Halfway to the Future 2019

HttF 2019

The theme setting paper for the Mixed Reality panel.

Orchestrating a Mixed Reality Performance

A keynote by Steve Benford (University of Nottingham)

A study of a professional touring mixed reality performance called Desert Rain yields insights into how performers orchestrate players’ engagement in an interactive experience. Six players at a time journey through an extended physical and virtual set. Each sees a virtual world projected onto a screen made from a fine water spray. This acts as a traversable interface, supporting the illusion that performers physically pass between real and virtual worlds. Live and video-based observations of Desert Rain, coupled with interviews with players and the production team, have revealed how the performers create conditions for the willing suspension of disbelief, and how they monitor and intervene in the player’s experience without breaking their engagement. This involves carefully timed performances and “off-face” and “virtual” interventions. In turn, these are supported by the ability to monitor players’ physical and virtual activity through asymmetric interfaces.


Boriana Koleva, Ian Taylor, Steve Benford, Mike Fraser, Chris Greenhalgh, Holger Schnädelbach, Dirk vom Lehn, Christian Heath, Ju Row-Farr, and Matt Adams. 2001. Orchestrating a mixed reality performance. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '01). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 38-45. https://doi.org/10.1145/365024.365033