Back To School

Where to begin? Image (CC-BY-NC-ND) chillhiro

There’s still a month or so before I’m back to uni for the final year of my undergrad. But being the last year, I’m pretty determined to put my head down and hit the ground running to make sure I’ve got the option of enrolling in Honours for 2011.

I decided as long as 18 months ago that my final year project would work with projection mapping/augmentation. However, it was at a series of talks a couple of days ago that I saw Tom Ellard bulldoze his way through the ideas of content appropriation and the use of technology in the creation of art, which made me rethink how I should approach my work this year. Quite possibly quoting my own words (Tom is one of my lecturers), Ellard said he “didn’t want to hear people describe their music as being ‘quadraphonic and controlled by Wii remotes‘”. It unsettled me a bit to hear someone saying it, but in reflection, he was absolutely right: I should be working to realise my own ideas, or art – not just being led by the technologies that interest me.

This forces a kind of paradigm shift: the first question for me to answer is not ‘how‘ I will create work with projection mapping, but ‘why‘. Having discovered much of this technology and interaction based work initially by DJing (and the snowballing culture around it), the ideas surrounding audience and human response to light/sound have interested me for a long time, and I think this is where my early research lies. I would also like to continue working with interaction, but in a meaningful – not arbitrary – way.

So instead of reading through data projector spec sheets, or learning new mapping software, I’m going to hit the books for a while (or at least Google Scholar). And there are definitely more exhibitions and performances I need to get myself along to. Basically, unhooking myself from the technology I surround myself with for the majority of every day and rethinking what it means as an audience member to interact with any kind of work or object. For too long, the term ‘interaction design’ has meant you know how to code in Flash, or you make websites and iPhone apps, which jump all over the place. I would like to try and strip things back to a more basic concept: why do we interact? and what makes us respond?It is a specific type of interaction that I’m interested in: scale and limited (limiting?) senses are at the core of these ideas, but there’s no doubt that some of what I will look at is universal.

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