Why Interaction Design
needs a Felt Time Repertoire
A transdisciplinary research creation by Elsa Kosmack Vaara, Cheryl Akner Koler and Sebastien Boudet.
Defining interaction design can no longer be confined to measuring efficiency and effectiveness, but should also entail creating human experiences of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Time has occupied a central focus of curiosity and attention among researchers across all the arts (e.g. Lorenz 2015; The 1st PARSE Biennial Research Conference on TIME] and in philosophy [e.g. Bergson 2001, Langer 1953). But interaction designers often pay little attention to the fact that interactive experiences are shaped through time.
In general, when we think of time in the Western world it is the clock that drives our conceptions. We tend to think of watches, schedules and calendar systems that control and coordinate our activities (Landes 1983, Nowotny 1994, Mazé 2007). The Western tick tock of the clock however, easily makes us feel as if time experiences are “circumscribed” (Mazmanian et al 2015) or measurable units that can easily be replaced and rescheduled regardless of the subjective nature of human emotions, thoughts and activities. Metric units of time are continuously being designed into our temporal conceptualizations. These units mask the emotional intensities of lived temporality - i.e. that work, love and play at 7am on a Sunday morning may be a completely different experience than at 7pm on a Tuesday evening.
The research presented here explores ways to prototype felt time experiences through sourdough baking. This entails sensitively approaching time outside the constraints of clock-time and expanding designers’ understanding of how to prototype a felt time repertoire. We connect felt time to Susanne Langer’s explanation of felt imagery of time, that is an imagery outside clock-time. Langer describes how time is perceived through music, where every kind of tension and every qualitative content can be perceived through the sounding forms (Langer 1953). Also, in psychology, Marc Wittmann recently pointed to ongoing studies of time consciousness and lived time showing how bodily processes, especially the heartbeat, underlie our feeling of time and act as an internal clock for our sense of time (Wittmann 2014).
We do not try to fit sourdough baking into design theory, but aim to show that involvement in sourdough baking makes it possible to develop ways to shape, prototype and engage in felt time experiences. We create respectful activities which do not separate theoretical from practical tasks and work to engage in “thoughtful practice” (Heldke 2006).