*** 05.31.2010 UPDATE: For a taste of the justification and theory behind this project, may I suggest perusal of my Material Listening Manifesto (13 pages, PDF, 125K). It is a condensed and revised version of the argument presented in the full document below. For more explication on the studies, research, and precedent for the project, please refer to the full document.
This project investigates the nature of our experience with cultural artifacts in a digital environment. Specifically, I am concerned with the interface as a cultural form, and its relationship to content in our encounters with digital music. To speak of the interface as a cultural form is to acknowledge its status as a signifier of human value in a world where content is largely immaterial and abstract. I believe current systems designed to manage music collections and represent digital packages do not support the kinds of material, connotative associations enabled by physical media of the past, and I argue that such associations are actually the precondition for the assignment of value. Hence, the quality of our encounters with music in the digital listening environment are diminished. This state of affairs, I demonstrate, is largely the result of flawed design assumptions based on outdated metaphors and paradigms. My study seeks to explore the ways in which an interface designed to leverage today's increasingly powerful digital devices might provide for more meaningful, personally resonant encounters with the cultural stuff of music. My research is grounded in New Media theory and relies on notions of materiality and embodied interaction to propose an interface aesthetics that encompasses the dialectical relationship between representation and reality, and reintroduces the possibility of an authentic encounter with music's material culture in the digital age.
Material Listening: Materiality and Embodied Interaction in the Digital Music Encounter
(Submitted in Partial Fulfillment for the Degree of Master of Graphic Design)
North Carolina State University, College of Design, May 4, 2010
Download Full Document (96 pages, PDF: 1.9 MB)