Luke Sturgeon

Interaction Designer

The Theory of Everything

Students Record Spellbinding Video of Disintegrating Spacecraft

I recently finished the unofficial book “The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe” which is a collection of seven lectures given by professor Stephen Hawking. I was delightfully surprised by the language and explanations written by Hawking in the book. As I expected a book about quantum theory and cosmology to be much more difficult to comprehend.

This short excerpt below is a scientific explanation of the process used to determine the elements within the atmosphere of a star many millions of light years away.

“For the vast majority of stars, there is only one correct characteristic feature that we can observe – the colour of their light. Newton discovered that if light from the sun passes through a prism, it breaks up into it’s component colours – it’s spectrum – like in a rainbow. By focusing a telescope on an individual star or galaxy, one can similarly observe the spectrum of light from that star or galaxy. Different stars have different spectra, but the relative brightness of the different colours is always exactly what one would expect to find in the light emitted by an object that is glowing red hot. This means that we can tell a star’s temperature from the spectrum of it’s light. More over, we find that certain very specific colours are missing from star’s spectra, and these missing colours may vary from start to star. We know that each chemical element absorbs the characteristic set of very specific colours. Thus, by matching each of those which are missing from a star’s spectrum, we can determine exactly which elements are present in the star’s atmosphere.”

Essay on self-reflection and decision-making

“Our everyday experience is embodied in a continuous flow of different activities and movements that are manifested as a choreography of our life.”
Gestures within Human-Technology Choreographies for Interaction Design
Jaana Parviainen, Kai Tuuri, Antti Pirhonen, Markku Turunen, Tuuli Keskinen


Our decision to make our own decisions

I believe in our technologically-obsessed society we relinquish control and responsibility to others, to avoid decision-making when we’re almost all perfectly capable of it. We often look externally for advice to tell us how we should interface the world of information and – more importantly – how we should feel about these experiences. We expect innovation to come in 18 month cycles, new and old technologies to integrate seamlessly with each other and multiple ways to complete the same task. We expect the creators of these system to provide us with the ideal tools for our situation, or tools that can automatically dapt to our situation without our input or control. We often avoid or reduce decision-making and self-reflection to suite our busy lifestyles and existing behaviours. Radical change with dramatic consequence is left to small groups, who – if successful – can be merged with a larger organisations so change can be ‘rolled-out’ as part of an innovation strategy.


Speculative Everything

Speculative Everything

I have just finished reading the superb book from Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby (Dunne & Raby). It acts as a manifesto for their work, design approach as well as the teaching approach at the Design Interactions programme at the RCA, London.

As designers, we need to shift from designing applications to designing implications by creating imaginary products and services that simulate these new developments within everyday material culture.

Speculative Everything at Resonate 2013

Anthony Dunne is professor and head of the Design Interactions programme at the Royal College of Art in London. He is also a partner in the design studio Dunne & Raby. His projects with Fiona Raby use design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of emerging technologies.

Dunne recently presented the ideas and principles outlined in his recent book with partner Fiona Raby, Speculative Everything at the Resonate conference in Belgrade alongside friend and faculty member David Gauthier from CIID with a great article in CAN.

Digital research tools #Processing

I’ve been doing a lot of research and experimentation with Processing and openFrameworks (oF) over the few past years. I realised quite early on that the syntax and built-in functions for each language are both wonderful, but it would take a lot of practise to really get familiar – and to be effective and confident using these tools quickly and easily to create digital experiences.

I come from an ActionScript background with plenty of experience using Html and Javascript too. The recent boom in web-based development – particularly Javascript and the fantastic open-source tools that are available – for easily sharable prototyping has interested me. Until now my work and interests have changed over the past several years but my technical practise hasn’t. There are several things I feel are important to my work so I wanted to use those as the deciding factors when exploring new digital tools.

  • I am not be responsible for the development of large (installation or online) commercial projects.
  • I work alongside experienced developers, technologists and super-geeks who can offer more technical support for more complex deliverables.
  • I will be involved in workshops and teaching situations and need the most comfortable tool for these situations.
  • I will be involved in research and media-art projects as well as artistic collaborations.
  • My role is designer, researcher, art-director and interaction.
  • I probe and investigate people, through technology prototypes. I make situations to answer questions.
  • Most of my work is 2D animation and video or interactive software tools, data visualisation and Arduino.
  • I am part of a community and contribute with code, tutorials, workshops and practise.
  • I want a flexible toolkit that provides freedom to learn, advance and experiment in the future without hitting roadblocks.
  • I make tools for projects, not projects themselves. My code is a means-to-an-end!
  • I work with electronics, software, data, video, performance and research. I need a toolkit that can be flexible.

CIID thesis – software demo

An openFrameworks tool that demonstrates my design research process to discover how reflexivity affects our interpretation of a performance and our self-perception. This project was presented during a CIID public exhibition.

CIID thesis – full presentation

This project was developed as a research method to discover how reflexivity affects our interpretation of a performance and our self-perception. Inspired by wearable methods of tracking and biometric quantification in order to optimise interpretation and self-reflection, this project speculates how our biometric personal data may be collected in order to optimise our memory of past experiences.

CIID examination feedback

Project summary

This project was developed as a research method to discover how reflexivity affects our interpretation of a performance and our self-perception. Inspired by wearable methods of tracking and biometric quantification in order to optimise interpretation and self-reflection, this project speculates how our biometric personal data may be collected in order to optimise our memory of past experiences.

M’s comments

Wow, Luke. You sparked quite the discussion among the examiners. Here’s my take. I enjoyed your process, and the passion with which you pursued the question of self-perception. That quote from Stephen Covey is the tip of a very large iceberg. There is literature on self-perception — neuropsychology, personal development, trauma recovery, mythic tradition etc — that’s quite rich and full of insight. Given where your work has taken you, it might be a good time to look into it. Ping me if you want recommendations.

I was able to roll with your choice of lap-dancing. Though clearly your choice causes discomfort for many because of it’s significant (and justified) cultural baggage. You should not dismiss that discomfort or that baggage, and perhaps have a clear and more generous way of handling it.

That said, I think you’ve landed on something fairly new: a way for people to reflect on their experience and behaviour at the same time, feel what they feel from that reflection, then reflect on that. This is quite potent, and I’d say it’s powerful enough to be dangerous. There was talk of what commercial interests might be attracted to this finding. Oppenheimer, be thoughtful about what you do next with this.

On a lighter and more congratulatory note, your work reveals a wonderful mind, heart and talent all working in concert. There’s some sentence I want to add about how wisdom fits into the mix, but I’m not sure how to compose it.

Congratulations on a substantial, interesting and possibly groundbreaking piece of work.

H’s comments

A very challenging topic, process and thesis. For the examiners and for yourself I suspect. I enjoyed your unique perspective on the design process and the decisions you made along the way which not everyone would have made. If we would all make the same choices in our design process then it would get pretty boring.

Your choice of lap-dancing as a performance subject was both a value and a disservice. You spoke about it within a list of other performance styles and approached it as any other style without addressing the cultural baggage that comes with this topic. This, I felt, distracted from the core of the tools and content you created. It is unavoidable that lap-dancing comes with so many implication that are different from improv or a play. I think you need to confront these issues head on and be willing to discuss them in the presentation rather than treat the topic as something banal or humorous.

Your investigation was very thought-provoking. I would encourage you to explore the existing research and exercises around self-perception (for example the Repetition Exercise from Meisner comes to mind as something to try). This kind of work can also be situated alongside art installation and performance pieces that prompt self-reflection and blur the boundary between spectators and performers (ie. something like Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece).

I would also challenge you to push yourself on your own motives and the analyses you’ve done so far. Is the work really causing self-reflection? Is the initial act of monitoring creating a sense of self-awareness that makes true self-reflection impossible? Is it self-reflection you are seeking? Are you creating tools for therapy or a new kind of spectacle that in itself is very interesting for others to be an audience to?

I’s comments

Your presentation was a very interesting experience that took me through various emotions. Your project is in some ways provocative — also the fact that you choose lap-dancing as a study object without really acknowledging that the implications in that choice might disturb the understanding or bring on different aspects into your work that maybe wasn’t your intention from the beginning. However your project brought along some powerful stuff within the understanding of performance and self-reflection. I truly appreciate the process you went through and the learning curve you experienced. My feeling is that the stage you have reached now could be a very good tool for actually building a stronger product to work with self-reflection.

Congratulations to CIID 2013

The entire CIID 2013 class.

It’s been a tough and intense but wonderful year and I have many, many projects and ideas to understand and share. All thanks to the other nineteen people that I’ve been living and working with in Copenhagen over the past twelve months at The Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID).

  • Angela Oguntala
  • Luke Sturgeon (me)
  • Daniel Mahal
  • Wouter Walmink
  • Owen McFadzen
  • Neha Parekh
  • Sara Salsinha
  • Priyanka Kodikal
  • Lasse Korsgaard
  • Jane Wong
  • Zaza Zoulhof
  • Neils Christian Konrad Neilson
  • Ritika Mathur
  • Takeshi Okahashi
  • Ankkit Modi
  • Shamik Ray
  • Pierluigi Dalla Rosa
  • Shu Yang Lin
  • Ole Stobbe
  • Bahar Shariari