Do humans response socially to abstract, expressive human-computer interfaces?
To interact with the Sympathetic Guitar is to use a familiar and comfortable Western musical interface to feel an instant connection to musical culture and style of the East. The prototype senses guitarists’ hand motions and performance dynamics to augment a standard classical guitar with a digital drone resembling the resonating strings of an Indian sitar.
The project connects my own musical expression to an alternate reality where my parents never immigrated from India, an alternate reality where my inspiration would likely have come from the musical culture of my ancestral home. Beyond musical and ethnological exploration, this piece was also used to scientifically investigate whether abstract, expressive interfaces are social forms of interactive media. Inspired by cognitive theories of social interaction and interdisciplinary perspectives of immersion, this piece attempts to “perceive” the expression of users in a way which causes them to respond socially, a response which demands sympathy for inanimate computer technology.