Understanding experiences in photography exhibitions for Interaction Designers

This is a final paper I wrote for the Interaction Culture class at Indiana University.

ABSTRACT As Interaction Designers, two of the most important things that one needs to consider are the experience and also the audience being designed for. The presentation of the cultural expression is dependent on the presentation style and a thorough understanding of the audience. This paper aims at giving a close phenomenological understanding of a highly successful photography exhibition by India’s most renowned photographer, Raghu Rai. In the later part of the paper, from these points and an overall experience point of view, it is aimed to generate points for a framework for its application in Interaction Design.

Author Keywords Phenomenology, experience, exhibition, photography, interpretation, culture

Excerpts from the paper Interaction Design and HCI are constantly seeking for analogies from the established fields like computer science, the cognitive sciences, and other disciplines like sociology, anthropology, critical theory and philosophy. There has also been considerable efforts in trying to get an understanding from film theory and looking at experiences in film.

Photography exhibitions on the other hand are highly subjective. It is therefore more likely that any critical accounts of such exhibitions are phenomenological in nature. There is always the vision of a photographer that is being conveyed. And more often that not there is a mismatch between the intent of the photographer and the intent with which the viewer interprets it. There is also the element of time that comes into the picture when doing an analysis of the exhibition.

Conclusion Feelings and sensibility cannot be rationally expressed in words. It can only be experienced. Any exhibition of this kind, not only expanded the horizons for what can be exhibited in the Indian market today, but also helped in understanding what goes on in . . . → Read More: Understanding experiences in photography exhibitions for Interaction Designers

Sacred Digital Experiences

Cleaning is a sacred act. It has been done in the Indian culture (and also in other cultures around the world) since times immemorial. The Indian culture and traditions have been full of rituals and ceremonies in almost every event. And all of these rituals happen after an act of cleaning. There are festivals in which you have to clean up the houses as a compulsion, as it is said that the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, only enters those houses that are clean. In the traditional times (and also to a large population even today), people would not even take food without cleaning themselves up completely after bathing and performing a sacred ritual. This is even done in the coldest of months, and in the harshest of conditions. Many see these acts as cleaning the human soul. At times the act of cleaning also signifies the need to keep off the bad omen and the evil spirits. An extension of this is the ridiculously superstitious ceremonies that are held widely across the country. In times of adversities, the gods are summoned even more and every bit of effort is made to please the gods, so that the souls can be ‘clean’ and the society ‘cleaned’ of the adversity.

Being an Indian, who is religious, and who does not take any food on all most all days without having a shower (unless of course if I am starving), and who wants the goddess of wealth to bless me, I think that “Cleaning my computer’s desktop” (more specifically on a Mac) is a truly sacred act. The sacred experience that I have every time I have to clean my desktop gives me a joy and a sense of satisfaction that perhaps no other act does.

I see the computer’s desktop as an . . . → Read More: Sacred Digital Experiences

FACED (For A Collaborative Effort in Design) framework

FACED: For A Collaborative Effort in Design – Reflections on a framework for design in India.

Indian Design Industry today is faced with an identity crisis. Having worked in the design industries across continents, amongst cultures that are so different from one another, it is interesting to see the ways in which design is practiced. This essay is to provide a reflective analysis of the present scenario of design profession in India and also to provide a framework for looking ahead and facing the challenges that lie ahead. While the analysis is currently limited to and based on Interaction Design, it can be expanded to view the other frameworks in design.

The FACED Framework.

The metaphor used for the FACED (For a Collaborative Effort in Design) framework here is that of a face. It is an epitome of a perfect design. It is with this wholeness that the Indian Design needs to face the world. Neglecting even one of them would lead to incompleteness in the face and hence the efforts could be lacking. In particular the face is that of a Brahman priest, who is considered to be the highest class in the erstwhile existing caste society in India. Design to me is a profession that is of the highest class and hence this association.

The boundaries of the face signify the Design in India presently. The internal parameters (the Stake holders, the Real, the Evangelism, the Judgment) that lie within the boundaries are the ones that the designer has control over directly. The external parameters (the Theory and the Criticism, as denoted with the ears) are the ones, which have been controlled from the outside.

Within all these the designer has to become a reflective practitioner. The center of the forehead is used to signify the . . . → Read More: FACED (For A Collaborative Effort in Design) framework

A Flashy Subculture

After reading an article by Hebdige on Subculture and Style, today, I tried to go into the cultures and subcultures that exist within the frame of Interaction Design. I was surprised how the thing that first sprang up was the culture of Web Design. And inside the culture of Web Design, we had (or still have) the subculture of Flash Websites.

When I dug more into this topic I found that it is really interesting to analyze from the days of the flashy banners (one subculture) , to the days of Web 2.0 (another subculture)

Initially the websites were full with texts, monotonous and boring content. In order to break away from this monotonicity, it was followed by the usage of lots of pictures and providing more and more links in order to make it more interactive for the user.

However in the gamut of links available for the user who often got confused, the notion of using flashing texts, and blinking images were introduced. This led to a surge in the number of websites trying to do it. And yes, what better way to gather attention then have a extremely harsh color like pink, orange, bright greens on a black background. Visual ergonomics took a back seat. It was all about garnering attention. Anything that helped in doing so, was in fashion. So many sites had extra borderings around content, in bright colors to lay emphasis. Clip arts were used to add to the texts to make it look more stylish. I am sure one can look at the prime background colors of the websites during this period and see that it was black.

This was similar to the punk subculture where the appearance itself was enough to get attention. Since what was accepted in the . . . → Read More: A Flashy Subculture

Analyzing Experiences

Analyzing Bruner’s Anthropology of Experience.

So, which was the last movie that made you go wow! That was an amazing experience! For me one of it was “Taare Zameen Par”, directed by Aamir Khan.

Which was the last photograph that you saw and made you go wow! This is great photograph. This was a series of photographs that I saw from the movie War-Photographer.

When was the last narrative that you read , that made you have a good experience?

Well… i am sure you would agree that the degree of experience is not the same in all of these. Most of the people would say that the movie watching is perhaps the best experience amongst all. I agree to that as well.

So getting a bit more into the anthropology of experience, we try to analyze why this is the case. Why a movie makes me go more wow as compared to a novel? The answer lies in the way we define reality (what is there is there… ), expressions (how individual experience is framed and articulated) and experience (how the reality presents itself to the consciousness). Experience is valuable only if its affecting the inner consciousness and that affect stays with us for long. Expressions or an experiences are short lived and we tend to get over it soon.

We know as discussed, that experience is a collection of a group of expressions or the “an experiences”. Anthropologists and ethnographers aim at experiencing the cultures and look at retelling in their words. This often leads us to believing what they say. However, there is a difference in the life lived ( the reality) , the life experienced (the felt) and the life expressed (the told).

Now there are two kinds of experiences. Felt experience and the Told . . . → Read More: Analyzing Experiences