Interaction criticism in action

Yesterday a friend sent me this link, and today Erik posted it to the HCI listserve as an example “worth reflection and critique”:

http://www.infinityart.ro/

I think this site is a great artifact to which we can apply the critical approaches we have been learning in class. Using a phenomenological lens, my first thought is that this is an extreme case of intentionally designing breakdown into an interaction, something that Royer posted about a while back. When navigating most websites, a user is typically engaged in an information seeking activity, clicking on links to reveal text that they are interested in. This activity is part of the horizons most users bring to bear on a website. The expected response when clicking on a link is  taken for granted or ready-to-hand. The Infinity Art site affords this activity with typical-looking links, but then suddenly disrupts it, obliterating the screen with unexpected video images. The ‘flow’ of the interaction is interrupted and the website itself, even the user’s computer screen becomes present-to-hand.

Why would the site’s designers do this? They are an interactive design agency and presumably the purpose of this site is to express their professional identity. By introducing breakdown and making the site become so radically present-to-hand, the user is caused to reflect on who the creators of the site are and what their intentions are (as I am presently doing).  Futhermore, because the disruptive images are so unexpected, the user is likely to interpret that these designers have an inclination for creating novel, unconventional interactive designs. Finally, because the experience is so novel, users are likely to share the link and post and discuss with others, thus generating a lot of publicity.

I am curious to see what other interpretations and critiques others have.

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