Cavan's current PhD research, provisionally titled 'The Spectator Understanding Of Performative Interaction', examines the role of the spectator in the ecology of communicative interactions with technology. Primarily exploring the spectators cognition of performance with digital musical instruments and how the design process of such interactions may be better informed. Working with Michael Gurevich, Paul Stapleton and Adnan Marquez-Borbon, the Performative Interactions group at SARC explores performance with interactive systems from an interaction design perspective, using quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic and practice-based methods.
Cavan also devotes time to developing new and innovative ways of breaking cheap electronic toys (Circuit Bending) in order to re-purpose them into musical instruments for live performance. A practice which often prompts unusual design problems due to device restrictions, cost and the consideration of interaction in the aesthetic of live performance. Alongside these instruments Cavan also practices instrumental laptop performance and Bass Guitar and can be seen making noise regularly in groups such as Noise. Stop. Repeat. QUBe, The Open Jack Collective, The Summer Experiment, The Belfast Legion for Improvised Sights and Sounds (BLISS) and Mexican&British.
Prior to undertaking PhD research, in 2006 Cavan graduated from the Sonic Arts Research Centre with a Masters in Sonic Arts, focusing on novel interaction techniques. His dissertation, 'Creating Games With Feeling', was presented at the CGames06 conference gaining the 'Best Student Paper' award. Cavan spent the following years playing bass in the Irish 'rock' group Catoan, touring the UK and Ireland. In 2007 he engineered and co-produced Catoan's 'And Will I' album released on the local 'Curious Incident Records' label. During this time Cavan also worked as technical director on the animated TV series Lifeboat Luke at digital media studio Banjax until 2007 and thereafter as technical director for Straandlooper Digital Animation Studios.