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Pixel Everywhere… on Cars? December 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, media art, new technologies, poetic.
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Well, the fantasy is quite old: with the rising of Ubiquitous Computing many research labs proposed the idea of “Pixel Everywhere” and suggested interesting interaction paradigms with this idea.

(image source)

 For example, Claudio Pinhanez suggested in 2001 a “Everywhere␣Displays␣Projector”, which would turn a space into an area covered with pixels (see image above). Jun Rekimoto suggested a range of interesting interaction paradigms for such an environment, as the Pick-and-Drop concept, earlier explained in this blog, here with a more spatial use-case:

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On the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show Toyota showed the concept car Fun Vii (huh, what an innovative name), which has this idea of pixel everywhere: One can change the look of the car instandly:

(image source)

(image source) (here more variations of decorative art on the car)

The concept of pixel everywhere is not only used for decoration, but also for meaningful interactions:

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More meaningful interactions (as we always wanted to make publicly visible who of our friends has birthday or who left us an SMS)

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The weirdest use-case for this concept car is to use it for advertisement while being parked. I am wondering, who is controlling the ad on my car – maybe it is in exchange for a free parking?

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This concept reminds me a little bit of the work “Optical Camouflage” by Prof. Susumu Tachi: I would love to use this car to make it invisible!!!

(image source)(the movie for this image: Optical Camouflage)


Telephoneboxing October 20, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in media art, physical interaction design.
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Just for the sake of completeness here a very physical interaction paradigm: Allard Roeterink, a artist, design and teacher, explored in 2003 a more phyiscal approach to interacting with your phone: He invented TelephoneBoxing.

(image source, image 2)

I consider this work to be important because – as far as I know – it is the first work which is challenging the standardized pressure setting for buttons. Especially as the human hand is so rich in expressions it is really astonishing that this richness has not been used in Human-Computer-Interaction.

The limitation of this work is the fact that it is a direct translation of the dial process into the boxing domain. Starting from that important first step one could now explore the “meaning” of dialing with various forces and how they could be translated at the recipient’s side.

IFA: Mixed Impressions September 14, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, gadgets, innovative interfaces, media art, poetic.
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This is my friend Julia Leihener, who is proudly presenting here work “E-Etiquette” at IFA 2011.

(own images)

City & Interaction September 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, interactive architecture, making the invisible visible, media art, physical interaction design.
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The university, where I am teaching, has been awarded with the “Excellence in Teaching” award by the German Stifterverband.

The price money is being used to support interdisciplinary in teaching. So, last year, I tought a class “City and Interaction” with my colleague Markus Loeffler from the architecture department.

We had the opportunity to invite international experts to support this class: Prof. Mark Shepard, Prof. Mette Thomson and Prof. Gesche Joost were our external reviewers and gave important input.

The focus of the projects developed by interdisciplinary teams of students were quite broad, covering these four areas:

  • Making the Invisible Visible
  • Bringing Web 2.0 into Architecture
  • Enhancing Architecture
  • Join-In Architecture

(images taken from project sites, for authorship please refer to here or to the projects directly by clicking on the image)

I think that we were able to understand the potentials of “City and Interaction”. Would be nice to apply our insights in real projects, either in the area of Location-Based-Services or Urban Planning or Architecture.

Here you can find a list of the projects.

Drum Machines June 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, innovative interfaces, media art, music, physical interaction design.
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Last weekend I went to the since 2001 abandoned Berlin amusement park Lunapark. One of the most avangartisitic theaters in Belrin, HAU, opened the park for a weekend to work with the visitors on the question, what kind of amusement parc suits to Berlin.

Since living in Japan I love ruined amusment parcs – and the Berlin version is no exception. The atmosphere is so wonderfully morbid.

Anyways, there were lots of art installations and performances. The one I like most was a sound installation by an artist group called “Tobia Euler und Freunde” (unfortunately I could not find anything about this group online except a website under construction). They build a whole range of digitally triggered, but mechanically performed musical instruments as drums,mouth organs (powered by old fans) or boom boxes. The noise, which these machines made was quite cool and actually danceable!

(images by author)

This project reminded me at a very nice project within the course “Musical Interfaces“, which I supervised with my colleague Boris Müller in 2007 and which was shown at the Ars Electronica: my student Marcus Paeschke developed “MC Hammer 2.0”, a drum computer with mechanical outputs. He called it “everything is a drum”:

(image source)

Plakatzeichner June 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, making the invisible visible, media art, new technologies, Uncategorized.
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I went to DMY 2011 last night and saw a couple of nice installations, one which I like for its poetic approach to robotic art. It was done by Simon Deeg and Andreas Picker (from milz) and supervised by my friend Claudius Lazzeroni. Simon and Andreas created a robitc arm, which drives a pen – “by an interaction between the user and the machine: You tape – he draws”. So, the user sticks tapes in three different colors on a piece of paper and then the arm draws based on some secret algorithm lines between the tapes. I liked the simplistic, yet very poetic approach of this work.

(I didn’t take pictures, because I was sure I would find pictures online – but I was wrong. So this is a picture of the printout, which was handed out at the event)

I am sure that this work was inspired by the wonderful analog drawing machines by Claudius, which he calls solographs. Claudius defines solographs as “physical situations which leave their marks”- in face they are machines, which move a pen more or less randomly.

(image source)

They are not only beautiful to watch (as here), but also creat quite aesthetic results, which are a nice antipole or addendum to Claudius’ other passion, Generative Gestaltung.



do it yourself media April 4, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, media art, physical interaction design, social computing.
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Some observations from theTAKEAWAY festival in London. Topic of this year’s festival was “DO IT YOURSELF MEDIA”, which I think is quite interesting, but which still needs more development. Or – as Armin Medosh – the opening speaker said: We need to work on the manual for DIY media. (This was based on the observation that open source only works on the following principle: “Read the fucking manual – and only then steal somebody’s time).

Karel Dudesek showed – as announced in the program – “The design of conflicts in the era of political correctness.” Karel quoted only examples from the real world, which I very much enjoyed. As the first example came from architecture – even though Karel “hates architecture”: The group SITE from NY designed a couple of projects, which are very surprising:


In this building for example, the broken corner is actually the door and slides out, when open…

Karel’s talk ended with the claim: Go There – Be There – PERSONALLY! To show, what he means by that, Karel showed some projects from his past, e.g. the “Kultur Polizei”, where they went to the documenta and arrested the director in public (actually he was quite proud to be arrested!) What a wild past…

Michael Breidenbruecker, who planned to talk on “Mainstream of Minorities”, changed his plans and talked instead about his experience building up (and selling his shares of) the company LAST FM. LAST FM is a community website based around music. Businesswise LAST FM is build on the philosophy of the “long tail” by Chris Anderson (WIRED): The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. And of course there is good money being made at the end of the tail…

So, with LAST FM Michael managed to build up such a service, which helps people finding music in this long end.

The experience Michael made were quite interesting, but even more interesting was his basic philosophy, which he was once teaching (he was Karel’s predessesor) and which he then put into reality: We are designing media, not for media!


One of LAST FM information designer, Dirk Waldik, was teaching a workshop on information mapping. He developed visualizations of the community of LAST FM and invented the term “neighborhoods” for people with similar taste. Quite interesting: he has the same academic background (Kartography) as my colleague at the FHP, Prof. Frank Heidmann. There seems to be a lot, which can be learned from maps for information visualization…Dirk shows an impressive selection of work on his website.


Talking about Information Visualization: Dr. Gernot Tscherteu is developing a tool, which shows how information is flowing through the web. He uses the blog-world to visualize the ways of information. What I found interesting in his talk, was that not only the web is mostly self-referrencial, but also our brain: for every brain-cell receiving information, there are more than 100.000 cells, which work with this information.

LONDON IS CALLING March 16, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, media art.
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This month, NODE.LONDON is organizing a season of media arts with lots and lots of events and exhibitions. The Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, where I am teaching once in while, is organizing a small festival within this event called “TAKE A WAY FESSTIVAL – DO IT YOURSELF MEDIA“. The festival is organized with the DANA CENTRE at the museum of science and will take place between March 29 and 31.

I will also give a talk on this festival on Physical Interaction Design and how creative people can prototype their ideas and concepts. My talk will be on the last day, time not decided yet.

Tisch visualisiert Konversation January 16, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, media art, physical interaction design, Uncategorized.
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Dieser Tisch zeigt auf, wer mehr und lauter redet… Vielleicht ein gutes Hilfsmittel, um mal auch stillere Wasser zu Wort kommen zu lassen. Das Projekt wurde am MIT entwickelt – via wmmna

“Lichtkunst aus Kunstlicht” am ZKM January 6, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, light, media art.


Während der Weihnachtsferien habe ich die inspirierende Ausstellung Lichtkunst aus Kunstlicht am ZKM besucht, kuratiert von ZKM-Leiter Peter Weibel und von Gregor Jansen. Diese Ausstellung zeigt eine beeindruckende Vielfalt von Lichtkunstwerken.

Es gab wenig, aber spannende Geschichten auch zu Interaktivem Licht, wie z.B. die Light-Graffiti-Box von PIPS:Lab, wo der Nutzer mit verschieden Leuchtobjekten (Taschenlampen, Lichtschwert etc.) ein Bild kreieren und in Internet stellen kann. Interessant fand ich auch die LED-Installationen von Ruth Schnell, die ein neues Sehen erfordern: eine Reihe von LEDs “blinkt” hochfrequent einzelne Worte (“schnell” und “quick”), die nur lesbar werden mit “frei schwebendem Blick, gleichsam eine Betrachtung am Objekt vorbei”. Fabrizio Plessi (siehe Bild) zeigt eine Arbeit, die sich mit dem Übergang von realer zu digitalen Welt auseinandersetzt. Schön waren auch die Schattenspiele von Joachim Fleischer (gibt nicht viel online über ihn, nur sein Buch), der die Lichtquelle bewegt und dadurch dynamische und überraschende Schattenbilder generiert.
In der Ausstellung sind eine Vielzahl von Klassikern und neueren Arbeiten, die auch ausserhalb des Kontexted “Interaction Design” spannend sind. Ausserdem finde ich das Thema “Licht als Interface” nicht unspannend und auch in diesem Sinne lohnt sich der Besuch! Wie fühlt man sich beispielsweise in einem Raum mit 12 Diskokugeln und sonst nichts…?