(Ultra) Light Network is a light installation that encourages participatory behavior with an audience. As audience members approach the structure, the intensity of the light increases. This encourages group interactivity, allowing multiple people to participate at once. The form of the structure allows members to walk underneath, allowing audience members to experience the installation from a variety of angles in a more immersive capacity. In general, most of the installations exhibited at iLight explore light as an interactive sculpture, providing playful, beautiful, and delightful experiences. But if we were to think of effectiveness in terms of informing the audience about a topic or probing the audience to think about a topic, I’m not exactly sure if we can describe these installations as “effective.” It depends if we’re looking at these installations as explorations of concepts or as tools with an objective of informing an audience; is the audience supposed to walk away with a different understanding of a subject or are they supposed to have a delightful experience with light? The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but it presents the creator with an objective to think about.
In Chapter 4 of Jan Chipchase’s “Hidden in Plain Sight,” Chipchase discusses our habits and tendencies that we’ve developed in relationship to our every day products and how these concepts change as we transition into the digital realm. Chipchase defines two key concepts: the center of gravity, which are the places “where portable objects tend to cluster”, and the range of distribution, which is the distance people are willing to let objects stray when they are out and about. These ideas are useful in thinking about how people relate to their objects that they carry with them, such as their keys and their wallets, and these ideas are connected to how we perceive risk and convenience. He then expands these ideas into the digital realm, discussing how digital technology has made it easier for us to be connected to multiple objects at a time, transcending time and space; now we can be connected to our music libraries, our banking information, and so on. Technology also now affects how we navigate the world; by giving us a heightened sense of security in navigation, GPS affords us the ability to explore an area without having to do prior research.
These concepts, especially applied in the digital realm of the world that we inhabit, are interesting in that they seem more applicable now that we have high-powered smart phones. Digital maps existed in the earlier days of the web, but now that we can carry technology in our pockets, it expands our need to understand how technology and the experience beyond are intertwined. In the professional realm, I’m curious about why terms such as user experience and digital product design are increasingly becoming ubiquitous even in more traditional contexts such as basic web design. User experience is of course an important concept to always keep in mind in the design of anything, but Chipchase’s concepts give us more facets of design to think about. Should we be reserving the term user experience for design that has a larger set of considerations?