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Wright, David / J. (2015) THE PHILOSOPHY OF ACTION IN LIVE PERFORMANCE INTERACTION DESIGN: ALIGNING FLOWS OF INTENTIONALITY. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In recent years, ubiquitous computing has altered traditional performance spaces. Arts organizations have notably tested various strategies to either accommodate or eliminate the persistent and disruptive “glowing screen” of smartphones. While theatre and performance artists and scholars correctly identify many problems created by this influx of new technology, this dissertation argues that the rise of ubiquitous computing presents immense potential for theatre and performance studies to begin solving the design problems faced by computer scientists and user experience designers. Theatre and performance scholars hold a crucial role in ubiquitous technology design for live performance, and we have key knowledge of action that user experience designers seek now more than ever.

I propose that human action is the basis for a common nomenclature and theoretical bridge between user experience design and theatre and performance studies. I extend Aristotle’s intentionalist mimetic theory using current philosophy of action and cognitive science, and argue that performance artists and designers select and align flows of intentionality in action that immerse spectators in the intentional presentation of an action. Furthermore, I follow Elizabeth Anscombe’s theory of action to argue for the incommensurability of propositionally articulated theoretical knowledge and non-propositional practical knowledge. Audiences experience the flow of a performance as they ascertain the interweaving of these incommensurable yet complimentary articulations of intentionality through a reciprocal feedback loop of active perception. Both performers and audiences derive the meaning of a performance from an “expanded description” of the teleological structure of actions that comprise it. This action-centric analysis of performance provides the basis for dialogue with human experience designers through an ecologically balanced mapping of the four Aristotelian causes of a performance onto the design of new technology.

As a practical application of this theoretical framework, the dissertation also proposes a new platform for smartphone-based audience interactivity at live Jazz concerts. Applying the theoretical argument to the intentional flows of action in live jazz, the Nymbus system seeks to align the material, formal, and efficient causality of smartphones at concerts with the intentional flows in jazz performance in order to heighten and compliment audience immersion in jazz performance flow.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wright, David / J.djw34@pitt.eduDJW340000-0001-9582-0703
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcConachie, Brucebamcco@pitt.eduBAMCCO
Committee MemberAshley Crawford,
Committee MemberMcDermott, Ryanrjm95@pitt.eduRJM95
Committee MemberWaldron, Jenniferjwaldron@pitt.eduJWALDRON
Date: 1 October 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 May 2015
Approval Date: 1 October 2015
Submission Date: 3 August 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 297
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: performance studies, philosophy of action, philosophy of technology, Aristotle, Elizabeth Anscombe, Donald Davidson, intention, aesthetics, practical knowledge, material causality, formal causality, efficient causality, final causality, cognitive science, extended cognition, ubiquitous computing, mobile computing, smartphones, human computer interaction (HCI), user experience design, interaction design, jazz performance, live music performance, music concerts, audiences, interaction.
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Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2016 05:00
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 05:15


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