The Presence Producers
On design and use of presence production systems
Time: Fri 2021-09-03 13.00
Doctoral student: Leif Handberg , Medieteknik och interaktionsdesign, MID
Opponent: Morten Fjeld, Chalmers tekniska högskola
Supervisor: Kristina Höök, Medieteknik och interaktionsdesign, MID
Feeling present with others – as if we are in the same room even if we are apart – is a key experience in mediated communication situations. But how do we produce mediated communications so that we increase the likelihood of forgetting the mediating technology, letting participants engage as if they are all there?This thesis summarises the analyses of practice-led work on organising more than 35 presence productions over a period of more than 20 years.The presence productions go from small groups pursuing utilitarian work to large public concerts. This iterative longitudinal research process has been altered and informed by new technological developments and changes to setups, tools and dramaturgies. However, no matter whether we have advanced or less advanced technology, a range of pragmatic considerations of how to facilitate and orchestrate presence situations arises over and over in these productions. First, and perhaps most importantly, there is a need for a presence producer who arranges and takes responsibility for the overall experience. The presence production case studies clearly show how the layout of spaces (real and mediated); the choice of technology and how it is arranged to narrate the communication;alongside the overall social context all have bearing on the presence experience and are key components in a presence production system. Moreover, a meticulous analysis of these presence productions reveal ways by which components should be considered in the planning and execution phases so as to overcome the cracks and breaks that may disrupt participants’ experience of presence, and thereby their communication.The analysis shows the need for three distinct presence producer roles:
Presence designer: Designer of the presence production systembefore it is put into action. Not a participant in the communication.
Presence facilitator: Facilitator/orchestrator in the presence production system as the presence production unfolds. Not a participant in the communication.
Participant presence producer: Users of the presence production system, actively taking part in the communication butalso serving as facilitators/orchestrators, controlling or adjusting aspects of the mediated situation to support the presence experience.
Furthermore, the following design elements and how they can be shapedare discussed: ways of using video as a storytelling tool; dividing the spaceinto rooms as a path to organising the production; and use of dramaturgyand stage directions to guide the production.