Weekending 11202011

Ack. Just a few short notes from the week previous.

Well, we got some more clarification on the graph of possible-probable-desireable but I wasn’t able to spend as much time figuring out how to employ it as an approach to design — I mean..not that I’d figure out anything crazy in the midst of a work week. But, then John Marshall sent a note that tipped me back into this idea of Device Art which has notes of things that are like “devices” perhaps in the sense of an instrument designed to achieve in the product sense, but then also art.

..device art is a form of media art that integrates art and technology as well as design, entertainment, and popular culture. Instead of regarding technology as a mere tool serving the art, as it is commonly seen, we propose a model in which technology is at the core of artworks.

So aside from this idea of the tool serving the art, but the tool itself being the art — you’re going to begin to flirt around in some curious territories in the possible-probable-desirable Venn diagram seeing as much art deliberately avoids that center sweet spot and confronts common-sense ideas as to what is, should or could be.

*shrug. It’s a start anyway. Besides, I like the idea of lots of small, little device-y things that do very unexpected, unusual but, maybe at the end of it, desirable and profitable things, but they have to be made by hand by artistans. Or things that are desirable, but not profitable but easily made. What would they be?

There was a curious visit to the Oblong Industries loft-y-studio in downtown LA late last week. You’ll know Oblong as the place where John Underkoffler evolved his diegetic prototype of gesture-based interfaces developed in Minority Report. So — that’s what they do there..and this time around rather than paying lots of attention to what the gestures were doing. I’ve decided they’re weird. It’s just one of those things where — whey you look at the world from a slightly different angle, everything looks different and then you start to wonder. It’s like closing one eye or standing on your head or putting on weirdly lensed glasses and you see something that makes you go, “huh..”

There were a bunch of things that drew my attention — first the scale of the gestures is a bit much. If you do a two-thumbs-up-and-throw-them-over-your-shoulder you perform a kind of screen-reset to put everything back to state zero. That’s useful. The gesture is a good sort of — get-outta-here sort of thing. It’s very articulated. Then there’s this one you see above — the Meatloaf-y “Stop right here!” gesture. There are others.

I’m not faulting the system. The technology works and its fun to try and its fun to watch. It makes good sense in specific contexts where you have big display systems and doing micro-gestures (relative to the scale of screens) with a mouse does not really make good sense. And I can clearly see how this bigger system them have works well in the context of certain work environments, like the guy doing operations stuff for Seal Team 6 while they’re charging into some crazy part of the world. It seems very tactical in a way.

What I was most intrigued by was the scaling-down of their systems to smaller environments and environments without those nasty gloves and big IR tracking configurations. They had a set up with what looked like an Xbox Kinect sensor for doing just broader gestures, without all the finger-twiddling of the bigger set up. This is interesting for simple navigation of things in, perhaps — a retail environment. So now we’re closer to the Minority Report thing of advertising talking to you.

Last thing was some continuingly somewhat frustrating prototyping of some audio objects. Frustrating because once you’re spoiled by the ease of working with kits like the Arduino or, for that matter — iOS — getting to know a new poorly documented chipset is like having your eyeballs dried out. But — at least the tech support guys are prompt with little hints as to what they mean when they describe something that needs a secret decoder ring to comprehend.