Implied connections

I’ve almost finished (hopefully) my proposal so I have turned towards visual work and what a relief it has been. I don’t know if it is because my undergrad focused on literature but submerging myself in images still feels decadent. Not a chore, a glorious, sensual thing that makes me forget time. Sometimes I think it’s physical. I need to get past the feelings of decadence and accompanying guilt and see it for what it needs to be: work. I need to do more than just look and feel. I need to think.

What I’m finding is that the three things are bound together. It’s been a long time since I have worked on anything that brought them together.

So, I’ve been trying to find images and practices in the work of others that can potentially provide some direction for how I’m thinking about this interface. It’s very early but I get the feeling that looking at these kinds of things are going to help me elucidate and visualise this interface.

At the moment I’m exploring the potential of the physical aspects of others people’s work, looking at installations, sculpture and use of light to build a sense of fragmentation and unstated connection.

I don’t want to provide visual connection but to hint at it. I have written a quote in my notebook but I neglected to note the source: “The incomplete asks to be completed”. That is how I would like, at this stage, to provide an interface into a collection: incomplete, hinting, subtle implication.

Some work that has provided visual and physical direction during the last two weeks:

Jeff Wall
A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)

I saw this in the Spectrum and it was one of those “f** yes” moments: wind. What if wind was blowing through the results of a search? Of course, it helps that the wind is blowing the pages of a book, but it was also the scale of the image and its depth which left a mark. Exploration needs space. If things are crammed together in a small space are we likely to want look at more? Of course, the crammed-but-comfortable interface is de rigeur now. Look at Pinterest, We are Hunted and now Flickr:  cram a lot of things into a large space and we want to look at that too. (Although the biggest lesson to learn from these examples is: don’t be afraid of the scroll. If you just keep refreshing at the end of the screen, and the content is compelling enough, people will keep on scrolling. There is no sense of a page). I saw Jeff Wall at the MCA yesterday and was happy to note that it was still a “f**k yes” moment when I saw it in the flesh.


Cornelia Parker
Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View
Although I’ve been seeing the interface produced in this project as having movement, like a murmuration would, this piece suspends movement. It implies an explosive process being caught in a single moment. There is suspension, both literally – the pieces of wood are suspended from the roof – but it also induces a sense of suspension. You’re waiting for the thing to explode. This sense of contained or captured energy, and the fact that she’s used individual pieces combined into a whole that is almost ‘miscellaneous’ have made this piece something I’ve stared at every day since I found it. The other thing I got from this: imagine if you could use light from within, in a flat interface? Imagine if your search/browse interface threw shadows?

Lead Pencil Studio
Negative space. Movement to imply form. That’s why I like this. It’s a swarm building a shape and possibly then building some kind of meaning that is outside of the swarm itself. And because I think stumbling across this in the middle of the country would make my day.

Tomas Saraceno
14 Billion
Although this is a piece I love visually and conceptually, it’s not what I want. I don’t want lines drawn, I don’t want connections spelled out. The physical nature of it is useful, particularly the depth, but the way in which lines are drawn is too much like network diagrams that imply pre-formed connections.

And then, there is Grant Stevens.

In front of the Grant Stevens at teh M


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