Luke Sturgeon

  1. Difficult Forms: Critical Practices of Design and Research

    Reading list

    This research paper was written by Ramia Mazé and Johan Redström at the Interactive Institute. They introduce the text as a way to “discuss conceptual and critical design, suggesting that they constitute a kind of critical practice in design. Tracing a historical background and contemporary tendencies, we consider implications for design research”.

    If there is no extension beyond commentary or critique, conceptual and critical design might tend toward the self-reflexive and genetic autonomy – design for designers.

    Discussion around a “critical practise” not just academic or conceptual but a design research practise that functions.

    Engagement with the conceptual realm of design and thereby, potentially also contributing to the development – through critique and counterproposals – of theoretical frameworks proper to design.

    When someone reflects-in-action, he becomes a researcher in the practice context
    — Donald schön, 1983

  2. Morse Code ideas hackerthon


    In March I ran a small hackerthon with Simon Hayre to generate a proof-of-concept for a series of workshops. The focus was on using Spacebrew to connected numerous physical and digital prototypes quickly – to scale and collaborate easily. After a short discussion we used communication via Morse Code as the starting point for a series of simple digital prototypes.

    The work from the first session has been uploaded to Github here, so the attendees can continue developing ideas. Most of this work was in Processing.

    The main thing I was teaching/sharing was my attitude towards technology and development. To think big, plan, then start small. Break down objectives in to small tasks and get them done. That way you are constantly gratified and excited about your progress. After many small breakthroughs it’s much easier to find the energy to tackle a painful or problematic issue. I also code just enough to see the result – and no more! This helps me share ideas quickly and communicate concepts.

  3. Sketchbook (Nov 2013 – May 2014)


    I always like to upload and capture my old sketchbooks. There’s something fascinating about looking back through notes and sketches that for less than a day seemed so critical and important.

    I’ve just uploaded my most recently finished sketchbook to Flickr here.

  4. How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later

    Reading list

    Despite this essay being originally written by Philip K. Dick in 1978 many of it’s stories and it’s underlying story couldn’t be more current.

    Dick starts by sharing a few questions that he’s been trying to answer “I can honestly say that certain matters absolutely fascinate me, and that I write about them all the time” throughout his career writing science fiction.

    • What is reality?
    • What’s constitutes the authentic human being?
    • What are we?
    • What is it which surrounds us, that we call the not-me, or the empirical or phenomenal world?

    Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world, a world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. “Even if a man should chance to speak the most complete truth, yet he himself does not know it, all things are wrapped in appearances” — Xenophanes.

    Reality is a set of principles that allow me to experience and comprehend all of my sensory data. Principles shared by many to allow the communication of ideas between people. What might happen if I (or we) had a remarkably different set of principles?
    — Philip K. Dick

    We cannot trust our senses and probably not even our priori reasoning … Objects appear to get smaller and smaller as they get further away. Logically, there is no reason for this. We, of course, have come to accept this, because we are use to it. We see objects get smaller, but we know that in actuality they remain the same size. So even the common everyday pragmatic person utilises a certain amount of sophisticated discounting of what his eyes and ears tell him.
    — W. S. Gilbert

    Further reading

  5. Device Art: A New Form of Media Art from a Japanese Perspective

    Reading list

    Media art is a more recent development in art. Device art tries to push media even further. By doing so, it might help to gain a better understanding of the mean- ing and role of art in a media society.

    This is a very short paper written by Machiko Kusahara, you can find it online at Intelligent Agent.

    In the essay Kusahara discusses the category of art commonly referred to as “Media Art” from a Japanese perspective. Asking questions around content creation, tools for creation, tools for experience, and publishing or re-publishing of artworks for multiple platforms and end-user-experiences. Also looking at speculative design objects Kusahara also asks “What is the difference between a piece of art and a commercial product, or a designed object?”

    We live in a postmodern society of mass-produced objects, simulated realities and simulacra. The aura of the original, which has been valued by the art world for so long, becomes questionable for artists coping with the reality of our society today.

  6. A Primer on Futures Studies, Foresight and the Use of Scenarios

    Reading list

    The actual future (singular) which eventuates, and in which we will ultimately live and experience as “the present” at that time, will be governed by our actions (or inaction) in this present, along with the choices we have made among many alternative potential futures (plural). Our choices and the passage of time reduce the infinite field of potentialities to a single experienced actuality, which then passes into history and cannot be changed.

    This is a wonderful short essay from Dr Joseph Voros, Swinburne University of Technology. I found a copy online through the Thinking Futures website. It broadly introduces and defines many aspects of Future Thinking. Voros outlines The Three “Laws” of Futures, Types of Potential Futures and describes the depth of thinking within Future Studies and Foresight.

    I wont go in to much detail in this post other than to highly recommend this paper as reading material for anyone interested in Futures Studies.

    Possible futures

    This class of futures includes all the kinds of futures we can possibly imagine – those which “might happen” – no matter how far-fetched, unlikely or “way out”.

    Plausible futures

    This class encompasses those futures which “could happen” (ie they are not excluded) according to our current knowledge (as opposed to future knowledge) of how things work.

    Probably futures

    This class of futures contains those which are considered “likely to happen”, and stem in part from the continuance of current trends. Some probably futures are considered more likely than others; the one considered most likely is often called “business-as-usual”.

    Preferable futures

    These futures are largely emotional rather than cognitive. They derive from value judgements, and are more overtly subjective than the previous three classes. Because values differ so markedly between people, this class of futures is quite varied. Preferable (or preferred) futures can lie in any of the previous three classes.

  7. The Theory of Everything

    Reading list

    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. — S. Hawking

  8. 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. — J. Parviainen, K. Tuuri, A. Pirhonen, M. Turunen, T. Keskinen, Gestures within Human-Technology Choreographies for Interaction Design


    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.

  9. Speculative Everything

    Reading list

    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.

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