Interaction design is looking at the relationships between people, technology and society (Hand, Mitrovic, Smyth, 2010). It is not just about people or the world around them, it is about the interactions between them. Interaction design is an approach a process of designing relationships rather than things (Dunne, 2007). Interaction designers are hybrid designers, they dont fit in neat categories, they are a mixture of artists, engineers, designers, thinkers (Dunne, 2007). It is a highly multidisciplinary field, which includes design (graphic, product and interface), psychology, sociology, communication science, anthropology, computer science, engineering, information and communication technologies, architecture and art.
Department of Visual Communications Design (Arts Academy, University of Split) is organizing series of workshops splitinteractions as an introduction to interaction design in region. The workshops further promote the multidisciplinary educational approach started with the successful Convivio Summer School in Split in 2004.
Overall goals of the workshops are:
By inviting students from a range of disciplines and universities, we aim to give participants the experience of:
We also encourage participants to go beyond the limits of design definitions, and to re-think what design is today.
Themes of previous workshops were: Communities in Transition; People-Centered Methodology; Public Spaces; Technology, Interactions and Learning; Invisible Cities and Hybrid City. Previous workshops were led by international experts from the field of interaction design, coming from the following institutions: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm; Limerick School of Art and Design, University of Limerick; California State University East Bay; School of Arts and Creative Industries, Edinburgh Napier University; Royal College of Art (RCA), London; University of Westminster, Kingston University, London; Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm.
Projects designed and developed at the workshops were exhibited and awarded at the festivals and exhibitions in region. So far, the workshop was attended by over 150 students of design (visual communications, new media, interaction and product), fine arts, film and video, computer science, ICT, architecture and sociology from major Croatian universities and the universities from the region.
The 7th splitinteractions Interaction Design Workshop will be held at the Arts Academy from 19th to 24th of March.
The workshop will address modern utopias, utopias that do not represent imaginary worlds far away, but utopias which, through the creation of different worlds and social relations actually question the current social, technological and cultural relations. Workshop participants will focus on cultural implication of the technology use, through critical design practice not primary on technology itself.
The coordinator and workshop leader is assistant professor Ivica Mitrovic from the Department of Visual Communications Design. There will be three groups/ateliers, lead by: Demitrios Kargotis and Dash Macdonald from UK, known as Dashndem who teach at Birmingham City University and Coventry University in Design, also visiting lecturers at the Royal College of Art, London; Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Pekko Koskinen and Christina Kral from Finland group YKON and Loove Broms from Swedish Interactive Institute and Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).
Around 30 students from various academic fields, from Croatian universities and regional countries will participate. Projects developed during the workshop will be presented at a public presentation at the Arts Academy on the last day of the workshop. All projects will be documented on this web site. After successful presentation all participants will gain 1.5 ETCS.
Worst-case scenario thinking encourages society to adopt fear as one of the dominant principles around which the public, its government and institutions should organize their lives.
—Furedi, F., Invitation to Terror, The Expanding Empire of the Unknown, 73, Continuum, 2007
...every one from academics to thriller authors, Futurists, and Hollywood screenwriters has been summoned to Washington and asked to dream up ways things could go wrong.
—Gardener, D., Risk, The Science and Politics of Fear, 327, Virgin Books, 2009
Over the past three decades, there has been a shift from probabilistic to possibilistic what if thinking, with leading counter-terrorist experts frequently predicting far-fetched, worst-case scenarios. The shock of 9/11 and the claims that the most important failure of government was one of imagination1, led officials to proliferate this process of imagining the unimaginable. The government assigned its senior military professionals to brainstorm with various Hollywood cultural creatives (such as the Die Hard screen writer Steven E. de Souza, Delta Force One and Missing in Action director Joseph Zito) to dream up future, possible terrorist attacks, focusing on the exotic and catastrophic. This constant blurring of the line between fiction and reality, what has and could happen, serves to intensify and dramatize the ongoing political discourse of danger.
For the fist part of this workshop you will be tasked as a team to 'imagine the unimaginable' and creatively forecast 'possible' future worst-case scenarios for Split; from the city itself to a specific location, event, group, neighborhood or individual etc. You will move beyond terrorism to consider the different counter factors: social, political, environmental, technological and economical that could have a disastrous impact on the city's future. The next step will be to creatively develop a short story depicting the selected worst-case scenario(s). This will then be used to frame a series of site-specific interventions, which will focus on how these hypothetical worst case scenarios are transformed from possible to probable to inevitable, for political ends - shaping our current culture of fear.
Discourses are more than just words or texts; they are also actions and material practices which act as symbols and message transmitters.
—Jackson R., Writing the War on Terrorism, Language Politics and Counter Terrorism, 113, Manchester University Press, 2005
Peter Marcuse professor of urban planning at Columbia University, uses the term manipulated climate responses to describe responses that are calculated to increase insecurity. They include colour alerts, the placement of armed sky marshals on passenger planes, the flying of jets over major cities; large scale public health exercises that simulate WMD attacks on urban areas, government websites that encourage the building of sealed rooms and the hoarding of supplies. These techniques serve a specific political purpose: control limiting freedom and restricting rights to the city by enforcing the idea that there is no alternative.
Moving from risk to rehearsal the main part of the workshop will be to design a counter response as a direct reaction to your selected worst-case scenario, where preventative measures are taken in order to deter or withstand the scenario predicted. You will draw from the theatrical nature of civil defence and its reliance on performance and rehearsal methodologies to resolve anxious problems and attempt to make uncertainties appear manageable and capable of being acted upon, at least in part.
In the context of the Interaction Design Workshop (Department of Visual Communications Design (DVK) Arts Academy, University of Split) YKON will host a 1 week development event for participants across various disciplines to critically reflect upon, adapt and expand on Buckminster Fullers World Game and it's contemporary predecessor - the YKON Game.
Through the 1960s architect & utopian thinker, Buckminster Fuller developed the World Game. It was created as a subversion of so called military "War Games". It was intended as a tool to formulate competing, comprehensive design-science approaches to all the problems of the world. Fuller choose to call his vision a game because he wanted it seen as something that was accessible to everyone, not just the elite few in the power structure who thought they were running the show. Inspired by Fullers vision YKON has taken its core ideas and developed a contemporary, more poetic version to provide a fresh perspective on the future of our world.
The YKON GAME is based on a simple thought experiment: Imagine that the world is brought to a complete halt. Everything stops. No more business as usual. With the world being frozen, you & your fellow players can tinker with the world as you please. What will you change? How do you convince others to go along with your changes? And what about the consequences? In short: The YKON Game is a workshop, party and therapy session in one.
The YKON game consists currently of a few basic modules:
During the workshop we would like to develop a number of more modules that can be played within the World Game / YKON Game context. We specifically look at modules that expand the capabilities of the YKON game into following areas:
The goal is to develop the game into a complete modular structure so that the came can be adapted to a wide range of contexts, age groups, durations, functionalities. We hope that the YKON game can become a true community tool that would enable anybody to think about the world in a bigger picture while finding practical utopian solutions to everyday life. The YKON game modifications developed in Split will be tested with various audiences at Mine, Yours, Ours festival in Rijeka in October 2012 and then at the Practical Utopia series of events in 2012/2013 in Croatia, London, Helsinki.
In the last 10]20 years researchers and policymakers increasingly develop and use visions of sustainable futures. These future scenarios have had modest impact so far on everyday live and practices. One reason for this could be that they are done on a higher more abstract, top]down level not including multiple dimensions such as production, consumption, economics, life styles, and values and their implications for material culture.
As designers, we can make use of existing product mythologies through the semantics of objects; transferring and questioning connotations of meaning and use, to explore how new types of more environmental practices could look like. When attempting to create a new artefact or practice, we can deliberately cut and paste, merge and use the pre]existing common knowledge tied to the dominating perceptions anchored in the materiality of society as well as in internal models of the user.
The objective here is to, by designing efictional artefactsf (design experiments, prototypes, domestication probes etc.), question present norms and practices and explore and try out new alternative ways of thinking about sustainable futures in dialog with our present material culture.
As a preparation for the workshop, read the text eslow designf by Alastair Fuade]Luke about design and itfs implications for sustainability. Read the text and think about how it might relate to your own practice and experience as well as your daily life. Collect material related to this that would inform and provoke initial group discussions and brain storming sessions. Such material should be wide ranging and may include anything from examples of work from designers/artists/architects, literary and film references, science fiction, newspaper reports and much more. It can also be from topics not directly related to sustainability but that you think could have value from a design and sustainability perspective. Every participant will present his/hers research findings to the other group members. It will provide a good opportunity to begin to assess what approach you may like to take towards the brief and also to introduce yourself and your specific expertise.
Expanding on the current popularity of the two TV series based in Split: Ruza Vjetrova and Larin izbor, we created a worst case scenario in which the city, facing economic meltdown, receives an offer from a television network Good Life Entertainment, to transform itself into a giant interactive TV and on-line programme as a means of saving the inhabitants from poverty and unemployment.
The city and its citizens are recorded via thousands of cctv cameras, drones and mobile camera crews. They have to dramatize their lives in order to engage viewers, encouraged by the fact that the more followers they have the more money they can earn and the more time, money and sophisticated filming techniques will be used to document their lives.
To illustrate Splitopias infrastructure and speculate on possible implications, we employed the format of an instructional video based on the cold war civil defence film Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow (1956). Centred on artefacts, products, posters, and scripted performances, the film creates a vivid picture of what life would be like for a citizen of Splitopia.
Brainblender is a board game that encourages people to play with ideas from plain silly to world changing. The game fosters team work and assists people to come up with unconventional solutions to conventional problems. It was developed at the Interaction Design Workshop at UMAS (Arts Academy, Split)
The aim was to create both, a game and an idea generator. Brainblenders game principles and strategies can be applied in everyday life whether we would like to change our perception of the world around us or just to put the decision making into a playful process.
Brainblender is a board game for four players. First, all players choose a question, either out of twenty preset questions or create their own. Second, each player writes his or her idea in response to this question on an idea card and places it on the board. In the next round a dice throw decides which variation of their initial idea players have to develop. For example the idea should be made more strange or horrific or architectural. This idea variation is then written on another idea card which is placed on the board. Players explain briefly their ideas and the choice of placement of the idea card. When idea cards of different players connect, the two players have to blend their ideas and create a joint idea in response to the initial question. The game ends when all idea cards are connected to each other.
The versatility of the game can be exemplified by different scenarios:
Brainblender is an open source game prepared as DIY assembly in PDF format. It was designed for everybody and it is free for download.
With the purpose to inspire YOU to play games every day
Developed in Split Interactions Workshop 2012, under the leadership of members of the YKON group, the makers of the book focused on finding a way to pass on the workshop knowledge to more people. The idea was to make a useful and meaningful device that will show the user the many options of looking at the world in a more playful and creative way. It is in a sketchbook/diary form, entitled Playbook, a personal thing to carry around with you. It presents your life through the lens of a game: with its toolkit, character sheet and quests you can turn yourself into a player, and your everyday life into gameplay. It also contains the game of connecting dots to keep track of your daily emotions and shapes they make. Additional tools within the book are designed to spark your imagination and stir it in new directions.
The idea was to transform Koteks, a partly abandoned shopping mall built in the 1970's to a place where a healty life styles and park culture met a nature gym. The gym would also generate its own energy through solar panels, wind and kinetic energy from people excersizing. Different games could also motivate pople to help produce electricity (see movie clip). People could also, for example ride a bycicle, lift weights and play football. The Football playground could be equiped with a sensitive floor that produced electricty. Energy could be stored or used right away for watching movies or for use in caffeteria, for playing music, moving elevators and lighting.
The central idea was to make use of visual elements asossicsted to nature as a symbol for sustainability and to provide a place for new and sustainable rituals to arise. A prototype was made to get the feeling of dimension of the complex and to present an idea of how the gym could look like. The Koteks worked really well as a place to be active and move around in. When we where acting out our idea and making the movie, people around the place where qurious and wanted to join in. We think that this is a good example of the potential of creating a place like this.
Our main idea was to connect the concept of sustainability through the communication of objects, a theme that we decided to choose after an initial brainstorming session about what we associated with the word sustainability. People are communicating with objects in everyday life, whether being aware of it or not. They interact with objects and assign meanings to them, which are then formed inside the discourse of their everyday life. This discourse is forming a kind of a frame that surrounds a person and moulds its interactions with others and the objects that surround him/her. We tried to discover and understand the frame that surrounded Split and find some positive and negative examples of sustainability through the prism of interaction with objects. After the fieldwork we decided that we should focus on Riva, since it is a place often debated. Because of this and since we noticed that Riva is over flooded with coffee bars and organized in such a way that it encourages passive and consumerist types of behaviour, we decided to make an intervention into this passiveness by placing an alternative type of object into the environment. The energy snail would on one hand communicate with people in a positive way to encourage recycling and at the same time disturb and provide an alternative to prevailing rituals. You can see how it went in our video.
Within the subject of sustainability, weve chosen four sub-themes: symbols, focal points, interactive advertistments and reusable/recycled furniture/materials. After interviewing random citizens of Split, differing in age, education and profession, we realised how little people know about sustainability. That led us to leitmotif which was to connect diverse sub-themes education on sustainability. Creating a more sustainable city/society begins by changing habits of individuals. To achieve that with greatest succes, but in most unobtrusive way we have chosen to act/interact within the very heart of one city its public spaces. Our utopian idea was to design mobile/dynamic sustainable place, one that people could use and adjust to themself while (sub)conciously learning about sustainability and becoming aware of their unsustainable habits. We made a model and used it to develop scenarios for Sustainication space. It was built out of four types of elements: energy producers, socializing groups, educative and symbolic elements. Afterwards, we built symbolic prototypes and tested them in the city. Our prototypes were limited in mobility and functionality those limitations affected selection of locations, as well as the result of prototype testing. Although very few people engaged into happening and even fewer actually interacted with the objects of Sustainication our goal was achieved. Mobile trees, sun collectors and wind turbines acted as symbols that almost everyone recognized at a glance. Now we are wondering- if one was to design energy collecting devices that would also be symbols/reminders for sustainability and place them around the city how would sustainable city look like?