Writing & Research
Research statement below
An essay for Art Center’s DOT magazine that explores ideas for how art and design education could evolve using a range of digital tools, including tablets.
Slabs, Sofducts, and Bespoke Objects
This essay explores the emerging landscape for designers as influenced by post-PC devices, cheap sensors and electronics, and pervasive networks and the consequential shift towards ubiquitous computing, tangible interaction, and cloud services.
The New Ecology of Things
A transmedia publication that explores design and education issues in ubiquitous, networked objects & spaces. This publication includes a book, poster, mobile phone content and a website that themselves are a kind of new ecology of things with essays, images, vidoe, reader feedback, and interactive experiences. (2007-2008)
An essay that proposes a new design paradigm for interactive design called productive interaction. This approach views the user as an active participant in the creation of new meaning for themselves through their interactions. Productive Interaction is an alternative to ”experience design,” which this essay characterizes as valuable but flawed because it puts the designer in the position of designing the experience rather than the user. (2004)
Thinking About Interaction Design for Online News Delivery
An article that applies the ideas of Productive Interaction to the news publications. (USC Annenberg – Online Journalism Review 2004)
Designing the future: writing, design and research on NOT-linear interaction
“How can designers make more meaningful, rich and user enabling interactive systems? What are the best principles, affordances and techniques of interactive design, what are some examples, and how should designers approach this challenge?”
Essay at the ACM website: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=1013115.1013182
Dimensional Story Space
An article I wrote in 1992 for a group called Interactive Expression. Several of us in the Los Angeles area working at Philips and other “multimedia” companies in the early days got together to discuss the potentials for this new medium. This article outlines the limitations and potentials for interactive stories.
My work revolves around how the designed behavior of things (objects and spaces, physical and virtual) can evoke exploration, imagination and meaning for people. In particular, I’m interested in designing systems of interactive things with productive affordances that enable:
- evocative, poetic and meaningful interactions
- fostering of imagination and divergent thinking
- creative exploration of knowledge bases, ideas, and making
These ecologies of things are composed of embodied and tangible artifacts in combination with virtual, pliable media in all its forms. In addition to creating systems of knowledge, control and imagination, I’m interested in the fundamental and challenging questions around the relationship between the tangible and the virtual, the embodied thing and the media thing.
The following are specific areas of investigation:
Animism - Exploring the interaction design potentials around the human tendency to think of objects and spaces as having an inner life. I think it’s possible to use metaphors of animism as an Interaction Design strategy to make our complex digital stuff more evocative, interesting, understandable and transparent by wrapping the behavior of these systems in imaginative fictions of animism. Research projects include work sponsored by Nokia Research, Animism as a theme of my New Ecology of Things classes, and my in-progress, fall 2012 sabbatical writing and making on the theme of Animism.
The New Ecology of Things / Interactive Objects & Spaces - Investigating the design of interactive systems that embed computing and networking capability in everyday objects and spaces that create new, tangible, embodied interactions for people. These systems sense and act in the world with human scale affordances, activating things and spaces with interactive, kinetic behavior. Combining these behaviors with embedded, dynamic images, video, text and audio, these systems are ecologies of networked devices that communicate and work collaboratively with each other and with people.
Productive Interaction - Designing new systems of interaction that empower the user to create their own sets of meanings. These systems range from high definition environments for exploring complex information to interactive installations at auto shows.
Tools for Designers – As part of my teaching practice, I explore new ways to engage and inspire designers with tools that include informational websites and tutorials, software/hardware toolkits that simplify sketching in technology, and animate systems that support the problem setting and divergent thinking at the core of design. In particular, the NETLab Toolkit is a widely used open-source system for tangible interaction.
Interactive Music & Sound - Designing systems that enable people to dynamically interact with sound to create new experiences. These systems are smart and understand how to automatically remix and recombine music and sound, providing the user with simple handles for complex behaviors. Examples include music making products for non-musicians and interactive multi-channel, surround-sound installations. Of particular interest are systems that enable multiple people to collaborate in the creation of music and sound landscapes in real time, both for enjoyment and to create layers of sonic information within interactive knowledge environments.