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Composing interaction within sound and image in digital technologies

Donovan, Nicholas (2013) Composing interaction within sound and image in digital technologies. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the entwined relationship between the creative process of composition and the development of technological frameworks, specifically software development, as parallel practices in digital-interactive contexts. Drawing on the tenets of intermediality, notably the writing of Elleström, Nelson, Bay-Cheng, and Kattenbelt, this work aims to explore and analyse the resonances and possibilities for renegotiating our perceptions of temporality, authorship and the construction of experience. This interrogation of digital-intermedial composition consists of three practical research projects and a threechapter written thesis that addresses the theoretical and practical concerns of a creative process exploring the notion of ‘composing experience.’ The reflexive relationship between composition and digital technologies the focus of this research yet further theoretical concepts arise from the central inquiry later in the thesis. A key methodology in my research has been the finding the balance between writing, analysis and practical engagement with the work. This is a Practice-as-Research PhD and as such a complex interaction between theoretical and practical elements define my inquiry, something reflected in the writing of this thesis. Chapter One seeks to locate the core aspects and processes of my own work within the field of contemporary practice looking notably at the work of artists involved in digital interactive work and composing with sound and image. The chapter looks specifically at the validity of creating interactive works from single data stream input devices – such as gaming controllers and the notion of how these interfaces should be ‘mapped’ (Elleström) to effective points of interaction in the context of the audiences experience. Chapter Two charts the linear journey of my practical projects beginning with Comrade Coffee (Donovan 2010) and my exploration of interdisciplinarity. My second research project, Inter-activity (Donovan 2011), details the shift in my research focus from interdisciplinarity to intermedial process in constructing work in digital-interactive contexts. The basis of my final work, Digital Spaces (Donovan 2012), is set up, for its exploration in Chapter Three, through analysing the system’s early development and the exploration of different methodological approaches including gamification. Chapter Three is split into four sections and focuses on the conceptual development and analysis of my research primarily through Digital Spaces and the theoretical issues emerging from these contexts. The thesis concludes by exploring the validity and functionality of a meta-compositional process and the composition of experience as being methodological and ideological focuses for creative arts practice in digital-interactive contexts.

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