Avatars, Agency and Performance (2014).3


Avatars, Agency and Performance: The Fusion of Science and Technology within the Arts

Richard Andrew Salmon 2014



3. Methodology and methods

The methodological framework chosen in order to gain a greater understanding of the Articulated Head’s audience and their interactions with the robotic exhibit was that of Grounded Theory and Phenomenology. The methods employed include a Phenomenological Reduction and comparison of human . human compared to human . robot communication, Video Cued Recall Interviews and Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis. These methods were selected for both practical and philosophical reasons.

3.1 Grounded Theory

The research data collected in this study related to Articulated Head audience interactions comes in a variety of forms such as observational records, notes and diary entries. However, most of the data collected and analysed was in the form of either recorded text string exchanges between the Articulated Head and its interacting audience or video recordings, which captured the audiovisual environment and as much of the action from both the Articulated Head and the interacting audience as possible, including the research participants cued reporting in a Video Cued Recall Interview (explained in detail later). This data was collected with one specific application in mind: It was analysed and coded in a computer assisted qualitative data analysis software application called NVIVO, for the purposes of building an understanding of the experience of avatar, conversational agent and audience interaction. The data forms an empirical body of evidence laden with clues, which inform, generate and support theories and recommendations as to how one might enhance an audience’s engagement with this type of interactive exhibit, and ultimately find answers to the big question: How can interaction between humans and machines be improved?

Grounded Theory is a method of investigation developed by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (Glaser, Strauss, & Strutzel, 1968) The method was developed when they worked together on a sociologists project, researching dying hospital patients. Glaser and Strauss later came to a disagreement over the practical details of how to conduct a Grounded Theory study. Their disagreement led both to publish books effectively arguing their case and detailing the method, as it should be conducted from their own perspectives respectively. “The controversy between Glaser and Strauss boils down to the question of whether the researcher uses a well defined ‘coding paradigm’ and always looks systematically for ‘causal conditions,’ ‘phenomena/context, intervening conditions, action strategies’ and ‘consequences’ in the data, or whether theoretical codes are employed as they emerge in the same way as substantive codes emerge, but drawing on a huge fund of ‘coding families” (Keele, 2005). When considering competing strategies in qualitative research Amedeo Giorgi weighs up the benefits of description versus interpretation arguing “that the interpretive approach is appealing under certain conditions that have not always been fully specified and that certain other conditions lend themselves to other qualitative research practices.”(Giorgi, 1992) Many studies have been conducted since employing one, other or both of these strategies and regardless of which approach is adopted both strategies present both benefits and pitfalls.

Grounded Theory, regardless of the methods actually employed when coding data, has a few defining features. Its main defining feature is one that it shares with phenomenology and the phenomenological reduction. That is, one does not enter into the research with a hypothesis; rather the practice of a conducting Grounded Theory study and/or Phenomenological Reduction will lead to or generate a set of theories. Once data is collected, it is coded to highlight the key points coming out of the data. The codes are put into groupings related to similar concepts and then, from the groupings, themes are formed. These themes are fairly wide groupings of concepts, which in turn lead to a set of explanations about the research subject.

Glaser’s view in application of Grounded Theory is that any and all data related to the subject under investigation that can be gathered by the researcher is valid data. That is, qualitative and quantitative data, treated with respect to all conditions under which the subject under investigation might be experienced, regardless of whether the data constitutes concrete or anecdotal evidence, it may be included in the investigation into the subject at hand. Data that helps to answer the researcher’s main question, “what is going on here?” and contributes to the set of explanations that emerge is useful (Interviews, observation, notes, questionnaires, video, audio, transcripts, memos).

The process of comparing different types of data over a cross section of research participants and sources becomes the starting point for coding and note taking (memo’ing). Coding themes can emerge quickly and constant comparison of research data helps to solidify and support the fit of theories to data. Theories generated are never right or wrong, they are just a closer or looser fit to the data being analysed. The closer the fit of a theory to the data set, the more relevant it is for cross checking by the rigors of purposeful new sampling. As theories emerge, further sampling of appropriate data types and coding take place to make sure that the emergent theories remain a close fit to the data, if not, then new theories and coding of categories and their associated attributes will be generated. When the fit of theories are supported by new sampling and coding, (i.e. the emergent theories are supported by new data collection and new themes) and the categories and their associated attributes do not expand anymore, then further sampling ceases as the point of theme saturation is reached. This is the point at which sorting takes place. The process of sorting is grouping nodes, notes, and memos into similar types and arranging them in the most appropriate order to render your theories transparent.

Reference to Glaser and the distinction between “emergence and forcing” (Dick, 2005) of theories from data is made recursively throughout literature on the subject. Criticisms of Grounded Theory point to the questions surrounding its validity as a theory and suggest that “it is impossible to free oneself of preconceptions in the collection and analysis of data” (Thomas & James, 2006)

The above criticisms are similar to those leveled at Phenomenology and the Phenomenological Reduction, which also calls for epoché, the ‘bracketing off’ or ‘putting aside’ of our presumptions and preconceptions about the experience that is under investigation. In order to unveil essences of the experience of our own ‘lifeworld’ that may otherwise be hidden from us, is to temporarily suspend the “sedimented layers of consciousness built up through our temporal experiences” (Cogan, 2012), this is clearly a very difficult, if not impossible thing to do.

The conflict and contradictions between ‘hypothesis testing’ as oppose to ‘emergent’ research methodology and philosophy have been hotly debated elsewhere (Langdridge, 2007). Bob Dick points to the fact that most of us “will have been exposed to hypothesis testing research” (Dick, 2005) and that this indoctrination has to some extent, to be “unlearned” in order not to misjudge Grounded Theory based on “criteria which make sense only for the methodology for which they were developed”. He further points out that Glaser himself “suggests two main criteria for judging the adequacy of the emerging theory from a Grounded Theory study: that it fits the situation; and that it works – that it helps the people in the situation to make sense of their experience and manage the situation better.”(Dick, 2005)

The above criteria fit the methods employed in this investigation, and the methods have worked to help the people involved to make sense of the situation that they were in during this investigation. Furthermore, Glaser’s criteria are a very close fit to the central aims of this research project being; to find ways to enhance audience engagement with interactive exhibits like the Articulated Head, and to find answers to the big question: how can interaction between humans and machines be improved? – in that, the central aim’s main objective is to help manage the situation under investigation (human . machine interaction) better.

The key concepts (see section 8), help to explain the findings from the themed data analysis presented in Section 7, and inform a blueprint of recommendations for how interaction between humans and machines can be improved in Section 9. All the emergent recommendations presented in the blueprint in Section 9 are essentially based on an interpretive phenomenological analysis of empirical human centered research data collected during this investigation.

3.1.1 Computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS)

There are a range of criticisms leveled at the use of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software and the way in which it might influence data analysis (Richards, 1999, p. 418). Some arguments (Bringer, Johnston, & Brackenridge, 2006, p. 248) point to the problem of conducting simple quantitative word searches on qualitative data and then misrepresenting this as qualitative analysis, whilst others comment that researchers may choose their theories and methods to suit a particular computer assisted qualitative data analysis software program to make their job easier. Although it is probably true that the use of software in coding qualitative data makes the retrieval of information related to specific codes and the general organization and sorting of data easier, the expansion of the amount of data that can be captured and analysed has an equal and opposite effect where good rigorous qualitative data analysis is concerned. The way that software tutorials can indoctrinate and steer young researchers towards specific modes of operation and choices of method without proper regard for other equally or possibly more appropriate methods of investigation related to their specific area of investigation has also been questioned (Richards, 1999, p. 412).

However, the key advantages of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software lie in the way in which the software has been developed to support “a weaving of rich primary sources with commentary and discussion and analysis” (Richards, 1999, p. 414). Lyn Richards goes on to explain, “If this is done well, then the distinction between data and commentary disappears as the threads of a weaving lose distinction. They remain separate threads but contribute collectively to colour and patterns and the construction of new understanding, the primary qualitative goal” (Richards, 1999). Computer assisted qualitative data analysis software can be used to help manage code and sort large amounts of data retaining the flexibility to view, sort and ask complicated questions of the data and coding and obtain answers quickly. Paper based research becomes far too cumbersome and can be very slow to facilitate similar results, indeed time and financial constraints may make some questions that are easily answered through digital analysis virtually impossible in a paper based research project.

3.1.1.1 Axial Coding

Axial coding is the separating out of the component parts of core themes during qualitative data analysis. Axial coding is a mixture of inductive and deductive reasoning that helps inform the process of relating the various concepts and categories that have been identified in the coding process in a Grounded Theory study, to each other.

“Strauss and Corbin (1990, 1998) propose the use of a ‘coding paradigm, to include categories related to (1) the phenomenon under study, (2) the conditions related to that phenomenon (context conditions, intervening – structural- conditions or causal conditions), (3) the actions and interactional strategies directed at managing or handling the phenomenon and (4) the consequences of the actions/interactions related to the phenomenon”. (Wikipedia, 2006)

3.1.1.2 Frames analysis

Frame analysis is not a single concept but a “wide range of approaches that have been subsumed under the heading of frame analysis” (Koenig, 2004). Others have presented an overview of these approaches: (Benford & Snow, 2000):(D’angelo, 2006): Scheufele 1999)

Frame analysis terminology includes “Narrative fidelity” and “Empirical credibility” which are cited as “mechanisms that render frames particularly viable” (The Cathy Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, 2013). Particularly frequently occurring frames are labeled “Master frames” and Master frames often suggest culturally poignant themes. Narrative fidelity is defined, as “the congruence of a frame with the life experience of its addressees” (Gamson & Modigliani 1989) (Koenig, 2004).

Empirical credibility is a measure of how well a frame appears to fit with the detail of actual events from a subjective rather than objective point of view. Empirical credibility essentially “denotes the ease with which audiences reconcile a frame with what they consider their possibly mediated experiences” (The Cathy Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, 2013). One could say that empirical credibility has subjectively been attributed to the philosophy and methods adopted in the pursuit of this investigative research by the researcher, in that; he comments within the body of this text that the philosophy and methodology adopted fits well with his previous thought on the process of investigation and the pre-established belief that understanding should be an inductive and deductive process of discovery.

The terms “conflict”, “human interest” and “economic consequences” are frames that are frequently occurring in media discourse and in particular, the news. Frames have been described as; “basic cognitive structures, which guide the perception and representation of reality. On the whole frames are not consciously manufactured but are unconsciously adopted in the course of communicative processes. On a very banal level, frames structure which parts of reality are noticed.” (Koenig, 2004) and; “principles of selection, emphasis and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens and what matters (Gitlin 1980 p. 6)” (Koenig, 2004). There has been a shift from subconscious to consciously adopted and identified frames. Michael Polyani contributed much to social science and philosophical discourse surrounding tacit knowledge, “central to Michael Polanyi’s thinking was the belief that creative acts (especially acts of discovery) are shot-through or charged with strong personal feelings and commitments (hence the title of his most famous work Personal Knowledge)”(Smith, 2003). The construction of tacit knowledge during interaction and subsequent the actions of some of the humans interacting with the Articulated Head, when considered within the frame of its performance and the perceived agency therein – as experienced by those humans, led to the Freakish Peak hypothesis emanating from this study.

3.2 Video Cued Recall

Video Cued Recall was chosen as an appropriate method for capturing the lived interactive experience of research participants interacting with the Articulated Head for a number of reasons, as detailed below.

Reporting Experience

One of the clear and valid concerns about how research in the arts elucidates direct experience relates to the methods associated with gathering reports of individuals’ personal experience. At issue here is the accuracy of such reporting, in terms of how it correlates to the actual experience during interaction with the exhibition or performance work, as distinct from a re-imagining, or reconstruction of that experience from memory. Such reconstructions from memory could be substantially faulty, because the individual may be so engaged/consumed by the art experience (abstract and often subliminal) at the time of engagement that noting details or even qualities of that experience in parallel with having the experience itself cannot occur. This is particularly true in situations where no information or priming has occurred prior to the interaction with the artwork. Simultaneous reflection and engagement clearly also describe a split experience, which would not correlate to a non-research participants art experience.

One approach to managing the above issue(s) is the technique, Video Cued Recall (VCR). Video Cued Recall involves making an audiovisual recording of the participant during a direct experience of the artwork. The recording should in no way interfere with the participant’s ability to engage with the work. The researcher undertaking the Video Cued Recall session should not provide the participant with any information that is not available to the general public, or prime them for their forthcoming experience of the artwork in any way. Once the participant has completed their engagement with the work (which must not be constrained by the researcher), the researcher takes the participant to another space. During this session the video of the participants engagement with the artwork is played back to them very shortly after their interaction. Participants are then asked for their thoughts about the experience of engaging with the artwork, including refection on their reactions during the interaction.

This reporting may be augmented by the researcher asking the participant to describe: how they were feeling at the moments reflected in the video recording? What they were doing? The nature of their engagement with the artwork? And other associated questions as appropriate to the research being undertaken. The response from the participant was therefore cued, or contextualised by what they were viewing in the video playback. The video playback can be paused, rewound and replayed at any time during the recall session so that the participant can review or revisit moments that occurred during interaction as often as they wish. Such pausing and review is often necessary due to the fact that the participant has a considerable amount to say about particular moments of interaction, where the interaction may, in and of itself, only take a short period of time.

Video Cued Recall is used in ethnography and other related humanities research areas where illuminating direct experience is a principle objective. The method of Video Cued Recall addresses the phenomenological questions at the heart of this investigation – that is, evaluation of interaction. It allows discussion about the response and to some degree avoids the fact that self-reporting is difficult to interrogate. The video acts as a context for review and reflection.

Raingruber states that Video Cued Recall is “a research approach for accessing relational, practice-based, and lived understandings” and furthermore that “the goal of the phenomenologist is to develop direct contact with lived experience and to bring to light the meanings woven into the fabric of the Lebenswelt” (Raingruber, 2003, p. 1155)

It is possible, that during the recall session, the subject may react to what is viewed on the videotape rather than recalling the actual experience as it occurred at the time of the recorded episode (Lyle, 2003). As such, participant recollections may not represent the conscious or unconscious cognitions taking place at the time of the video taped episode (Lyle, 2003), however the ability of the researcher to interrogate the responses during the session, assists in deliberations as to the degree to which the response is immediate or constructed.

Phenomenological philosophy and the practical method of Video Cued Recall are intrinsically linked in focus upon capturing the conscious lived experience of a person within a specific scenario. Reflecting on the fact that this investigation is a process of discovery and does not pursue the scientific method of establishing hypotheses prior to the investigation because the research method used herein seeks to “bring to light the meanings woven into the Lebenswelt” (Raingruber, 2003, p. 1155) rather than to test whether specific meanings exist, render Grounded Theory and Phenomenology the ideal methodological framework, and Video Cued Recall an excellent method for ‘getting at’ the essences of the audience’s experience of interaction with the Articulated Head. “A phenomenological methodology will involve the collection of naturalistic first person accounts of experience, recognizing the need to account for the influence of the researcher on the data collection and analytical process.” (Langdridge, 2007, p. 87) Video Cued Recall (VCR) sessions were an ideal way of capturing the lived experience of interactions with the Articulated Head and subsequent reports made by the person who participated in the interaction, with very little influence from the researcher being brought to bear upon the reports given.

3.2.1 Expanded discussion of applications of Video Cued Recall

Video Cued Recall is used in many situations such as sport, health, crime investigation and educational teaching research.

Described as “a research approach for accessing relational, practice-based, and lived understandings” (Lyle, 2003, p. 875). Video Cued Recall has disadvantages, for example; videotaping can influence participant behaviour. The “possibility that the subject is reacting to what is viewed on the videotape rather than recalling the taped episode” (Lyle, 2003, p. 863) can cause problems. As quoted previously “Participant recollections may not represent the conscious or unconscious cognitions taking place at the time of the video taped episode”. (Lyle, 2003) Video Cued Recall has been used in crime investigation situations and an abstract from an article in Psychological Science titled ‘Recalling a Witnessed Event Increases Eyewitness Suggestibility: The Reversed Testing Effect’ (Chan, Thomas, & Bulevich, 2009) shows “that immediate cued recall actually exacerbates the later misinformation effect for both younger and older adults”, thus Video Cued Recall can have adverse effects upon the progress of certain types of investigation.

However, Video Cued Recall as referenced in a qualitative health research paper “benefits from minimal intervention in the activity” (Raingruber, 2003) and provides “access to nonverbal influences afforded by video taping”, which “draws participant comments on; facial expressions, voice tones, posture shifts, spatial relationships, levels of intensity, silences and overall pace that would otherwise not have been noticed or remembered”. (Raingruber, 2003, p. 1165)

Video Cued Recall allows the researcher to code using qualitative data analysis techniques by accessing the material and coding for different categories on each pass, this is especially useful in the analysis of events that are never twice the same such as the nuances of a winning finishing stroke in a tennis match or a pivotal moment in a marriage counselling conversation.

Depth of reflection in the Video Cued Recall interviews “can yield much richer commentary than the use of probing questions” (Raingruber, 2003, p. 1160) or the use of questionnaires and other feedback instruments. “Experience is best described not with words but by embodied responses, practices, sensory perceptions and tones or climates of feeling” (Raingruber, 2003, p. 1168) “Video cued narrative reflection puts participants back into their experience while allowing them sufficient distance to recollect their thoughts and feelings” (Raingruber, 2003, p. 1168)

Just as Video Cued Recall is used in sport, education and teaching research to gain a greater understanding of – and to reflect upon the nuances of events taking place in these situations, developing a stronger understanding of the lived experience of the person interacting with the Articulated Head, has given the best chance of understanding what facets represent barriers to fluidity in communication, engagement and interaction with the Articulated Head. Having understood more about the barriers that existed, one can then begin to hypothesise and make prescriptions designed as antidotes to the barriers identified, hence the emergent Freakish Peak hypothesis (see section 2.2.2) and The Blueprint of Emergent Recommendations presented as part of the conclusions to this investigation in Section 9. “Phenomenology acts as a framework for the method of Video Cued Recall” (Paine 2010) and “the goal of the phenomenologist is to develop direct contact with lived experience and to bring to light the meanings woven into the fabric of Lebenswelt.” (Raingruber, 2003)

3.2.2 The best time to implement the interview

Video Cued Recall interviews are normally conducted via presentation of video recorded material to the participant accompanied by open-ended question/s. Questions should be presented “to the subject as soon as possible after or during the viewing of the videotape” (Lyle, 2003, p. 863)

The use of Video Cued Recall for reporting teacher interactive thinking in an educational environment shows; “retrospective accounts of thinking may involve immediate interference and generative processes. The stimulated recall video tape produces a ‘new view’, which is subject to the meta- analysis and refection that was not available to the individual at the time of the original episode” Yinger (1986) as cited in (Lyle, 2003, p. 864). Lyle then references Gass (2001) who acknowledges, “There is evidence of increasing recall decay with consecutive, delayed and non recent protocols”.

For the reasons above, interviews in this study were conducted directly after the original videoed events wherever possible to avoid the influences of “recall decay” (Lyle, 2003, p. 864) and to minimize the time allowed for meta-analysis and reflection prior to the participants interview. The “evidence of increasing recall decay with consecutive, delayed and non recent protocol’s” (Lyle, 2003, p. 864) provides some ratification of the secondary process of using repeated recall participants at various stages in the creative project development and installation whenever possible. It was anticipated that using repeat participants for the purposes of the evaluation of the impact of the creative outcomes proposed might help – as a time gap between each iteration of their Video Cued Recall sessions allowed for significant recall decay, yet repeat participants would have some sedimentary layers of experience to draw upon, which was expected to help them identify changes made to the exhibits performance between recall sessions.

3.3 Phenomenology

Phenomenology is a historical movement driven by the thinking of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty & Jean-Paul Sartre – amongst others that have contributed to the development of this philosophical doctrine. An in-depth examination of the philosophical enquiry conducted by these philosophers is outside the scope of this thesis, primarily because the phenomenological research approach adopted in this research investigation is located outside the realm of phenomenological philosophical enquiry (see p50 paragraph 4). However, the methodological research investigation detailed herein is informed by some of the ideas put forward by phenomenological philosophers, that is why some of the key concepts and terminology of Phenomenology with various references to these philosophers are present in what follows.

Phenomenology includes the following terms:

1. “Phenomenology – (a compound of the Greek words phainomenon and logos) is the study of human experience and the way in which things are perceived as they appear to human consciousness” (Langdridge, 2007)

2. Lifeworld – the concrete lived experience of a person – the ‘real world’ as experienced by ones consciousness.

3. Epoché – The ‘bracketing off’ or ‘putting aside’ of a human’s presumptions and preconceptions about the experience that is under investigation in a phenomenological reduction. To temporarily suspend the “sedimented layers of consciousness built up through our temporal experiences” (Cogan, 2012) in order to unveil constancies and essences of the experience, revealing that which may be hidden from us by our unquestioned acceptance of our ‘lifeworld’ without any critical reflection. To allow us to “describe the things themselves” (Langdridge, 2007p.17) Epoché establishes the “phenomenological attitude” or perspective from which experience is to be taken.(Ihde, 2007p.29)

4. Noema (noematic correlate) – “that which is experienced” (Ihde, 2007, p. 29)

5. Noesis (noetic correlate) – the way in which it is experienced. (Ihde, 2007, p. 29)

Don Ihde, an American philosopher of technology and science, explains the relationship between noema, noesis and intentionality, identifying the key landscape and summing up phenomenology nicely in the following quote: “Within experience overall, there is that which is experienced, that called the object-correlate or noematic correlate. And in strict correlation with the noema, there is the act of experience or the experiencing that was the “subject correlate” or the noetic act. Here, as a correlative rule, it is maintained by intentionality simply that for every object of experience there is an act or “consciousness” that apprehends that object, and for every act there is an “intended” correlate, although some may not be fulfilled (empty). (Ihde, 2007p.29)

This correlation as the phenomenological model gives phenomenology its characteristic shape. Anything outside the correlation lies suspended under the previous terms of epoché. Thus any object-in-itself and equally any subject-in-itself remains “outside” phenomenology.

6. Intentionality – this does not mean intention of doing something (an act) – ‘as is’ in common use of the word, rather it speaks of consciousness and the fact that we are always conscious of something – (the object of consciousness)(“the act of experience or the experiencing” (Ihde, 2007p.29)). The correlative relationship held between ‘noema’ and ‘noesis’ as referenced above is labeled intentionality.

Husserl, later in his work, considered that the person who is experiencing could take a transcendental turn by reflexively stepping outside of the correlative relationship between that which they are experiencing and the way in which they are experiencing it, to take a “Gods eye view” as Merleau-Ponty put it, this aspect of Husserl’s philosophy has been rejected by almost all who have followed him (Sawicki, 2006).

Nevertheless, reflexivity plays an important role in the performance of the phenomenological reduction. The person conducting the exercise reflexively considers the influence that their own position and experience of the lifeworld may have brought to bear upon the observations and conclusions made during the processes of the phenomenological study they are conducting – and what impact it may have had on the study findings.

7. The phenomenological psychological reduction – builds on the start made by epoché above. The reduction starts with a detailed description of the things (objects of consciousness) that appear to us. The description avoids any interpretation of meaning at this stage. The rule of horizontalization is employed where the researcher gives equal value to each and every ‘thing’ that is described as an object of consciousness and avoids any categorization or value giving to the things or elements of the description.

8. Imaginative variation – this stage is sometimes employed as another way of shedding light on the meaning of an experience being reported by a research participant, where one imagines various alterations to features of the experience under investigation in order to uncover the layers and essence of the experience itself. This process helps by reducing the impact of peripheral elements surrounding the essence and meaning of the experience under enquiry. This is a simple but powerful method, focused on imagining other ways of seeing the experience under investigation, in order to peel back the possible layers of experience to identify constancies that may be invariant and shared across a group of research participants for instance.

When reflecting on the nature of phenomenological studies, Langdridge comments that they “are usually, although not always, qualitative research projects designed to understand more about the experience of some phenomenon. Appropriate research questions are therefore open-ended questions seeking to understand more about a particular topic rather than attempt to explain or identify causes for phenomena.” (Langdridge, 2007) “Qualitative methods have increased in popularity in psychology in recent years, in part as a result of dissatisfaction with quantitative methods among sections of the psychological community.” (Langdridge, 2007) One such family of qualitative research approaches that have seen an increase in popularity are the methods and methodology surrounding phenomenological psychology.

Phenomenology’s epistemological position stems from the observation that “consciousness is always consciousness of something”(Cogan, 2012) and within that context “phenomenology is the study of human experience and the way in which things are perceived as they appear to human consciousness” (Langdridge, 2007, p. 10) Within phenomenological investigation the lifeworld (Lebenswelt) is the concrete lived experience of a person – the ‘real world’ as experienced by ones consciousness. Individuals may very easily glean completely different meanings from the same object of consciousness (whatever that object may be) because their subjective experience of the object of consciousness can be radically different, due to differing worldviews: philosophies, hopes, wants and beliefs. There are however “a number of existential givens of the lifeworld (e.g., selfhood, embodiment, temporality, spatiality)” (Langdridge, 2007, p. 55) and these givens of the lifeworld ensure significant concordance of existential experience across human subjects.

A phenomenological reduction involves ‘epoché’ – the bracketing off, or putting aside of one’s presumptions and preconceptions about the experience that is under investigation in the reduction. This “establishes the “phenomenological attitude or perspective from which experience is to be taken” (Ihde, 2007, p. 29). According to (Langdridge, 2007, p. 15 & 86) noema, that which is experienced and noesis, the way in which it is experienced become the focus of attention in the reduction. The reduction builds upon the start made by epoché, by providing a detailed description of the things (objects of consciousness) as they appear to consciousness itself.

Following epoché, one can then begin categorization and value giving in order to identify meaning from the reduction. This categorisation of the meaning of the experience described in the reduction can then be used in critical analysis, evaluation and interpretation of another’s lived experiences, such as those reported by a research participant for instance. A researchers interpretation of a participants lived experience is then subjected to rigorous verification by returning to the participant report to check the validity and sense of the researchers interpretation. Finally the detailed description of the experience under investigation is written up.

“If we believe in the real world then we need to employ a scientific epistemology (where we are “objective, detached and value free”) in order to discover truths about the world” “A phenomenological paradigm would, by contrast, have an epistemological focus on experience or narrative (rather than the real knowable world) and so require ways of capturing this that are subjective and involved” (Langdridge, 2007, p. 4).

To make clear the division between a phenomenological philosophical practice and the phenomenological research approach adopted in this research investigation; a phenomenological philosophical practice is a series of questions that interrogate the conceptual, and which lead to creative conceptual output along a line of argumentative enquiry. This is a practice of philosophy. By contrast, a phenomenological research approach is a structured approach to an enquiry located outside the philosophical realm, which provides structure to that enquiry in response to the phenomenological philosophical enquiry, but which does not constitute a phenomenological philosophical enquiry in itself. This is a practice of methodological research, and does not need to slavishly follow the original philosophical enquiry, but rather is informed by it. The methods chosen for use during this investigation are firmly situated in, and informed by a methodological framework, which has Grounded Theory and Phenomenology at its centre.

3.4 A Comparative Analysis

To progress this investigation it was thought helpful to develop a deeper understanding of the context within which interactions between a human and the Articulated Head were taking place. The setting up of this context will first involve the selection of key concepts upon which to advance the investigation, by considering how interaction with a robot differs from interaction with another human being.

Human . human compared to human . robot communication Communications that appeared to take place between the Articulated Head and a human interacting with it were a central feature of this human . machine interaction. The word communication and a few other key terms will be considered in more detail as discussion in this section proceeds.

3.4.1 Communication Theory

A mathematical theory of communication (Shannon & Weaver, 1948, p. 380), presents a simple general communication system showing transmission of a message from sender to receiver. Many people subscribe to the view that communication is simply the transfer of messages between a sender and a receiver, where the receiver subsequently uses the information sent. That is, on this view, communication can be said to have taken place irrespective of whether the sender is aware of the receiver’s identity, and in most cases without a mechanism to check that the received message matches the intention of the sender.

Communication theory has various perspectives on the communication of information. The mechanistic perspective on communication would say that information is simply passed from a sender to a receiver; where as other perspectives highlight the causes and effects of communications, not just the mechanism of information flow. From a psychologist’s perspective what might be interesting is the emotion a sender may be trying to impart to a receiver, this perspective might also find it interesting to know how a receiver interprets and acts in relation to this information. A sociological perspective would focus on how we communicate and how this initiates, promotes or evokes further communication, whereas the systemic perspective points to all communications being new, generated in the process of individual interpretation of previous information received. A critical perspective might propose that communication is simply the means by which a living entity conveys status and standing within the community and environment within which it exists.

Whichever perspective one subscribes to, information exchange, the examination and consideration of the causes and effects of the information transmitted or received are significant to this study and as such, this concept forms a core ingredient of the discourse and will be re-visited many times throughout this document.

3.4.2 The Universal Law of Communication

According to (Pillai, 2011, p. 58) S. F. Scudder (1900) posited The Universal Law of Communication that states; “all living entities communicate”. Everything living communicates as part of the rich interplay of concerns that can be glossed as “survival”.

Given the above stated Universal Law of Communication, it is important to note here that the virtual performer, the Articulated Head, was not a living entity and therefore did not communicate as such. However the Articulated Head did act as a carrier of information, a conduit for information exchange. The Articulated Head could be given agency with regard to the depositing and release of information between living entities through the use of programming, sensors, transducers, memory and storage.

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