Laurel's Computers as Theatre
Working Notes, by Zach Tomaszewski
for ICS 699, Spring 2005, directed by Dr. Kim Binsted
Laurel, Brenda. Computers as Theatre. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1991.
- The general trend of philosophy vs. practice, especially in new or cross-cultural fields. Every field starts as philosophy. Much debate of definitions and goals and differences from composing/parent disciplines until the field has been around long enough to have established working standars and implicit assumptions. Initial philosophical debates rarely fully resolved, but seems to be a necessary phase. We're going through the same here--debating what is narrative, what is interaction, what is interactive narrative? Perhaps in 20 years we'll be producing satisfactory interactive narrative, but probably still won't have reached full consensus on these definitions.
- Reoccuring theme: rules of production (objective rules for an art) and achieved effect (subjective experience of the art). The two tend to correlate (hence the rules), but not always. And usually the subjective experience is the true end goal, and you can break the rules if it'll still get you there.
- Computers WITH interface and Computers AS interfaces. Frequently, we work soley on represented objects, with the computer providing the space/interface to work on them. Supports Laurel's claim that "representation is all there is". However, computers can also serve as controllers/interfaces to real-world results, such as controlling a robot. Here the computer has an interface to its representations, yet those representations are, in turn, interfaces to real-world counter-parts. Also, can have interfaces to interfaces (such as Web-based or email controls for a list serv manager).
- Can a human being be more than one agent at a time? Seemingly not (or rather, is it important to determine one way or the other?). Perhaps more than one role. Or in more than one application/setting at a time.
- Difference between human as a user agent (human-computer/game interaction) vs human as story agent (protagonist, group of adventures)(role vs agent?).
- Laurel's use of narrative as an HCI approach may have limited use. However, as a model for combining interaction and narrative, it could be more lucrative for us.
- Satori: Laurel's point that the audience does not get up on stage with the actors, but rather become actors! A different model for IN. Instead of a complete narrative and then getting the audience to interact, start with the audience interacting and then produce the story. --> Improv and computational narrative as models.
- Stylized films are disengaging (less real, so more detachment). Sky Captain, acting in old silent films, Kill Bill's excessive violence.
- Laurel's cause model for Aristotle is actually Aristotle -> Smiley -> Laurel. (neo-Aristotlian).
- What are "patterns"? Any shaped/collated sense data? How much is filtered out at each level going up? What about metaphorical patterns from lighting, etc. Singing mice and dark barn from Babe provide flavor and context, but not seemingly through the language/character/action progression. (Also, we can enjoy nice language, such as rhymes and word choice, that doesn't necessarily affect the character or action. Or great characters that are more interesting/developed than they need to be to advance the action.) Aristotle originally gave this order as order of primary importance. This may still be true.