Managing narrative complexity within the enactive virtuality framework
This talk introduces work conducted at the Enactive Virtuality Lab, specifically focusing on our current task of modelling enactive co-presence between humans and artificial humans within narrative immersive environments. The project builds on the enactive cognitive science approach by Francisco Varela and colleagues (1991), according to which the human body-brain system is inseparably coupled with its environment, the principle I have further adapted for the concept of enactive cinema (Tikka 2008). This approach allows describing narrative sense-making as the core function of human cognition. To open a multidisciplinary inquiry into such experience, I suggest a triadic epistemology of narrative sense-making, which allows exploring and describing the nature of human cognition and experience in a context-relative manner. This implies that while the foundation of human expressiveness lies in private embodied and situated experiences, it extends from there to two-person co-experience and further to intersubjectively shared socio-cultural phenomena.
With regard to related artistic creativity, I have proposed the concept of second-order authorship, which allows describing the authoring process as higher-level management of interaction between two systems, that of narrative content and the participant. In the current project, second-order authorship translates to the creation and management of the systemic interaction between an artificial character and human participants in varying narrative contexts. Our practice-based experiments explore the dimensions of co-presence using techniques including facial recognition, emotion analysis, machine learning and real-time tracking of human engagement data. Triadic epistemology allows such complex data to be related to narrative sense-making and the experience of co-presence, and the dependence of this mutual relation on narrative contexts. For the purposes of societal applications we explore the experience-generating potential of such dynamics, as well as how it can be controlled by modifying either the behavior of a screen character or its narrative context.
Dr. Professor Pia Tikka is filmmaker and EU Mobilitas Pluss Top Researcher at the MEDIT Centre of Excellence, Tallinn University. Actively engaged with the film and media industry, she is a voting member of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image and European Film Academy. As a filmmaker, she has directed two full-length feature films, several interactive new media works, enactive cinema Installation Obsession (2005), and enactive VR experience The State of Darkness (2018). The author of the monograph “Enactive Cinema: Simulatorium Eisensteinense” (2008), Tikka publishes widely on enactive media and neurocinematics studies. She holds the honorary title of Adjunct Professor of New Narrative Media at the University of Lapland. She is the leader of NeuroCine research group (2011-), and a founding member of neuroscience project aivoAALTO at the Aalto University (2010-2014). She has also contributed to the related field of neuroeconomics in the advisory board in NeuroService project at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences, funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (2014–2015). In 2010, she visited as a Fulbright scholar at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy, University of Southern California, as well as researcher in residency in Neuroaesthetics at the Minerva Foundation, Berkeley. She has also been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, UK (2009-2011). During 2015-2017 she acted as the director of Crucible Studio at the Aalto University. During fall 2019, she was a visiting professor at the Creative Media and Practice Research Cluster, Hong Kong Baptist University. Currently, she leads her research project “Enactive co-presence in narrative virtual reality – a triadic interaction model” at the Enactive Virtuality Lab, Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School (BFM) & Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (MEDIT), Tallinn University.
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“Enactive Cinema: Simulatorium Eisensteinense” (Tikka 2008)