Futurist in both senses
Roger Belveal is a futurist in both contemporary and art historical sense. With three decades in IT user experience design, from aerospace to ecommence, Belveal has been a player in the transformation of our culture to digital. His art reflects insights gained along the way. He coined the term techXpressionism for his rugged rendering of digital themes.
What is Futurism?
Futurism is an enthusiastic view of technology in our lives and in our culture. It sparks an excitement for technology's imagery, from the industrial revolution to the digital age. It speaks well of the future. See Wikipedia
Futurism is also a genre of art that came on the heels of cubism that focused on rendering time and motion in static imagery. It does this through principles of perception and natural cognition of physics.
It's a mind thing and a heart thing. For example, my human figures rendered in steel as sketches in space are less about the physical human form and more about the essence of the person, their motion and emotion in a present experience.
TechXpressionism is a celebration of our long love affair with technology and great design while playfully rebelling against its slick aesthetic, irreverently poking fun at it here and there. In a weird and twisted manner, it seeks to extol the virtues of the digital era and also provide some refreshing relief from it. Humor and serious commentary coexist comfortably in it.
TechXpressionism is also about experiences, not of art subjects, but of the audience. It is about bringing familiar digital themes out from behind the glass and into our real space where we live. It is about creating audience experiences that traverse the boundaries of virtual and real, blurring those lines in our minds. It is about transforming mysterious abstractions into real things, tangible and familiar. It is that person you met in a dream greeting you on the street, resulting in a fusion of the dreaming and waking self. In this sense, I am admittedly practicing my profession of technology user experience design within my art. But it's the most fun part.
A player right in the midst of the digital transformation of business and culture over last three decades, roger has a point of view on digital culture that he has now brought into his art. He has been a part of multiple revolutions of technology as it has evolved. He has been one of human factors designers that has endeavored to ensure that technology was serving and conforming to humans and not the other way around.
The digital environment that was once confined to large corporations and universities has spread in every direction until it now engulfs the entire planet. The impacts of digital on our lives once limited to geeky researchers and professionals is now experienced by all of us, virtually. The benefits and the penalties in attention are now upon us all.
web media production
Belveal is still a practicing UX designer and information architect. He deos user research, designs websites and defining interactions. He is a blogger and writes most of the copy for his own web site, though often writing it in the third person.
Roger Belveal has a Bachelor of Fine Art in Industrial Design from the University of Washington with an emphasis on human factors. There he also studied life sculpture, fire arts, metal working, and public art. He had many great mentors, foremost among them, Robert Graves, John Young, and Tadeo Shimizo.
Throughout his career, Belveal has been an agent for change, a mentor to other designers, and an advocate for usability and accessibility of virtual and physical spaces. His art being generally touchable, some has achieved notoriety as an art experience for the blind. Roger has become well known as the artist to the tech design community in the DFW area. His work is a favorite among startups, especially among millennials as it speaks to their life experience.
Family and community
Roger and his wife Mary, a career RN, have four grown children; two daughters in digital marketing, a civil engineer son, and another son who is a neuroscientist. Originally from the great northwest, they have happily called Texas home for two decades, the last decade in Frisco. He is an active member of the Frisco Arts community and serves on the Public Art Board for the City of Frisco. They are delighted to have grandchildren in Frisco schools.
“I’m not Banksy”
There are some artists, such as Banksy, who seem to be bent on abusing their audiences in some manner. For Banksy this includes destroying a work of art in what is clearly another piece of (performance ) art. See the shredder story.
”Bullies and abusers get much attention. And people apparently some people love to be abused, perhaps for the same reason. I’m not sure. It has never made sense to me. Whether the abuse is genuine or a ruse for attention sake, I find it rude.
I studied alongside many artists who feel nothing but contempt for their audience and they express it through their art. I loathed that attitude back then and i still do now. I respect my audience. In fact, I love them. Ironically, this may impair my appeal to some who apparently are looking for someone to abuse them. Oh well. If you want to be abused, I’m not your guy. Got that? I’m not Banksy.”
“I would like to be Five Andys”
Here’s something I would like to do. This is me.
Born among the tall evergreens and the cool rivers of Oregon, Belveal grew up with an appreciation of the hard working blue collar sawmill workers and farmers. Welding and working in steel was a first love. Learning to weld at the age of nine, he developed a love for metal.
Human Factors and Design
Studying Industrial Design and sculpture at the University of Washington, he focused on design research to make products that served human needs. Touching human needs is constant thread. Now we have come full circle and focus on the needs or the tangible, the real.
early Art influences
Of all my influences and mentors, Bob Graves was the single most influential on me developing my art style. Bob was amazing. He taught us to see things differently. He taught us to look for the gesture in the figure and then focus on just that. Forget everything else, go after the gestalt. You must see it first, then capture it. And when you see it, and begin to render it, render it with deliberate unapologetic strokes. In doing so deliberately, the audience will see it too. Those words and that passion of his have remained with me for decades since. I tried hard to learn what Bob was teaching us. Then I wondered what it would look like in three dimensions, in steel? I had learned to weld metal when I was a kid and thought metal sculpture would be cool. Bob Graves gave me a concept I wanted to explore.
Though I never met him personally, I connected with his art in a way that knocked me off my feet. at he age of nineteen writing a paper for my silly art history class, something grabbed me. As a child Michelangelo had been cared for by a woman who’s husband worked in a marble quarry. Hanging around the guys cutting stone as a kid and getting lots of hands-on personal time with the stone, just he and the stone, he obviously developed an intimate relationship with the material that was unique. It shows in all his work, even the Sistine ceiling that is painted as if it was chiseled from marble.
Then I remembered being age three sitting on the end of my father’s workbench in Sweet Home, Oregon, often barefooted, smelling that small of burnt metal and watching him weld with that beautiful bright blue flame from that acetylene torch, hearing the whir of the oxygen and combustable gas mix brightly in steel melting power in the dim light of that dusty garage. The arc welder was exciting too, but I couldn’t look at it. Everyone knows you have to look away from electric arc welding in progress or you’ll go blind. For Michelangelo it was marble and the chisel. For me it was steel and that awesome flame.
Steel and flame
Cutting, welding, bending that red hot steel like it was a piece of bendy play-dough, making it any shape you want. This was spectacular. It stuck solidly in my brain. I’ve used a lot of tools in my life and career, both physical and digital to be creative. That torch and flame remains my first love among tools.
His own digital transformation
Having studied product design aimed a solving problems with physical technology and finding computers to be so very damned annoying, roger sought opportunities to do just that. He soon realized however, that the times were changing and soft ware was the key to it all. The Instead of being enamored with those new machines, it would be what was running through the circuit boards of those machines that mattered most. Additionally, what he saw in the software world as to how things were designed was greatly distressing if not infuriating, Software was painfully unfriendly and often oppressive toward those using it. No wonder the first generation to begin switching over to digital were often intimidated if not terrified of it. It was volatile, and chronically unforgiving,
My own first computer in the corporate environment cost three to four times my annual salary. And yet, if I made the same gros mistakes it made, I’d expect to be fired immediately. I was George Jetson working with uniblab. And Mr. Spacely liked Uniblab far more than he liked me.
Eventually what all of this would inevitably lead to is the conversion of belveal int a passionate usability design advocate. He would be in on what would be the ground floor of several significant enterprise digital transformations, engineering to ecommerce. And advocacy for the human in the equations would always be the primary focus.
The art / Tech collision
Therapy for me and for my geeky colleagues who loved the virtual world, yet began to feel sensory deprived, being absorbed into the virtual world for hours of every day resulting in a craving for the real, the touchable, the solid, the physical world. Yet the lure of the virtual has not faded in the least. We love it. We only wish that somehow our two beloved wolds might meet ear reconcile, like a being from a dream shows up in the middle o the day. The meting of our two wolds, like tow families on different wavelengths have little hope of happily merging, yet we do how.
Born in 1960 in Sweet Home, Oregon, a small logging and farming town in the foothills of the Cascade mountains on edge of the beautiful Willamette Valley. Born among the covered bridges of the old landscapes of a deep forest dotted with hard-working sawmills and people who knew how to do a days work.
“I love to visit when I can. Some of the old relics still remain. The home where we lived when I was born is under a lake and the acreage where my father had a small herd of cows is now a park. My son and I were at that park and I was telling some fellow about being there as a kid and I pointed where the barn was. My son later told me, ‘That guy thought you were crazy’. Oh well, maybe I am.”
Belveal studied art and design and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Industrial design in 1987.
designing the digital world
After inventing his unique form of metal sculpture which he describes as a 3D figure sketch, he spent twenty years designing great user experiences in digital technology. Always studying how users respond to a particular design, conducting hundreds of usability tests has given belveal an uncanny sensitivity to the connection between people and technology. This love affair is what inspired the major art piece, "MyFavoriteMachine".
My Favorite Machine
"To create the next 65 Mustang, the next IPhone, the next iconic object that transcends its niche and becomes a part of the human experience, to become a favorite machine, this is the holy grail of achievement for designers. To understand what makes an ordinary object so endearing and to celebrate that phenomenon, that is what this art is about" - r.e. belveal
Take a browse through his online art at www.belveal.com. You'll see a bunch of great art, read his blog and get a mashup of design commentary on current trends along with art show news and compelling photo collections of favorite machines.
Creating experiences across traditional boundaries of art and functioning design, virtual and actual, minimalist forms and expressionism, this is fun!
Steel and concrete
Steel and concrete are extremely anti-digital. They are very earthy, basic, utilitarian,
From working in steel, concrete, and found objects to creating transparent forms and sketches in space.
Initially favoring the human figure with modern construction materials, Roger then journeyed into cultural commentary. Traversing across mediums from Sculpture into virtual realms and then mixing the two worlds together to create reflections of our times.
He coined the term, TechXpressionism as a statement about culture being transformed by the digital technology. Digital themes in earthy industrial mediums is a dichotomy that celebrates our love for technology while simultaneously rebelling against the slick virtual aesthetic.
Images coming out from behind the glass and into physical space became found an instant audience with millennials and geeks. But really, haven't we all become tech geeks lately?
Changes in the night
People lie all the time. If you asked accountants ten years ago if they would ever want to do any part of a tax return using their mobil phone, They would swear, no. Don’t be ridiculous! Then one day, they are asking you why the thing doesn’t work right on their mobile phone, Ok.
Brian has been a friend, a work colleague in design and usability studies, and a promoter in opening the door for my art with the big Design conference.
Tadeo Shiuizu, International designer
James Hennessey, design research
human factors research, design thinking
Barry Gregg, my mentor in Photography
As a young photography enthusiast, I was delighted to be Barry’s apprentice on some photo shoots, some award winning!
Chuck Cole, productions innovator
John T. Young - sculptor my mentor in the study of public art. John himself has produced many pieces of notable public art and a host of a PBS show about public art. I was also inspired by the art that John Young produces, concrete, boulders exploded, the brought back together using cables. Awesome energy in these pieces. I love them.
Public art - Stone, concrete,
Keith Butler, Boeing fellow, Boeing Research and technology, pioneer of Usability engineering
Dr. Butler was my personal mentor during the establishment of the first usability lab at the Boeing company in Seattle
Judith Ramey, Professor at UW Dept. of Human Centered Design & Engineering
Judy was a mentor to the small team founding the Boeing usability lab, advising in the establishment of processes.
Randy Worsech, program manager Boeing Architecture
Randy and I actually met at a CHI 92. This happened to be the conference where the Usability Professionals’ Association (UXPA) was born. It started as a Birds of a feather meeting about usability, where myself, Jared Spool, Don Norman, Janice James, and about 40 others were crowded inside a very small room. This was to be the CHI conference where connections were made. Its where I met Judith Ramey, Stephanie Rosenbaum, Aaron Marcus, Claire Marei Karat, and many other early pioneers in the field. There I became connected to the UX enthusiasts at my own company, Boeing. Among them, Randy Worsech. Randy was the ringleader. This led to my becoming part of the team that launched usability engineering within the Boeing company. Randy was guy with the vision for the CUIS group (Common User Interface Services), a greenhouse for UX professionals before it was called UX.
Mike York, Associate technical fellow at the Boeing company
Mike was the application architect for BoGART, FlyThru, and other innovative systems revolutionizing the design, production, and support of commercial airplane.
Jim Tallant, System administration, Boeing
Jim was my UNIX mentor. Jim introduced me to the Inherent in the days before most people has heard that there was such a thing as the internet. This is why belveal.com is mine and not one of my relatives. There's no better evidence of someone being in on the ground floor of the internet than that they registered their own family name.
Edward Tufte, Information visualization guru and sculptor