Expressive, Instructional or Instrumental?

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

“Physical Computing’s Greatest Hits”

Stumbled across this blog post from 2008 discussing  Physical Computing’s wheels that people reinvent again and again:

  1. theremin-like instruments
  2. drum gloves (tangible vs intangible)
  3. dance floors
  4. Scooby-Doo paintings: paintings that react to presence (easy to sense presence, hard to sense attention)
  5. body-as-cursor
  6. video mirrors (aka, hand wavers, because people always wave their hands)
  7. mechanical pixels
  8. hand-as-cursor (aka Minority Report)
  9. multi-touch surfaces (exercise:operate an iPhone while it’s in your pocket)
  10. tilty stands and tables
  11. tilty controllers
  12. things you yell at
  13. meditation helpers
  14. fields of grass (running your hand across it affects it)
  15. dolls and pets
  16. remote hugs
  17. LED fetishism

The two interesting things to mention (for me) from the conversation part of this post is that these are in fact design patterns, which have likely developed because physical computing is now a mature field, and has its own traditions. And should there be “a museum of interactive technology. Then students can start their studies with a baseline in work that has been done before. Like playing the scales or imitating the masters.” Despite this being posted in 2008, I am not sure that is yet the case.

This blog post is a more in-depth version of the same list by Tom Igoe.

I also need to check out the Fashionable Technology book mentioned in the comments.



This week’s research and inspiration

Feedback. Am used to creating this physically with amp and sound input device (guitar or microphone), but can the same effect be created with a sensor and digital audio output?

Interesting Fast Co piece “about new, video-generating AI that’s dissolving the line between fact and fiction.”

Saw a talk from Rachel Wingfield of Loop who showed video of OSMO – – “an experiment in totally transforming a public space into a place of wonder and tranquility.” My favourite detail about this is that the whole ‘space’ folds up to the size of a suitcase, apparently. Oh, and that it was originally set up under the A13 flyover in Canning Town, London.

Some articles about generative (product) design.

The Alien Style of Deep Learning Generative Design

Autodesk Project Dreamcatcher

NASA’s Evolved Antenna, an aerial designed by an automatic computer design program using an evolutionary algorithm. In 2006.

Planning to go through some of the ‘homework’ on Modular Curiosity to get my head around VCV Rack:

And discovered this Mica Levy piece today, Delete Beach, which inspired lots of ideas for narrative/s for What Goes Around...

The Accomplice – first draft game boards

Some  sketches for playable game boards that can also be worked on in a group once printed out, to develop the gameplay.

The design was to be for a circular board, and I also wanted to explore the idea of a minimalist layout and how much information needed to be on the board for it still to be playable.

Concept gameboard design
Concept gameboard design