2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Interaction Design and the Performing Arts

Written by Megan Simpson | January 13, 2014

Brenda Laurel's panel at SXSW 2014 will cover interactive design

Spanning the course of five days this March, the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival will feature more than 800 sessions, many attractive to those in various disciplines of the arts. Today’s installment of the Session Spotlight features Santa Cruz researcher, writer, consultant, teacher and performer, Brenda Laurel (@blaurel) and her panel titled, “Interaction Design and the Performing Arts". Laurel has participated several times at the SXSW Interactive Festival, including the 2004 event in which she served as the keynote speaker.

SXSW: What can attendees expect to gain from your panel at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival?
Laurel: This panel looks at diverse intersections between IxD and the performing arts, from narrative to puppetry to dramatic theory.

SXSW: What type of SXSW attendee will enjoy this session and why should registrants attend?
Laurel: Creative designers in all realms of IxD will find interest in this session. A good liberal arts background is an excellent backbone for our practice, but for those who don't have that sort of education, we will be providing some entry points into domains of theory and practice that registrants may not have considered. “Interaction Design and the Performing Arts” will depart from the standard concerns of interaction design and delve into its relationships with performative representation. We will draw on diverse sources, from dramatic theory to puppetry, improvisation, and expressive programming. From these points we can begin to see the outlines of a larger map connecting our work to theatre and performance.

SXSW: How do you stay up to date with news and current developments in your area of expertise?
Laurel: I attend and speak at conferences, I visit universities and colleges and I attend lectures and workshops at my own university (University of California at Santa Cruz). I listen to NPR way too much. I speak with my colleagues about their work and I read their books. I read several blogs and follow various tweeters, and I am involved with Feminists in Games and other organizations for advocacy of women and gender diversity in this, and all, fields.

SXSW: What do you hope to gain by presenting at SXSW?
Laurel: I hope to stimulate new thinking, find new colleagues, and generate new ideas in my own head and others' by speaking at the festival.

SXSW: Tell us a little bit more about yourself. What do you do to relax and unwind?
Laurel: I relax through meditation and Tai Ch'i, photography, and snorkeling.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. Register now to attend “Interaction Design and the Performing Arts” and other programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.

Brenda Laurel photo by Hilary Hulteen.