To step foot into the realm of digital media one has got to be humble. I say this with no hesitation to add that this is one of the most difficult tasks to conquer as an artist. It’s difficult and heavily overlooked by everyone.
A secret ingredient in hiding. It lurks in the shadows of the creative process as a predator stalks its prey. One might think they have evaded its essence as they sit back and sip their delicious margarita, but this is only your mind playing tricks. To be a humble technologist, one must first eradicate all preconceived notions of the word, humble.
The dictionary claims:
- having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.
- of low social, administrative, or political rank.
The creators behind an immersive environment are in no way of lesser value than that of their audience. In the same way that whatever form of God you believe in is no way of lesser importance than the life forms created by this God.
It’s common to associate absence with lacking, to be less, and ultimately negative. But just as hate is not the opposite of love, absence is not in opposition to presence. In fact, some could even argue that intentional absence is the product of heightened presence. Think about the steps involved in mediation with the end goal being nirvana. Nirvana is the state in which the practitioner has escaped the self, suffering, and desire. They have transcended the realm of humanly constraints through a practice which strives to remove attachment from thoughts. This evasion of attachment is the epitome of what I like to call the invisible interface.
Firstly, an immersive environment within the realm of digital design covers a large spans of mediums and technology, but the overall intention is to encapsulate the viewer/s in an illusionary space of belonging. In a way, the designers are curating a microcosm that consciously or subconsciously tricks the psychology of the audience to believe in its existence and value. An easy example for reference is that of virtual reality or augmented reality.
The designers are therefore, gods of their microcosms. They are responsible for setting the physical laws of their mini universe, but in such a discrete way that it goes unnoticed by their audience.
Just like the false sense of control we humans try to instill through the establishment of laws and governments, providing this seemingly infinite flexibility in personalizing one’s interaction with an immersive installation is the most crucial element involved in the design process.
The goal then is to emulate the experience one has when entering a forest. This environment gives birth to infinite possibilities of interactions. If I stumble across a pinecone, I can decide to pick it up and throw it as far as possible, or, I could simply take notice and step around. Inside a forest, I don’t feel that anything is required or expected from me. My behavior is natural and my interactions are intuitive. This is the ideal for immersive environments; allowing the user to engage in an effortless exploration of novel forms. This natural interaction can only be achieved by hiding away the complexities of the system’s components. It requires an evading of credit to enable a personal relationship to form between the user and the technology.
This form of humbleness is the readily acceptance of the creators to being entirely unseen by their audience. It specifically applies to the digital medium because most of the work involved in these types of installations happens on a computer and are intentionally hidden from the interactors. Whereas a clay sculpture seeps evidence of human handling, a computer-generated projection, often times can feel completely void of human manipulation, leading to a negative experience of sterileness.
This is the finest of lines to navigate as a creative technologist. So fine it’s barely visible by the naked eye. Although often misrepresented, the invisible interface may be the ultimate unifier between humans, their environment and the digital medium.