Unplanned encounters: Distance research as epideictic experience architecture
We develop our idea of "distance research" alongside Moretti's "distance reading." Rather than being a reflective activity, though, we propose this as an epideictic experience. We create this experience through engaging "experience architecture" (XA), which helps create rhetorical spaces. Our project pushes XA into new territories by engaging the epideictic rather than just the forensic or deliberative aspects of rhetoric. Our born-digital aspect will demonstrate possiblities of this architecture.
For our presentation, we will engage the field of Experience Architecture (XA), which employs notions of usability, user experience, interaction, and information architecture as ways to create singular experiences for individuals. Rhetorically speaking, we see that XA tends to focus on two types of rhetoric: forensic and deliberative. Forensic architectures, for instance, may establish historical context through an interactive timeline in a museum. Deliberative architectures may guide purchasing decisions, such as in an Apple store where the architecture suggests different computer offerings.
What is lacking is XA that engages in epideictic rhetoric. Following Lawrence Rosenfield, we mean rhetoric that engages a sense of being in the moment. In particular, this type of experience architecture could aid in invention. The artist group rAndom International’s Rain Room is one possibility of this architecture. The installation allowed participants to walk through “rain” without ever getting wet, an interaction created through an assemblage of sensors, participants, and physical space so that rain fell around participants, not on them. This allowed people to experience the “everyday” perception of rain in new ways that might lead to inventional moments.
Accompanying our presentation, a born-digital project will show how this use of epideictic XA can engage invention. Following Franco Moretti, this project will demonstrate a sort of “distance research.” While Moretti’s distance reading allowed him to reflect on a corpus of literature, we hope our distance research will allow one to become immersed in a stream of potential ideas. Unchained from the full context, this stream does not allow for any sort of forensic or deliberative rhetoric. However, it does allow the researcher to encounter ideas in a suggestive, affective way. This demonstration will show how epideictic experience architecture creates new value for XA in technical communication.