Alex Davies


Compressorhead: The Robot Band and its Transmedia Storyworld
Davies A, Crosby A
In Cultural Robotics, First International Workshop, CR 2015, Held as Part of IEEE RO-MAN 2015. Editors: Koh J, Dunstan B, Silvera-Tawil D, Velonaki M . 9549: 175-189. Springer International Publishing, 01 Jul 2016

Robot-human relationships are being developed and redefined due to the emerging cultural phenomenon of popular robot bands such as Compressorhead and Z-Machine. Our primary research interest in this paper is the ways in which robots relate to, interact with, and are perceived by humans – or in short, human-robot relationships. To this aim we have conducted a small-scale (multi- ’species’) ethnography in which we were participant observers in the ongoing production of both the ‘onstage’ and ‘offstage’ transmedia storyworld of the all- robot band, Compressorhead. We use Henry Jenkins’s (2004, 2006, 2008) concept of ‘transmedia storytelling’ as a way of understanding how a storyworld that includes extensive human-robot interaction is simultaneously created by both humans and robots across multiple communication media platforms. In so doing, we argue that robots can indeed be seen as musicians, performers, and even celebrities, and therefore can be taken seriously as producers of culture.

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Häusliches Glück: A Case Study on Deception in a Mixed Reality Environment
Davies A, Koh J
In Handbook of Digital Games and Entertainment Technologies. Editors: Nakatsu R, Rauterberg M, Ciancarini P . 693-724 (31 pages). Springer, 15 Sep 2016

In this chapter, we present a case study of a mixed reality environment that leverages on concepts inherited from the application of deception as demonstrated by magicians, illusionists, and other practitioners that use deception to develop compelling narratives mapped multimodality. These concepts are demonstrated in the context of a spatial cinematic art installation. From analysis of this case study, we found that these techniques can be effective tools in the creation of convincing mediated experiences. This chapter begins with an overview of the work and development processes. It then examines approaches to illusion in terms of physical devices (mechanics) and misdirection (the underpinning psychological principles of conjuring). This is followed by a detailed investigation of the work’s two narrative scripts in order to offer insight into the spatial dynamics of the audience experience.

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Designing performativity for mixed reality installations
Morrison, A., Davies, A., Breevi , G., Sem, I., Boykett, T. & Breevi , R.
In FORMakademisk, vol. 3, no. 1., 2010

This article takes up the concept of performativity prevalent in the humanities and applies it to the design of installation arts in mixed reality mode. Based on the design, development and public access to two specific works, the concept is related to a form of research by design. We argue that the concept of performativity may be further usefully employed in investigations (design and research, artistic and public) into digital arts where complex intersections between concepts, technologies, dramaturgy, media and participant actions are in flux and together constitute the emergence and experience of a work. Theories of performativity are related to these two works in an argument that further suggests there is room in research by design to also include ‘performative design’. The article is the result of a wide-ranging interdisciplinary collaboration and aims to convey some sense of that in its reporting style, content and analysis.

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Adrift in the virtuality continuum
Davies, A.
In Computers in Entertainment (CIE), vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-14. ACM, New York, USA, 2010

This article explores the induction of presence upon individuals through illusion in mixed-reality installation environments, using the author’s work “Dislocation” [2005] as a case study. The article reports on the design and production of “Dislocation,” concentrating on the development of techniques for creating illusion. These approaches can be used to produce compelling works that are not only technically and aesthetically sophisticated, but also provide a sustained engaging experience for the user. It reflects on the effectiveness of these techniques from observations of audience interaction in gallery settings and examines future possibilities and developments.

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Magic, mixed realities & misdirection
Doctoral Thesis – College of Fine Arts, UNSW Australia (2013)

This hybrid practice-based thesis argues that an effective way to approach perceptual and social realism within mixed realities is to combine new technologies (visual and auditory displays, mechatronics) with old techniques drawn from magic and cinema. In particular it looks at how the psychological principles of ‘misdirection’ taken from the practice of conjuring can contribute to the creation of compelling illusions in mixed reality. The research identifies those key principles of magic most relevant to this investigation as framing context, consistency, continuity, conviction, justification, surprise, and disguise. The practical application of these principles is demonstrated through the production of two case-study artworks created by the author: The Black Box Sessions (2008-2011) and Häusliches Glück (2009). In these research projects, the audience is no longer required to suspend disbelief during the media encounter, but is instead lead to believe that the virtual elements are experienced as being real and physically present.

Subjects: Magic; Mixed Reality; Virtual Environments; Media Arts; Illusion; Conjuring; Virtual Characters; Computer Agents; Interactive Cinema; Realism; Presence; Deception

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