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interaction design



Interview with Antonin Fourneau

The interview with artist Antonin Fourneau, creator of Water Light Graffiti, was conducted via email in April 2013. Photos and video of Water Light Graffiti were taken at Grohe Live Center, NYC Design Week, May 13, 2013. Other photos and videos are provided by the artist.

WLG designWeek0 Interview with Antonin Fourneau

Water Light Graffiti

Generactive : Your project, Water Light Graffiti (WLG) looks like water gun play meeting graffiti art in a very beautifully executed way.

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You spray water at the wall, touch the wall with a wet finger, or paint brush it with water, and the wall brightens up. When the water evaporates, the light gradually dims. You can see the gradation of the brightness depending on the amount of the water on the wall’s surface. Would you like to describe this project in more proper detail and tell us what was the motivation behind this project?

Fourneau : I often used water as base of interaction in my project :
in this installation wet sponge allow to connect people together to trigger an action in the Tetris game exactly like a MaKey MaKey, in fact in you disassemble a Nintendo Game controller you have already inside a pull up resistor and if you put your finger on the pad directly on the PCB you triggering the actions.
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in this dinner with my research team in design school I’ve used the chopstick and contact with the wet sushi to creat a sort of musical environment.

and in the “Jawey” pieces in my portfolio
The led dim in the contact of the tongue. A sort of prothesis for a new kind of communication.

but also in workshop with students
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and in this workshop at CAFA design School in Beijing about Natarual Device Controller
This is during this workshop than the idea of WLG grow up. I was in a park for the lunch and an old guy drew with water on the ground.

My motivation is always to find new canal of interaction with the public. And the street fascinate me more and more currently. Create gameplay in streets is a interesting challenge.
Also the ephemeral in the asian culture intrigue me a lot.

Generactive : You said (at the Digitalarti interview) that this project can be autonomous, responsive to the falling rain, for instance. Is there a future plan for this piece, such as making it a weather responsive architectural project?

Fourneau : Yes during the first part of my residencies my interest was to develop a new kind of materials for architecture. In fact the time process to produce a sustainable material needs more time than the prototype. But I’m in contact with some architect interested by the project. I find interesting to produce a material in reaction with the human and  also with natural phenomena.

Generactive : Could you tell us a little bit about how the technology in WLG works? There is no danger to get electrocuted, right? : )

Fourneau : No I use just 5 volts. It’s quite simple I use water as a bridge to conduct electricity around each Led.
A larger part of my job after find this simple idea was to optimize the fabrication and the design of the WLG tiles.

Practice as Artist

Generactive : (In your portfolio) Douglas Edric Stanley at Aix-en-Provence School of Art describes the secret ingredient in your art, where you go beyond your many inspirations and define yourself with an integrated artistic identity (Hope it’s not too far from what he meant), is a sophisticated form of amateurism. What do you think about his interpretation?

Fourneau : He was my teacher for 5 years and we are still working today often on one of my projects: a contemporary fun fair revisited. And Douglas is certainly one of those most able to analyze the way I work. And its interpretation is very fair. I really like the hack, I’m not a great engineer but I like all the time discover new things and experimenting with. born in the era of the video game I’m always questioning me about how people are going to play with what I do. And if that is not playable my other influence comes from the popculture. And also a part of my own culture comes from Movies, comics, manga,… So I think that the supernatural have a part of influence on me.

Generactive : Speaking of inspirations, I want to know how you transfer them to your work. I guess my question is about your general work process. Does a certain technology or a platform give you an idea that you’d like to work on? Or do you have an idea and then seek for tools to execute it? Or is it all combined process?

Fourneau : Most of the time it’s a combined process. I need to touch material or code to think. The Idea of WLG emerges may be 8 years after the first time when I used water in an electronic project. I have many ideas in my mind and not enough time to try everything. So I wait to have all the right ingredient in hand to launch me. In the case of WLG I also need funding to make a bigger wall and not only a small prototype.

Generactive : There is a strong sense of playfulness in your work and your art is often in the form of a game. Where does this come from?

Fourneau : Born in the eighties, play to board game and video games. But mainly born in era where the code was teach in school. I touch a first time a code in the primary school. And I always remember the feeling to give a life in a digital turtle.After my french high-school diploma when the question of what I want to do in the futur came. I was terrified, I’ve chosen an informatic school without real idea. after a month of learning the language ADA and count words in database. I felt that this area of programming interested me but I was not in the right place for creativity. With a stroke of luck, an artist  talked to me about an art school where there were  different fields : 3D, sound, robotic, programming in addition to  traditional creative fields. It  was the Aix-en-Provence art school. I integrated this school and I think it was the right place at the right moment to help me. I think the practice that I developed there would be never support in another school. I could have fired me the 1st year in other context.

Generactive : I recently met one artist who said that she was going through what might be a midlife crisis. She said she was working on her art, but doing so without SOUL! For someone like you, whose work shows a strong sense of love and joy in it (Not just that your project instills joy into the audience, but I can see that you must have had a lot of fun conceptualizing and creating the piece), do you ever run into “artist’s block” like this? If so, how do you tackle these moments?

Fourneau : the question of soul in my creation come every times. And even more when a creation is played with the public. if someone makes a beautiful sketch on the WLG. is it still my creation? My part of job is to cause excitement in the public mind. for me it is very important to meet people opinions and discuss this strange practice that I develop. I think that part of my creative approaches increasingly now to a designer practice.

On Interactive Media and Technology

Generactive : Interactive media seems like an everyday term these days. Now that more, and even most, people in the world are using interactive media in some way, the question for artists has become “how”, “why” and for “what” do we use it. What does it mean to you to work with interactive media and technology?  Is it just a small part of your bigger creative practice? Why are you in this field?

Fourneau : I’ve always lived with media that move and live.It is therefore a sort of clay for me too as painting for a painter. Today is a material like any other and that leads to a way of thinking. we do not think in the same way  with paint on hand or with a tablet or with a keyboard. But we stay same person with the same influences.

Generactive : Is there a routine for you that you do to push yourself forward as an artist in the field?  Do you try to learn new skills every now and then? Or is “working with technology” natural for you (embedded in your DNA)?

Fourneau : I’m a fairly lazy actually. When I have an idea that comes to me but asked me to learn too many new things. I find it too complicated at once. And I’d rather get an easier way to achieve it.
I wish it was in my DNA. But at the same time I feel that for some people the technology is time consuming. I often spent a lot of time on a technical problem. And the mere fact of trying to solve this problem suffiser me mentally. But I actually lost a lot of time. If you do not want to be an engineer but a designer or artist in this field. I think it takes a minimum know what will be the job of the engineer who will help you.


Generactive : Is there a new project that you are working on right now? If so, would you like to tell us a little bit about it?

Fourneau : I work on friendly versions of WLG. Play duck hunt with a water gun icon smile Interview with Antonin Fourneau
I’m working on a book about my project Eniarof the fun fair (
And I’l try to finish my game Oterp on iPhone.
Certainly the project who asked me the most time. Precisely because the code is not enough in my DNA. But at the same time it has some interesting maturation in a project that you carry for so long.

Generactive : Is there any project, artist or idea you recently found, or have always admired, that you would like to share with us?

Fourneau : Certainly the mine Kafon project
be inspired by a ball game to solve real problems. Ohh ! it’s another level than my board…respect

- Interview by Inhye Lee

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[radical] signs of life

Through responsive dance, [radical] signs of life externalizes the mind’s non-hierarchical distribution of thought. Music is generated from the dancers‘ muscles and blood flow via biophysical sensors that capture sound waves from the performers’ bodies. This data triggers complex neural patterns to be projected onto multiple screens as 3D imagery. As the audience interacts with the images produced, they enter into a dialogue with the dancers.

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Pulse Park | Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

“Pulse Park” is comprised of a matrix of light beams that graze the central oval field of Madison Square Park. Their intensity is entirely modulated by a sensor that measures the heart rate of participants and the resulting effect is the visualization of vital signs, arguably our most symbolic biometric, in an urban scale.

In Pulse Park, evening visitors to Madison Square Park have their systolic and diastolic activity measured by a sensor sculpture installed at the North end of the Oval Lawn. These biometric rhythms are translated and projected as pulses of narrow-beam light that will move sequentially down rows of spotlights placed along the perimeter of the lawn as each consecutive participant makes contact with the sensor. The result is a poetic expression of our vital signs, transforming the public space into a fleeting architecture of light and movement.

Pulse Park is inspired by Roberto Gavaldóns film Macario (Mexico, 1960) in which the protagonist has a hunger-induced hallucination wherein individuals are represented by lit candles, as well as by the minimalist musical compositions of Conlon Nancarrow, Glenn Branca and Steve Riech. Pulse Park is the culmination of a series that Lozano-Hemmer debuted at the 2007 Venice Biennale with Pulse Room.

The concept sketch was printed in an edition of 12 copies.

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The Cabinet of Curiousness

The Cabinet of Curiousness is an antique wooden card catalogue with 20 drawers. Functioning as an interactive piece, the opening of each drawer activates a voice or piece of music from within the cabinet. The audience, assuming the role of a DJ, may experience the clarity of sound from one drawer or a cacophony of sounds from numerous drawers opened simultaneously as the cabinet is played like an instrument. A contrast emerges between the obsolete system of cataloguing single pieces of data and our current tendency to inundate ourselves with excessive information. An investigation of knowledge, time, and our relationship to objects and music.

Work by Janet Cardiff & George Miller

Materials: Unique oak card catalogue with speakers and audio
Dimensions: 52 X 17 1/2 X 27 inches (132.08 X 44.45 X 68.58 cm)

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Orchestra Da Camera

An interactive installation by Quiet Ensemble that have mice running wheels playing music boxes. I love the low tech sophistication of this piece. While they run around they can play a lullaby by Brahms, Schubert or Mozart.

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Building Sound Research Experiment  300x195 Building Sound Research Experiment

Building Sound is a project instigated by Ella Finer and Fabrizio Manco, PhD candidates at Roehampton University, London.

Building Sound is an on-going research experiment in ways to describe and articulate experiences of sound making and reception within theatre, theory and practice.

As both doctoral studies are concerned with an interrogation of sound within theatrical space, the aim of building sound is to provide thinkers and practitioners an opportunity to offer their own ideas from their respective practices about sound within an actual and a virtual space.

These sites in which voices will interweave with their own particular social and cultural definitions of aurality will it is hoped create an open forum in which ideas can complement, collide and construct.

As well as hosting information about the project and storing archival sound from the symposium, the form of this website itself is the result of an attempt to question how to build a website beyond text.

Both the symposium and website are investigations into interdisciplinary dialogues about working with sound.

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Omnivisu by Richard The

Omnivisu was a temporary interactive installation which took place at the S/U station Warschauer Str. from july 7th through 17th — Tower of Light in Oberbaum city

The S/U station Warschauer street is one of Berlin’s most important interchange stations, especially at night. From the Warschauer bridge, a wide panorama over the center of Berlin presents itself and near the bank of the river Spree, where the Berlin wall used to run. Here the characteristic tower of the former light–bulb industry Narva rises. This is not only a symbol of the desolated GDR–industries, but also a relict of the new–economy boom in berlin and its ending as well as the arrival of media corporations like MTV and Universal.

A gazing tower
The unmistakable landmark of the area is transformed into a building with human character, equipped with the eyes of the people who interact with the installation. They can participate directly and in real-time through a showcase which is placed on the busy site of the bridge. Once somebody looks into it, their eyes are filmed. The video signal is transmitted and projected on the facade of the building. A big brother who sees the world with your eyes.

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Missing: An Interactive Installation by The xx at Sonos Studio

Missing: An interactive installation by The xx, Kyle McDonald, Aramique and Matt Mets explores the concept of the album “Coexist” through the relationship of man and machine. 50 robotic Sonos players follow movement inside Missing’s dark emotional landscape.

Visit the Sonos Studio (145 N. La Brea in Los Angeles) from Nov. 15th – Dec. 23rd to see the installation in person and sign-up for e-mail invites to upcoming events:

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Attack of the Drones

As governments are increasingly relying on drones, what are the consequences for civil liberties and the future of war?

The US government’s growing reliance on aerial drones to pursue its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere is proving controversial – as evidenced by the international reaction to recent drone missile attacks along the border with Pakistan. But Barack Obama’s administration is undeterred, favouring the technology more and more because it reduces the need for American troops in those countries and the risk of politically unpalatable casualties.

“He probably thinks this is already a controversial war,” says Christ Klep, an international relations analysts at the University of Utrecht. “I’d better not endanger my pilots and my special forces, so what else do I have? Unmanned aerial vehicles? Deploy them.”

But the strategy is giving rise to anxieties that conflict is becoming just a big computer game, in which ‘desk pilots’ in air conditioned bunkers far from the battlefield can kill a few enemy fighters and then go home to their families, remote from the human consequences of their actions or the anguish of associated civilian casualties.

Nevertheless, Ko Colijn, a security expert at the prestigious Clingendael Institute, says that the technology is here to stay.

“In a way the Americans reached a turning point in 2009, 2010. They trained more screen pilots than pilots physically inside an aircraft. And they purchased more unmanned planes than manned ones, which is not surprising since they’re much cheaper,” he says.

However the Americans are not the only ones using drones. More than 40 countries are believed to be working with unmanned aircraft and even Iran claims to be developing its own version – perhaps based on a captured US spy drone it downed last year and then proudly displayed to the media.

Nor are the current crop of unmanned military aircraft the only manifestation of this disturbing new trend. Already in production are aerial drones that can independently acquire and attack targets or work together in swarms over hostile territory and earthbound battlefield drones that can either accompany ground troops or be sent alone into especially dangerous areas. Some commentators fear it all adds up to a new tech-driven arms race.

The use of drones is becoming more widespread in civilian circles too – not least as a key law and order tool in the fight against crime. In June this year, for example, police in the British city of Manchester used one to track down a suspected car thief; in the Netherlands an arsonist was caught after being identified on a drone camera. And in Zurich, Switzerland, scientists have been developing flying robots for use in the construction industry. In demonstrations they will happily show how a few small drones, working at impressive speed, can lift heavy concrete blocks into place on a complex tower structure – a process that would otherwise necessitate scaffolding and dozens of human workers.

But the technology also gives rise to worrying questions about snooping and invasion of privacy – and not merely because of the actions of government. With private companies in the US and Europe now developing cheap aerial drones that can be controlled with the kind of software used in smart phones, pilotless aircraft just a couple of feet across may soon be commercially available for a few hundred dollars. Imagine then, the images that a paparazzi photographer could obtain with a camera drone able to fly over high walls or hover outside windows set atop a multi-storey building.

This film, from Dutch filmmakers Vincent Verweij, Fred Sengers and KRO, looks at the development and use of these extraordinary machines and ask where their use might lead.

Reposted from the Al Jazeera program Power & People.

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CLOUDS Documentary

Over the last year we have captured interviews with over 30 new media artists, curators, designers, and critics, using a new 3D cinema format called RGBD. CLOUDS presents a generative portrait of this digital arts community in a videogame-like environment. The artists inhabit a shared space with their code-based creations, allowing you to follow your curiosity through a network of stories.

What does it feel like to think with code? How can emerging technologies enable us to actualize our dreams? How has online sharing transformed the way artists collaborate?

A preview of the CLOUDS film, science fiction author Bruce Sterling speaks aloud about the art of code.

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