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Creating Assemblies in Public Environments: Social Interaction, Interactive Exhibits and CSCW


This paper examines the use of a series of three low tech interactive assemblies that have been exhibited by the authors in a range of fairs, expositions and galleries. The paper does not present novel technical developments, but rather uses the low tech assemblies to help scope out the design space for CSCW in museums and galleries and to investigate the ways in which people collaboratively encounter and explore technological exhibits in museums and galleries. The bulk of the paper focuses on the analysis of the use of one interactive installation that was exhibited at the Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) Exposition in Chicago, USA. The study uses audio–visual recordings of interaction with and around the work to consider how people, in and through their interaction with others, make sense of an assembly of traditional objects and video technologies. The analysis focuses on the organised practices of ‘assembly’ and how ‘assembling’ the relationship between different parts of the work is interactionally accomplished. The analysis is then used to develop a series of ‘design sensitivities’ to inform the development of technological assemblies to engender informal interaction and sociability in museums and galleries.

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Correspondence to Jon Hindmarsh.

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Hindmarsh, J., Heath, C., Vom Lehn, D. et al. Creating Assemblies in Public Environments: Social Interaction, Interactive Exhibits and CSCW. Comput Supported Coop Work 14, 1–41 (2005).

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  • art
  • assemblies
  • design sensitivities
  • ethnography
  • interactive exhibits
  • museums
  • social interaction
  • video