Reflective Interaction is an art and design research group of EnsadLab focusing on interactive “dispositifs” [apparatus or devices]. The Reflective Interaction group deals with the following issue: why and how might we design, produce and explore artistic interactive dispositifs that articulate the aesthetic, symbolic and operative dimensions, to engender experiences that are both sensitive and reflexive? How might we question our interdependence with human and non-human environments and explore prospective sociotechnical possibilities? How might we benefit from using group interactions, robotic devices, engaging with new active, reactive and living matter? Also, how might we use non text-based interactive multimedia?
The notion of “dispositif” is increasingly resonant in contemporary art and design. “Dispositif” is usually translated as “device” or “apparatus”. However, neither one of these English terms captures the specificity of the word. It designates the diverse material, human and/or linguistic elements configured to condition an activity. At the intersection of artistic, technological and societal issues, all dispositifs include an actual or potential operative dimension.
This dimension is all the more concrete as it involves creating with interactive dispositifs that respond to the environment in which they take part and transform. The research group Reflective Interaction at EnsadLab explores the operational relationships that occur between these creations and their natural and artificial context, usually involving humans. As they elicit engaging and reflexive experiences, these works question the interdependences that actively shape our shared environments.
RESEARCH-CREATION, PLURIDISCIPLINARITY AND PUBLICIZATION
Closely linking “Research and Creation”, the researchers of the Reflective Interaction group develop future dispositifs that are connected to artistic, technoscientific, societal and/or environmental issues. Although art and design are the foundational disciplines, given the complexity of the topics investigated, our research usually requires collaboration with other fields, such as the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences and engineering.
Together, through practice, we experiment, question and develop contemporary and emerging ways of representation and action: first and foremost, ways of representing that are not only derived from interactive technologies, but also broader forms of interactions. Our relationship to these technologies and ultimately, to technique, is neither subordinate nor condescending. We go beyond using simple tools for specific ends, in order to use dispositifs in an exploratory approach traced back to Gilbert Simondon or Jack Burnham.
The collective investigation of these dispositifs entails research about their scripts, layouts and technicalities, as well as the situations they generate and their societal and environmental impacts. Although this approach meets methods of academic research, we experiment in an iterative way, rather than follow a linear dynamic. Indeed, these different processes are always challenged by individual and collective experiments and implementations. In a constant dialogue between these two approaches — generic and specific, collective and singular, deductive, inductive and abductive — the members of this group closely articulate research methodology and creative project, “Research and Creation”: “R&C”.
The creations produced are developed according to generic dispositifs and issues that can be easily shared, studied, theorized and transferred.
In order to document and promote this research, we aim to make it public in many ways: exhibitions, public experiments, performances, workshops, conferences, public debates, posters and poster sessions, text, image, multimedia and multi-format content publishing. When our work requires us to develop new forms of instrumentation (software as well as hardware), we consider transferring them, for public use (free license) or industrial use (patent, etc.). We understand these methods as publications, as methods of “publicization” — since publishing consists, primarily, of making public.
The Reflective Interaction research group is organized around four axes, four autonomous themes that regular collaborations at the intersection of different fields focus on.
Interactivity, interaction, “dispositif” / device, system, environment, instrument, operation and cooperation, interdependancy, mobility, robotics, active and responsive matter, light, artificial intelligence v. natural intelligence, multimedia and transmedia, data visualisation, data materialisation, data physicalisation, publicization