Numer organized for the second time from April 19 to April 21 2002, at the Centre Pompidou a set of international conferences about interaction design. This event is titled “interaction design – look ahead” whereas the first issue was titled “understanding interactivity”. It was a place for words, invention, and communication. it was the crossroads of theory and practice, it was the sharing grounds of experiences, questions and insights.
I met very different people such as designers, artists, researchers, teachers, journalists…etc.
Conferences were divided in different topics : The first of them was : process & adequacy. During this meeting, different orators spoke about the work conditions of interactive designers.
The different questions were : What is good and what is bad in production of interactive object? How is work distributed? Who is responsible for interactivity in the team? Is collective design a utopia? What feedback do we get? Is it educated? Relevant? What do we like to hear: It’s beautiful? It is effective? It is new? When can we talk of commercial success? How will this in the future? Are we building on solid grounds? Or are we breed that flourishes at the digital frontier, fleeing stability instead of seeking it?
To answer all these questions the first orator was Stewart Butterfield, he is an interaction and user interface consultant specialized in web-based applications. He explained the flaws in the navigational metaphor, where it came from and how it became so pervasive and the faulty context it creates for both theoretical progress and practical working arrangements in design teams. he also presented some alternative conceptions and suggest a way of thinking which avoids the problems surrounding navigational metaphor.
Next, Maurizio Poletto spoke about “stolen design”. He is an Italian Designer working in Vienna since 1996. He is currently an Art Director and responsible for the Creative Department at Nofrontiere Design AG. He explained that system design is an open space, a playground for experimenting with all the knowledge we collected during the past years on digital design, and over all the changing faces of our professional experience. He think that designers don’t really know what they do exactly, and probably they were just understand it completely when they will be ready to switch to the next phase of our development.
Francois Naude and Joelle Bitton.
Then, Joelle Bitton spoke about creation process. She co-founded an experimental artistic platform called Superficiel.org. She depict a situation where it’s difficult to define jobs around the process of interactive creation, she spoke about the relationship between software permanently updated and the creation and about the relationship between the creation process and the final product.
Afterwards Valerie Casey who oversees the interactive group at Pentagram’s San Francisco office designing product interfaces, Web sites, and software (www.valcasey.com) spoke about the important Factors in User Centered Design. She explained that idea feasibility, concept viability, and especially, product desirability form the framework that encourages interaction designers to consider the ethical, social, and creative implications of their work, and ultimately will help them make more viable and relevant products.
left: Formalization and Creativity panel. right: Christian Weisser.
Subsequently, Arnaud Mercier spoke about his own experience of web designer. This French graphic designer is the author of www.elixirstudio.com, and he currently is an art director at Blast Radius (Vancouver, Ca). He deplored the bad conditions of works that he lives and he explained his manifesto. He promoted along about twenty items of good way of work for web creators. These items were about relationship between the web team and the project management.
Finally, Jean-Sebastien Colson, a web producer explained how web design is produced in a big web-agency as babel@stal. He spoke about difficulties to manage productivity and creativity. To conclude this session, all the orators debated their points of view.
The next topic was less theorical and more visual : it was about interactive cinema.
During this session, different lecturers showed their work. Chris Hales explained that techniques he employed include spatio-temporal linking (having to click in the right place at the right time), split-screening and use of screen space, a strong feeling of causality, and specific choices of subject genre.
Instead of that, Luc Courchesne showed his immersive environment. He created methodologies to record and project 360° video. Also Michael Naimark showed his experimentation in Interactive video. In an other way Xavier Boissarie presented the imaginary ballroom, this is an interactive piece realized in 3D real-time.
Subsequently,the final debate was about the difficulties to conciliate narrative and interactive structure.
left: Olivier Koechlin and Maurizio Poletto.
The next day, the first conference was about creativity and formalization and in summary about programming as a creation. Olivier Koechlin came speak about a digital material. he think that digital media is not built by code or software but a concept. This concept is expressed by algorithmic. Jean-Jacques Birge spoke about sound in interactive context.
left: Ed Burton, Golan Levin and Ulf Harr. right: Casey Reas and Ben Fry.
Next, Golan Levin demonstrated his Audiovisual Environment Suite interactive software and its accompanying audiovisual performance, Scribble . He explained that he became a coder because software as director was too rigid and limited, he would like to be able to draw one point but also to control all the screen’s pixels. Ben Fry and Casey Reas had recently completed their studies the MIT MediaLab.They introduced their new programming environment called Proce55ing. It is an environment for programming images, movement, and interaction. It is a sketchbook for developing ideas, a tool for creating prototypes, and a context for learning the fundamentals of computer programming within the context of creation. They spoke about Proce55ing in relation to existing interaction design curriculum and current software/hardware tools for building interaction
After many others orators, a debate about the programing position in interactive design began but time was too short and the next conference had to begin: its topics was spatiality.
The first speaker was Peter Cho, he showed examples of typography in dimensional digital environments. This graphic designer and computer programmer who studied in the MIT medialab explained that type in a dimensional environment may also allow for expressive exploration of pure visual form, especially when combined with motion and user interaction.
Afterwards, Etienne Mineur, one founder of the incandescence graphic design studio, introduced his work about 3d real time. He presented many projects as Etin Toys (a e-commerce website) or Swimtank (a cultural e-zine). All this project are tryout about navigation and reading in a 3d environment.
To finish, Carsten Wierwille, the vice president client partner for Plumb Design spoke about 3D data representations in online art and commercial software. He asked himself if this representation was just for fun or had a real function.
The final day, a conference was about culture & critic. the orators took note that computer representation is a revolution like the advent of writing . This advent imply a new criticism, a new education for further generation and a better knowledge of the process of interactive design for the public. The last topic was “beyond the screen”, in this session lecturers spoke about physicals interfaces, Yacine Ait Kaci and Naziha Mestaoui, Regine Halter and Dorothee Schiesser, and Katherine Moriwaki and Sabine Seymour introduced their work.
left: Golan Levin.
Around these conferences, two main events happened in the night. The first was performances. Through this show, the attendants of the conference got to appreciate four different interactive applications that were specifically designed by the artists to suit the needs of their performance. The performancers was: Jean-Luc Lamarque [Continuum], Jasch [Codespace], Servovalve [Improvisation preparee] and Golan Levin [Scribble].
The second night was the Zapping time. This ritual allows for a maximum concentration of interesting creations over a short period of time . So we could enjoy lot of interesting productions.
To conclude, Numer.02 was a very intense and a very interesting moment to meet and heard many orators. This event is maybe too much intense and sometimes I was frustrated that lecturers hadn’t time enough.
Date: April 19 to April 21, 2002
Place: Centre Pompidou
Address: 17, impasse Truillot, 75011 Paris, France