding of the individual, and the capacity of our body to affect and to be affected. My ethnographic video project Migratory Affects can be described as an assemblage of particular moments and expressions of transcultural experience unfolding in a particular spatiotemporal setting, which is widened up by the plurality of temporalities, sensoria and realities that we come into contact within the midst of our relational becomings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
etd8449_OIscen_supp_001.mp4
Senior supervisor: 
Diane Gromala
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Affective Affordance of Motionscape

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-05-14
Abstract: 

Visual artists and designers often employ the extensive compositions of visual forms and motion to construct abstract motionscapes. While abstract motionscapes are often employed for the evocation of affective experience in many recent interactive environments, little work has been done to correlate the two. In this thesis research, two empirical studies were conducted to investigate how various fundamental properties of motionscapes influence viewer affective experience. Sixty university students were recruited to give self-reports on the affective experience of a number of motionscape primitives. Results showed that basic motionscape properties such as speed, direction, path curvature, shape, and scale, all had significant impacts on the affective experience of the tested motionscape primitives. The display conditions under which motionscape primitives were presented, were also found crucial for the motionscape expressiveness. Based on these findings, we envision the emerging principles and directions of the motionscape design for affective visualization within the interactive environments.

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

Visualizing the analysis process: CZSaw's History View

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-02-28
Abstract: 

Capturing and visualizing the data analysis process is a growing research domain. Visual Analytics tool designers try to understand the analysis process in order to provide better tools. Existing research in process visualization suggests that capturing and visualizing the history of the analysis process is an effective form of process visualization. CZSaw is a Visual Analytics tool that provides visual representations of both data and the analysis process. In this thesis, we discuss the design and development of CZSaw’s History View, a method we have designed and developed to capture and visualize the history of data exploration sessions with CZSaw. Our goal is to understand how analysts employ visual history in the analysis process. Achieving this goal helps us in providing better support for analysts. We conducted an informal user study based on which, we have developed a list of user expectations and suggestions for history visualization.

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

Tango Cards: A Card-Based Design Tool for Informing the Design of Tangible Learning Games

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-05-22
Abstract: 

For over thirty years researchers have suggested that both tangible user interfaces and digital games have potential to support learning. Each domain now has a well-developed body of literature about how to design them to enable learning benefits. What is needed is a way to bring this knowledge, which is often lengthy, dense, and jargon laden to design practice. To address this need, I designed and evaluated Tango Cards—a card-based design tool. I found that Tango Cards enabled a variety of uses that made design knowledge about tangible learning games accessible to designers. I identified and discussed how specific card features supported or limited card use by designers. Drawing on the findings of Tango Cards and previous cards, I set forth design considerations that can support others to create design tools (card-based or alike) that bring scholarly design knowledge to designers.

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

Symbiogenic Experience and the Emergent Arts: Cybernetics, Art and Existential Phenomenology

Date created: 
2014-03-31
Abstract: 

This dissertation is an exploration of the ways in which certain forms of interactive art can and do elicit experiences of co-evolution with a technologized environment. These "emergent arts", I argue, give rise to a sensory experience of a sense of being embedded and co-emergent with this environment. The term "co-evolution" is often taken to allude to Darwin biological processes of interaction between two or more species. However, much like humanities scholars such as Katherine Hayles and Mark Hansen do in their analyses of technology (Hayles 1999; Hayles 2002; Hayles 2007; Hansen 2006; Hansen 2005; Hansen 2009a), I recast the term to refer to processes of emergence, self-organization and autopoiesis. By examining these artworks and experiences via the interlocking frames of cybernetics, phenomenological philosophy, posthumanism and interactive/new media art, this dissertation articulates the movement towards a framework that fuses theoretical and experiential modes of inquiry to provide insights relevant to both interactive artists and humanities scholars. New approaches to understanding and studying technologically-based artworks are proffered that attend to how these artworks are contributing to a new range of experiences that more adeptly attune us to our techno-ecological context. Experiences that I refer to as "symbiogenic". The framework centers on the exposition of four theoretical concepts: Ambiguity and Unknowability, Boundary, Distributed Intentionality and Collectively Emergent Autonomy. In addition, a taxonomical model of artworks is put forth that outlines a number of characteristics of new media and interactive arts practice that engage in processes that establish a foundation for the shifts in perceptual and embodied experience that I characterize as symbiogenic. Along with the textual exegesis, this dissertation details the conceptualization, design, construction and exhibition of two interactive artworks: Protocol and Biopoiesis. Their function in this research is threefold: first as a concrete method of putting theories to the ontological test beyond conventional textual means, second, a way developing new concepts and techniques and modifying existing ones (this applies to both the philosophical ideas and to the technical systems that are developed specifically for each artwork) and third they serve as embodiments of theoretical concepts in their own right.

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

Exploring Aesthetic Visualization for Promoting Consumer Energy Conservation

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-03-21
Abstract: 

Consumer awareness of energy use and their act in energy conservation are inextricably linked because the former enables informed decision-making and motivates behaviour change. Various feedback techniques have been developed to increase consumer knowledge and problems with traditional methods such as pragmatic charts are the lack of engagingness and integrity with the context. As an alternative, we explore the effectiveness and utility of using aesthetic visualization as feedback for consumer energy use, as we believe its more attractive display will increase aesthetic interest and better fit with the environment. In our two-staged study, we first investigate its effectiveness in comprehension and then further explore its ability in supporting decision-making and understanding within a simulated gaming context. We conclude that aesthetic visualization is a promising approach due to its advantage of engaging people with visually interesting display while maintaining comprehensibility, supporting at-a-glance awareness and enabling informed decision-making.

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