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Interaction 14 – Day 1

Reblogged from ashleymarieandthesea:

Trust your gut. 

First lesson I learned while navigating the Interaction 14 conference. I pre-planned what I wanted to see, but still, there was that doubt I might miss a better presentation, it was basically conference FOMO (cringe). The day started off with a keynote by Klaus Krippendorf, where he presented theories on the philosophy of language and how reality is constructed through language. It was a great way to just throw people into the thick of things and really get our minds moving in an analytical way. 

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That coupled with the building at Westergasfabriek, Gashoulder, made for quite a start to the day. The building is a large cylinder with pitched high ceilings, like the name suggests, it was built in the early 1900s to store gas. And now it plays host to conferences and other events, which is not to sound trite. It always boggles my mind when buildings are just torn down so new ones can be introduced, rather than repurposing what is existing. This idea of waste brings to mind my thesis topic which I think touches on this issue in a different way. Speaking of thesis, the next person to present at the event was Bernard Lahousse, who was presenting on food and interactions. 

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It’s always exciting when you feel like a presentation has been scheduled that was made just for you. That’s how I felt about this upon seeing it on the schedule. Lahousse is a bio-engineer who is focused on the intersection between food and science, although I think you could also say design and art intersect there too. He focused on the 5 senses and how one’s perception of their food is altered depending on different attributes. For instance, touching either soft or rough/hard textures before eating will affect how that food tastes. Soft textures will make things taste sweeter, rough textures will make things taste woodier/literally rougher. I think there is a lot to play with here in terms of the dining experience, and it definitely challenged me to think about that for the next Meat Club event.

The rest of the day went by really quickly, it’s funny how an entire day of listening to talks can seem so long, but when they are broken down into short bursts (45min) they become really manageable. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of Presentation Party Night, a lecture series I run with friends. We gather people of all different backgrounds and ask them to speak on anything they really love and are interested in. The big difference is we don’t ask experts to do the talking, we ask the amateurs, the one’s that are just really excited about learning and sharing what they know. There’s a bit of unexpectedness in it all, including with the Interaction 14 conference, you never really know what you’re going to get. You are presented with a speaker’s bio which tells you their accomplishments and career trajectory and then a few paragraphs on the gist of their topic, but it’s really not much and sometimes you end up getting something that you really weren’t expecting. I was surprised, and very humoured, that the talk I attended today called UX in the City actually used Sex and the City and the main character Carrie Bradshaw as a storytelling mechanism to get the ideas across. It wasn’t what I expected, and I was a bit turned off at the beginning, but it ended up working well.

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We ended the day with a keynote by Scott McCloud, a comic artist and writer. The conversation was a big contrast to where we began the day. He spoke about the rise of visual literacy and the correlation between simplified imagery and better cognitive load time. He brought up that there comes an age when children stop being taught that images and written language are equal, around 8 or 9 years old, and all of sudden images become just an ancillary device, not really a device at all. Being a visual person this really resonated with me, I love to read and write, but I’ve always been drawn to the big graphic novels – there’s something about the combination of a well-crafted story combined with beautiful illustrations. My favorite comic artist is Yumi Sakugawa. Her stories don’t fall in line with what a typical comic book might look like. Scott brought this up in response to dealing with comics on the web, the possibilities are endless. As are my thoughts on the day, ‘til tomorrow… 

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