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Artist brings user interaction to life

Popular installation artist Anna Scalfi has been recruited by FBK’s computational
cognitive laboratory in Trento to stimulate creative interest in Netcarity’s
groundbreaking work on user involvement in the design of AAL technologies.

FBK is working on novel ways for older people to interact with technology. It has a substantial collection of memorabilia, drawings, artefacts and furniture brought by Trento residents to consultations about their relationship with technology and their
homes.

“We’ve generated a valuable archive of personal material,” says Fabio Pianesi, who is collaborating with Scalfi to document how users are integrated into the technology development process.

Rather than a traditional exhibition, FBK invited Scalfi to use her artistic vision to communicate the project in innovative ways to future users and the wider public.

“We are using art to develop technology in a different way. This project helps us to look at what people value and what they consider to be their basic needs – then we can develop technologies which interact with these values and meet these
needs,” Pianesi says.

By viewing the technology development process from the perspective of human encounters, scientists are trying to understand the sociological impact of technology on people’s lives. The project is helping the user and developer to
understand each other better.

“By using an artistic process, we are able to explain what we are doing in a much more valuable and creative way than just presenting a paper at a conference,” Pianesi says.

About Anna Scalfi

Scalfi is a creative choice of collaborator to deliver Netcarity’s messages about the involvement of users in the design of technology. A prolific and multidisciplinary installation artist who combines sociology, art and finance, Scalfi combines everyday objects with contemporary political and social issues to deliver powerful insights.

Her 2008 installation of working washing machines on a Trento square gave residents the opportunity to wash their dirty linen along the line of an old canal where women used to wash by hand.

‘Money will save the world’ was Scalfi’s creation of snack vending machines selling bundles of bank notes from the world’s poorest countries in exchange for small change in Euros.

And in ‘Welcome to Italy’, she cut strips off national flags in proportion to the percentage of women elected to that country’s national parliament.