Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"Playing the Interface"

:: Fiddian Warman

Fiddian spoke briefly about user experience and "permeable interfaces." He introduced another of Soda's creative partnerships, School Robot test drive, but mostly focussed on Sodaplay and Playforge which encourage radical and open modification. He closed by describing his PhD project and punk band, Neurotic, which involves pogo-ing robots. (How cool is that?!)

:: Mia Makela a.k.a. SOLU

Mia spoke about the VJ scene and live cinema, with its inherent difficulties, and how we lack any systematic study or understanding of how it works. She also mentioned how women approach her about the content of her work, whereas men approach her about the software, as if there is a technology that magically makes it all happen. When it comes to interfaces, she talked about the difference between making a really good door knob versus being interested in what's on the other side of the door. Visual work is currently drawing on audio work, but can we treat images the same way as sound? Is visual remixing the same as audio remixing? Can the software interfaces work along the same principles? For example, being able to manipulate images in 3D space is much more flexible than traditional 2D interfaces. She also spoke about community software development in this area, and honestly it sounded more dramatic than a Portuguese soap opera. Today, Max/MSP and Jitter, Puredata and Processing are the most used tools, and the community development model is crucial for allowing people to feel as though the tools they use have been made with them in mind. DIY programming offers people social status as well as technical control. Mia also mentioned Toshio Iwai's TENORI-ON and soundtoys.net as exemplary interfaces.

:: Randy Knott

You can see the range of Randy's work in his flickr sets, but he focussed his presentation on interface experiments like A is for Apple. He also showed tonnes of gorgeous work that you can find on IAMSTATIC.

In discussion, Mia also raised a very interesting issue or concern: that of software or technological mastery. How is it even possible when the next version is always around the corner?

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