Research, Concept, Ideation, UX, UI & Prototyping
09-2020 – 02-2021
Quinten Bast, Lily van Schaik & Me
Designing a web-environment for artists and art enthusiasts that enables them to have meaningful online conversations, while at the same time evoking a feeling of collectivity through a digital generative art piece.
Floration is the product of a 5-month project commissioned by STRP Festival. During this project, I worked in a team with a developer and fellow interaction designer. I mainly focused on the research, concept and visual design. I did research into what the meaning of art is in the age of digital reproduction. Floration is a collaborative art piece that lets participants experience a combined responsibility for the collective. It’s integrated into a web-environment which I’ve designed for artists and art critics to have meaningful conversations about the art. As they’re interacting with each other, a neural structure is growing, visualizing their interactions in real-time. By talking in the chat, liking, and commenting on each other, Floration's network will grow and transform. This visualization of the online activity shows the connectivity between the participants, evoking a feeling of collectiveness.
Is it possible to present physical art in an online/hybrid environment? And how can we stimulate discussion around the art among online visitors?
STRP Festival initially asked us to design a way to bring the offline festival to a digital online space. This meant that we had to find a way to present the physical art works in a digital environment. Before we looked into different ways in how to successfully achieve this, I first asked ourselves the question; is it possible to present physical art in an online environment? To answer this question I researched different philosophies around art and the reproduction of art. Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, brought me to the realization that it is useless to try to digitally recreate the physical art. The reason for this is that you lose the aura of the physical art work when trying to recreate it for a digital environment.
I also looked into other art festivals who had tried to host their festivals online, to see what went well and what didn’t. To get the opinion of artists and festival goers on online festivals, I conducted several interviews. Among the interviewees were artists Antoine Bertin and art duo Nonhuman Nonsense. I concluded that it was not going to be my goal to design a way to present physical art in a digital environment, but to design an online environment that is built around the core values of STRP Festival. Together with STRP Festival, I formulated their two core values namely the conversations among the artists and festival goers, and ‘collectivity’ which is the theme of STRP Festival 2021.
How to design an online or hybrid solution for artists and art enthusiasts that enables them to have meaningful conversation about the art, while experiencing a feeling of collectivity that is commonly felt at physical art festivals?
With this question in mind I started conceptualizing ideas. This let to our final concept named Floration. Floration is a platform for artists and art enthusiasts to talk about art in a meaningful way. While they’re conversing on the platform a digital art piece is being generated in the background. This art piece lets them experience a feeling of collectivity. By conversing in the chat, liking and commenting on each other, they can see how it affects the growth of the network. This visualization of the dialogue shows the connectivity between the participants. The network is also interactable, so that people can see how each interaction played a part in the formation of the network.
Finding inspiration in natural structures to visualize online conversations and induce the feeling of collectivity.
With the concept being defined, I started collecting inspiration and sketching down my ideas on paper. I look at human conversations as if it’s an organism that grows, evolves and becomes an interconnected network. Therefore I looked at nature for inspiration. I looked at recurring structural patterns in nature, specifically the structure of mycelium.
I also worked on the UX and UI of the platform itself. Artists can present their work on this platform through a livestream. Meanwhile participants can talk with the artists and each other via our custom designed chat.