The ArtSciLab is one of the founding research groups of the Edith O’Donnell School of Arts and Technology in 2014. Its main task has been to bridge Art and Science alongside innovative technologies and research to help shape the future. The creation of the first official Code of Ethics (COD) in 2020 is long overdue. After a large global social shakeup that sprouted as the awakening of the Black Lives Matter movement in late May and early June, the creation of a COD was imminent. Our COD appeals for a more equitable, trustworthy and open work and study environment than ever before. The newly formed COD vocalizes the need for providing opportunities without discriminating during our processes of promotion, training and development of our members. An equal evaluation of ideas is what we strive for, as diversity and openness leads to creativity and innovation. Trusting and empowering those young researchers is essential, as well as having devoted mentors in the lab that guide other members. We aim to deal with not only conflict, but also opportunity with an open mind and transparency.Artists, designers, engineers, scientists and those that seldom fit in have a home in the ArtSciLab. This new ethical document seeks to serve our ArtSci community.
Hello, we are from the ArtSciLab’s Esports Player Development (EPD) team! We understand that while gaming culture has acquired a stigma of sorts over time, it has also served as a healthy escape and a source of interaction in dire times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of our members, Semra Zamurad (Research Fellow) and Lauren Bernal (Project Manager), who both had a B.S. in Psychology, have written this blog as examples of how COVID-19 has impacted their lives and how gaming allowed them to restore mental health and their social relationships.
Semra is a co-design and research assistant on the EPD team that graduated from Texas Woman’s University in May of 2019. An avid gamer herself, she spends much of her free time playing JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Games) and watching streams. Her relationship with gaming started when she was young, and while it has changed plenty over time, she admits that nothing quite prepared her for the way it would be impacted by COVID-19 and how that would help her relationships continue to flourish in spite of the pandemic.
Gaming has always been a part of
my life, serving as the happy medium between TV shows I wish I could play a
part in and books that were thrilling but not as engaging. Such games gave me
the chance to play an active role in stories that were meant to help my
character realize their true potential, something I struggled to do in my real
life, especially while growing up. Eventually though, I did grow up and out of
that mentality, and as a result, games became less of an escape from my reality
and more of a fun pastime whenever I was not busy. I still quite enjoyed the
plot twists and gameplay, but I was no longer dependent on it to build my
confidence in real life, something I do believe was a positive development. I
had grown to combat negative emotions by going to my favorite boba cafe or
rendezvousing with friends at the mall. However, with the drastic shift in
lifestyle caused by stay-at-home orders and safety precautions brought on by
the onset of COVID-19, I suddenly found my hands tied, and for the first time
in a while, I had too much time and not enough to do. In an attempt to fill my
days with more than napping and despairing about the situation, I once again
found solace in gaming.
It is important that I mention,
though, that gaming felt very different now. As I live at home with my parents,
I was so used to complaints from my family about how much time I spent playing
and how that time could be better spent on other activities. However, as of
late, the home has been fairly quiet; even more surprising is how often
different members of the family will come into the room I am playing in to ask
about how it is going and what the story is, conversations that have seldom
taken place before because there was little interest for gaming on my family’s
part outside of myself. It is certainly a welcome reaction, but shocking
And it is not just their views on
gaming that have seemed to change; I have noticed it in myself and my friends
as well. I am frequently engaging with friends via discord, often joining in
general calls to converse at various times in the day. Many of my friends are
from all over the world, but we share common interests such as gaming; the
divide comes in the form of the types of games we prefer to play. Interestingly
enough, in an effort to move the conversation away from the constant gloom
brought on by the state of the world, game suggestions, invitations, and
streams have become a daily occurrence. Many of us have become much more
open-minded about the series and the types of games we normally play in an
effort to connect with each other more; as new releases continue to happen on
time, more and more of us have started playing the same games, which often come
with online connection features that allow us to play with each other in real
time. Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Persona 5, and Animal Crossing have become
household names, and we continue to play outside of discord calls via iMessage
games, effectively closing the mental and emotional distance between us. And
still, we endeavor to find new games to play, bringing new things to talk
about, new characters and stories to share, more advice to exchange, and
discussions about strategies to implement.
The feeling of being active in a
virtual world with different circumstances is contagious and has lifted our
spirits immensely, and I believe it has a lot to do with embodied cognition. In
many of these games, we each play a character that is given choices on how to respond
to the world around them, and we are encouraged to respond in the way we would
if we found ourselves in the same situation. Seeing those choices bring about
change and ultimately progress the story rewards the players themselves by
giving them a sense of hope. Each plot presents obstacles that often seem
insurmountable at the beginning, but little by little, the player earns
experience, builds rapport with other characters, and takes on challenge after
challenge to ultimately succeed against all odds, and although it is the
character in the game that is executing each action, it is the player who
thoughtfully plans out each move and sees the fruits of their efforts.
Most games, if not all, are designed to give one a sense of hope and accomplishment, something that is missing from many of our lives currently as we guess and check new ways of surviving all that COVID-19 has thrown at us. With successful attempts to ride out this pandemic being far and few in between, it makes sense that many feel hopeless and trapped. But so did our characters at the beginning of each game; they too had to seek support from others, just as we rely on each other now; they too faced a long and arduous journey that tested their resolve, just as ours is being tested day by day; and they still succeeded, just as we will. If we can survive what these games put us through, we can get through this as well.
Personally, I have felt
lethargic, apathetic, and depressed over the past few weeks. It (COVID-19) has
affected my regular work schedule by making my hours less consistent than
usual. On the other hand, it has helped me to see how important EPD is. Our
pitch: “How do we reform the 21st century sport in a way that does
not harm the players mentally or physically?” really holds during this time of
crisis. Some differences I have noticed it has made for my team and being a
Project Manager: 1) We have been able to stay well connected on professional
and personal levels, and 2) As a PM in the UTD ArtSciLab, it has strengthened
my trust in the members for my team to deliver and take initiative on their ideas.
I have been thoroughly impressed by their commitment to affirm our goals with
In a sociocultural perspective, I
have seen gaming bring people closer together. With confinement, virtual
realities are all the more enticing. Members on the EPD team (Semra, Peter,
Kristen, and Cris) have each reacted differently to the pandemic with what they
can produce within EPD and online. For instance, Kristen has started streaming
her gameplays on Twitch.tv, Cris has created our EPD website, www.esports-pd.com, and Semra and Peter have been
more engaged with esports communities than before by communicating with friends
through Discord servers and following streams.
The community in general has
shown impressive acts for adaptation. One example of this is a professor
used Animal Crossing: New Horizons to create a simulation of his classroom (post shared from Instagram, but
message from professor was communicated through Discord). The students were
offered the opportunity to journey with their avatar to the professor’s land,
sit in the classroom, while they took a real-life exam. Another example of how
people are exercising their creative abilities is using Minecraft for virtual
dates! Love is in the air, even when we have to wear face masks, so why not
indulge in a novel way to meet someone?
Times are hard right now, but we
will persevere – one simulation at a time.
to regulate your sleeping habits? Searching for a way to teach sexual health?
There’s an app for that. In today’s web-based world, games for health are
rocketing in popularity. These “serious” games are specifically designed to
encourage behavior changes to treat a health threat. Naturally, we are inclined
to ask about the validity of the games: do they work the way they were designed
to work? Can serious games be used to improve health outcomes? However, we may
not consider the important role of user experience — how easy and pleasant the
game is — factoring into the game’s influence. Paying attention to how a game
is designed and what human interaction factors considered during its
development may hold the key to the future of health-based games.
in a Nutshell
games to affect change in real life isn’t a new concept. Educational games have
been a prominent feature in the integration of technology and grade school
learning since the early days of funbrain.com and Mavis Beacon. These games use the theoretical
approach of teaching and testing content in small quantities — having student
pass a level before moving on to the next one. The late 90s birthed the
exergaming (exercise + gaming) industry — utilizing movement tracking and
virtual reality to turn movement into play. In 2013, we saw the integration of
health metrics, heart rate and a pedometer, into these “exergames” with
Nintendo’s Wii consoles. The most visible case of implementing health goals in
game design today can be found in trending augmented reality apps like Zombies,
Run! and Pokémon GO. One study
assessed the walking and sedentary habits of young adults before and after
downloading the game Pokémon GO. The
GPS-based game requires players to use their phones to search for virtual Pokémon
characters as they walk through real-world locations. They found that Pokémon Go was associated with increased
walking and decreased sedentary behavior. Some unexpected negative side effects
of a semi-virtual game that the experimenters found included the dangers in the
environment as the user is walking right into it, too immersed in his/her phone
to notice! This is an example of a real-life “bug” that needs to be addressed
in these mobile exergames by the developers of the programs. Perhaps the lesson
here is that the health benefits of resulting increased physical behavior can
only be a priority if the safety of the user in any potential semi-virtual game
is accounted for by the designer. After all, what good is an app that raises
your heart rate and encourages exercise if the trade-off is mistakenly walking
off a cliff?
Models in Games
health-positive behavior and tracking metrics are a great start. However, to
delve deeper, we need to start at the conceptual design stage of the game. The
question of gamification pivots from “does the existing design work” to “how do
we design it to make sure it works?” This is where experts toy with the idea of
implementing psychological models of healing in health game design—specifically,
the Health Belief Model.
According to the Health Belief model, an individual’s intention to “engage in health behavior” — this includes both positive and negative behavior — can be determined by their perception of their own vulnerability to health threats and consequences. In more technical terms, the user will behave based on self-perceived strengths and weaknesses. So how do you go about using the health belief model in conceptual design: in serious games that use role-playing and sci-fi/action themes to encourage diabetes management, users are rewarded when health landmarks are met. This offers incentive for health record integration in the game — all to ensure that metric and therapeutic goals are accomplished in the process of playing the game.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins examined design
principles of serious games (for patients with chronic illnesses) based on the
Health Belief Model and their influence on the games’ effectiveness in health
participants were recruited for user experience evaluation of the games, and they
found that implementing the Health Belief Model in healthcare game design
increases usability in games, improving the efficacy as a health tools. But
that’s just one model. In the context of future experimental design for other
chronic illnesses, it’s important to gauge the value of implementing
appropriate models when designing games. However, if there’s one thing that can
be taken away from this study, it’s that it sets an essential precedent. If our
end goal is to improve health outcomes using games, then we need to use
professionally developed tools for healing while designing them. The
psychological model is an a necessary perspective during the design of
Dish, Many Cooks
idea of different perspectives comes into play (no pun intended) in game design
when we talk about the human factors behind health-based gaming. Recent studies
have found evidence that may explain the convergences as well as conceptual
differences between the different experts. Obviously, game design experts are
most sensitive to the mechanics of the game, but they tend to prioritize the
player’s autonomy during the experience. They view the integration of gameplay and health behavior in terms of
two distinct concepts. On the other hand, health experts interpret player
autonomy in the context of health. They are more likely to comment on the “fun”
games in contrast to the “serious” games, and they are more likely to discuss
game and health concepts less in the context of integration but rather in terms
of a causal relationship — game mechanics were to model health behavior. In
contrast with these single-discipline groups, games for health experts view content
and interaction of the while emphasizing the outcomes and objectives of both the
games and health behavior. According
to games for health experts, the game mechanics — its own separate entity — are
responsible for producing health outcomes. These findings can be applied as
conceptual tools during the design process to make sure games are made with the
intent to produce desirable health objectives.
Why Do I Care? Why Should You?
I’m nearing the end of my master’s program
for applied cognition and neuroscience, and I’ve been spending its duration
performing cognitive tests (testing memory and attention) on volunteer
participants during a cognitive training regimen. What is the cognitive
training in question? Any guesses?
If you thought “games,” you thought right.
And since taking a special interest in human-computer interaction theory during
my undergrad years, I can’t help but speculate on the relationship between the
user experience of the games that we use for cognitive training and the
behavioral and neurological effects that we investigate.
Are games the future of cognitive and
physical health? I can’t definitively say that for sure, but I can be pretty
confident that digitizing and gamifying health is and will continue to be an
important tool in a holistic approach to manage health. The studies I mentioned
earlier make it evident that the technological component of health games is not
only important in terms of validity but also usability. If we plan to continue
implementing games into behavioral health and cognitive training as aids in
metrics, management, and even enhancement (in the terms of cognitive training),
we have to pay attention to the multiple factors that go into designing the
games themselves. At the risk of sounding corny, I feel like the conclusion I
drew from this little investigation could be summed up in a little phrase:
better game design allows for better user health.
Using Biofeedback and Facial Tracking Technologies to Abstract Emotions.
In his 2018 Master’s Thesis, Aaron Tate details his project to “create an artistic visualization that would use both electroencephalogram and facial tracking technologies as input devices driving creative compositions in a digital interface. ” Taking influences form data visualization, cognitive science, art, and aesthetics, Digital Emotes is an interesting look at the integration of artistic visualization and neuroimaging to produce a visual reflection of current emotional state.
Cyber security refers to
the body of technologies, processes, and practices designed to protect
networks, devices, programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized
access. Cybersecurity may also be referred to as information technology
security. These cyberattacks are usually
aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting
money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.
As we continue in our Redesign phase, we have established
the idea of having a cybersecurity team. We have so much vulnerable files and
data which are prone to serious attack. I was informed about the recent attack
on Creative disturbance, where the hacker demanded bitcoin payment. If we had a
Cyber security plan, we would have had better methods of not only handling the
attack, but also preventing the lab from future attacks.
Cybersecurity is typically divided into two parts. The software, and the human behavior. The latter is the more difficult part. This plan will not only touch on software, but also the human behavior, teaching lab members what to do in order to prevent attacks, and generally safe computer and internet practices.
February 2020, the University of Texas at Dallas ArtSciLab appoints Jacob Hunwick as Lab Ambassador for the duration of his study abroad program in Germany. He starts at Phillips University Marburg on February the 18th and finishes on June the 12th. In addition, lab director Roger Malina appoints Jacob as an intern representative for the Leonardo Journal in Europe.
Jacob will work to research, discover and document exemplars of art-science and well-being. Through his studies in ATEC at UT Dallas, Jacob has found a passion for technologies that prioritize the preservation and promotion of healthy habits and lifestyles.
Through his weekly blog posts, he will report on interviews, events, and interactions with new organizations and people related to technologies that prioritize human health.
The following is a summary of his research interests that he will pursue and write about in his weekly blog.
Research Goal for Lab Ambassador Position
Ideally, interaction designers want interfaces designed for everyday use to develop into healthy habits. Unfortunately, screen-based interfaces and modern city infrastructure trends promote sedentary habits.
Infinitely scrolling pages and endless content tunnels enable users to over-dose on screen-time. Common use of screens for education, entertainment, and leisure time encourage people to abandon physical activity. And lastly, American city infrastructures discourage walking with a hyper focus on the automobile.
Through my research, I seek interfaces with modern technology that improve human well-being. I seek infrastructure that empowers us to rely on our legs, not motors, to travel and navigate urban environments. I seek products that involve motion and break through the 2-dimensional touch screen barrier. I seek educational tools that encourage children to learn through active motion and participation rather than passive consumption.
Through the theories of embodied cognition, designers know that external objects can influence our cognitive processes. Now, the field of interaction design has realized the power that designed objects and experiences has over how we understand the world. While abroad, I will search for and document exemplars of health-conscious technologies that use the theories of embodied cognition to build healthy habits.
To those interested in my research goal contact me via email at email@example.com. I look forward to traveling all around Europe in pursuit of my mission.
On Saturday October 5th, 2019 a public performance exhibition was given at the conclusion of the month long ‘Good Moves’ exhibition dedicated to the game of chess, at The Power Station art space in Dallas, Texas. ‘Good Moves’ featured chess related artworks, that further develop the aesthetic legacy of the game, while collectively serving a worthy purpose. All works included in ‘Good Moves’ were auctioned at the close of the exhibition to endow a chess program at Vogel Alcove, a Dallas-based, non-profit organization on a mission to help young children overcome the lasting and traumatic effects of homelessness.
The performance was called “Chess Re-imagined” as was the first public exhibition of months of work examining the idea of using the game of chess tied to various multimedia configurations to display the state of the game via extended visual and auditory/musical means. Blindfolded chess game as well as all other chess related nuances were taken care by Grandmaster Elect and 3x Texas State Chess Champion Zura Javakhadze. The auditory work was based on the Data Stethoscope project of the ARTSCI Lab of UT Dallas, with the leadership of Award-winning composer Scot-Gresham Lancaster. The visual work was done by Dr. William Thibault PhD semi-independently from Auditory. Another collaborator of the project was Machine Listening and Audio Cognition expert Sharath Chandra, who was in charge of tech-aspect of the performance.
We are happy to report that, while a little chaotic in the context of a gallery serving alcohol and snacks in the performance area, the results of our survey and our informal inquiries have returned almost completely positive feedback and many rich insights for improvement.
DGT electronic chess board
Software reading the chess moves on that board in real time
Those moves turned into OPEN SOUND CONTROL (OSC) messages
Interpretation of those messages into:
Visual real time interactive 3d scene graph representations
Auditory Sonification that represent aspects of the game play
By all our measures this event was a success. When the games were happening, the audience was engaged and as the survey demonstrated, for the most part, that the comprehension of the sonification aspects of the work were tangible and fairly well comprehended. Below is a set of materials that the performance generated that will help understand if we are able to achieve our objective analyzing this performance as an authentic instance of research. We did this in a number of ways.
Result Notes by Scot-Gresham Lancaster
This is a very positive outcome indicating that technique of using a combination of Earcon’s and Spearcon’s to reflect the chess moves was successful. This supports the notion that this approach could be transferred to other areas of data science beyond tabletop gaming which is the general area that we are categorizing this research in terms of a potential minimum viable product (MVP). There was some disappointment that we used words to express the “rank and file” (A – 7, E -3, etc.) In rehearsal we tried just sounds with much less success. So, the determination was to insure Zura’s success we would just use the timbre and Earcon melody fragments to represent the piece rank (pawn, knight, queen, etc.) and the color of the piece (black and white)
A positive result for the core part of the test, but if we get the opportunity to try this again, we need to test at a more granular level. We did not differentiate between the Earcon/Spearcon representation, the pan/pulse eval representation and the eval represented as a variable “boom chick” rhythm. There was an oversight that will be corrected next time to have a more thorough explanation of the “1st order” sonification representations that were the “pan/pulse” and “boom/chick” part of the audio experience. Roger Malina after the hectic party atmosphere of this art gallery context suggested that we arrange an invitation only “exhibition” next time.
We did not get the opportunity to more granularly ask about distinguishing the major events of the game that were also represented with Earcons, castling, capture, check, game over (resign and tie) and checkmate.
Additionally, and completely unexplained to the audience was that there were sonic representations of the potential future attacks. This was a very sophisticated sonic design that reflected the future state of the board and the potential new moves and their relative strengths for the side that had just moved. (Picture shown below.) Ultimately, we decided these sounds were an interesting part of the soundscape generated by the chess driven sound state machine that had been designed, but an explanation and expectation of any audience member being able to discern this sophisticated sound would not be fruitful. So, it was decided to just add it in during moments later in the evening as and an additional part of the sound texture, but unexplained.
This is a little of a more disappointing result with just a little over 20% of the respondents feeling that the overall effect of the various sonification techniques were helpful in following the game play. With more testing it is possible that the time it takes to “learn” the sounds will be able to be determined, but in this preliminary test that was not an option.
This aspect of multi modal media, or media of at least two senses is a very interesting area to pursue further. The examples using the fMRI data from our earlier research were never tested in this way, so getting these results is very telling. The intuitive conclusion is that the visuals are a good support for improving the response to the sonification, but an interesting test in a more controlled environment. The implicit future test would be a combination of just the visuals, just the sonification, and then the combination of both, to see what would get the best result.
POINTS OF FAILURE AND POTENTIAL IMPROVEMENTS
The responses of survey takers
It is clear that there was too much ancillary sound that was not part of the sound design that bothered some of the respondents enough to make a comment. This is a small point but worth observing. There has been a point of controversy between at least two of the collaborators.
SGL felt that the playing of a non-data driven drum machine during all the breaks between games, which was a unilateral and not agreed upon part of the sound environment was an extreme distraction from our intended purpose. The other collaborators, besides SCR, agreed this seemed a distraction to the focused listening intent of this work and created a “party atmosphere” that promoted loud talking and much less attentive listening than we had desired. However, the sudden stop in the music before the actual performance resulted in the audience’s saliency and attention towards the MC taking over the microphone. This perhaps retained a critical mass of the merry audiences’ presence and attention during the actual chess performance which we all agree was a success.
SCR was of the opinion that the ancillary “background music” the respondents were referring to was instances like the one 5 minute section where an acoustic guitar improvisation was done based on the Rank and File data of a fast game play between professional players with the unexplained sounds late in the evening that were introduced representing future attack sonification.
This is the sort of informative result of investigation that makes our approach of performance-oriented research so unique and we would argue, richer and more compelling.
A very disrespectful and glaring error was that we did not run through the talk a second time in the course of the evening and in the initial presentation SGL moved on to the first game before both Dr. Thibault and Mr. Chandra got the opportunity to fully explain their contributions to the game data representations. This was an unfortunate oversight that will be rectified if the opportunity to do this again arises.
The first game between two members of the audience went on way too long. While this game was supposedly on the clock, we did not enforce the time constraints due to the inexperience of players, and it went on way longer than what was prudent. Additionally, by the end of the game it was just a back and forth. That would have been a draw in a professional tournament setting. When we revisit this, we need a mechanism for strict enforcement of time so that the games don’t go on so long.
ETHICAL AND LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS
How did this collaboration happen?
Dr. William C. Thibault Ph.D. and Scot Gresham-Lancaster MA/MFA have been collaborating together on various pieces since 1990. When James Stallings contacted Scot to contribute to the “Good Moves” exhibit closing evening, he first thought of resurrecting the piece that he had done for the 9e2 event in Seattle in Oct. of 2016, it was a third of the presentation that was part of the DARPA funded research identified as the “Data Stethoscope” project.(Video of the full performance https://vimeo.com/356344252) This project was a demonstration of artistic approaches to using data to examine a field of FMRI data provided by neuroscientist Dr. Gagan Wig and his lab from the Center for Longevity Studies at UT Dallas. Scot determined that this code was still working and accepted the offer to start work on the performance in July. However, this did not fully meet the criterion of moving the Data Stethoscope tests of artistic practice as research methodology.
For the past two years Scot, Dr. Roger Malina, Sharath Chandra Ram with some interaction with various ancillary individuals have been working developing a “fuzzy taxonomy” of “Ways of Listening to Data” based on various prototype modules that both Scot and Chandra had been collaborating to develop. The intent of finding an opportunity or opportunities to develop use cases and performances to create a minimum viable product (MVP) demonstrations of this research.
By chance, Scot reconnected with his old friend and collaborator Bill (William above) and discovered Bill had immersed himself in an in-depth private research practice into chess. Playing at a professional level and integrating some of his post-retirement research to developing chess related software to analyze the game play.
In the ensuing conversations Bill became interested in using his own DGT chess board to create a set of a type of messages called Open Sound Control or OSC messages that would characterize each move of the chess game in real time. Working in collaboration with Scot they developed an agreed upon set of messages that represented the game play after each move.
Once he developed this code base both he and Scot had an agreed upon set of descriptors for all the various aspects of game play, he developed a “PGN player” that sent each move from a large catalog of Chess Master games one move at a time at a random interval of 3 to 15 seconds, to emulate actual game play. A PGN is an encoded list of the algebraic notation of a chess game move by move. Each move was communicated over the internet from Bill’s studio in Castro Valley. Over the next 2 months Bill and Scot worked to expand and refine the visuals and sound separately, but in an integrated way via these OSC shared vocabulary.
On Scot’s return trips one week a month to Texas as part of his association with the ArtSci lab, he met the Grand Master elect Zura Javakhadze to discuss the specific chess aspects of what was being developed. Also, as part of the more far reaching work of the more general Data Stethoscope project the progress of this work was shared and commented on by Dr. Roger Malina and Sharath Chandra Ram as part of their meeting regarding the ongoing research.
Besides this single face to face visit in late August, for the 2 months leading up to the performance, when Scot was back in California, there were daily email and phone connection with Roger who was introduced to the notion that Bill Thibault was working very closely with Scot creating this new work. Chandra was getting ready for the qualifying exam for his PhD and Roger and Scot agreed to lighten his load relative to this particular endeavor. This was a change from our usual configuration where Scot and Chandra worked in close daily collaboration.
The week before the performance began integration of the research modules that both Bill and Scot had been working on. Chandra was expected to have another of our earlier developed modules ready for integration from our Jupyter notebook research earlier in the year, but he had been busy with other pressing matters when we first arrived. He was able to put together a version of the “pan pulse” sonic value representation. His module, like other dynamic messages in the system was linked to the Stockfish Chess analysis engine. In this case it was a representation of the dynamic evaluation of whether White or Black was more likely to win, changing with each move. The day before the performance Chandra’s Pan/pulse eval part of the module was integrated. Additionally, Scot added a version of the “boom – chick” module. (Visual representation of Stockfish evaluation window can be seen on the right side of the image)
Throughout the time leading into the arrival of the California part of the team, (Scot and Bill.) Roger assigned the set of marketing and PR tasks leading up to the event, to a team of Zura Javakhadze, Linda Anderson and Jacob Hunwick. At a certain point Roger commented on the gender imbalance in the team, as we are striving to keep that balance as part of all the work associated with the ArtSci Lab. Daily input and suggestions that Scot’s wife Kathryn was contributing to the work was immense, and was acknowledged from early on. Still not a complete balance of gender but her perspective was invaluable in many of the decisions and editions as the project moved forward. Once all the collaborators were in the Dallas area, the idea was floated to recruit an “MC” for handling the flow of the program. The individuals suggested were rejected by the team that had been working on the piece. A post performance observation is that stage manager and a tighter adherence to the script would have added to the general clarity of the performance. This was a complex and multi layered collaboration that was ultimately very successful in demonstrating the efficacy of using Earcons, Spearcons and a type of 1st order sonification to represent the dynamic course of a real time chess game auditorily.
Were innovations created in the form of new intellectual property?
At its core this was a test to see if certain of identified sonification techniques could integrate with Dr. Thibault’s separate visual engine, much in the same way sonification for the Make or Break Unity engine were tested during the DARPA funded portion of the research. This proof was successful.
We confirmed that a complex task like playing a game of chess blindfolded is possible with only auditory cues. We need to take the next step and make the cues entirely non speech earcons completely.
Was everyone’s contribution fairly credited and exhibited?
Zura and Scot made an extreme blunder by not carving a time out during the performance itself for both Dr. Thibault and Sharath Chadra to describe their contributions to the crowd. This was not only bad form but it left many in the audience without clarity about the processes both visual and to a small extent auditorily that they were experiencing. Additionally, there should have been a recap announcement that credited everyone involved which was not done. That was an extreme oversight.
Care was given to credit everyone involved in all the written material, including the pamphlet and poster that were generated. The announcement given to ATEC for publication included no names which was probably for the best since it was submitted the full team was still in flux.
Was everyone fairly compensated?
The Powerstation art space provided both the airfare and lodging for Scot and Bill
An honorarium from the charity for Bill Thibault satisfied his requirements
Zura and videographer Adnan Naseem were compensated by the charity fund
The motivation in doing this work was driven by certain criterion which should culminate in answering these questions:
Did the performance work as research?
Headcount throughout the span of entire 3 hour was at about 250 people.
How did it improve or add to the Data Stethoscope Project software base?
From the survey results it can be asserted that future use of well thought-out musical Earcons and Spearcons can be successful.
Was the addition of artist driven research a means of coming up with innovation and insight?
The positive outcome points to the fact that using a public exhibition of a well-known tabletop game that is linked to sonication is an effective way of demonstrating larger principles. More work would be needed to confirm that this specific auditory augmentation of the game of chess could be successful if distributed at a large scale.
Without a doubt this was a groundbreaking new approach to “reimagining” what tournament chess play could entail. By augmenting the sensory information created by the game play itself, we have elevated the ancient game to a new level of engagement. The results of this performance research were very positive and lead to new avenues to continue our ongoing investigation into the bringing audio user interfaces to fully distributed use across a much larger demographic than we currently see.
We can be confident that the idea of using a combination of Earcons and Spearcons was a success in guiding a blindfolded chess master through a game without moves being directly told to them and only using those more abstract sonification, once he has learned them. This supports the argument put forward in much of the writing on this topic that the idea of LET or Learning, Exploring, Testing is supported in this research performance context. Chess Master Zura became familiar with the sonic representations after about 45 minutes of a practice session. He was able to successfully win 5 total blindfold games. This points to the future use of these techniques in a variety of future contexts not only related to tabletop gaming but in other areas of research, medicine and business analytics.
Additionally, we had enough success to conclude that we are able to contribute to the field of sonification via this performance development and using performance work as research.