artists participating


I n t e r a k t i o n s - L a b o r



Renn Scott

(Toronto, Canada)


I am an interaction designer and media artist currently working on contract for RESEARCH IN MOTION (RIM) ( in Toronto, Canada as a User Experience Architect. Research In Motion Limited is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market.


I'm currently interested in and looking at new ways of integrating interactive technologies. I love the idea of constructed narratives in which a story, or idea can change over time by engaging an audience not only to view, but to correspond and participate in the work. My past and much of my current work is the creation of prototypes and products that go beyond consumer research towards a longer term perspective that explores what might be possible and desirable in the future. I create the concept and design for prototypes, user tests, products focusing on ease of use and human focused narratives that help us think about the future based on changing values, desires and expectations, rather than only technology .



Research In Motion (RIM) is a world leader in the mobile communications market and has a history of developing breakthrough wireless solutions. They develop a product called the "BlackBerry". I am working towards getting 5 BlackBerrys for the Interaktions-Labor.

If you check the website you'll see a picture of one on the front page. There are also ones with color screens available as well (but I'm not sure I can get those for the workshop). As long as we have connectivity (ie. they work like cell phones in the sense of as long as we can get reception) we can use them to communicate with each in the mine, inside or outside.

We should check if cell phones work inside the mine? can someone check where we can and cannot get connectivity? There are also ones with color screens available as well (but I'm not sure I can get those for the workshop). As long as we have connectivity (ie. they work like cell phones in the sense of as long as we can get reception) we can use them to communicate with each other in the mine, inside or outside.

The BlackBerrys work incredibly well. Completely wireless communication for email and sms. We don't need an internet connection for them to talk to each other. But we do need one to project their messages publicly. OR we could simply save this communication (as a text file) by the participants and just display it via a projector. It doesn't have to be "live" content. I think either way it would be interesting. As the type of input one can do with these devices is via a keyboard, one can communicate in any language.

If all the participants are German, than that is just fine. I imagine the participants using the devices to be the artists at the workshop. But the general public could also send and receive messages to them.

For my work as a User Experience Architect I look after examining the way people "use" devices/products, what is "their experience", do they find it easy to use, is it fun, does it make their life easier? As an example, for a small device, what things should change in the way that one navigates through the different screens that show up when a button is pressed.

I look at things like how do people send email, how do they recieve an email? Does the device have certain items that should be initiated via voice vs. touch? I do many design sessions for RIM where I will show prototype designs and have people try to use them, with the goal of seeing if there are new forms of communication devices that we should create in the future. What might those look like?

A question that may describe this better is how does the way we use a phone today change how we may imagine we could use one in the future?

At this point I will be coming as a "guest artist". But of course, even though I'm coming as an artist, I hope to have some real working communication devices. This idea relates to showing some real life examples of technology to generate some industry interest in the region. I hope we can combine the way these devices work with the various interactions we may be trying and from there have more technology companies interested in the lab as an initiative.


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My idea for the workshop:

NAME: small device, big message

The goal: To use mobile devices as a new means of communicating within interactive media and virtual environments.

The objectives: Explore new ways of integrating Email, SMS and IM within other interactive technologies. Create a new type of experience in which text messages can be combined with captured images constructing narratives in which a story, or idea can change over time by engaging an audience not only to view, but to correspond and participate in the work. Change people's experience of text messaging by creating an environment in which they feel they can really create something "new".

SCENARIO 1: The mobile devices will be used by a group of 5 participants whose objective will be to record their experience by text while navigating outside the mine. A main server will display the conversations they have real time via a projection inside the mine. On the body of the participants could also be an image capture device. The images captured could be displayed next to, or superimposed with the text messages describing the participants? experiences, which they have sent back and forth to each other.

Alternatively the images could be produced by capturing different view points from the building. In this way the text messages are used in combination to describe the experience of the architecture, creating a what may result in richer narratives based on the communication between the participants.

The visitors to the mine can choose simply to view the text messages and associated images in the projected space, or can communicate directly by email with the participants by using an internet terminal below the text and images displayed. In addition text messages could be sent via other devices (phones or PDAs with messaging ability), as could emails from an internet audience anywhere in the world.

SCENARIO 2: Similar in thought to the previous idea, on the exterior of the mine we could display the narratives based on the communication between the participants. The main difference here could be that the exterior shows images from inside the building, while the inside narrative shows images from the outside. In this way we are able to experience the whole coal mine by being in either situation. Once again in this situation the visitors and an internet audience can choose to send or receive messages to the participants allowing them to communicate with them and participate in the overall experience.


SCENARIO 3: Imagine a space in which messages sent from the devices can be called up by the participant using the device. Perhaps the space is divided into 5 areas, each representing one participant's experience. Perhaps the messages could be initiated by sound, movement, or by touch. This is different from the other scenarios in the sense that the visitors can then "see" the individual participants as a part of the narrative being created as they communicate with the others via the device.





My questions to other participants: some feedback I'd like to have from anyone interested in participating with me on this idea, or do you have another idea that in which we could use these devices? if yes, i'd love to hear about it...


ASSUMPTIONS: in order to design we need to make assumptions. It helps to make these explicit. For instance: we might assume the users can hear, or read English, or share a computer, ...etc.

QUESTIONS: when we start to generate ideas they often take us on tangents we hadn't thought of when we are doing our initial research. We then find there are other questions we need to ask, things we need to find out before we can proceed. It helps to list them

1. Subsequent cooperative projects of the Interaktions-Labor are already being planned with Schichtwechsel Festival (Všlklingen), Trans-Media-Akademie Hellerau (Dresden), Carreau Wendel (France) and Belval-Ouest/Esch-sur-Alzette(/Luxemburg) as well as with other laboratories in the european regions. What do we need to prepare or think about in regards to this?

2. Where can we find more information about the history of the coal mine?

DESIGN CHALLENGES: what are the key design issues we must resolve? For instance: finding a way to get over our users technophobia, getting a lot of information on a small screen, holding visitor's attention?

IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND CONSTRAINTS: what are the problems of actually making this design work? For instance: bandwidth, memory, speed, security...

CRITERIA FOR SUCCESS OF THE DESIGN How will we decide if our design is a success or not? Phrase this in the terms: it will... e.g. it will allow people to ... it will make people feel...

WHAT WE WILL PRODUCE PRODUCT E.g. Director walk through, report, performance... whatever is appropriate for your project

SCHEDULE set out the stages of the project and estimate how long each will take perhaps we can start with headings like:

MISSION: why are you doing this project?

GOALS: what do you want to learn as a result of this project? how does it fit into your plan for your development?

ASSUMPTIONS: define what aspects of design you are going to concentrate on in this project? what are you not going to concentrate on? QUESTIONS: what skills do you need to develop to be able to do this project well? how will you get them?

DESIGN CHALLENGES: how will this challenge your current capabilities?

IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES: what skills do you need to work on to pull off a good piece of work?

CRITERIA FOR ASESSMENT: what would make you satisfied, in terms of your own development, with your work in this project?