Fostering ambiguity: Decontextualizing and repurposing a familiar public display

Clinton Jorge, Julian Hanna, Valentina Nisi, Nuno Nunes, Miguel Caldeira, Giovanni Innella

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Innovations in HCI tend to rely on exploring new technologies and novel forms of interaction. For decades artists such as Jenny Holzer have sought to provoke the public with art installations by repurposing public displays and exploring ambiguous messaging. Gaver argues that ambiguity can be intriguing, mysterious, and delightful, something that engages users and allows them to explore, discover, and interpret situations for themselves. In this paper we describe MStoryG, a public digital art installation that employs a decontextualized and repurposed airport split-flap display to support collaborative storytelling. In order to explore whether ambiguity attracts the glances of passersby and through curiosity invites interaction we devised a high fidelity software prototype that facilitated rapid deployment of experiments at two different locations. In addition to evaluating user engagement with the installation we define guidelines for others seeking to repurpose familiar objects in order to attract and engage passersby. Copyright © 2013 ACM.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHItaly '13 Proceedings of the Biannual Conference of the Italian Chapter of SIGCHI
Place of PublicationNew York
PagesArticle 23
ISBN (Print)9781450320610
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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