MAPLAB is a research environment: our main focus to unravel and provide insight into creative making processes (rather than to produce art, or research artistic products). All our research has to be related to and conducted from practice. In addition it should reflect on and be applicable in further (research) practice. All theories, models, methods and tools have to be usable and used in education and result into didactic strategies.
“Learning by doing, making by playing,
sharing by performing.”
With the modular approach to space, tools and diversity of interdisciplinary making processes MAPLAB provides outstanding conditions to research, design and develop at the intersection of the performing arts, media and interaction. MAPLAB collaborates with the media-collective Z25.org foundation and HKU Sonic Interaction Lab (in formation) in the research and development of tools and applications. Please click here for the in depth vision article on research context by Joris Weijdom.
MAPLAB distinguishes four domains in research:
- creative processes in performative context
- technology and interfaces
- mixed reality experiences
- didactics (in relation to the other three domains)
1. creative processes in performative context
Together with the HKU Research Centre Performative Processes (RECPEP), MAPLAB researches creative processes in performative contexts. That is: processes where artists, designers and/or developers co-create real-time experiences, executed by performers and/or participants that are physically present. These experiences can be both experienced through participation and perceived by an audience. Whereby feedback from these different experiential perspectives are used for the next iteration of development.
In the co-creative making processes, which the MAPLAB facilitates, four key aspects are always present: interdisciplinarity, interaction, interfacing technology and interchange. When working with multiple disciplines, there are many ways to combine, interconnect, cross over and challenge these disciplines. Especially when a variety of different media and technologies is involved.
Research questions in this domain are e.g:
- what are the different methods of co-creation?
- What is the relation between group structure and dynamics and the progress of the creative making process.
HKU Research Centre Performative Processes (RECPEP) researches and publishes on the ‘theory of making’, while MAPLAB provides the experiential research conditions and environment.
2. technology and interfaces
MAPLAB knows a great variety of users, processes and aims. Therefore it is essential that the technology, space and infrastructure are designed to comply to very specific requirements. For technology to be part of a creative process where ideas and solutions are found and developed while creating, it needs to be:
- accessible and easy
- multimedial and modular
- immediate and active
- flexible and customizable
Furthermore, MAPLAB considers the technology part of the research and in that sense does not want to develop ready made solutions. The technical environment of hard- and software MAPLAB developed to facilitate this research is the so-called Performance Engine.
MAPLAB defined specific research & development themes/lines that are elaborated on the r&d page.
3. mixed reality
There is an increasing dominance of technology in our lives. We switch effortlessly between reality and virtual realities, in which we communicate with each other and exchange information that may or may not be true reflections of reality. In the Mixed Reality program we investigate the boundaries between real and virtual space. We look into possibilities and forms to merge real and virtual environments and everything in between.
MAPLAB has technology at its disposal that can be used to establish the perception of blending realities. We research such technology (as virtual reality glasses, motion controllers, etc) and develop specific tools (for example the Performance Engine) to enable the application in creative making processes and the reporting of these processes. In combination with our expertise in the field of performance we can realize so-called Mixed Reality experiences: ‘experiential sketches’ made with the technology, are rapidly adjustable during the process, and lead to spatially and physically experienceable results. These results can be instantly tested with/on the target group, can be real time shared and discussed with the co-creators and analyzed by researchers.
The didactic strategies MAPLAB develops in relation to the other research domains, are based on the following principles:
- Learning by exploring
- (Learning to) research by testing
- Learning to reflect by sharing experiences
An introduction and exploration of MAPLAB is integral part of the project-based education in the BA and MA curriculum at the HKU. We also train lecturers in art education on our practice-based lab research and the use of interactive technology. Herein we work together with the HKU Expertise Centrum Education. Practitioners in the field can come to MAPLAB for supplementary training.