Red’s Class – Week 1 – Vito Acconci (9/08/2009)
Posted in Applications

Acconci Studio

Today was the first official day of classes at ITP.  I had Red Burns’s course “Applications of Interactive Telecommunications Technology.”  She is a slight woman in her eighties with a sharp mind and a sharper tongue.

Each class is broken up into two halves:  the second half is a presentation by a guest lecturer, and the first half is a student presentation on their reactions to the guest lecturer from the previous course.  As this was the first time the class met, we spent the first half introducing ourselves.

The guest speaker was artist Vito Acconci.  He is quite famous for his pioneering work in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s where he developed the experience of creating, viewing, and participating with art.  Certainly he is one of the first people to really think well about interactivity.

What stuck with me most from his talk was the notion that an artist and a viewer are of equal importance, and therefor an interaction must be balanced, interdependent, and mutually beneficial.  Rather than talented artisans created superlative experiences that unappreciative laypeople are blessed to humbly witness (artist-as-diety), he breaks down the experience into a more accessible, satisfying communication between two minds (artist-as-communicator/connector).

While listening to his lecture, it occurred to me that interface design should not only be pretty and well organized, but it should require the user to participate in order to work.  I conceived a concept for a web browser interface that I intend to submit for the Mozilla Interface competition.  It is centered around the search experience, customization of toolbars through a lightweight modular interface, and the need for the user to activate and be in complete control of the software as they utilize it to perform their web tasks.

I look forward to seeing what is presented next week in response to his lecture.