The Situation for Interaction Design Today by Harry Smoak

DC Speaker Series- Harry Smoak

It's often that said that we live in a connected society, and increasingly, an internet of things. Yet events of recent years have evinced a widespread feeling of disconnection and a corresponding desire to "take back control" — a situation that many expect to continue. I think for one think the gap between these two seemingly disparate views of current circumstances ought to be taken seriously until it has proved otherwise.

The opening for designers in this position is huge. The pertinent question is — Where to make the intervention then? No doubt it is a terrific time to be modern if one can stand it. Alternately, the prospect of a genuine option arising from practice is one of fundamental importance for designers. For achieving a desirable outcome, often it is favorable to remain with a situation indefinitely, also, for understanding development and developing the further competencies needed alongside.

In consideration of the situation for designers today, I want to encourage a stance against solution-oriented approaches in favor of discovery. What is the function of interactive art alongside the development of technology? A means-ends distinction is common to both aesthetic objects and technical objects but not the same of course.

Sometimes it is said that art is literally "useless," that it has no value, although some others might not put it quite like that. As far as art's economic aspect is concerned, then it would seem the more useless the better. Thus arises the question — What is the value in having no-value? Morse Peckham and others of the USC School of social theory seem to have found some promising ways of thinking through potential that have thus far seemed to have eluded most others working in the field. We are free, they suggest, to act "as if." Their proposal is similar to that of Gilles Deleuze and newer pragmatists, although, some in the audience may benefit from finding support in an indigenous tradition connected with John Dewey, George H. Mead, Charles S. Peirce, Susanne K. Langer, Alfred N. Whitehead, among others.

Harry explores how coming technologies affect cultural developments today. Artistically, he creates interactive environments which are conceived of as experiments in the production of culture. He is not particularly concerned about art though he is mainly interested in behavior. He holds a doctorate in responsive environment design and a master's degree in human-computer interaction.

He has been a part-time faculty member at Concordia University in the Department of Design and Computations Arts. His collaborative work examining the relation of art and technology as been exhibited internationally. Since 2016 he is researcher and operations head at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University in Montreal.

You can find out more about Milieux here:

The School of Arts, Media, and Engineering
Andrew Luna
Oct 12 2017 - 3:00pm
Stauffer B–Wing, room B125
Tempe campus