Delicate bridges

Posted on October 31, 2007

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In the last session of ICHIM07 David and Jennifer introduced a video of Makkuni Ranjit’s work Eternal Gandhi. Tactilesacred_world_1.jpg computers become traditional interfaces – the acts are not of mice and screens but of turning a prayer wheel, chanting in groups and weaving quilts.
There was a strong sustainability message. Ghandi organised villages into sustainable communities, now, 60 years later: how do we learn from village to provide sustainability for nation.

It extrapolates Gandhian ideals to newer domains of information technology and product design, and at higher levels, the creation of meaning in a globalised world

Each object in the museum, whether a pixel of light, a bit-map on the screen, an animation, a circuit or a handcrafted object is a living prayer. Here lies the reaffirmation of the Gandhian view, a commitment to the dignity of hands, the healing of divides, the leveraging of village creativity and cultural diversity in the face of homogenisation.

sacred_world_hands.jpg

The focus is on inspiring modern interaction design through tradition – especially the hand. Compare this with the trend of increases in processing power having not increased depth of experience or meaning. In the SacredWorld, interfaces require interaction, experiences demand contemplation. Perhaps the most important concept is not the use of tactile devices – although certainly appealing the hands to touch, chakras and group meditation poles all have western equivalents in tactile computing, even if the steering wheel of a video game – but rather the idea that an exhibit can carry an experience or awareness instead of specific information.

sacred_world_pole.jpgRanjit explained that this exploration of Gandhi’s life is based around the principle concept that intertwines all his works: truth. He talks about the role of oral histories…delicate bridges (connection to people seeking understanding, dealt with gently by new technology). The project extrapolates Gandhian ideas to each object: a living prayer, each pixel a prayer.

There was discussion of the challenge of finding appropriate interfaces, what we have are western beaurocratic (ie mind rational). The things we saw from SacredWorld are almost uninterpretable to us. They are all traditional-like but all computer objects -how to extend that back into our world? Jennifer argued that we have become immune to disassociation between mouse, screen. cf natural hand movement, more of that now, multi-touch tables, work best in collaboration – so not an isolating technology.
Ari Davidow summed up the work well: what is desired is awareness, not just busy-ness.

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