We observed that a high number of participants using the respond_ site during the first live week of the Critical Response Process online (CRP1) were completing the four-step process in one sitting as opposed to waiting for the artist’s response and interacting with other participants. This was interesting because the initial aim of the site was to foster a communal and interactive experience. We therefore became aware that participants’ were experiencing the platform independently and were sometimes a little isolated. This made us question whether the online format and the language we were using on the platform were conducive to a communal online experience, as had been our intention.
The sense of an online community and the ability to view the experience of others seemed to be lacking from the site and so the experience was not reflective of how CRP usually functions between a group in dialogue, together in a physical space. However, on the flip side, there was clear evidence that users were engaging deeply, emotively and reflexively with the dance clips and with the questions posed by the artists, as indicated in the word frequency cloud illustrated here.
Both artists reported after CRP1 that they were impressed at the level and depth of user engagement. As Robbie Synge commented: compared with “live CRP”, the online process was “more reflective, more expansive, a different mode of expression [and] the act of doing it is more generative.” Robbie appreciated the fact that the platform gave him the opportunity to “re-read and reflect back on” his and other people’s comments but that it was missing a “moment of dialogue”.
This finding has led us to alter the functionality, look and feel of the platform for the next phase of the project (CRP2), where we will incorporate the ability for users to take part in discussion forums and see who else is online. We will also be hosting an online discussion with Liz Lerman herself on Thursday 20th November. So hopefully this will add a new level of interactivity to the platform.
Lecturer in Creativity & Collaboration and University Student Education Fellow
School of Performance & Cultural Industries