Chapter 11

The Design of Emotions: How the Digital is Making Us More Emotional 1

11.1. Representing, interpreting and evoking emotions

Networks and computers have gradually begun to move away from symbolic forms, such as MSDOS, towards the analogy of the “office” and then Second Life-type spaces. The significance of these environments is not only that they are evolving from 2D to 3D, but that they allow us to explore ourselves and others and, potentially, build a unique relationship with a digital image [GEN 07a]. However, what is an emotion in these kinds of environments? Can a digital image even evoke emotion? How can an avatar or intelligent virtual agent not only display emotion but induce emotion in users? This chapter will focus on the issue of representing and eliciting emotions.

Most image processing research has focused on real-life images, notably of faces and gestures, a type of photographic mimicry that allows us to correctly interpret the emotions conveyed and, potentially, to share in them. However, we also need to move away from the realism of “theme” or “subject” as it cannot convey the emotional experience of these digital worlds in its entirety. In fact, digital media now present a specific form of emotional expression that we should address.

Each medium develops its own esthetic forms and relates to and affects those who use it in original ways. The user is involved in unusual unique interaction with each specific device. It should be noted, however, that ...

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