A paper just published in IJHCS by Stevens et al (link to abstract) describes how members of the audience use a PDA to register their emotional responses in real-time during a number of dance performances. It’s an interesting approach to studying how emotional responses may converge and diverge during particular sections of a performance. The PDA displays a two-dimensional space with valence and activation representing emotion (i.e. Russell’s circumplex model). The participants were required to indicate their position within this space with a stylus at rate of two readings per second!
That sounds like a lot of work, so how about a physiological computing version where valence and activation are operationalised with real-time psychophysiology, e.g. a corrugator/zygomaticus reading for valence and blood pressure/GSR/heart rate for activation. Provided that the person remained fairly stationary, it could deliver the same kind of data with a higher level of fidelity and without the onerous requirement to do self-reports.
This system concept could really take off if you had 100s of audience members wired up for a theatre performance and live feedback of the ‘hive’ emotion represented on stage. This could be a backdrop projection or colour/intensity of stage lighting working as an en-masse biofeedback system. A clever installation could allow the performers to interact with the emotional representation of the audience – to check out the audience response or coerce certain responses.
Or perhaps this has already been done somewhere and I missed it.