Week 8: hooks and interactive trajectories

Dr Charles Martin

Semester 2, 2020

art theory: hooks

What is a hook?

How can an artwork hook a viewer?

How can we map out an experience as a trajectory?

How do we do this in p5?


Isn’t that something for catching fish?

Isn’t that part of a song?

How can it be part of an artwork?

How can it be part of an interactive system?

Is this evil?

how we get hooked

Nir Eyal



trigger: addressing the viewer directly

James Montgomery Flagg

I Want You



a trigger hails somebody.

the philosopher Louis Althusser referred to this as the act of “interpellation”

today we are hailed by alerts: vibrations, sounds, messages, push notifications and the dreaded red circle

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

How do you hail the viewer?

Don’t assume a viewer wants to interact!

Your job is to grab their attention.

(Hopefully without being too annoying…)


Nir Eyal



What action do you want the viewer to perform?

And how are they supposed to know what to do?

This relates to affordances: the action possibilities!


Nir Eyal



What is the reward for your viewer?

Advertising promises us that it can deliver on our needs as consumers.

According to motivation psychologists, we are all motivated by the need for one (or more) of:

  • power
  • achievement
  • affiliation
  • intimacy

source: three needs (David McClelland) + intimacy (from Dan McAdams)

need for power

need for achievement

need for affiliation

need for intimacy


Nir Eyal



Marina Abramovic

The Artist is Present


3 month performance, Museum of Modern Art NY

have you been hooked?

How do we do this in p5?

What are your affordances? (hails)

What are the actions?

What are your rewards?

What will the user invest in your artwork?

This is a different way of framing interaction than we discussed in week 5!

Is it a more evil way? 😈

art theory: iteration and evolution

Let’s talk again about iteration

But more about how it can be encoded within an artwork.

iteration and art

iteration is building upon ideas through trial and error

a valuable process when you’re stuck with your ideas!

but there are ways to encode this within an artwork itself…

and even ways to make iteration interactive and part of the viewer’s experience!

Let’s look at an example of Tony Curran’s work Hot Attention Machines (2019)

inspired by pixels


pixels images taken from google


developing a project

Tony Curran (b. 1984)

Attention Machines


oil on linen

Tony Curran (b. 1984)

Hot Attention Machines


Screen print on BFK Rives at Megalo Print Studio, Canberra

Tony Curran (b. 1984)

Pixels in twelve #2


oil on linen

Using evolution and interaction together

Can an interactive artwork evolve itself?

Check out: PicBreeder

William Latham et al.

Mutator VR


interactive evolutionary artwork in VR link

Mutator VR

further reading/watching

Nir Eyal Hook Model


Nature of Code: Evolution of Code

Dan Shiffman: Genetic Algorithms

Evolutionary Art and Computers