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Beyond the Screen

What is Behind the Complex Surface?

15.20-16.10: Noah Wardrip-Fruin (Santa Cruz, USA)

Abstract: Works with complex surfaces (to use John Cayley's phrase) can have very different means of driving their behavior. Locative media works such as Teri Reub's Itinerant and ARGs such as The Beast both use the larger physical world as part of the surface of the work. But the behavior of one operates autonomously based on GPS-driven triggers, while the other requires the live creativity of human "puppet masters." Many literary works for the Cave and other VR environments depend primarily on operational logics of navigation and collision detection, simple behaviors both conceptually and computationally. But other authors, from Brenda Laurel to the creators of AR Facade, have proposed and employed much more complex models. We have often thought about such differences in terms of Chris Crawford's "process intensity" - but the world of complex surfaces (from the "data" of the everyday world to the "crunch" of VR display) requires a rethinking of the concept. This paper provides that, as well as an evaluation of how well my recently-developed "three effects" of relation between audience experience and underlying process apply to works with complex surfaces.

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