In my last seminar devoted to the topic of future interfaces, I asked students to analyse current developments of Interface Culture and interpolate them in the the close future.

iAchiever - Overview
iAchiever - Categories

iAchiever by Kay Schefferski offers a glimpse at the future where well known achievement systems of today are brought to a new level. Nowadays our gaming progress is rewarded by achievement systems from Microsoft XBox LIVE or Sony’s trophy system. With services like foursquare we can track, share and get rewarded for places we visit. Even in our local grocery store we get reward points for buying stuff. iAchiever is the logical evolution of merging such systems and bringing them a step further. It constantly tracks our daily life, measures our accomplishments and rewards us according to its value determined by a third party (i.e. sponsors). Allowing companies to track our real and virtual movement by our mobile phones and services such a social communities, simple cookies and cloud storage we already give them the needed data to easily implement such a system.

iAchiever Icon

For the icon of iAchiever Kai chose a symbolic tree. The tree of life holding the forbidden fruit and constantly tempting us to gather it. What most people might not realize is that such systems offer a subtle way to influence us and what we do by giving it specific values. Being constantly rewarded, also gives us confidence and makes us want to achieve even more. Metaphorically speaking, those systems eventually will become our Skinner box.

One question we could not answer in our discussion after Kai’s presentation: is iAchiever an artwork or the next startup?

Download the vision of iAchiever as PDF (4 MB)

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Interface Art goes Lifestyle

Recently I discovered an article about Interface Art in “m — Das Magazin”. It is a young german magazine on the lifestyle aspects that come with the many new Apple gadgets. This time, the nicely done glossy also features “iPhone Killer” Michael Tampert and web design guru Jacob Nielsen.

The author points out that I obviously have a love-hate relationship with Apple products and calls me an “unflashy bourgeois artist”. I never thought about it like this :)

Despite “m” being an Apple related magazine, my first (absolutely not Apple-inspired) Hausbau and Google Juice were part of the report.

“m”, 02/2011, pages 32 to 35, click to enlarge!

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Bliss Again

I always wanted to stand on the meadow of the famous XP wallpaper. Thanks to Microsoft’s self-reference to their their own iconic XP wallpaper in XBox Live avatar icons I now can. I decided to let my avatar sing.

P.S. Ignore the hinted mountain in the back. For me it is still Bliss.

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Drop Shadow Talks 3.0

First of all: Sorry for not posting quite some time :)

I am very glad that I was allowed to do a third round of Drop Shadow Talks in the starting semester. And this semester there will be guests I cannot wait to hear to speak in the digital shade. I hope my students will share my enthusiasm.

On October 12, Prof. Marc Hassenzahl from Folkwang University of Arts in Essen will speak about User Experience Design and reveal growing parallels between theory for film and Human Computer Interaction, since popular interfaces strife to offer not only usability but more and more compelling experiences.

From the announcement: “To design an experience is a major challenge—especially, when actually designing tangible, interactive products. The talk presents and discusses Experience Design, which aims at telling meaningful stories through tangible products, so-called material tales. This approach understands designers as authors, of meaningful, and rich experiences.”

As the frequent reader of this blog (and my website) certainly knows, I use the term “Interface Art” for my projects. I am very happy that JODI who actually were the inventors of this art form, agreed to show a performance at the Drop Shadow Talks, date: November 2 December 16!

JODI’s Screen Grab period began with the four-screen video installation My Desktop (2002), which premiered at the Plugin Media Lab in Basel. The piece appeared to depict mammoth Mac OS 9 computers running amok: opening windows cascaded across the screen, error messages squawked, and files replicated themselves endlessly (from Wikipedia). In similar manner JODI will present their latest projects Thumbing & FolkSomy.vj

On November 23, Prof. Hans Dieter Hellige will discuss upheavals in human computer interaction and will stress the re-combination and re-ordering that takes place when new interfaces become popular media. In Helliges point of view the evolution in interface design cannot be isolated from the interdependency from other media. Hellige is also the author of the great book Mensch-Computer-Interface. Zur Geschichte und Zukunft der Computerbedienung.

Again the dates:

Marc Hassenzahl on October 12:
Experience Design: Transcending a Product’s Encasing

JODI, November 2 December 16:
Thumbing & FolkSomy.vj No Shadow Kick**Mobile .xxx

Hans Dieter Hellige on November 23:
Selektive Interface-Kulturen und Medienkombinatorik contra HCI-Entwicklungslogiken

All talks will be tuesdays/thursdays at 7 pm and take place in 2.07 at the marvelous Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule near Potsdamer Platz. More info, longer announcements, the address of BTK etc. can be found on the the page of the Drop Shadow Talks. Drop by!

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Fakebook Pro

Thanks to my highly regarded colleague Brendan Howell, Fakebook now reached its second level. By the means of now included Rich Snippets, Fakebook now shows up even more similar to Facebook in Google’s results. These snippets are meant to offer a convenient summary information about search results at a glance. When listing Facebook results for example, Google shows your friends in a line of gray text between title and description of your page.

So now does Fakebook:

johannes p osterhoff on Facebook
Currently enlisted supporters of the project are Aram Bartholl (patron), Tobias Heide (hosting), Brendan Howell (technical support), Mi Sun Lee (moral support), Joachim Stein (contextualization and theory) and Christian Schnalzger (art connoisseur).

If you wish to support this project, please use a similar link like this one:
Connect with johannes p osterhoff on Facebook :)

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Poly Carbonate with a High Gloss Sealer

In the new trailer for Toy Story 3 the toy protagonists enter a stage-like corner of a child’s room. They have been trying to create a logotype for the upcoming movie and as it seems it had to be done by simple means—their roughly shaped Toy Story 3 is made of a ball, Lego bricks, and the number 3 is doodled on chalkboard. The toys try hard to keep the analogue logo in place, but cannot keep it from wobbling and wiggling.

The toys are not too proud of their work. Cowboy Woody tries to cheer them up. Then Buzz Lightyear, Woody’s antagonist from the movie’s first part, enters the scene.

Woody asks: “Buzz, where have you been?”
He replies: “Sorry Woody, I have been up all night working on a little something.”

The camera pans to the right and a perfectly shaped logo of Toy Story 3 appears. Original fonts with attached shadows, Gouraud shading and a decent drop shadow on the floor. The toys drop their own version and start to praise Buzz delightedly for doing such a good job. Humbly he replies:

“Oh, it is nothing really. A basic form of polycarbonate with a high gloss sealer to bring out the shine.”

I very like this story because it eventually answers a question that I had for several years. I was wondering what interface elements and 3D text actually were made of if they existed in real space. Now I know that it has to be polycarbonate. And high gloss sealer.

I am at ease with this answer, because I now can strike the alternatives from the list that I had collected over the years:

One might ask, what makes me so sure that it is nothing from the list above? Even though Buzz Lightyear is a fictional toy, he has to know. He lives in and speaks from the space where the elements actually come from and that is more than one can say for all of us.

(Later defiantly Woody replies: “At least ours lit up.” But, of course, Buzz’ logo illuminates even brighter and shinier.)

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Protest letters and fake books

Social networks are the drop shadow of our lifes. Today I left Xing. As a response the oh so professional platform gave back a very snappish response. Hidden in the CAPCHA literally was a protest letter on my abandoning (screenshot from xing.de, April 15, 2010). As it seems, social networks do not wanna be forsaken.

Xing Protest Letter
Update: I am about to leave will open a fanpage on facebook and created an artwork called “Fakebook”. It works best, if you ask good ol’ Google for “johannes p osterhoff facebook”. Enjoy.


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Device-Inspired Product Design

Besides Interface-Inspired Print Design there also is Device-Inspired Product Design as it seems. At Platoon Kunsthalle in Seoul I discovered chairs that looked as if greatly influenced by the iPhone. On the photo it seems as if a gigantic iPhone (without the built-in ear-piece) was leaning against the table.

I repute this to be not a isolated incident, but the first manifestations of a new trend in product design. To a stronger extend the design of handsets (and also the graphical user interface) more an more inspire the design of common goods—and not the other way around as it had been for years. More soon. (I captured the image with an iPhone, of course.)

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Drop Shadows = Streamlining?

Turner Mike with Drop Shadow“Streamlining” was a design style which emerged during the 1930s, especially in architecture and product design. The style was applied to electric clocks, sewing machines, small radio receivers and vacuum cleaners, for example. Though manufacturing required new developments in materials, the functionality of the re-designed product was hardly changed.

During the Drop Shadow Seminar at BTK Markus Wulff investigated the parallel between “Streamlining” and the current trend towards hyper-realism in interface design. His German thesis can be downloaded as PDF (size 1.5 MB).

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Interface-Inspired Print Design, Pt. 3

In mobile devices’ current striving for more significance (and readers) a vivid and sometimes funny exchange of visual styles takes place. For example the photorealistic references to paper are quite numerous on the interface of the quite paperless iPad, iPhone applications like Notes and icon for YouTube remediate their counterparts in older media forms almost nostalgically, while printed magazines use more and more 2.0 styles like gloss effects, gradients and drop shadows to look more up to date at the least.

Some examples I mentioned in previous posts are the German ads for Lucky Strike and a front page of Focus magazine that have been inspired by Cover Flow. Recently I also discovered two nice examples where the layout of iPhone icons inspired old media:

On a poster about the “Welcome Card” of Berlin Public Transport the icons where depicting sights of Berlin and touristic transportation in a very App-like manner;

The other analogy to the iPhone interface I discovered on a package of a Korean make-up series. On the box of “Aritaum” the Icons even were framed with a rounded dashed line, making the reference to the influential device more striking. The icons symbolized moisturizing, revitalizing of skin and biological ingredients.

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