When I last left off, I was working on finalising the visual design of the project. I changed the black and red dots I had been using in the development of my code, and found more ways to visually suggest a relationship between the movements made by the user, the graphics appearing on screen, and the audio playback which was produced. I tried to achieve this by linking together various properties of the sound and geometric shapes, for example the size of a circle and the amplitude of a sound.
From my perspective the project was moving quite nicely towards completion, with just a few changes left that I’d like to make before public screening of the work. In any project, though, it is important to gather feedback from others about your work so that others’ opinions and viewpoints can be heard. Since the target demographic of my project is primarily students, as the work is intended for display in a university building, I decided to turn to my house-mates for input on the current version of the piece.
I had three main areas I wanted to find out their opinions of. These were the visuals and audio of the project, the media concepts behind it, and the effectiveness of the work overall.
Visuals & Audio
I wanted to find out what they thought about the visuals and audio that make up the project. Having just overhauled the graphics, I personally thought they were moving in the right direction, however I was still not sure on the overall effect. The testers, having seen some previous incarnations of the project, agreed that the circle-based graphics of the latest iteration worked better than some of the old visuals such as lines and dots. They noticed and praised the fact that the speed of their movements with the light changed aspects of what was being played on the screen, and quickly grasped exactly how the different aspects of the feedback generated from their actions were linked. This is something which I had tried to enforce to make the link to data visualisation, and the different aspects being the same data represented in different forms, so I’m glad that it seems to have worked. They didn’t bring up any problems with the audio aspect of the work, whether the volume, the ‘instrument’ used or any other facet, so for now at least it appears that the work I need to do on this element of the project is complete. Something they did bring up, however, in relation to the visual design, is the colour scheme. While I too was unsure on this, I wanted to wait to see what the testers thought before changing it. Currently the work is in greyscale, and shades of red upon playback. The users suggested that this perhaps isn’t the most exciting colour scheme and may not do the project any favours in regards to keeping people’s interests. I agree with this line of thought, and will take the advice into account and change up the colouring of the project.
Since the project is supposed to evoke elements of a particular media concept, I wanted to find out from the testers whether my work to include the ideas of collaboration/open-source culture and different forms of data visualisation within the piece has been successful. I asked what they thought the concept behind the work was, and they did not mention these specific media ideas. When I told them about them however they agreed that the work contains elements of these concepts and could see where they were incorporated into the project. In addition, the concepts they gave, such as freedom of expression and creativity, are not necessarily too far away in terms of ideas. ‘Open-source culture’ in the context in which I aimed to represent it focuses on the ability of people to produce media of their own, or collaboratively, independently of large corporations or structures, and in this way the idea of individual expression can easily see to be very much related. I’m satisfied that I’ve represented the concepts I set forward to the best of my abilities with this project, and the fact that exact concepts are not always identified runs parallel to the abstract nature of the work as a whole, in which personal interpretation of the meaning is a large role.
Asking the testers to give their opinion of the overall effectiveness of the project, they gave generally very positive replies. The consensus seems to me that, other than a few graphical changes which I intend to make, the work I have produced is a success, in that it is enjoyable to interact with and (after the changes) can be aesthetically appealing. The piece, and my prompts as to its concepts, got the testers to engage with media concepts which although not always 100% the ones I had intended incorporate aspects of them and all relate to each other. I feel this, due to the abstract nature of my particular project in its communication approach, is a success in terms of communicating media concepts.
This testing session helped me greatly to see the strengths and weaknesses of my project in its current iteration. I will be taking the advice and opinions I gained on board and will, over the next few days, resolve to incorporate this feedback into my project to hopefully improve upon it and produce a final piece of Processing work which I can showcase in the university space.