29 November 2009

MX: Reading response 4

reading: "the language of new media" pp 103-115 the screen and the body, representation vs simulation

New concepts learned:

The screen represents the idea of the imprisonment of the body. Because you are watching a screen, your body must remain immobile, in order to watch it. It began with photography, in traditional daguerrotypes, the subjects must remain completely still while the image was exposing. Today, we must sit still in front of computer screens or in the darkness of the movie theater to be able to grasp what is going on in the screen.

Relate the reading to MX projects:

In the reading, the author was talking about the interactivity between the body and the screen. I plan on the users of my portfolio site to use a mouse to be able to click through my work, and navigate the website. It's up to them to decide what they want to see and when, and for how long!

Relate the reading to life beyond MX:

Interestingly, the Wii is allowing us to move beyond the body's imprisonment while watching a screen- for many games on the Wii, you are required to get up and move around your living room in order to interact with the screen. I was also watching a video on the future of Microsoft technology, and they are planning on developing screens that act as newspapers, that can be folded up and read on the go, screens on the side of your coffee mug, on your coffee table, on the walls, and EVERRRRYYWHERRE. With so many screens, it will be easier to move around and not be limited by them, because they will be EVERRYYWHERRE so you can just move 10 feet down the hall, and voila! another screen! (Thank goodness...)

MX: Reading response 3

reading: "the language of new media" pp 94-103 the screen and the user, a screens' genealogy

New concepts learned:

The author phrased the term 'screen' as something much more ubiquitous than I had ever thought the screen could be. He mentioned that the 'screen' has been around ever since the Renaissance, as paintings. He defined the screen as something that showed the existence of another virtual space (enclosed by a frame). I also never realized how long the real screen has been around- beginning with radar. It's the oldest technology, really, of our modern-day sense of the term, and it is becoming more and more widespread with every passing day. Everything needs to have a screen now. Even books. You don't need to actually open up a book and flip through it's pages, they have a screen for that now. It's called Kindle. It's so crazy to think about- how much we rely on screens in our society- we can't go a day without interacting with them, for some of us (most of us?) we can't go a day without needing a screen.

Connections between reading and MX projects:

He talked about how the screen withdraws the users from reality, how they forget about their surroundings, because they are looking 'into' another world. The content is completely filling the screen, and all background noise is eliminated. I want to do the same thing with my portfolio site, so when you are looking at large images of my work, there is nothing else distracting you. I want people looking at my work to be only looking at my work, and hopefully not being distracted by outside sources. To do this, I either want the images to completely fill up the screen, with no other 'chrome' in the way, or darken out all background info, so you don't pay attention to it- whichever i can manage.

Connections between reading and life:

Oh the screen. I'll admit, it's really helping us, by connecting individuals, faster, stronger, better.... and allowing us access to information at a rate so incredibly efficient that we don't feel the need to look anywhere else. It's revolutionizing the way we think about things- a few years ago, we wouldn't have cared how to make better connections between groups of people, because we didn't have the abilities, but now that we do, that's mainly what we concentrate on- social networking, and community-based projects. Interesting. I just hope we don't forget about everything else that's equally important, when we have this bright shiny new thing distracting us!

20 November 2009

DS: Final touch points!

MX: the Interface Reading Response Part 2

The interface PAAART 2222222222

Pages 78-93

New concepts learned in the passage:

In this portion of the reading, they continually brought up the term VRML, but never once cared to define it, so I looked it up on good ol' wikipedia, and it actually means "virtual reality modeling language", but interestingly, it has been superseded in recent years by a new language, called another crazy name. They were using this concept in talking about the computer interface as relating to cinema, and how we use a lot of virtual reality in creating environments that give users real life metaphors and spaces on the screen. In this reading I also learned a lot about video games from the 1990's, especially Myst, which was made in 1993, and also games such as Dungeon Keeper, from 1997, Super Mario 64, from 1996, Tomb Raider also from 1996, Myth: The Fallen Lords from 1997, Tekken 2 from 1994, The 7th Guest from 1993, and Voyeur from 1994. I found out that these games began pushing the 1-point perspective, that was a cultural default, into new and exciting territory. Some games even promoted these new features, saying on the package that "you can change your camera angle AND kill bad guys!!". But the author failed to mention how the cinema metaphor carried over into aspects other than his favorite hobby, like for instance, the internet. That brings me to the second point to be talked about–

Make connections between the reading and your MX projects

He talks so much about video games and the cinema metaphor, how the camera angles can change, how there's now dramatic lighting, zooming, panning, depth of field, and how the characters are made as real as possible, so they can move freely around the environment rather than on only certain paths etc, but I'm assuming that this same metaphor of the cinema is made in interfaces relevant to this class by things like moving transitions between pages, buttons animating, etc. Things that move around and entertain? Because otherwise we won't pay attention. He never mentioned it though, so it's only an assumption.

What I did find interesting from the reading was found later on, where he talked about how today's postmodern culture is always pushing people to be original, and how every new thing that comes out needs to be exactly that- new, and never before done. But he then went on to say that while computer interfaces try and do the same thing, by designing the 'magnify' icon in new and original ways, he said that the icon still needs to look like a magnifying glass- with HCI, there needs to be set standards and rules so users can actually follow along and know what's happening on this crazy screen-thingy. It's always about consistency and principles, yet our culture says something different. He called it a 'tension between standardization and originality', which I have felt during my work in MX. The point of the projects is to push web design into new and experimental realms, because that's what popular these days, you know, but we still need to be consistent and expected as far as how the user interacts with the interface. Where do you draw the line? Greg and I tried pushing the boundaries in our project, yet the guy from Sprint still had some serious qualms about it... "How are these slidy things helping the user? Sheesh". I'm feeling the same pressure in this new project, where we're starting with the 'crazy awesome' actions, that are different and unique, and then we'll try and apply them to an HCI interface, so users can navigate through it.

Makes connections between the reading and non MX stuff

This reading made me think back to my childhood quite often, when I would see my little brother drooling in front of the video game screen for hours and hours everyday, and how all my guy friends went home after school, grabbed a 6-pack of Mountain Dew and a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips and went to town on their video games. I hope I never design things that make people act like that. That was the main nugget that I pulled from the reading. Also, these readings continue to solidify my aversion to screen-based designing, as it talks about how this new form will be just as strong if not stronger than the printed word, and how designers for the web mainly do the same thing over and over and over and over and over again, because that's consistency, and if they stray away from it to try and appease our postmodern culture, then people probably wont understand it, or find it irrelevant. Also, I feel that web design is rooted in copying, and that's not what I want to do.

15 November 2009

MX: The Interface Reading Response

In reading the Interface, I learned a little bit about how the web/computer's interface came about, how it functions, and what that means. Some new concepts I learned from the reading were ideas such as the 'permanent present', which focuses on the idea of how ever since the first macintosh computer came out in 1984, we have been using the same concepts, which have seeped into our very culture and way of life. For instance, always focusing on clarity and functionality, the Graphic User Interface. Once, when the computer acted as a tool to assist in our culture, ever since the 1990's, the computer has become a filter for all of culture... the small computer screen has come to replace the cinema screen, TV screen, art gallery wall, book, magazine, newspaper, etc.– all at once. Everything. That was the moment in the reading that stuck out the most for me. Another concept I learned from the reading was the idea of the human-computer interface, or HCI, and also the 'cultural interface'. The HCI is the connection between the user and the computer- the physical input/output devices like a monitor, keyboard, mouse, but also a metaphor system so the user can understand- like files and folders on a desktop. Originally, it was used as a tool for work, but has evolved in our way of living to encompass so much more- a universal media machine that can be used just as much for leisure as for work. When talking about the 'cultural interface', the author was referencing the connection between the user, the computer, and the access to culture through it, like online museums, magazines, computer games, etc.

This reading relates to my MX projects because it illuminated how the current form of the internet and web pages are different, yet still in a way the same, to older forms of communication, such as the printed book or the cinema. Like the book, web pages, are viewed in the same way... like a page, usually from top to bottom, with a certain amount of information on each page. Yet unlike a book, features such as hyperlinking allow for a non-linear way to jump between different sets of information, with no assumed hierarchy. It was a completely new way of thinking when it came to be accepted in the 1980's. And like the cinema, elements can play for a user from the interface, yet it too is more subject to user interaction. It made me think about how I can apply these old media formats in new ways to my portfolio site, without being so cliche as using an image of an open book, as seen in Myst.

Beyond my projects for MX though, the reading pointed out a serious fact for me: everything really is going digital, and everything is becoming more and more fluid and unstable. As mentioned in the reading, communication began on a clay tablet, which was nearly indestructible, which then moved to ink on paper. The ink then became bits of memory on a computer, and then with HTML, those bits that formed on page of communication could be stored on multiple computers... always adding to the more vague, ethereal, and otherwise unreal format, which can never be grasped. That made me think about that cloud program idea that Garrett was talking about in a lecture earlier this semester, and how even more, our culture, our lives, our work, everything- is becoming less and less real- it could all be gone in an instant. That really scares me.

MX: scrolling formal iterations and task scenarios

formal iterations using a scroll:

Task Scenarios

IDEA 5? Not sure...

1.) From the main page, user scrolls through work, clicks on a specific piece, larger image pops up of work, with related views/images.

Can return to main page by clicking 'back' (or area outside the popped-up images?

2.) From the main page, the user can narrow/expand options by clicking on the category options, which will grey out or illuminate images to choose from. User can click on another image. New image collage opens up like in scenario 1, and user can scroll down to see more info/more imagery. User can leave a comment if they feel so inclined.

3.) From main page, user can read about me blurb, and if they want to read more, they can click 'read more!' which will bring them to a new about me section, more extensive.

4.) From main page, they can access a downloadable copy of my resume.

5.) From main page, they can access a list of links for my designer friends, influential sites, and my other webpages, such as blog, twitter, flickr.

6.) From main page, user can read recent news about me as a designer, which is able to be read right on main page. They can leave a comment about the news.

7.) From the main page, or the about me page, they can click on 'contact me', and an email population box will appear for them to fill out.

Projects I want to include on my portfolio site:

Ziba packaging

Map to the Shuttlecocks packaging

McSweeney's workshop packaging

Reve hot air balloon brand system

Anchor crime prevention campaign

Seed website

Plastic animal collection website

Vote posters

Modul type conference and experimental typography


Sleeping Houses fiber project

Last Will icons and magazine spreads

Russel Wright

Gertrude Stein

Seven Sins Photography

AIGA Registration poster

AIGA Portfolio Workshop poster/collateral








fine art



user experience



(projects would belong to multiple categories... the categories would act more like a tagging system)

McSweeney's Workshop!

Chris Ying and Jordan Bass of McSweeney's came all the way from San Fransisco to lead a design/creative writing workshop with us this past Sunday! The purpose of the workshop was to create a packaging/book design for a short story submission that they received about santa playing baseball on a one man team. My creative writing partner was Michael Smith, and we came up with a package that illuminated a few themes and motifs running through the story.

The first- the idea of the santa machine: bright red and shiny, it has lots of gears, microchips, levers, etc. that allowed santa to win his game while he was being torn apart (literally) by his legion of elves. We created a box that houses the actual story, that has square holes in it. The actual story comes in the form of a user's manual to the machine, and dispersed throughout the pages are cut-out diagrams of screws, light bulbs, levers, etc. that are meant to be cut out, glued together, and assembled, so they can be placed in each square hole to build the santa machine.

A second theme running through the story is that of destruction as a way to progress- as in, if you destroy your own work, you'll work harder on your next project. Thus, we decided that the reader must destroy his own story to progress and build the better santa machine by cutting out the pieces. This also saves on actual production costs, since we're passing off some of the building to the user.

Overall, I had so much fun working on this, and being able to talk with Jordan and Chris- it was awesome!