Zoom Obscura: Counterfunctional Design for Video-Conferencing

Chris Elsden*, David Chatting , Michael Duggan, Andrew Dwyer, Pip Thornton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reports on Zoom Obscura – an artist-based design research project, responding to the ubiquity of video-conferencing as a technical and cultural phenomenon throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. As enterprise software, such as Zoom, rapidly came to mediate even the most personal and intimate interactions, we supported and collaborated with seven independent artists to explore technical and creative interventions in video-conferencing. Our call for participation sought critical interventions that would help users counter, and regain agency in regard to the various ways in which personal data is captured, transmitted and processed in video-conferencing tools. In this design study, we analyse post-hoc how each of the seven projects employed aspects of counterfunctional design to achieve these aims. Each project reveals different avenues and strategies for counterfunctionality in video-conferencing software, as well as opportunities to design critically towards interactions and experiences that challenge existing norms and expectations around these platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI' 22)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2022


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