Designing Change: NeuroMedia As A Metanoic Practice

Karen Cham

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


As a creative artist and design practitioner, I have only ever been concerned with theory as a reflection on practice. A British Art School design education, the same one that made Jonny Ive what he is today, teaches semiotics as a way to create meaning, not only to deconstruct and apprehend it. Successful industrial design practice is thus the creation of a productised experience of meaning; one that is inhabited and made real in circulation as cultural capital; Jonny in particular seems to have done rather well out of this. A designerly commitment to truth to materials also means I have come to understand any medium as a technology, and a commitment to the relationship between form and content causes me a concurrent fascination with the mode of transmission as part of this materiality. My research has thus always been into the process whereby constructed images, such as those seen in product, advertising and film, become real; the relationship between ‘the sign and the signified, the simulation and the social, the model and the real’ (Cham 2011); or the affordances of the designed image. I’m a semiotician.As I lived and worked through the transition from electronic to digital media, my research evolved to focus upon closing the semantic gap between users and machines via novel methods in human factors. I’m now therefore a computational semiotician. Stemming from Lakoff and Johnsons master work, and using post-structuralism, semiotics and complexity theory, in 2006 I designed a computational ontology to teach a machine to construct or deconstruct the metaphor of Italianicity using Roland Barthes deconstruction of the Panzani Pasta ad. In 2009 I started using Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) to generate insights into end user responses to metaphor. I have since combined Deleuzes notion of culture with the algorithmic approach manifest in parametric design to develop a set frameworks, methodologies and tools that I call ‘rhizometric design’; for designing meaningful, quantifiable and algorithmic user experiences and behavioural changes.Using eye tracking, facial recognition, galvanic skin response, heart rate monitoring and EEG to measure pre-cognitive engagement, I can quantify affordances, locate and isolate values, embed agency and nudge transformation, individually and collectively. I have delivered quantifiable branded multi-platform user experiences; isolated libraries of branded product semantics for mass customisation tools and lead effective digital transformation of cultural legacies by building and migrating value chains. I have re-appropriated brand value mechanics as an intervention in addiction and designed and built systems that monitor mental health or engineer critical thinking. I have worked on measuring emotional engagement in gameplay to discover a correlation between peaks and troughs in attention span and a games Metacritic score and through reverse engineering, explored the agency of perceptual, semantic and aesthetic cues for navigating content using BCI Interfaces; that is, interaction with digital content by thought.In 2015, I published my proposal for defining NeuroMedia; designed media content that has been either informed by, created with or developed for, any type of Brain Computer Interface (BCI). NeuroMedia content thus incorporates, either in its production, distribution or consumption, biometric data sourced from the subconscious mind of users. I am now developing Cognitive UX design patterns to assist in isolating ‘nudge mechanics', 'neuro-navigation' & 'neuro-transformation' paradigms to guide valuable & ethical singularities in IoT, robotics & immersive environments that we will require as 5G accelerates the need for personalised, locative, value driven DevOps systems in ubiquitous and pervasive environments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2018
EventSemiofest 2018 - Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, India
Duration: 24 Oct 201827 Oct 2018


ConferenceSemiofest 2018
Internet address


  • user experience
  • design
  • semiotics
  • BCI
  • change and culture management


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