Blog / Thoughts

What is a Designer?

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I go through phases of reading lots of theory and then nothing at all, right now I feel like I’m embarking on the start of a new reading phase.  I’ve just started reading Design as Art by Bruno Munari and am really enjoying it.  This quote starts the chapter, and is a response to the question, What is a Designer?

“He is a planner with an aesthetic sense.”

This really amused and interested me.  For years I have deliberated over the question of whether I am an artist or a designer or both, eventually coming to the conclusion that it probably doesn’t matter.  But this quote seems to sum me up perfectly, I love order, organising and making things just so and I love to do this logically, functionally and aesthetically.  I wonder if other designers see their work in this way too?

Creativity and Play

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

One of the central themes in my work from an early point has been the idea that the creative process is similar to playing.  In my own projects I often try to develop an environment or situation where the viewer/user can experience the piece by playing with it and by doing so becomes a part of the creative process itself.

The design firm IDEO also places the relationship between creativity, ideas, innovation and play at the core of its philosophy. Tim Brown’s TED talk ‘On Creativity and Play’ is especially insightful on this topic.  One of the central ideas put forward in the talk is that when you’re playing you are more open and relaxed and ideas flow much more easily. I think you’re probably also more willing and able to learn new skills and understand complex concepts in a playful state.  Based on this we should all try to incorporate play into our work and work environment.

Artsblog

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

It seems apt that just as I’m about to start my own blog I found myself at a discussion and live webcast for Artsblog Live Week run by Arts Admin.  Christina and I went a long pretty spare of the moment and found ourselves immersed in a really interesting discussion about the pros and cons of using the Internet as a platform for art.

Some of things that first inspired me to consider the web as a medium not just for showing the documentation of physical works but for making and exhibition specifically web based work came up in the talk and so I thought I’d share those thoughts with you on my first post.

I think my initial motivation was based on accessibility, I wanted to make work that was accessible to anyone and everyone – the Internet appears to be just the format for that.  However as was discussed last night you still need to consider whether everyone has access and time to spend on the Internet, do they have enough web literacy to access your work and possibly most important do they know about it?  Access to the arts in many instances I think these days is not limited so much by geography or finance but by information.  Whilst the web may appear to be easier to access in many ways therefore often knowledge of art on the web is fairly poor and despite that all you need is a link many people may never come across a net art project in their lives.

The other key aspect that continues to fuel my desire to acquire greater programming skills in order to create the interactive experiences I have blueprints for is the fact that the web by its nature is an active medium.  The web has ‘users’ not ‘viewers'; they are already engaged.  Great net art should take advantage of this and create experiences that challenge the audience and demand a higher level of engagement.  Or perhaps equally interestingly it could surprise the user by taking back some control, taking the user in unexpected places and behaving in unpredictable ways, how will be user react?  Will they reach for their back button or will they come along for the ride?

Watch the full discussion here.