Stewart Smith

Pleased to meet you ÉCAL

Last week was "workshop week" at the University of Art and Design, Lausanne (ÉCAL). Selected practitioners from various fields within art and design were invited to the school to conduct five day workshops with the students. Stewart was invited to work with the Media & Interaction Design students and posed to them the following group-based assignment: 1. Design a language or system that accepts input and transforms it into a new output. 2. Select 'found' inputs to be processed by the system. 3. Design an input that hacks and extends the original design of the system. (No actual programming required, though of course some groups did choose this route.) Special thanks to assistant Mathieu Rudaz for his help and insights during the week and to Jürg Lehni who collaborated on an earlier form of this experiment—challenging design students to imagine new languages of design. And finally, a very warm thank-you to the ÉCAL faculty and staff who were incredibly generous hosts. Below are brief descriptions of the students' final results.

Polar Coordinate Language. System for translating text into abstract drawings created within a polar coordinate system. Marion Vandewalle, Océane Hänni, Pauline Saglio.

Cut the Crap. System for reducing full-length movies to a series of scenes containing a single theme. Benjamin Muzzin, Célia Antille, Sylvain Meltz.

Bit-Snaker. System for producing music from QR codes and a separate system for controlling a player's direction in the snake game. Joelle Aeschlimann, Simeon Brandner, Willy Hadorn.

Oprava. System for correcting an existing designed text or photograph. David Colombini, Pierre Girardin, Thomas Hervé.

Tic Tac Talk to Me. System for computers to communicate with one another by using a language of tags based on the gameplay of tic-tac-toe. Marcello Pautasso, Mathieu Rivier, Ruslan Gaynutdinov.

Semantic Identity Generator. System for automatically producing a brand identity based on a short text description of the proposed brand as input. Matthieu Minguet.

A side note—when attempting to explain to students the difference between looping and recursion these music videos may be of assistance:

The Kylie Loop Michelle Gondry's music video for Kylie Minogue's song "Come into my World." This video is not recursive. It is a loop. It's a special loop where something is added each time, but that doesn't make it recursive. Great complex choreography though.

The Björk Recursion Another gem from Michelle Gondry, a music video for the Björk tune "Bachelorette." It is not merely an additive loop, but a beautiful and intuitive example of nested recursion.