What Then Happens When Interaction is Not Possible: The Virtuosic Interpretation of Ergodic Artefacts

  • Miguel Carvalhais ID+ / Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto, Portugal
  • Pedro Cardoso ID+ / Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto, Portugal
Keywords: Ergodic, Interaction, Simulation, Aesthetics, Procedural Design, MDA, Vicarious Interaction, Interpretation


Procedural systems allow unique modes of authorship and singular aesthetic experiences. As creators and users of these systems, we need to be aware that their aesthetic potential is not solely defined by interaction but that interpretation, and the capacity to understand and simulate the processes taking place within these artefacts is highly significant. This paper argues that although direct interaction is usually the most discernible component in the relationship between ergodic artefacts and their users, ergodicity does not necessarily imply interaction. Non-interactive procedural artefacts may allow the development of ergodic experiences through interpretation, and the probing of the system by its reader through simulations. We try to set the grounds for designing towards virtuosic interpretation, an activity that we may describe as the ergodic experience developed by means of mental simulation through the development of theories of systems.

Author Biographies

Miguel Carvalhais, ID+ / Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto, Portugal
Miguel Carvalhais is a designer and musician. He is an assistant professor of design and new media in the Department of Design at the University of Porto, and a founder of the Crónica media label. www.carvalhais.org
Pedro Cardoso, ID+ / Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto, Portugal
Pedro Cardoso is a gamer, a designer, a researcher, and a PhD student pursuing studies on video games within the context of new media and interaction design. He is a guest lecturer in the Department of Design at the University of Porto. www.pcardoso.tumblr.com


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