Conference Digital Interfaces in situation of mobility


December 19 & 20, 2014

Sorbonne, Paris 1, Salle des conseils
12 place du Panthéon, Paris
Sorbonne, Paris 1 University, Fictions & interactions team, UMR ACTE CNRS 8218
Laboratory on Language, the Brain & Cognition
Digital interfaces in situations of mobility now constitute a technical and social environment that is ever more significant and broadly shared. While traditional mobility of individuals in public or private spaces is transformed by these interfaces, these interfaces, in turn, are also constantly being reconfigured, adapting to new uses and expectations that they trigger. By digital interface, we mean the most broadly used platforms and tools (servers, smart phones, tablets, laptops and apps).
In the area of interface, the contrast between the versatility of one device and the specificity of applications is a key point, calling for differentiated cognitive devices. Digital interfaces suggest an extension of cognition, in which one could argue that cognitive processes occur in the tool used as much as in the brain (extended cognition). This process is essential in regard to digital interfaces. Situations of mobility in the context of this colloquium include a large spectrum of movement, from gestures to walking and transportation, each type with its own characteristic, as well as the combinations of these kinds of movements. Digital interfaces can accompany gestures. Gestures modify digital interfaces. Walking through urban space with a device and an application naturally reconfigures these tools, whether in ordinary or unusual situations. The temporality of the transportation of bodies is quite different from that of the transportation or relaying of information (which takes place at variable speeds) allowed by added digital interfaces. If it is easily conceivable that digital interfaces accompany mobility, it remains to specify how mobility is redefining these interfaces.
A growing number of artistic, digital fictional game devices are based on user mobility and interaction through digital interfaces. We can distinguish between fixed ludic  artistic devices (installations, exhibitions) that solicit participant movement and action for the activation of these devices, and nomadic artistic devices that are deployed on an urban scale, in a territory that is only partially configured. These latter devices, for which mobility is essential, aim to be operable and reconfigurable. Operativity, or the “nature of an action or series of actions organized to reach a certain goal”, focuses on the user. Rather than a simple dramatization or role play of an artistic scenario for a viewer, now, in a large number of contemporary art situations, the idea is to render the scenarios operable by the participant. This user, through actions, participation and involvement, performs the scenario. This performative principle, clearly asserted by numerous contemporary works, is establishing new links between art and games, as well as between games and fiction. These areas are now reconfigured by the use of digital and particularly virtual tools.
Through exploration, experimentation and the creation of alternate reality art devices, questions about the limits between real, virtual and fictional worlds are called into question. The immersions and emersions characteristics of these three worlds and their confrontation with one and other require new ways of elaborating and analyzing creations. This capacity for adaptation, to go between immersion and emersion is particularly significant in the use of digital interfaces in alternate reality games.
Yet it is also likely, in certain situations, to engender a reflexive, adaptive consciousness that is part of the artistic and aesthetic notion of device. The aesthetic dimension of artistic and ludic behavior and their continuum or their differentiation, thus offer a perspective that is part of this project. Digital interface suggests an extension of cognition, defending the idea that cognitive processes take place as much within a tool used as within the brain (extended cognition). However, extended cognition is not the only sort of cognition relevant to alternate reality art practice. In embodied cognition, representations go beyond the brain and throughout the whole body. In situated cognition, representations go beyond the body and at least partially into the environment. These cognitive dimensions have an impact on how we navigate through space.
How do digital interfaces accompany mobility and how is mobility is redefining these interfaces? What is the role given to digital interfaces to connect somebody in its spatial and social environment? What is the importance of co-construction of space by several subjects interacting? How are different cognitive levels involved are they implemented? How do existing artistic and recreational devices they use digital interfaces ? (collective of artists Blast Theory, Rimini Protokoll, Orbe, Stalker…)? How do they introduce new continuities between art and the game? How design and test scenarios and stories involved in urban games (construction / reception / participation)? These questions will help initiating these meetings.
Keywords: Digital Interfaces, Mobility, Cognitive, Artistic & Games Devices, Urban Games, Located-Based Mobility Games, Scenarios, Narrative.