The Journal of Sonic Studies
Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Daniel Hug; Moritz Kemper: FROM FOLEY TO FUNCTION: A PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH TO SOUND DESIGN FOR NOVEL INTERACTIONS

To refer to this article use this url: http://journal.sonicstudies.org/vol06/nr01/a03

Conclusion: A Sound Approach to Sonic Interaction Pedagogics.

In this article, we have described our approach to sound design education in the context of interaction design. We are motivated by the recognition that we are currently in a phase where important decisions are made in terms of how our world may sound in the future and that our interaction design students will be part of this process of standard-setting postulations.

We have described our understanding of the challenges associated with designing sounds for interactions in addition to the educational challenges related to interaction design specifically. Based on this analysis, we have proposed a pedagogical framework that builds on theoretical background from literature as well as previous experiences with teaching sound design to interaction design students. The framework emphasizes the role of sound as equivalent material for designing interactions rather than using it in a purely functional way. This stands in opposition to the tendency to use sound rather than designing sound.

The method fundamentally builds on an improvisational and dialogical process, enabled by performative, easy-to-use, low-tech tools and a design process that allows for ad-hoc ideation and exploration. Up to the final stage, where a functional prototype is implemented, the technological system is replaced by a “Wizard-of-Oz” mockup, which affords ongoing dialogue and flexibility.

We reflect and discuss the method through the analysis of three design cases that illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed framework. Based on this analysis of the cases, we could make several recommendations both for sound design in general and in direct connection to the stages of the proposed design process. In particular, we emphasize the need to counter the tendency toward scripting interaction sequences early on by emphasizing an open dialogical exploration through ad-hoc improvisation, which also stays open to changes in aesthetic directions. Also, we point out the need to appreciate quick’n’dirty low-tech solutions to avoid a technical bias and the resulting impact on aesthetic and conceptual decisions. But we also demonstrate that these methods need to be practiced and implemented correctly in order to prevent that students resort to reductionist approaches.

To exhaust the full potential of the method it is necessary that the authors of the design, acting as sound making “wizards”, understand themselves as a “generative, rule based system” confronting the spontaneous behaviors of users of the mockups. This way, we have a good chance of realizing a truly sound approach to sonic interaction pedagogics and to systematically explore “possible futures” in an area where “best practice” is virtually inexistent.