Interrotron Style Direct Gaze and Neurocognition
Recent quantitative studies in the areas of neurocognition reveal deep-seated connections between eye-to-eye communication, and brain activity: 4-month-old human infants prefer to look at faces that engage them in mutual gaze. Neuroscientists have documented marked increases in their brain electric activity when interactions are accompanied by direct gaze (Farroni et al., 2002).
Likewise, a 2011 study proposed that a live face with a direct gaze is processed more intensely than a face with averted gaze or closed eyes, as the direct gaze is capable of intensifying the feeling of being the target of the other’s interest and intentions. “Direct gaze elicited greater face-sensitive N170 amplitudes and early posterior negativity potentials than averted gaze or closed eyes, but only in the live condition,” (Pönkänen et al. 2011).
Interrotron Direct Address Issues
With direct-address video and film interview proliferating, fundamental questions about the nature of encounters it facilitates remain unaddressed. The nature and scope of this design investigation seeks establish and define a more formal investigative process of the technique. By employing techniques of participatory design research with in a series of direct address interviews I hope to generate insightful responses and reflections about the nature of direct-address based interviewing:
- What does it feel like to be the subject of a direct address video interview?
- Does the machine promote a more balanced, more level, perhaps more egalitarian encounter?
- Do slight variations in hardware orientation facilitate or hinder this leveling?
- Does it enable insights and connections for the interviewing participants that are hitherto unavailable using conventional face-to-face techniques?
- Does the artifice of the Interrotron allow conversant subjects to leverage the confrontational quotient of their conversation without alienating the other?
- Likewise, can the device leverage improved listening memory and empathy?
- What would subjects, given public access to such a device make with it?
- Is the direct-address appropriate for all video recorded situations?