Intermodal Perception and Participation in Interactive Media Art – Three Minute Thesis

You might remember the famous Internet sensation of “the dress” where no one agreed which color it was, Black and Blue or Gold and White? In psychology, there are many examples of moments when human senses like sight, sound, touch become confused, and even overlap.

I am interested in researching how humans develop their senses, separate them and learn to act based on them, a field called the “multimodal nature of cognition”. I am particularly interested in moments of sensory overload. My master’s work explored this theme through water and light, using microcontrollers, motors and LEDs, it was exhibited in the Today Art Museum in Beijing.

In my Ph.D., I want to build on this idea, to further explore the moment of sensory slippage. I would also like to investigate what has been called a “Flow State.” which is an unconscious behavior state, experienced by those who are confident in their skills and able to suspend judgement and not concentrate on goals. Peterson argues there can be a kind of “productive distraction” created through new media that works in a similar way.

Now my research questions are:
How interactive media art induce flow states?
Could deliberately confusing, our multimodal cognition processes, make this happen?
Do other factors like culture effect this state?

I will do test works, do audience surveys, and then produce a final exhibition of 4 installations. I will exhibit this twice, once in Wuhan, China (a city of 10 million) and once here in Regina, where the lifestyles, and speed of the cities are so radically different. I argue that perhaps there could be a kind of freedom in these moments. I believe that even though we all face over stimulation in this crazy world, when people can be immersed in an artistic moment that is almost close to meditation, this could be a happier state than our contemporary anxieties.