Interactivity, Art and Design

  • 30 November 2009
  • Bong Ramilo

Only a few days ago (probably on Saturday, 28 November) did the distinction between art and design become clearer to me, courtesy of Tom Igoe, in an interview with him in the book "Programming Interactivity" (O'Reilly, 2009). He was describing the distinction in relation to device interaction:

"Recognising that all device interaction is a conversation, it's an iterative loop of thinking and speaking. So often, artists, more so than designers, get really good at the speaking side of the conversation and don't develop the listening skills. This is the area where I find the great difference between people who are attempting to make interactive design. The distinction comes in that art is primarily an act of self-expression, whereas design is primarily an act of facilitating communication. Artists have to make things that do something or say something. This is one of the reasons interactive art is a kind of fallacy. I always tell students, look, it doesn't matter which side of the divide between art and design you fall on, but be clear on the distinction, and when you make your choices, be clear on which of the two is governing your choices."

Tom Igoe wrote "Making Things Talk", a book on physical computing and related things.