27 May 2010
Technology has always been focussed on making things faster and easier for the user.
Technology has allowed people to do complicated things simply and has allowed the user minimum opportunity to make mistakes. Rely on the technology and you’ll get first class results quickly and easily.
But easy isn’t always the best way.
Digital applications have never been so analog.
There’s an app on the iPhone called Hipstamatic. It’s a digital app on a smartphone using a digital camera. It’s not an old analog machine with bits that click and touch and move and interact, it’s a bunch of code designed to emulate something much older.
The resultant images are as you’d expect from an old camera. The colours are a bit washed out, there’s a bit of fade and blur thrown in there and when you take enough of them you notice that it is just a bunch of code. For example, there’s a horizontal banding effect in the same place on the images. That’s the algorithm for that particular ‘lens’ and ‘film.’
Why should those algorithms manufacture those effects when nature can deliver them in a more authentic way?
Augmented reality is a good example of this. By linking digital stuff with the world around you geographically and chronologically, you get a view of hidden information that will change over time and reflect nature.
But digital photographs don’t change over time. They’ll look the same now as they did when they were first taken. Unless they can interact with nature.
Any easy win would be to link the Hipstamatic app with the time and date of the iPhone. I want my photographs to evolve and grow old like authentic real-world images. I want the banding effects, the blur, the washing out of the colours to evolve over time. Real time.
You see, now that we’ve got beyond the two separate worlds of Online and Offline, we’re linking them much more successfully (called Post-Digital by a lot of people).
Digital applications need to be more natural.
It’s about time some of the digital stuff we’re creating started living, evolving, growing old and dying – like we all do.
We can emulate something being organic by giving it the same constraints organic things have. Why should an app fake age if it doesn’t have to? I want my photographs to evolve while they’re in my pocket.
We can take this in any direction we want. If you look at the range of apps on the iPhone, the range of APIs available and now with OS 4.0 having multi-tasking available the future is really exciting.
I want my photograph to know that I’ve been at the seaside (because I’ve tweeted it), and it’s been raining (because the weather app knows it has been), and that I was with friends (because Facebook knows there was an event). All of these natural occurrences will impact on how my photograph turns out.
Digital is great for clinical, precise things but it should also be a little more organic, a little more unpredictable, more personal… after all, isn’t that we all love about the natural world?
First there was analog.
Then there was post-digital.
Now it’s time for digital-natural.