Six pools of questions have been identified that serve as a methodological framework during the research. They are concerning the creation of artistic works and its evaluation through performance studies. The six pools of questions are based on the tripartite model shown below. The first three of them relate to the conception and realization of the work, while the remaining three relate to the relationships between the main entities. The questions posed in each of the six zones are not finite but will be constantly revised, refined and extended during the research. They will serve as an important point of orientation, to which the researchers and artists will periodically return to.
The tripartite model underlying the research design of GAPPP
• How can a game-based or gamified work be created as a system of affordances, which are “actionable properties between the world and an actor” (Gibson 1979)?
• How can principles of (audiovisual) composition and games be combined in order to generate form and structure on a micro and macrolevel? Both games and music are usually structured in time and often some sort of narrative evolves. Can game-based narratives be combined with musical narratives?
• How can an appropriate responsiveness towards the performer be integrated while keeping the work consistent from an artistic point of view?
• How can emergence be integrated into the work as part of the system? Emergence here refers to complex occurrences that result from a multiplicity of simple events. It is a phenomenon that is typical for games, where a combination of simple rules can lead to complex results. Similar things occur in algorithmic composition, where basic building blocks can lead to complex structures.
• How can an appropriate interface be designed? What is the appropriate number of control parameters for a specific work? How fine-grained does the control need to be? As skilled game-players show, even very simple interfaces offer enough flexibility to develop virtuosic abilities (d'Escrivan 2006).
• What style of interaction is adequate in a specific context? Highly gestural or embodied interfaces are usually perceived as transparent, but they are aesthetically not suitable for all works.
• What information is required for a specific performance and how is it communicated to the audience? While many works simply speak for themselves, other works depend on a basic understanding of what is taking place. E.g. Alvin Lucier's work Music for a Solo Performer (1965) uses a brain-wave controller as interface. In this case audience members who missed to be informed about this setup are likely to experience the piece very differently than those who have been supplied with the information. If information is necessary, how can it be conveyed? Announcements and program notes are common ways to do it, but in some cases it can also be incorporated in the work as in Lucier's I am sitting in a room (1969) or Johannes Kreidler's Fremdarbeit (2009).
• In how far does the role of the performer in game-based compositions differ from a more traditional role?
• How is the audience physically situated in the performance situation, is there a common frontal presentation or an non-conventional seating? Are there any seats or can the audience meander around during the performance? Is the audience immersed by the sonic and/or visual events or is it at a more objective distance (perceptually and/or physically)?
• How can a perceptual balance between the performance space and the virtual space be obtained? This concerns the basic setup of the space, the role of lighting, and the design of video projections (e.g. does it consist of a single large screen or is it fragmented on several smaller screens?). These means can help to guide the audience's attention and stimulate interest and involvement.
• What information is required for a specific performance and how is it communicated to the audience?
• To what degree does the performer experience a connection to the sounds and visuals of the work? Is it experienced as an extension of the body or instrument, or is it an alienated environment?
• What is the quality of influence the performer has? Is the mapping consistent? Is there are sense of control or are intended or unintended surprises part of the playing experience?
• What emotional involvement does the performer experience? Is the interaction with the digital work smooth or are there unintended struggles? Does a motivation emerge from the artistic situation, from the game aspects or both?
• Does the performance require any sort of virtuosity?
• What possibilities does the performer have to make aspects of the performance more transparent with respect to the audience in order to help them to intuitively understand the connection to the audiovisual work?
• What possibilities does the performer have to make the performance more coherent with respect to the work? As mentioned above, large gestures may not be suitable for certain works. Within an audiovisual work, this aspect can be part of the interpretation of the work.
• Is the performer 'present' for the audience in the digital components of the work? Can the performer's influence on electronic sounds and images be felt?
• Is a sense of embodiment conveyed through the performer that is co-experienced by the audience?
• Does the audience experience immersion?
• Does the audience understand the influence of the performer on the work and if not: is this a frustrating or stimulating experience? Challenges to the mind can be a means to evoke interest (Huron 2006:ix), therefore a certain degree of frustration can have a positive effect.
• Are there any possibilities that the audience influences the work (and thereby the performer), for example by starting and stopping processes by sending Tweets or other manipulations?
Gibson, James. J.: The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979
D’Escriván, Julio.: “To sing the body electric: instruments and effort in the performance of electronic music”, Contemporary Music Review, Oxon: Taylor&Francis, 25(1/2), 2006, p.183–91
Huron, David: Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation, MIT University Press, 2006
GAPPP is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF as project PEEK AR 364-G24.