Matt Gorbet's response (excerpt)

Matt Gorbet's response (excerpt)

Matt Gorbet
Riposte to: 

Matt Gorbet maintains that interactive texts remain overfamiliar to bodies trained on snowflakes and rain.

Early in her essay, Utterback implies that in building interfaces that are “poetic rather than practical,” artists can/should create interactions that do not follow logic or are unpredictable. However, all of the pieces she describes succeed in part because of their familiar and consistent physical interfaces: the forms of a ladder, see-saw, bicycle, and (video) mirror are all immediately perceived and well-understood, so these pieces make sense to their users. Contrary to Utterback’s implication, these particular interfaces are indeed “about maintaining the users’ sense of control.” As for the dynamic text in these examples, rather than “misbehaving” as Utterback suggests, the text in each of these pieces follows specific (albeit poetic) rules that are modeled after the physics we know: leaves flowing in a stream, buildings anchored to the roadway, letters falling like snowflakes or raindrops.


Given these observations about simplicity of interaction and brevity of content, a question presents itself: using a simple, familiar physical interaction which maintains the users’ sense of control, how far can the complexity of the content be pushed? Is there a necessary correlation between simple interaction and simple content? Or is it possible to create a body-centric interactive piece with the storytelling capacity of an epic novel or a play? In Text Rain, for instance, what would be the appropriate interaction for progressing to a new body of text? How might one “turn the page” or choose a different “chapter”?

Camille Utterback responds