Saving Face: Playful Design for Social Engagement, in Public Smart City Spaces

  • Karen LancelEmail author
  • Hermen Maat
  • Frances Brazier
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering book series (LNICST, volume 265)


Can social engagement and reflection be designed through social touch in today’s smart city’s public spaces? This paper explores ludic, playful design for shared engagement and reflection in public spaces through social touch. In two Artistic Social Labs (ASL), internationally presented in public spaces, a radically unfamiliar sensory synthesis is acquired, for which perception of ‘who sees and who is being seen, who touches and who is being touched’ is disrupted. Participants playfully ‘touch themselves and feel being touched, to connect with others on a screen’. On the basis of the findings in the ASLs, guidelines are proposed for orchestrating social engagement and reflection, through social touch as play.


Social engagement Digital art in city spaces Playful social touch 



Saving Face (2012) was developed by artists-scientists duo Lancel/Maat (Karen Lancel, Hermen Maat) as an art work, artistic research and case study ( It was generously supported by Media Fund, Mondriaan Fonds, Festival aan de Werf Utrecht, MediaFonds@Sandberg, Cultural Consulate Beijing, BCAF Beijing, Beam Systems Amsterdam, Dutch Embassy Berlin, SICA NLTR 400 and technically developed in collaboration with Sylvain Vriens, Tim Olden, Matthijs ten Berge, Mart van Bree, Beamsystems, using Jason Saragih’s open source Facetracker library.


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Copyright information

© ICST Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Artists duo Lancel/MaatAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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