There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis. — Malcolm Gladwell
Every year during the first week of classes, the Graphic Design MFA Department photographs the entire group of current and incoming students. It’s a great way to get to know everyone within the group. The night before the first day of classes, I had a dream that my fellow classmate, Dinah Fried, and I were discussing the class photo. In the dream she said we should create mini-animations of everyone’s faces blinking. I thought that was a great idea! The dream was so real I woke up the next day and was not sure if she had actually suggested the idea to me before or if it was a dream. Sure enough I talked to her about this, and she assured me it must have been a dream. But she agreed it was a good idea, and along with another classmate, Adam Lucas, they agreed to help me bring this dream to reality. Over the course of the semester, I expanded this idea into a printed poster and an interactive website, (with the help of another classmate, Ali Qadeer). Finally, with the help of Fathom Information Design (where I was conducting an independent study), I turned Blink into a large-scale physical interactive installation.
Waking Up the Wall
Blink, an interactive projection, was featured in the RISD Graphic Design MFA 2011 Biennial at the Sol Koffler Gallery. Blink showcases all thirty-eight students within the Graphic Design program in the large lobby outside the gallery that was home to this piece. In order to interact with the projection, a viewer enters the marked area on the floor in front of the projection. A camera on the ceiling senses the movement, and the faces on the projection blink. The faces on the wall correspond to their names that are marked on the floor. If one is standing on one particular name, it makes only that individual blink. The more people that are in the area, the more faces will blink. If no one stands in the area, all the faces on the projection close their eyes as if they are asleep. While enjoying the opening reception, Blink became a recursive interaction and a great conversation piece. It was also my first experiment with interactive installation, using motion detection. For the first time, I experienced the sensation of feeling design with my whole body.
Originally published at http://jamesjgrady.com on June 13, 2012.