ICM Wk 1: How Computation Applies to Me

With my work and life, I hope to create storytelling or educational experiences that help myself and others better understand a topic, a person’s point of view, and the world around us. This is why I’ve made it a point to find graphic design work opportunities that were not just about selling products to consumers (i.e. not working for ad agencies). After graduating, I purposely tried to apply my love for graphic design and illustration towards companies, organizations, and studios that were committed to somehow benefiting the world through empathy or knowledge. With this focus, I found myself working for an anthropology museum,  media/magazine companies, and a social impact design studio. All these experiences further confirmed my belief that collaborating with those who are passionate about their subject and their mission is key.

So, how will computation be applied to my purpose? I hope that with the help of technology and computation, I will be able to create more engaging, more immersive learning experiences. I find that some of the most engaging pieces in the museum, media and magazine world are when they use computation and other types of media (video, animation). When used intentionally and beautifully, computation can truly transport people into a story and subject matter. Many of the work that I found most inspiring involve programming in some way or another. Some examples of the editorial pieces that are amazingly engaging are these heartbreaking New York Times pieces (they’ve done so many but I’ll just post the ones I distinctly remember): Greenland is Melting Away, Antartica Dispatches.

The Refugee Project (not so much editorial, more data visualization) but still effective and still beautiful. This project maps the movement of those seeking and obtaining asylum in the world.

Smithsonian’s Interactive Fact Table and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles’s Nature Lab are two great examples of technology being incorporated into the museum experience. This nature lab is such a perfect blend of illustration, design, objects, and technology. Children’s science and natural history museums are especially an interest of mine. My partner is a material scientist and I’ve learned to love and appreciate science; I only wish I knew more. These science and history exhibits are a fun way for me to learn about these topics in a playful and easily digestible way. And one thing I’ve noticed from these exhibits are that interaction is a key component to helping people learn.

I’ve been in awe of certain interactive pieces that I’ve experienced in person. Some pieces that are always in the back of my mind are: Ai Wei Wei’s Hansel & Gretel show. Both parts of that show were equally impactful; not just the dark, super interactive section where the light would shine when you walked. I was also intrigued by the 2nd part in the fully lit Armory room, where there were rows of tables with an interactive timeline on it that allowed people to better understand the history of surveillance and drones. While that 1st portion was creepy and definitely made me a feel a certain way, I learned a lot from that 2nd part as well. I was also in New York a couple years ago for the Ryoji Ikeda’s exhibit which was so unforgettably peaceful and mesmerizing. Although I don’t know if I’ll do work as awesomely minimal and experiential as this; I can’t imagine his work not effecting my choice to learn more about computing. More for spirit and aesthetic inspiration, Keetra Dean Dixon is a designer and artist who I’ve been following for years. Her work is tactile, playful and, best of all, it forces people into unexpected situations (be it a digital experience or not). I hope to infuse her sense of delight, absurdity, and humor into all that I dream of and work on.

I had my first Physical Computing course yesterday. During one part of the lecture, Tom described the 3 types of interactions that he generally sees at ITP: 1.) Expressive, 2.) Instrumental, 3.) Instructional. While I hope to make work that touches upon all of these, the interaction type that I connected to the most was the instructional kind. My goal is to use programming skills and all that I learn at ITP to help me be a better, more well-rounded designer, technologist, and collaborator for empathetic and educational causes!