On Conversations

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Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
Tali Krakowsky, WET Design.
Beginnings are always difficult and I never enjoy endings.

Good conversations are generally those that feel like they started in a comfortable place somewhere in the middle of a thought, and feel familiar but intriguing enough to pursue. Rather than ending, they have a curious way of just unfolding over time, between different people and in and out of our heads.

Conversations keep us entertained, stimulated, educated, interested, connected.

Emerging media has empowered us with the ability to embed our world with enough intelligence and a fascinating enough series of interfaces that we can now have conversations with almost everyone and everything. My passion and obsession is with these kind of interactive spaces that seamlessly embed virtual technologies with the physical in order to create unique, visceral experiences.

Much like our virtual spaces, our environments could be immersive, smart, fun, kinetic and self-curating.

It is not that storytelling is dead. I just got back from the FMX Conference, a brilliant conference in Germany on narrative in all its forms – cinema, gaming, web, and immersive environments – and can safely report that storytelling is more fascinating than it ever could have been.

Storytelling and its creation can now be thought of differently. Narrative is liberated from being exclusively sequential and pre-scripted. Our world and its spaces are now more free to behave like video games than cinema.

What is strange to me is why anyone who is interested in creating any type of conversation would be more drawn into traditional linear formats than interactivity.

Why are we not replacing the 30-second advertising model with compelling interactive spaces that create viral, bottom-up conversations? Why are our playgrounds not being converted into giant gaming spaces? Why aren't movie trailers taking the more evocative form of location-based immersive experiences? Why can't our public spaces become true places of interaction where conversations are provoked, remembered and shared? Why are our architects designing how we inhabit our spaces instead of designing interfaces that adapt to our needs?

Here are some examples of how spaces can be a part of the conversation.

A conversation with world data:
Greyworld, The Source, London
The Source, an eight-story kinetic sculpture, is a symbol for the London Stock Exchange as a living reflection of market forces.

...with the environment:
UN Studio with Arup Lighting, Galleria, Seoul
4,330 programmable LED glass discs create an ever-changing surface that is driven by its environment.

...with music:
Zach Lieberman and Daito Manabe, Lights On, Linz
The Ars Electronica Center's facade was transformed into an audio visual performance device.

...with people:
United Visual Artists, Volume, London
Driven by movement, a forest of light and sound columns generates a real-time light performance and soundscape.

Interactive environments can create experiences that are authentic, viral, meaningful, memorable. They also are able to capture these experiences and gather real data about decision-making processes, habits, interests and engagement levels. Why isn't everyone talking about this?

This blog will be a place for conversations about people, places, projects, products, thoughts and words that I, and my fellow bloggers, find intriguing and hope you do, as well. To be truly interactive, I invite you all to write, agree, argue, add, correct, compliment, contradict.

All of this reminds me of a blind date I once went on. We said our awkward hellos and Yonatan asked if, just for that evening, we could pretend that we have known each other for the last ten years. Our conversation started somewhere there – in the most comfortable and random of places.

I hope you don't mind that I'm starting this blog in the same way – somewhere right in the middle.


Tali Krakowsky, Director of Experience Design, heads a think tank at WET. Working closely with design, research and production, she focuses on developing new ideas, technologies and business opportunities for the short- and long-term future of the firm.
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