How to write a great Interactive Arts Paper

One of the most challenging things to do is write an academic technical paper on an Interactive Arts piece.  This is a guide to help artists, researchers, and scientists alike on the right way to structure a technical arts paper.

Introduction - Concept or Problem Statement

Why are you doing this work? What do you intend to accomplish? What is the context you are working in? What is your approach?

A conceptual statement is rooted in the artistic paradigm; a problem statement in the scientific paradigm. You can choose from or combine these approaches.


  • What did you do? Why? As you describe your methods, make sure to connect them to your concept and approach.

  • Document and motivate important design decisions. Describe algorithms.

  • If you developed some sort of a system or installation that uses sensors and emits sound and/or visuals or haptic feedback, focus on the mappings [Norman, The Decision of Everyday Things]. How are the sensed inputs translated into experienced media stimuli? Be very clear and specific.

Make us understand what makes your work unique. Motivate your choices.

If you used Max/MSP/Jitter, Processing, and/or Pure Data, that's fine. Just realize that almost everyone does this. Its not much information in itself. Let us know about the structure and function of your patches, especially with regard to how data flows through them and is transformed, and how people are connected to these flows on the input and output sides. Focus your flow charts on meaningful experiences!

Data (Results)

Who has experienced the work you have created? What is their experience? How do they respond to the stimuli you have created. Be as thorough as possible in reporting on this.

Quantitative and qualitative methods for presenting and analyzing data are both valuable.

Prior Work

[This section can be after the introduction or at the end.]

Needs and Requirements: Conditions that motivate your work.

Ingredients / Building Blocks: Existing tools and libraries that you draw from to create your work.

Precedents: Other work most like your own.


  • What are the implications of the work you've done, your approach?

  • What can other artists learn from what you've done?

  • Principles that can be abstracted and generalized.