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"Play" Documentation Pt. 3 – First Performance Review

A text-only review of the first 'performance' of "Play". It documents the two extremes of the interactions I saw that night, as well as some general comments by viewers and notes about the show.

Full post below the fold.

The first performance of “Play? took place on April 4th from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. This coincided with the B.A; Senior Show opening party, so there were a large number of potential viewers. Initially, I didn’t have very large signage to alert people to the difference between what was in the main display hall and the actual display that was in W131. This made it a little difficult to get people to see my exhibit, but more people streamed in after I put up a secondary placard underneath my artist statement.

People did eventually start to come in, probably 25 to 30 on this evening alone. The crowd was very diverse, which provided a wide range of experiences. The first couple that came in was probably in their late 20s or early 30s, and their experience was unfortunately brief. I gently reminded them that this was interactive art and they were supposed to touch it, but it seemed to do no good. Each person picked up a ball and looked confused for a minute, shook them like a maraca (a motion difficult for the system to detect), quickly got bored and left. I surmised that the audio portion may have been too quiet, so I upped the volume and waited for more viewers to show.

In contrast to the most disappointing experience that night, a 18 month old with a gaggle of about 8 late 20 somethings provided the best of the evening. The parents were a little hesitant to let their child go crazy with the exhibit, but after reassuring them that he couldn’t possibly break something important, he went at it. He kicked the balls around the room, threw them, rolled them around and tossed them to his parents. If one ever stopped moving, he made a beeline to get it going again. He was enjoying himself immensely, and after only a brief period he discovered the connection between the balls and the audio playing in the room. After he made the connection, his interest shifted to include the changes he was making the auditory environment, even occasionally chasing the sound as it moved around the surround sound system. Unfortunately during his enthusiastic interactions with my piece, the wiimotes started to lose connection to my computer and cut his time short. Probably for the best however, as he’d been in there for nearly 10 minutes and his group of chaperones was looking to head on. Even so it was enlightening to see such a young mind approach the piece without any inhibitions, as I hoped more adults would do.

Overall, most viewers on the 4th seemed to enjoy the piece, and thought the execution was very good. A few viewers approached me and commented that they thought it was a ‘very neat idea’ or that it was ‘very fun to play with and explore’. Many viewers were very interested to learn how it all worked, and I wasn’t hesitant to share the details. Overall, I consider it a very successful show. It was my first ever public showing of work, and the wide array of responses that I saw helped me tune and refine what I can realistically expect from viewers and how I could best present my piece. It was a highly educational (and nerve-wracking) experience.

**Video documentation exists in a review of the second performance**