The Art of Observation

Observation is defined as being the active acquisition of information from a primary source. By doing it, it allows the un-noticed to be seen. Observing people can allow a researcher gain a feel for how people behave and act in different environments. The power of observation of a space before creating an interactive installation should be hugely beneficial to get an understanding on how people react or don’t react to things.

Shadowing involves making choices: not just who to follow, but also when and how to be actively involved when you get there. You also need to think beforehand what you are looking for and the way or method you are going to use to record this information to be analysed later on.

As part of this weeks seminar, we undertook an observation task in the space in which our interactive installations will be put on display. The observation lasted for a total of 10 minutes, from 11:55am – 12:05pm. We looked to see how many people passed through this particular space and how many different activities occurred.

Below is the results that I got:

1. People Walking Through (73)
2. Sitting on Chairs (22)
3. Working on a Laptop (7)
4. Queuing at Costa Coffee (17)
5. Socialising (24)

– 73 people just walked through from either the lifts or stairs straight to the automatic doors leading out of the building.

– Around 24 people spent up to 10 minutes in the space, either getting a drink or waiting for people they know to arrive.

The people who spent longer in the space were able to take in much more information presented on the screens around the room to pass the time, such as when they were stood in a queue. This shows that correct positioning of the interaction will be a key aspect so that the maximum amount of people can have a chance to decide if they want to engage with it or not.


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