(_)Elements, or: Ron Resch Now Digital (Picking Up: An Early System)
May 11, 2017
Because the application is a system that only exists in relation to a user, a user who ultimately has to click and search through the application for it to reveal itself fully (it is informational, it exists on a server somewhere, but it is only actually “there” when it is read. Kind of like the tree that falls when no one is looking, except this is more about /use/: there is only a point to it if someone uses it) – it has to have an appeal and an elegance and a /flow/.
What emerges in our systems class is the idea of systems aesthetics, and I find the perfect application in an actual web application, at precisely this intersection of machinery and observer. For it to work well ultimately, these separate entities must work together, and the actual meeting point is the aesthetically sophisticated system. Where if it does not have sophistication (visual appeal in color and form, elegance and good function), the system is not only not engaging, but won’t be used in the first place. The internet and its web apps and sites are designed more and more to be consumable: something that is not palatable can easily be discarded in favor of something more usable. The internet is competitive and the drive goes towards consumability, in this sense.
But anyway, it’s what I wanted to achieve in designing a portfolio of systems: an actually system-inspired application, that more than anything, marches to the drum of system aesthetics.
While always being mindful of the too much and kitsch that might go with that. I don’t want to be the person with the crazy power point – all those transitions and effects, so that the thing is just unprofessional in how dynamic and centerstage it is. (You know?)
Finally, some concrete examples of what I mean here, in funkelsteine.com:
– the tabs in top of the site alert the user to their location in the logical flow of the website
– the center piece of the page is a an animated triangular design (svg images loaded by a script) inspired by the work in my analog system right at the beginning of the semester (Ron Resch paper folding ideas). It is based on the scanned version of the actual, physical Resch fold:
Subsequently turns into (screenshotted):
– sitting on top of this field of triangles is a pop-up menu that follows the user and collapses depending on their location on the page (css menu manipulated by script). The idea was to have this be very dynamic, and also centered (literally) and prominent, hovering slightly above the rest of the page (drop shadow): the social media icons that will populate this “flower petal” menu are central to the content ideas of the project. The idea is that these things get shared and find their way to lots of users, so that something really /systems/ grows out of it.
Apart from these design ideas inspired by systems aesthetics, of course, the whole website, and the actual code that runs it, on a sever, is a system. I also decided to appropriate the thing as a portfolio of my work this semester: I am also showcasing the Garden of Life (processing piece running on Conway’s Game of Life logic), and last semesters work in Unity, on ADAM, on this website!