Posted by Steve Dietz on September 14, 2006 12:56 AM
Mike Kuniavsky recently posted on Orange Cone about his interest in animism and ubicomp:
Finally, Brenda Laurel is talking about animism at the closing keynote of Ubicomp 2006 next week, bookending Bruce Sterling's opening. I'm glad that animism is finally making it to mainstream thought about people's attitudes toward user experience design for ubicomp. I feel vindicated enough to include a gratuitous reference to the piece I wrote about it three years ago. ;-) AND I'm pretty excited to see what Brenda has to say.
This reminded me of the first time I heard Laurel speak at ISEA 93 in Minneapolis on The Soul and the Machine: Artists and Technologists in Collaboration. The real highlight of the conference for me, however, was Rich Gold'sArt in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing, which made a profound impression, and I later published it in American Art, an academic journal out of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which I was then editing. It was also formative, I am sure, in my chosing the "interactive city" as one of the main themes of ISEA2006, thirteen years later.
In his talk, Gold spoke eloquently of the principles of ubiquitous computing, but what struck me in relation to Mike's remarks was his emphasis on the "enspirited" nature of objects that this would bring about, as he writes:
Many of the objects about us seem alive, or as I often say, "enspirited". Cars have the names of animals; money is imprinted with images of dead politicians; food is labeled with fictional parents; TV commercials ply products with voices of the long departed; mythical captains sell cereal; our emotions are bottled; on our clothes are the replicated skins of creatures big and small; the names of places have life references; and of course, on the radio we listen to dead rock stars.
I have searched the web for this talk, but it appears to have disappeared, and this is about as close as I have come via the Wayback Machine. I know I have it backed up on some disc somewhere, but in the meantime, if your local library doesn't carry American Art, here are a few of his images. Note, in particular his drawings of the "regular" lunchbox - "a steel box of strength" with "cultural idols" painted on it and "sweet snack to remember mom" and its ubicomp version with its "bully sensor protector," location sensor and birthday reminder among many other enhancements.