I completed my PhD in human-computer interaction at the Media and Arts Technology DTC at Queen Mary University of London, where I was part of the Cognitive Science Research Group.Throughout the thesis, which was entitled “Presentation of Visual Artworks in Interactive Virtual Environments towards User Engagement”, I explored how interactivity in virtual environments can contribute towards visual art presentation. The research was supervised by Prof. Peter McOwan (QMUL), Dr. Matthew Purver (QMUL) and Prof. Tim Weyrich (UCL).

Most of the attempts to introduce modern technologies in the digital presentation of visual art are based on the approach of recreating the conventional real environment using realistically rendered two- or three-dimensional computer models. Such forms of presentation fail to take full advantage of the new opportunities, offered by modern digital technologies. My research aims to fill this gap by focuing on how interactivity in virtual environments can contribute towards visual art presentation. Further, I have investigated how four interactivity modes through which images of visual art are presented, relate to the different phases of user engagement. The results from my studies indicate that more interactivity in an interactive application contributes towards higher user engagement with the presented content and the application itself.

My PhD research makes a number of contributions in the fields of digital art presentation and methods for measuring user engagement and its different phases:

  • A conceptual framework for describing user engagement is generalised and extended by additional elements.
  • The relation between four designed interactivity modes and the extended phases of user engagement has been investigated, analysed and examined through the application of a mixed-methods approach that combines qualitative and quantitative techniques.
  • The evaluation was performed with different qualitative methods as focus groups, field studies, ethnographic observation, participatory design and thematic analysis.
  • Specifically defined event parameters were introduced for the improvement of the evaluation metrics of user engagement.
  • Different quantitative methods as analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t-tests were used to analyse the gathered data for obtaining statistically significant results.