Friday, March 16, 2007

We the moderns

Upon cycling along the Cam this morning with a clear, bright blue sky overhead and a stiff but pleasant nip in the air I felt great! On top of the world. Or at least on top of my uncomfortable rcing saddle... Breathing in deeply I enjoyed the ride and on arrival at the office slid the window open and poured myself some authentic Japanese green tea from my flask (thanks Vicki!). I felt good! All these sounds, sights and feelings evoked a mix of pleasant emotions within me.

Plus the prospect of seeing an exhibition at Kettle's Yard today that I've been looking forward to. It's called: 'We the moderns':

It exhibits sculptures by Gaudier-Brzeska who lived (briefly!) at the turn of the 20th Century and who explored the idea of dynamic movement while leaving behind the old order of the arts, embracing the new technological advances of that age. Gaudier-Brzeska was a member of the Vorticism movement which was linked to the (mainly Italian) Futurist movement.

So what has this to do with my lovely morning and visual communciations? Feelings and emotions. My morning cycle ride produced good feelings inside me through external stimuli which my senses captured. I processed these senses prompting memories and thought processes and hey presto: nice feeling!

Funnily so do the sculptures by Gaudier-Brzeska! This amazing sculpteur managed to convey dynamic movement from dead stone! How wonderful to be moved by cold, lifeless stone. To have emotions well up within us all caused by a static sculpture.

And I'm interested in the same processes going on in people's heads when they interact with a website or a piece of visual communication: how can we develop emotions from 2D interfaces. We need to tap into the psychology and cultural make up of our target audience in order to get that warm fuzzy feeling. The goal? To communicate: to buy, to sell, to inform, to convince, to persuade .... Developing this visual language is an iterative process with the end user: research, design, trial, feel, feedback, design, trial.... And sometimes it works.

But never as well as Gaudier-Brzeska.