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Tine has been thinking very carefully about the dynamics of participation, about the affordances of different materials and social spaces for audiences and users to be playfully involved, sharing public experiences that are unique. She has been formulating new ways of understanding and classifying these behaviours, new ways of provoking and promoting them. If this sounds dry I should stress that her work delights and enchants in equal measure.

— Prof Jonathan Dovey, University of the West of England.

Our projects are underpinned by research 

Dr Tine Bech’s research contributes knowledge to how we play in culture and provides a working model for developing audience participation and social engagement. Her findings represent original research in the fields of interactive art practice, experience design and public art including playable cities. In today’s digitally automated world, she contributes to debate about the design and implementation of increasingly interactive and smart, automated environments.

Three theoretical play principals inform our creative process:

  1. Humans are the most playful species and play is the one of the most pervasive behaviour across human cultures. Our evolution and survival as a species shows the centrality of play – it is a smart way of adapting and surviving. And the clever thing about play is anyone can do it!
  2. We do not define play as being only for children. Rather it is integral to our culture. Tine’s doctoral research showed that we have a play hierarchy where adults step back and let children play – at times children physically push adults away from participating. This suggests we have a hierarchy of play with young people at the top. Nonetheless, our projects shows that adults will play if enticed – in fact we play in similar ways.
  3. We know from Play Theory that we are designed by biology to play throughout life. We do not lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up. Our play behaviour may change, but the drive is still there. The key is whether or not we act on it!

Our research show that interactive art and playful participation leads to what we call ‘playing well’ – this is the moment audiences interact easily. The self that emerges through play is a core, authentic self. The studio framework for playful interaction becomes an ‘adaptive interactive system’ through which participants can experiencing themselves anew.

In addition, play and risk are closely related, we learn how to deal with risk through play – through exploration, through testing, and thereby learning and adapting.

Research books

Playful Interactions: A Critical Inquiry into Interactive Art and Play by Dr Tine Bech

Dr. Tine Bech’s conclusions and findings in her doctoral research are a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the history and discourses of audience interaction within modern fine art, play and games theory.

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. The model consists of a series of tangible making gambits (tactics) for eliciting playful interactions from the audience. Her thesis sets out a succinct and critical understanding of the relationship of her practice and scholarly concerns within the discourse and history. 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 improve the artworks throughout the research process. 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.
  4. An inclusive understanding of how to create interactive art with low barriers to participation.

Get in touch with Dr Tine Bech to request a copy of her PhD, or go to UWE Research Repository to download a redacted copyright version:
‘Playful interactions: A Critical Inquiry into Interactive Art and Play’. University of the West England, Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education, 2014.

This is easily one of the most thoughtful analyses I have seen of how people engage with interactive work. It is 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 is not intended to be a survey of the whole field of interactive art). Plus, for a PhD thesis, it is shockingly readable!

-Holly Gramazio

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 Bech’s practice and scholarly concerns within these discourses and history

-Dr Seth Giddings

I do adore your works. As my thesis is about playful experience in urban spaces, I found you during my research process, and you are the most incredible artist in this field.

-Niloofar Nedaei

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