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Dr. Chris Hales


University of East London




access, inclusion, higher education, university, inclusive design

Thesis Title



This thesis is offered as an original and substantial contribution to the field(s) of knowledge in Digital Media and Artistic/Cultural Studies, focusing on the specific genre of ‘artist moving image’ work in the interactive domain. The practice-based research builds upon over a decade’s personal art practice using digital technology to design and deliver 'interactive movies' to audiences, combined with a survey of primary and secondary literature. It derives from a body of practice-based research and production experimentation that was written up for purposes of this PhD submission in the five years of my PhD registration. The body of work submitted in practical format is comprised of a suite of 15 interactive movies, presented on DVDROM, offered in partial fulfilment of the degree. This work was created and tested as part of the research process towards the degree, and has been consistently informed by reference not only to the contexts in which it was made and shared in public venues, but also by analysis and feedback from the audiences for whom it was created.

The intended outcome of this research - both the practical work and the contextual dissertation written about it - is to inform new and productive fields of practice within the format of interactive film and video made from 'live-action' scenes. This work is not only relevant to artistic practice, but also to the fields of fictional narrative and information based, non-fictional content creation. The dissertation makes significant reference to numerous texts written by myself during the course of the research. These texts (totaling roughly 60,000 words) have been published in various relevant journals and books, and are presented here as background materials, in the appendices to the thesis. These appendices inform all sections of the research, but are particularly relevant to the historical and contextual surveys. The dissertation itself forms an entirely new piece of critical writing.
The core of the thesis as submitted is the practical work, which represents working versions of 15 of my interactive movies, as well as detailed video documentation of in-situ installations and specific audience interaction with the films. Three main areas of innovation are detailed in the research: the first deals with the issue of ‘movie as interface’, the second deals with the combination of interactivity with algorithmically controlled multiscreen display, and the third demonstrates novel ideas for designing interactive films for a large audience in the context of 'live' performance. The conclusions to the research have been derived from detailed analysis and practical investigation of the processes and cultural 'products' created. The research seeks to offer future film-makers and scholars a set of innovative ideas translated into audience experiences, along with the framework of their practical application to a dataset of self-made video sequences, and the analysis of audience reaction and the emergent meaning generated thereupon. The original and substantial contribution to the field of knowledge is a new theory of ‘live action’ interactivity based upon an aesthetic and critical framework, outlined herein.



Christopher Hales studied PhD research on Interactive Film Art at the RCA Film and TV Department, and taught as Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Art of the University of the West of England [Bristol] until 2001. His interactive films and CD-ROMs have been shown to date at film/ new media festivals in Sheffield, Perth, Melbourne, FCMM Montreal, Oberhausen, Hong Kong, Helsinki, Rotterdam, Berlin, and others. His "Interactive Cinema" installation showing selections of interactive movies has been shown in Japan, Germany, Holland, Canada, Denmark, London and South Korea.

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