Exercising Our Mechanical Intuition: Meet Artist James Patten
With wearable computing devices like Google Glass and augmented reality experiences on our smartphones and tablets, we get a glimpse of how the physical and digital worlds could merge into one. But whereas the current AR experience is one that still mediated through a screen, interaction designer and artist James Patten is exploring ways we can interact with the virtual world that go way beyond a screen.
Patten creates kinetic sculptures that merge digital technology with analogue experiences. This methodology allows the digital world to become a tangible object integrated into our physical environment rather than just a virtual overlay. Patten uses analogue processes to manipulate our experience of the digital, creating artworks that tap into what he calls our “mechanical intuition”—making our interactions with computers more playful and experimental than just a QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen.
Discussing an installation of his called Create a Chemical Reaction at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, a work that allows people to play around with the periodic table to create virtual chemical reactions, he says: “How can we use objects to represent information and let people interact with objects to interact with information? And branching out from that, how can we take advantage of other properties of the physical world, things like different scales, different textures, different materials, in order to build richer experiences?”
As our relationships with our machines continue to evolve, we co-develop a common understanding and vernacular for the new world we live in. Patten’s work seeks to explore the possibilities of this new language, pushing the boundaries of how we engage with computers and playing with our expectations, while simultaneously augmenting our experience of the physical world through interaction with technology and information.
You can check out some of Patten’s installations below…
Create a Chemical Reaction