the audience is THE CANVAS, art the brush
The day a blind person showed me my art
“Hi Roger. I’m Jeanine.
”I’ve been hearing about your art all day.
Would you show it to me?”
“Sure. I’d love to”
“Just point my hands to where to start. “
Placing her cane in her left hand, she gave me her right hand.
Don’t tell me what it is. I want to discover it.”
“That's a rough, smooth, cold… Its a chain!
I was completely struck by what was happening. As we went from piece to piece, I directed her hands. she explored each piece one at at a time.
“Its smooth and, its…A coffee cup!. haha!”
Here is a person with a long career in IT and yet this was the first time she had ever really experienced an icon.
Prior to this moment, icons were just one more instance of a flat piece of glass.
“It’s a car! Oh, Wait. There’s’ something on the top of it. It’s a police car!”
The art was enabling something a screen reader and graphic labels could never do.
Had I just invented a new genre of accessible art? Yes. I think so.
What began with me showing my art to her quickly turned around. She was showing it to me, enabling me to see it in ways I hadn’t imagined. And the effect on me was permanent. What else was I not seeing that I needed to see?
Afterward, we talked about the need for the value of creating accessible art. I had always felt that art should be experienced with all of the senses as much as possible, especially sculpture being three dimensional, ought to be touched. I hadn’t really thought of the people for whom touch would be their primary means of experiencing it. What was previously a nice-to-have suddenly became critically important.
making pretty art is nice
Some art is made to be admired and that’s okay. I just find it boring. I make art to be experienced. That’s different. Engaging the intellect as well as the senses in some way that is deeply meaningful to the audience is far more interesting to me.
Making Connections? that’s cool!
It’s the purpose of my art to make connections, intellectual, emotional, past-experiential, are important to creating effective new experiences. Personal connections are powerful. And if some of these are shared between multiple members of he audience, a cumulative effect emerges that potentially takes it off the scale. These are the kinds of things that matter most and they are really not tied to any medium, hard or soft, but are parts of the human experience historically.
The convergence zone
In nature, the places with the most life happening are the edge communities where different domains intersect, the seashore, tide pools, the forest edge, the wetlands,. The same is true with where technology and psychology and business art and community intersect and overlap. If you want to see something new happening, look for the intersections of things.
The social dimension
Having experiences in common
“Everyone wants a slinky. You ought to get a Simky”.
The silly jingle is part of our collective experience. A slinky in the art brings the emotion from the past into the prescient art experience, It’s an unexpected visit from a childhood friend. Creating collisions of experiences is fun and meaningful,
Everyone loves a slinky.
creating shared experiences
Designing technology to be used in social settings, that caught my intention.
Physics of time and motion
The evolution of the software from unusable to usable was largely about adding real world attributes to the virtual. Ironically, the thing that gave software its advantage of not being restricted by laws of physics of time and space also made it next to impossible for people to deal with, Users applying normal cognitive processes were frustrated by something that was oblivious to those rules.
The graphical user interface brought far more than aesthetics, it brought rationale interaction, spatial reasoning, matching the system to human understanding of the real world. Where it selectively defies time and space physics remains the advantage, but these are superpowers given to a form that has become part of the real world.
Even now, much of the most advanced software is that which mimics real world behaviors the best. to take the most advantage of perception and cognition that humans have built in. Considering this it is not surprising that metaphors, even very simple spatial metaphors, continue to be the strength of much of the UI. See the metaphors page.
Experience is the connecting thread running through it all
Art is a place to continue exploring things I discovered while doing technology design in the corporate world.
a UX Designer when it was barely a thing
A pioneer in human computer interaction, Roger Belveal was instrumental in founding the first usability testing lab for the Boeing company in Seattle, leading a team of researchers and user interface designers consulting on huge variety of engineering and business systems across the vast company.
It was at Boeing, after having help found the usability lab, usability testing advanced engineering software and sales engineers that I became fascinated with contexts in which the software played a role in a social context. The primary context challenging us a that time was the system used by sales engineers during the negotiation with customer configuring an airplane.
I do miss Boeing. I have never been in any environment more rich with people who like to build things, cool things. And everyone feels pride on the day a new airplane takes first flight, like a child taking its first steps. From the CEO to the janitor, theer’s a little tear of pride and emotion.
Since then, I have seized opportunities to explore this further, in CRM, and call center apps. Mixtures fo self service ecommerce and professional CSR usage scenarios are particularly interesting. The impacts, positive and negative of the presence of a device in the social mix, the individual factors adding up to a net gain or loss of the quality of the interpersonal interaction has been a fascinating journey to observe though all of the evolution of technology and the many ways it is used and the ever increasing role that it plays in the lives of everyone.
Art, a place to continue exploring things I discovered while doing technology design in the corporate world.
tech social dimension of technology
configuring an airplane
design and airplane with hundreds of others working simultaneously in the same virtual space
selling insurance over the phone
training others in complex technologists and processes
Decision support for high stakes decisions
Managing credit scores
Managing an airline
The medium almost doesn’t mater
Art and design
The difference between art and design is simple. Design is about solving problems, usually someone else’s problems, often in a corporate environment. It’s a noble profession. and many do it well though amid a great many challenges, not the least of which are that those who employ you to do it are often the biggest barriers you face in doing it. Weird but true.
Art on the other hand is about, well, it’s about whatever the artist wants it to be about. That alone makes it VERY different from design.
In my case, however, I am an experience designer. This means that when I make art I am focused less on the physical medium and more on the intellect and emotion of the audience. My real pallet is the mind of the audience. Its what I do.
There’s much more that could and should be said about design and designing experiences in particular.
Art or Design
And when I presented about design at the Big Design conference, the response I got was, “Your presentation was pretty good, but what art are you working on now?” Tell us about your art. We want to hear about the art!”
What would you do in my shoes?
Is art with a useful purpose still art? Can the act of use be an aesthetic experience? Or does utility destroy art? Are art and design the same thing or two entirely different things? Conflict, harmony, or both?
Functional art touches us by its presence. Like other art it engages our senses, but doesn't stop there. Inviting deeper interaction as it serves a functional purpose. As it serves a human need, whether critical or trivial, It becomes an active participant in our lives, building a relationship with us, earning a solid place in our life experience. It cannot be aloof.
Some art lovers might say no. Industrial designer say "of course! Designers of products, architectural spaces, and technology might insist that functionality is another dimension of
eCommerce and financial systems,
Many of these complex business systems involved facilitating intense social human to human engagement. It was her that Belveal developed a fascination and obsession with the social and cultural dynamics of technology. And this is one of thee primary motivations and elements in the his techXpressionist art.
Some of the fortune companies he has designed for include:
Boeing - technical illustration, manufacturing CAD, 3D visualization, Instructional systems, the
USAA - All types of insurance, investments, actuary, product configruation
Freddie Mac - B2B contract negotiation systems, configuration, loan serving,
CitiGroup auto loan systems
Wells Fargo Phone banking, security authentication,
Intuit, the cloud based professional tax accounting applications
Sabre Airline Solutions
Trend Micro cyber security software
Engagement with games AR crossing the boundaries between virtual and real world.
Futurism is critical optimism
We should not be in a hurry to replicate ourselves. A much healthier model is that of man and service animal from the pre-industrialized world. Specialized service animals, hunting dogs, horses puling carriages, in all thee cases, a bond forms of trust and efficient collaboration between man and beasts. Th animals are intelligent, but not human. generally having some strength or capability beyond human.
humans weakened or Empowered?
As technology capabilities grow, is it making us more dependent.
As computing began to go to the masses, there were a few hurdles that happened. A common one is the confusion over what is happening and were is my information?
A common practice was to try to alleviate this by simply doing it for the user. that was a gigantic mistake. It postponed the inevitable and dis-empowered users.
an extension of humanity or its replacement?
Transformation that make people more aware, in control, that empower people are far better than those which hide information and make users dependent.
Not dumping tons of raw or useless information on users, but giving them the right information at the right time, in the right way, in the right level of detail to be truly useful.
This has been a decisions support t hing
Hiding information was a b
great examples - Uber - gives you more information about the transportation than you ever had from a cab. You know upfront, the cost, about the driver, the route, the vehicle.
Barefoot and in the wizard
Not voice interaction - object centric behavior
Voice interaction style makes us more dependent, less aware, less in control, less intelligent - it is for communication between equals
the way we interact with real objects in the real world is more empowering than
The rush TO ANTHROPOMORPHISM
Why the obsession with forcing machines into humans roles?
What in the world is wrong with letting machines do what machines do well and let their roles evolve accordingly?
The current push to force machines to emulate humans and fulfill human responsibilities is fool hearty and a misuse of technology.
Demanding that machines pretend to be human is nonsense. A far better model exists and has been round a long time. The way a person interacts with a great service animal is a far better model for how we should interact with machines. Unfortunately, western society has forgotten this model except for a few selected cases.
a service animal is a smarter model
The trust relationship between a horse and rider, or a hunter and classic hunting dog, mule team plowing field, these are all intimate relationships of communication and trust. Animals are intelligent and posses certain capabilities that humans lack. That’s why we use them, or did use them in times past.
It might have been better if we had not gone from smart animals to dumb machines to smart machines, but gone straight from smart animals to smart machines. We might have done much better at the transition.
The rush to full automation / autonomous machines in critical roles
People love anything that looks like magic
Like children at the circus, we require the thrill of risk. Its not enough to see amazing aerobatics. It must be without a net. Foolish and reckless. Why can’t we can’t use technology effectively with wise risk management?
ARCHITECTURE and CITIES-CAPES
I used to think architectural spaces were a great metaphor for virtual space design . I have changed my mind. They are exactly the same thing. Spaces, whether virtual or physical, are places we inhabit in our minds. They can be accommodating and pleasant, or they can stir up angst and unpleasant surprises. And the principles by which we design habitable spaces in either form are not all that different. This point of view has brought me to weigh in on multiple design aspects of city planning in Frisco, Se blog, Wide Sidewalk Plan for Historic Downtown Frisco