Human behavior and technology are joined at the hip. They couldn’t be more into each other right now. New technology inspires incremental changes in human behavior. In turn, these changes drive technology to evolve. It is here at the intersection of design, technology and culture where I see a growing number of people who are neck deep in creating solutions that change behavior. That was my topic at PechaKucha a few weeks back, and recurring theme at Untold’s recent generative design workshop at the inaugural Blend Conference. I applaud the Blend Conference for its efforts to recognize and unite the people who are building the digital age.
It’s no surprise that Untold was selected to run a workshop. Shelton Clinard, Michael Chatten, Jimmy Coburn and the rest of Untold’s multi-discipline crew worked their butts off to orchestrate a workshop that would celebrate the intersection of design and technology. Taking influence from the teachings of generative design godfather John Maeda and works from Joshua Davis and Ben Fry, we created a workshop that enabled even the most traditional designer to create an engaging image using just code. The result was a three hour collaborative experience where designers worked together to break down barriers and discover new possibilities for visual image-making.
The workshop was designed around generative design practices. Using a series of basic Processing frameworks and example files, designers were able to explore how simple tweaks to a variable or if-else statement could yield complex results. For me, the workshop wasn’t about learning a programming language or creating cool animations. I wanted the experience to inspire collaboration and encourage exploration without intent. Editing and de-bugging a few lines of code removes the designer from their familiar craft of visual image making. Designers naturally resort to a tinkering process where trial and error becomes a favored approach. In addition to this, the computer draws the image, not the designer. This yields happy accidents and unforseen jewels by separating the artist from the canvas.
With exercises like the one at our Blend workshop, we continue to dedicate ourselves towards discovery. It is just another way of ensuring that we belong in this intersection between design, technology and culture. Plus, it’s really fun.
Download: Blend Conference Workshop files.