Self-reflection for thesis

My three art/design precedents:

1) Dina Kelberman, I’m Google

2) Hiroshi Ishii, I/O Brush

3) Seymour Papert, Logo programming language


My work so far

In high school I was keen on photography and drawing, both of which quickly became applied to typography and graphic design. While I studied graphic design and foundational arts for two years, I made a few brand identities and learned quite a few ‘rules’ while doing so. But ultimately I felt discouraged to make designs in my own expressive style. I also was curious about experimenting with different technologies, but wasn’t getting the right resources or support to do so.

I transferred into Parsons with many repressed interests that spanned from sculpture to Net Art. I learned how to program my own electronics and felt a strong sense of empowerment from how much I was able to figure out on my own. As a result I’ve spent recent semesters making animations, soundscapes, clay sculptures, 3D models, apps, websites, even a series of ‘digital quilts’ – all by occasionally: asking friends/professors for guidance, but mostly: looking up stuff on the internet.


Emerging themes

By primarily relying on resources found online, I was able to make digital art that went in a bunch of directions conceptually while also playing with a wide range of softwares + mediums. I was delighted to learn about so many new ways of thinking/making while not feeling limited to the Adobe Creative Suite. The biggest theme here is how the Internet gives users a new sense of power to create, interact, and learn in crazy new ways.


Creating in new ways

The Internet has inspired many artists, but for whatever reason, the works I like the most tend to repurpose or collage found online media (images, icons). This kind of art tends to be very “aesthetic”, but who cares? Dina Kelberman does it best, with her ongoing tumblr blog “I’m Google”, where she collects images and videos from online, and manually orders them into a “long stream-of-consciousness”. The content moves seamlessly from one subject to the next based on similarities in form, composition, color, and theme. She mentions that the process of collecting these photos has lead to unintentionally learning about topics she might never have otherwise. I love her work because of her taste for images found online. Like me, she gravitates toward bright, bold colors in unexpected places like at a dirty construction site, an old house, or in front of a stormy grey sky.


Interacting in new ways

Hiroshi Ishii, a computer scientist (we must come to terms that computer scientists are artists too), whose research is described as focusing “upon the design of seamless interfaces between humans, digital information, and the physical environment”. Most of his work is tangible or physical, which is compelling to me because as I move further into digital art, I am often afraid to make tactile art involving texture or an unfamiliar interaction. (Actually this fear is why it is important – if not imperative – for me to be doing exactly that.)

The I/O Brush Ishii made in 2004 is my favorite. It’s a drawing tool that looks and feels like a big paintbrush, but has a camera and other technology inside so you can “dip” into a real-life color, texture, or movement, and draw with the special “ink”.

There’s a lot to unpack here about what I find interesting but mostly it is how he thinks about Digital “seamlessly” interacting with Physical. He describes “vision” as being a long-lasting, multi-faceted phenomenon, wanting to move tech beyond pixels and the screen.


Learning in new ways

This summer I attended the Interaction Design and Children (IDC) 2017 conference. The theme was about the “Legacy of Logo”, referring to the programming language created by Seymour Papert in 1967. What’s so special about Logo is that it introduces grade-school children to learn through creating, or programming, software. Papert is considered a pioneer of this idea, aka the Constructionist learning movement. Out of the three precedents, his methodologies are by far the most meaningful to me. I strongly believe in “learning by doing” and how the computer can be a powerful tool for this.


What’s missing?

I want to make the bridge between design, technology, and education stronger. I worry about the current situation of e-learning and new technologies used in classrooms (what they call ‘Ed-tech’). I also want to contribute to making educational content more engaging, but also more meaningful… a hard balance.


Approaches to explore

What makes people engaged in learning? Can interactivity play a role? How can challenging learning be something incorporated into more digital media?



Dina Kelberman

I’m Google site

personal website

“Visually Similar appears to employ a logarithm based mainly on color percentages in an image, and as I’m Google is based more often in conceptual similarities than color-wash similarities, my searching is almost entirely reliant on keywords rather than searching by image.”


Hiroshi Ishii

I/O Brush demo video

Wired article, 2015 “In his vision, machines capture the beauty of nature, they defy gravity, and interact with humans in a tangible, communicative way.”


Seymour Papert

Constructionist learning

Logo demo video:

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