Interactive Multimedia Ritual Design

In contrast to the simulations of virtual reality, responsive environments and contexts such as intelligent architecture and interactive installations tend not to create a representation that corresponds with physical reality but rather utilize real space in a way that renders it virtual and enables alternative, expanded forms of experience and reality awareness. // Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media

What happens when a magician […] “does magic,” is that the magician’s state of consciousness is altered. Sometimes this is done through dancing and chanting or singing, sometimes through the use of herbal potions, and sometimes through meditation or other methods. Most commonly, the magician creates a multimedia psychodrama, which is a sort of theatrical performance using sounds, sights and smells designed to create a certain mood within the magician (and any onlookers) and to focus attention on the target and goal […] of the ceremony. // Isaac Bonewits, Authentic Thaumaturgy (emphases in original)

Altered states of consciousness are the key to magical powers. // Peter J. Carroll, Liber Null and Psychonaut

By now the word “hypertext” has become generally accepted for branching and responding text, but the corresponding word “hypermedia”, meaning complexes of branching and responding graphics, movies and sound — as well as text — is much less used. Instead they use the strange term “interactive multimedia”: this is four syllables longer, and does not express the idea of extending hypertext. // Ted Nelson, Literary Machines

The big idea: map the tools and techniques that magicians use in rituals — sigils, mantras, gestures, wands, etc. — to new media, and make the media interactive via sensor-actuator networks, so the ritual is interesting and non-trivial, and embodies reflexivity in magic. Also, use metaphorming and conceptual blending to design such rituals, because it is generative to do so, and because it is a recursive reflection of the Big Idea (i.e. blending interactive media and ritual performance). Here is a mind map (created with FreeMind) showing some possible connections (click to enlarge):


Concept Mapping for Smarter SOIs

(Much of this came out of a workshop, “Social Desire: Designing Delightful Decisions in a Social System,” led by Elizabeth Simpson of the School for Designing a Society, and was re/combined with ideas I’d had earlier. My thanks to her.)

We can use concept mapping to get a better look at the consequences of what we want, in order to more carefully state our intentions and re/compose our methods for realizing them. Here is a simple example (actually a mind map), created using FreeMind, that shows consequences of wanting/getting money.


The green check-marks indicate desirable consequences; the red crosses indicate undesirable ones. Apropos of magic, I have suggested elsewhere that instead of enchanting for something such as money, we might instead enchant for the things we would do with money. This should establish a less trivial link between us and the ritual object(ive), and also allow for a greater variety of media to realize our intent.

Using concept maps to consciously project some consequences of our desires, we may find new things to enchant for or protect against, as well as some avenues for divination. In the above example, I might discover that I do not actually want a new job, but that I do value an increase in work satisfaction, so I can ritually work toward that.

Shared Intent

This exercise may be especially well-suited to group work. If each participant in the work maps out what they expect from it, and then everyone compares maps, they may discover sympathies or antipathies between their desires, that again can be re/considered for the work, through changes to the statement of intent or ritual composition, precautionary divination, etc.

  • I want X, and you want X.
  • I want X, but you do not want X.
  • I do not want X, but you do want X.
  • I do not want X, and you do not want X.