It’s time once again for Stephanie’s rambling adventures in brute-force comparison of film critique to interaction design!

So I fell a little behind in the readings last week (I know, I know… shame) and am just now catching up on the 8 1/2 reading. I’d like to call your attention to this part of the text (PDF 14, print 165):

By partially adhering to the rules of continuity cutting, but at the same time slyly subverting them, Fellini deliberately calls attention to his own artifice in the editing of his film. The Saraghina sequence contains a number of striking examples of Fellini’s playful subversion of conventional editing techniques.

I liked this idea of subversion. Trying to find some subversion of conventional techniques in interaction design, I immediately thought of Compress Process. Rather than going through extensive bug testing to create a “polished” final product, this is a game whose entire point is to create glitches in the most interesting or beautiful ways. There is no aim or end goal to the game–you just move around in a 3D world and try to get the environment and sounds to glitch.

I would characterize Compress Process as a critical design, since it is an attempt at helping the user reconsider what the very idea of a glitch is in the first place, and to reconsider the notion that all unintended consequences of a program are bad. (Of course, that brings me to the question: since the intention of the game is to create glitches, isn’t it working as intended? But still, I can see where the designer is coming from.)

Anyway, for me, the idea of subversion is an interesting thought in critical design in particular. How much does subversion play into critical design in the first place? You can subvert something without intending to actually promote any kind of “critical awareness” in users (to cite Jeff and Shaowen’s almost-published-but-not-yet, award-winning paper [woohoo!]). For instance, you might argue Apple has subverted the idea of buying an album with iTunes where you can buy songs one-at-a-time. However, I wouldn’t say iTunes is a critical design.

Another way of wording my question might be, when subverting something, at what point does this subversion actually become critical? Is it a spectrum?

(This post might be a little early, since the syllabus is telling me we’ll be going over critical design later in the semester. Oh well, maybe I’ll resurrect this thread then. :))

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