22 May, 2008

A rather long, non-interactive post

It should not come as a surprise, but most, if not all, of the time, I have no clue what I am doing. Just ask any of the Megan’s (in any of their incarnations). Well, if you’ve checked out my website (plug), I started out in the field of engineering (I wanted to make Muppets). Well, after plenty of that, I didn’t feel fulfilled, like “this is what I was meant to be doing.” So, picking up what I love to do, I took a swing at the whole art thing, and sometimes it doesn’t feel right either. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I feel more fulfilled than I ever did doing the old engineering, but we are all filled with the same such insecurities. I know what this sounds like, like I went from one end of the spectrum to the other. It’s certainly the response I get when I tell people my beginnings and where I am now. Turns out they are not so far from each other after all.

Tonight I had the opportunity to meet Dale Herigstad, the creative director at Schematic. He spoke mostly about new media and immersive technology and its design, but the thing I personally took the most from his talk was at how closely the technology is linked to the art. The development of an immersive environment that allows complete interactivity is not only a challenge for the illustrators and graphic designers, but those implementing those designs. It was funny, actually because there’s stuff that I learned as an engineering student that came up during the talk that most of those present had no idea about, including RFID and concurrent engineering. It wasn’t funny that they didn’t know, but that I felt more comfortable in that overlapping region between art and science. Who knows, maybe that’s where I need to be. I recently started reading Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing and what I’ve gotten through is very intriguing. I mean it starts with physics, and not Newtonian physics. It’s seriously exciting. Another book which I have long been a fan of is Origami: From Angelfish to Zen. It re-emphasizes how much science is inherent it art. See for yourself: unfold a paper crane and you’ll see the lines and angles and the patterns (I’ve been told I’m attracted to patterns). Really, it leads to fractals, which are undeniably cool.

Well, anyway, back to the immersive technology…Dale discussed two fantastic technologies that have been implemented, even if they are not yet available to the general public. First one: gesture motion. Imagine surfing the web or browsing enhanced content television with a simple wave of the hand. Yep, it’s freaking cool. The next one (not to be confused with the A Perfect Circle album) : controlling stuff with your mind. Yep, change the channel, play video games, turn up the volume, just by thinking about it. Many in the audience quickly jumped to essentially “pop up adds,” where you’re thinking about pie while watching a movie, then the interactive content pops up with recipes for a nice key lime or maps you directions to the nearest 24-hour pie shop. Apparently, I’m still not on the same brainwave, as I thought of the potential for applications with quadriplegics or amputees. Not to make myself look like a saint, but I also thought of cyborgs.

That was something that floated around the back of my mind throughout the entire presentation. Increasingly, we are immersing ourselves in technology and information. Eventually, there will be no need to even leave the house when you can virtually visit anywhere on the planet, have food delivered to you just by thinking about it, and so on and so forth. I remember seeing something like that and it looked like a pretty horrible existence. I’m with everyone who said the Matrix was awesome, but we are increasingly stepping toward a future that further distances us from not only interaction with nature, but interaction with each other. For example, instead of getting together with my friends to talk about these thoughts, I’m sitting in front of a computer, blogging about it.

So, aside from the philosophical meanderings, I ended the evening with a trip to Noodles and Company for some dinner, and as soon as I finish this post, I’m going to watch Minority Report because it has the immersive interactivity gesture model as a special effect.

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