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KRYB / CREEPS: Art for Children

KRYB / CREEPS: Art for Children

by Hallur Þór Halldórsson last modified Sep 14, 2013 08:23 PM
To learn a little bit more about the process of the project KRYB / CREEPS we had an interesting email conversation with Kassandra Wellendorf, which will serve as the basis for bi-weekly blog posts until the exhibtion opens, where we will address different issues such as the potentials of Augmented Reality (AR), Art for children and the iPad as a platform for play and learning.
Posted by Hallur Þór Halldórsson at Sep 14, 2013 12:50 PM | | Add comment

The underlying themes of the BUGS exhibition concern themselves with both the technological aspect of producing art for an iPad, but also the relationship between art and children; more specifically, is there such a thing as art for children, and if so, what kind of art is that? We asked Kassandra for her thoughts on designing art projects specifically targeted at children (or youth), how it was different and how much these considerations were part of the process of designing her concept.


"When you create an artwork for the iPad, specifically targeted at children, you introduce that work into a certain context which is already overrun with all sorts of commercial games for the iPad. That raises the level of expectation which has to met by the children that confront your work. Because of that, they follow a specific behavioral pattern in choosing how they click, how they interpret the action that follows, and, eventually, whether you as a creator or producer manage to convey your work in the most optimal manner."

Kassandra and Daniel tested the application quite thoroughly on children, allowing them to explore by themselves without much interference from the artists. One of the greater challenges that rose from these tests, was how to respond to the data gathered, whether they should give in and make changes to the application in order to appease the children, or maintain their ground and keep the alternative form of interaction. She notes how making these decisions was a tricky act of balancing, and some factors and motifs she is generally quite fond of had to give way, such as the lack of ending or a goal to achieve:

 

"The lack of an end goal is something I generally like to work with in my projects, but in this instance [the kids thought it was confusing, and] we have solved the problem by setting a timeframe for the user to continue his sewer exploration, before the creeps throw you out and close the lid. But of course the user can always open the lid again and return to his previous investigation."

 

Art of the Experience

During the video interview, Kassandra expressed some doubts as to whether there existed such a thing as Art for children. Nonetheless some considerations must be made when creating works of art that are targeted at a younger audience, as the frame of reference is different. In our email conversation Kassandra had already pointed out that the separation between artistic applications and the more conventional commercially produced applications was possibly to elaborate, especially considering children.

 

"My point of departure for this work, as well as my earlier interactive project for children, the interactive film Big Wash (Storvask), is to focus primarily on the explorative aspect and to create an audio-visually perceptible 'here and now' experience."

"The children do not realize how a producer of an artwork is different [from a producer of a game], and perhaps it doesn't really make sense to distinguish so rigidly between art and commercially produced games. The fact that an artist stands behind an iPad application does not guarantee any greater experience for the children than what commercially produced applications can offer. I greatly admire and respect the expertise and the skill and practical knowledge that Danish game developers have domestically, as well as the myriad of projects that the Danish Film Institution's Video Game Support continues to fund (see here). Game designers have developed a greater intuition for how to involve the user experientially. What we can offer, on the other hand, is to create and experiment with games that do not aim for gaming logic."

 

"My point of departure for this work, as well as my earlier interactive project for children, the interactive film Big Wash (Storvask), is to focus primarily on the explorative aspect and to create an audio-visually perceptible 'here and now' experience. It is the same old discussion on how much weight to put on project solving versus experience in a computer game. If too much emphasis is put on moving on and receiving cognitive pay-offs, you risk losing the perceptual interaction. In my works I always attempt to remove the interface as much as possible from sight, for the best possible perceptual identification. That's why the use of Augmented Reality is ideal, as you use the device's camera to view the physical world, and only part of the image is constructed from digital components and representations. The illusion of 'touching' reality is therefore enhanced by the AR."

 

With that in mind, the goal orientation of the more conventional games and applications can be considered more of a sidestep in more artistically oriented games, while the explorative factor and the focus on experimentation might be considered a hallmark of art applications. The constant strive for a more perceptual experience can also be found in Kassandra's remarks on the audio and soundscape of their application, where she explains that her,

 

"use of audio aims to enhance the perceptual experience of the work. It is also important to mention that the optimal manner in which to experience the work, is using headphones. The audio is the work of sound designer Morten Dalsgaard, and he and I play the different voices of the creeps. They speak both to each other as well as the user. Their voices create a play- and tease universe, while simultaneously encouraging the user to help and play along."

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