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We Called it _____: Filling the Gaps in Participatory Art Design

Jessica Renfro


We Called It _____ is an exploratory research that synthesizes discourse on participation from the fields of Performance Studies, Game Studies, and Psychology in order to develop an experimental framework for participatory art design.

This research derives from the observation that participatory art often struggles to find consistency between the experience offered to participants and the language used to describe the work. I began to wonder how design choices affect qualities of participation, and asked the question: In what ways can the design of participatory mechanisms (like instructions, mechanics, and environment) improve the consistency of shared experience in participatory art?

Some important findings of this research are that participatory art is a form of social simulation, and artists who engage with it play multiple roles that differ from other artistic disciplines. Key aspects of the framework include ideating from core values and employing a collaborative approach to design through iterative feedback cycles. This framework can be used as a tool for creation or critique of participatory art, and I hope it will begin to lift the curtain on participatory practices and start a dialogue about the values embedded within them.

Supervisor: Dr. Nishant Shah

External Mentors: Sonia Fizek, Souvik Mukherjee

Keywords:participatory art, performance studies, game studies

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