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  • Writer's pictureDarren Woodland

Hybrid Methodologies in the Intersection of Sound, Space, and Identity

Updated: May 18, 2023


In previous posts, the methodologies of Arts-based research, Practice-based Research, and Experimentalism were outlined. In this blog post, we will explore the potential of combining ABR, PBR, and Experimentalism as a hybrid methodology to undertake research in the domain of generative narratives and immersive experiences through sound and identity. By integrating theoretical frameworks and conceptual approaches, we aim to shed light on the interplay between sound, movement, interaction, and performance to deepen our understanding of the perception and formation of identity within spaces and actor-agents.

Understanding the Methodologies:

Arts-Based Research (ABR):

ABR, with its emphasis on experiential and sensory dimensions, serves as a foundation for exploring the interrelationship of sound, space, and identity. Through artistic practices such as dance, music, and visual arts, ABR allows researchers to delve into the nuances and complexities of human experiences. It fosters participatory and collaborative engagement between researchers and participants, offering unique insights through the creation of artistic artifacts and the documentation of reflective narratives.

Practice-Based Research (PBR):

PBR places creative practices at the forefront of the research process. By integrating artistic production and critical analysis, PLR allows researchers to generate new knowledge through the creation of artifacts and their subsequent examination. In the context of this research, PBR facilitates the exploration of movement, interaction, and performance in dance, leveraging improvisational feedback loops and generative sounds as the core elements for investigation. Critical reflection and documentation ensure the rigor and academic contribution of the research outcomes.


Experimentalism embraces an iterative and exploratory approach, encouraging risk-taking and innovation. In the context of this research, Experimentalism allows for the development of novel methodologies and techniques to understand the relationships between sound, space, and identity. By engaging in interdisciplinary collaborations and employing emerging technologies, Experimentalism enables researchers to create interactive installations and immersive experiences that provide new insights into generative narratives and their impact on the perception of spaces and actor-agents.

Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks:

To support the research endeavors, a range of theoretical and conceptual frameworks can be drawn upon:

  • Phenomenology, which emphasizes subjective experiences and lived realities, allows researchers to explore the embodied dimensions of sound, movement, and interaction within the research context.

  • Actor-Network Theory sheds light on the interdependencies and entanglements between people, objects, and systems, offering insights into the dynamic relationships that shape the identity of spaces and actor-agents.

  • Embodied Cognition Theory highlights the cognitive processes that are intricately linked to the body and movement, providing a lens to understand the perceptual and cognitive aspects of the research subject.

  • Acoustic Ecology and Psychoacoustics contribute to the exploration of the sonic dimensions and the environmental context in which sound operates, enriching our understanding of how sound shapes the perception of space and identity.

  • Performativity Theory sheds light on how the performative aspects of sound, movement, and interaction contribute to the construction and negotiation of identity within the artistic performance piece and the interactive installation.

Exploring Additional Frameworks:

In addition to the previously discussed theoretical frameworks, this research delves into other frameworks that contribute to the understanding of the interplay between sound, space, and identity. By drawing upon these frameworks, our researchers can garner deeper insights and generate more nuanced interpretations. Some of the additional frameworks being considered:

  • Semiotics - Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their interpretation. It explores how meanings are generated and communicated through various sign systems, including language, visual signs, and auditory cues. In the context of this research, semiotics can aid in analyzing how sound functions as a signifier of identity and how spatial elements convey symbolic meaning.

  • Sonic Interaction Design (SID) - Sonic Interaction Design focuses on the design of interactive systems that involve sound as a medium for communication and engagement. It explores the role of sound in shaping user experiences and interactions within digital and physical environments. In the context of this research, SID can offer insights into designing sonic interactions within the interactive installation and exploring the affordances and constraints of sound-based interfaces.

  • Ludonarrative and Interactive Narratology - Ludonarratives and interactive narratology refer to the intersection of gameplay and storytelling in interactive media, such as games. It explores how narrative elements and gameplay mechanics intertwine to create immersive experiences. In the context of the research, it can assist in examining how the narrative is being shaped through sonic interactions and how the co-creation between storytellers, players, and the constructed world is interpreted and influenced by sound and space.

  • Emergent Narrative - Emergent Narrative refers to the narrative experiences that emerge spontaneously through player or participant interactions within open-ended or generative systems. It explores how narratives can emerge from dynamic and evolving interactions rather than being pre-determined or scripted. In the context of this research, the concept of emergent narrative can inform the design and evaluation of the interactive installation, considering how participant interactions generate unique narrative experiences.

These frameworks provide lenses through which to analyze and interpret the research outcomes, potentially enriching our insights and contributing to the broader understanding of the research subject matter.

Pseudo-Research Plan Outline:

1. Literature Review:

  • Conduct an extensive review of literature on generative narrative, interactive installation and experiences, sound and digital signal processing (DSP), dance construction, and space/place construction.

  • Examine existing studies on the interplay between sound, movement, and identity in dance and performance contexts, as well as other interactive media case studies.

  • Analyze research on improvisation, performance, co-creation, and imagination and the role of sound in shaping the perception of spaces and actor-agents.

  • Investigate feedback loops and their use cases in media, games, and HCI.

2. Methodological Framework:

  • Develop a hybrid methodology that integrates aspects of ABR, PBR, and Experimentalism.

  • Design research activities that foster co-creative and multiuser experiences allowing for participation among researchers, dancers, and participants.

  • Investigate, design, and employ common data-gathering and reflection methods from ABR, PBR, and Experimentalism.

  • Define the ethical considerations and protocols for engaging with participants within the research process.

3. Performance Installation


  • Design and develop dance performance that incorporates generative sounds and improvisational feedback loops.

  • Assist in the development of dance choreography.

  • Experiment with different soundscapes, movements, and interactive technologies to explore the impact on the perception of space and identity among actor-agents.

  • Document the creative process and engage in reflective practices to capture insights and discoveries.


  • Create an immersive installation that allows participants to engage with sound, gesture, and interaction within a generative narrative context.

  • Iteratively refine the installation based on user feedback and observations.

  • Blend the dance performance and interactive installation into a single cohesive narrative framework.

  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the impact of participants' experiences on the understanding of the identity of spaces as actor-agents.

4. Data Analysis and Findings:

  • Analyze the collected data to identify patterns, themes, and insights related to the research problem.

  • Interpret the findings in light of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks.

  • Articulate the novel principles and knowledge generated through the research process.

5. Dissertation + Dissemination:

  • Write up insights and findings from the research as well as the broader research journey in a dissertation.

  • Share the research outcomes through academic publications, conference presentations, and public exhibitions.

  • Engage in dialogue with the artistic and research communities to foster further exploration and application of the findings.

  • Reflect on the limitations and future directions for advancing research in the intersection of sound, space, and identity.

Problem-solving and Potential Implications:

The research to be conducted on the interplay between sound, space, and identity holds significant implications for the fields of art, design, and digital media. By addressing the problem of understanding how these elements interact and influence one another, this research opens doors to novel insights and potential solutions in several areas.

Designing Immersive and Interactive Experiences:

The findings from this research can inform the design and development of immersive and interactive experiences that engage participants on a deeper level. By exploring how sound, movement, and interaction shape the perception of spaces, researchers and designers can create more engaging and transformative experiences in various domains such as interactive installations, virtual reality, augmented reality, and gaming.

Enhancing Narratives and Storytelling:

Understanding the role of sound in narrative construction and the formation of identity within generative narratives has implications for storytelling across different media. The research findings can contribute to the development of new narrative techniques and frameworks that utilize sound as a powerful tool for immersive storytelling. By integrating sound design, movement, and interaction, narratives can become more dynamic, participatory, and emotionally impactful, enhancing the audience's engagement and fostering a deeper connection with the story being discovered.

Shaping Architectural and Spatial Design:

Exploring the influence of sound on the perception of space and identity has implications for architectural and spatial design. By gaining insights into how sound interacts with spatial elements and influences human experiences, designers can create more holistic and immersive environments. This research can contribute to the development of soundscaping techniques and methodologies that enhance the ambiance, functionality, and emotional impact of architectural spaces, including public spaces, performance venues, museums, and immersive installations.

Informing Human-Computer Interaction:

The research on the interplay of sound, movement, and interaction has implications for human-computer interaction (HCI). By understanding how participants engage with generative narratives and interactive installations, researchers can contribute to the design of more intuitive and engaging interfaces and systems. The insights gained from this research can inform the development of novel interaction techniques that leverage sound, gesture, and movement as means of communication and interaction, leading to more immersive and inclusive digital experiences.

Fostering Multidisciplinary Collaboration:

The exploration of sound, space, and identity within generative narratives calls for collaboration among artists, designers, technologists, psychologists, and sociologists. By bringing together professionals from diverse disciplines, this research creates opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations that can spark innovation, knowledge exchange, and the development of new methodologies. These collaborations have the potential to enrich research practices, enhance creative outputs, and tackle complex societal challenges through the fusion of art, design, and technology.

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