Paying attention to a rhythm involves processes of pattern recognition and, depending on what we perceive, these processes can make an experience frustrating, delightful and everything in between. Attention can be played with. It can be focused, drawn in, sculpted and shaped during creative practice. In the moments of attending, our attention might be focused or unfocused, conscious or unconscious, pulled or pushed. We can attend to rhythms in many different ways and each will give a particular quality and colour to our experience. This diversity is something that we can use creatively within our interaction designs. In order to explore the process of sculpting attention, this chapter now focuses on two psychological models of paying attention. The first will help you to understand the relationship between attention and rhythmic structure. The second will help you to understand the relationship between attention and the pleasures of rhythmic experience. We will synthesise the lessons from each model and develop categories to describe some of the processes of playful attending that can be evoked in interaction design. We begin with interactive artist and designer George Khut whose biorhythm artworks interact with his participant’s heartbeats or brainwaves. Audio-visual representations of these biorhythms are then fed back to participants to create a quality of slow, quiet, reflective attention. Khut’s research often involves collaborations with doctors and hospitals, and during this research his artworks have been used as tools for helping to reduce pain and anxiety. Working in this way has given him a fine-tuned appreciation of the many different qualities of human attention. It has also produced design strategies for evoking specific modes of attending during interactive experiences.
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