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Dr. Tine Bech's research explores playful culture and how to develop and design interactive and playable spaces where the human experience is at the centre. Her artworks encourage social engagement through play and physical participation. Her PhD (completed in 2014) was in interactive art (sculpture, creative technology), play theory and audience participation.
In her PhD research 'Playful interactions: A Critical Inquiry into Interactive Art and Play' Tine developed a model for making playful interactive artworks and the creation of a ‘vocabulary of play’ to demonstrate the different kinds of play initiated. It contributes to debates about the design and implementation of increasingly interactive and ‘smart’ environments. The model consists of a series of tangible making gambits (tactics) for eliciting playful interactions from the audience. Using practice-based research methods four artworks were created and presented in several exhibitions. Underpinning the process of creating conditions and possibilities for playful interaction were methods of observation of participant’s interactions, in order to enable changes and improvement of the artworks throughout the research process.

Its conclusions and findings represent original research in the fields of interactive art practice and playful experience design. The key contributions to knowledge are 1] A conceptual framework for designing, and reflecting on, playful audience behaviour in the context of interactive art; 2] A comprehensive scholarly engagement with diverse theories of play and games resulting in new insights and syntheses of knowledge; 3] New robust and sensitive approaches to audience evaluation and observation for interactive art and other forms of playful experience design.

Play is a persuasive and powerful tool. It can change people’s behaviour and inspire people to interact, rather than simply observe. In fact the quality of play is that anyone can do it, as Stuart Brown writes. When people accept an invitation to engage in playful interaction they invest in the moment - they care. Playful interaction allows participants to find new ways of engaging with other people emotionally and socially. These playful interactions are not about our relation to technology, but about creating work that moves people and allows them to find new ways of understanding and new ways of connecting. There are many social limitations in daily life that hold us back, but, once we accept the invitation to play, we engage and our surroundings once again become open to possibilities! (Extract from Phd thesis by Dr. Tine Bech).
The thesis sets out a succinct but comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the history and discourses of playful interaction within modern fine art practice, along with a critical understanding of the relationship of the candidate's practice and scholarly concerns within these discourses and history (Dr Seth Giddings).
This is easily one of the most thoughtful analyses I've seen of how people engage with interactive work. It's grounded in extremely detailed observations of how audiences responded to four of Bech's own artworks, and it lets us in on the making process for those works. It also surveys some of the different theoretical frameworks that other interactive artists have used for their work, some of the pitfalls of the area, and the "gambits" that Bech has developed to address these difficulties. It therefore gives a rich and informative view into Bech's own process and the audience response to her different invitations to play. Alongside this it provides a wider context that points at a lot of fascinating installations and texts by other artists (although of course it's not intended to be a survey of the whole field of interactive art).

Plus: for a PhD thesis it's shockingly readable (Holly Gramazio)