Reading Response #3

From Chapter 3 of Artful Design, I would like to respond to Principle 3.1, which states: DESIGN SOUND, GRAPHICS, AND INTERACTION TOGETHER. Indeed, vision is the major source where people obtain information, so that visual feedback most directly notifies people that they have just interacted with the design. Sometimes, the graphical confirmation itself can act as the artwork, breaking the fourth wall between the world of the artwork and the world of its audience. The audience observe and interact with the artwork, then the action becomes new artwork. In this way, it also resonates with Principle 3.14, "SAVOR STRANGE DESIGN LOOPS."

The exhibition Borderless, held by a Japanese company called teamLab, embraces this idea fully. All pieces there apply computer vision to detect the movements of the audience and reflect the feedback visually, which completes the experience. Among these works, EN TEA HOUSE is the one that impressed me the most. In a room with only dim lighting, each visitor is given a cup of tea, and as long as there is still tea in the cup, flowers will bloom infinitely on the tea surface. Interestingly, instead of being stationary images, the flowers are animated (Principle 3.2) to alternately grow and wither within the tea surface area. This motion makes the cup of tea organic and living. The changing states of these flowers resemble breathing, imbuing the cup of tea with personality (Principle 3.3). Originally, drinking a cup of tea is just an ordinary life moment, but EN TEA HOUSE immerses people into the infinite universe inside the teacup. It makes me feel (Principle 3.12) that when I was drinking this cup of tea, I was actually communicating with the water and the flowers residing in it.

En Tea House

Together with the sound, the experience is further enhanced. Similar to what is mentioned at the bottom of page 125, I once discovered a game called Yasuhati, where the player uses voice pitch to control how high the character jumps. The game developers chose a music note to be the main character, suggesting that it is a visualization of player's voice. I started to play it in the classroom one early morning, screaming and shouting incautiously when the music note tended to fall off a cliff. As my classmates entered the classroom, they soon noticed that I was playing Yasuhati and were able to figure out the game mechanics within a glimpse. Gradually, they joined me, causing the poor music note to hear a combination of crazy pitches. I believe that this was absolutely "the innate fascination humans feel toward audiovisual processes that react to us."