Expressive, Instructional or Instrumental?

Human:Nature, 2010 Artist: Jill Haefele Description: custom-made headphones with crickets and natural materials

Some further notes from Tom Igoe, from a 2016 presentation about Physicality. He categorises physical computing projects as either Expressive, Instructional or Instrumental.

  • Expressive works are often the least directly interactive, because they’re usually about expressing an artistic point of view. They’re useful for learning about control of physical systems, and control of aesthetics, like any expressive work, though. Example project: Matthew Richard – Estrella Intersects the Plane
  • Instructional works aim to demonstrate or illustrate a phenomenon. I think this is one area where phys comp techniques shine. You learn many things best by experiencing it directly. Example project: Jill Haefele – Human:Nature
  • Instrumental projects can be purely utilitarian, or they can be purely whimsical, but they exist to enable some other behavior. You generally don’t look at the instrument, you look at, or listen to, what it produces. Example project: John Schimmel – RAMPS – a wheelchair DJ