1. How would you describe what you are doing in connection with design and programming?

FN: I've trouble describing what I do in general:) Most of the projects I'm involved in investigate digital/networked communication and interaction. The relationship between design and programming forms a part of the overall approach and is not necessarily an objective in itself. However, because of my personal interests and method of working, design and programming is often the starting point of my research into various subjects and project development.

2. Did you study this specialisation? If so, where? Did your school prepare you for this specialisation or did you study on your own?

I obtained a B.A. in Fine Arts: Applied Graphics at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. My formal studies prepared me to a degree for aesthetic analysis and an experimental approach, but the theoretical foundation and training in traditional media did not include a consideration for digital media in the curriculum. The rest of my studies are informal and an ongoing experience.

3. I'm collecting examples of studios/ projects where programming is used in cooperation with design. Examples: John Maeda @ Media Laboratory of the MIT, his students, Letterror etc. Is anyone else dealing with the issues that are important/influential for you? If so, why do you admire them?

Apart from the usual Hall of Fame that include Maeda, Jodi, etc. I have great respect and admiration for the exchange of information and experiments that exists on mailing lists such as robotmedia and eu-gene. Institutions [especially Scandinavian and Dutch schools] occasionally provide refreshing newcomers, for instance Joergen Skogma from ascii33.com, but education is still not the best source of examples dealing with the above issues.
Studios such as tomato interactive [tomato.co.uk], type01 [type01.com] and wireframe [wireframe.co.za] are examples of evolving digital agencies that relies on experimental research and development to create commercially applicable products.
ps. I'm writing this away from the studio and might not remember all the relevant examples, will send more when I've a moment:)

4. How did you start with programming, and what was the main motivation to learn it? Which language did you choose and why?

My first encounter with code was an example of interactive 3D objects done in Lingo [Director v.5.0]. Unable to make sense of anything in Director or its script window, I tried to understand the mysterious world of Javascript 'rollovers':) CGI provided the next adventure and I explored Perl to create a conceptual search-engine, my first 'real' programming experience. I still love the textual and non-visual nature of Perl and how it enables me to add information manipulation and networking ability to projects. I've since returned to Director and the continuing expansion of Lingo makes this language my choice for quick and effective interactive projects. Yet, I'm not willing to specialise in any particular language and often use a combination of them in projects.
- Exploring the foundation of digital communication enables one to discover
its possibilities.
- It makes me self-reliant for making products practical, not everyone is awake between 2 and 6 am:)
- I've a natural enquiring approach to all of my diverse interests.

5. In your opinion is it necessary to become a programmer if the concept of the project requires writing a programme? What are your experiences?

No. One can always work in teams and in most cases collaboration produces a better output. Unfortunately, finding the correct collaborators is a difficult and sometimes impossible task, and one I personally find
frustrating and limiting. Furthermore, I believe that the process of programming often enhances the concept in ways not predictable from the outset. There should be a continuing interaction between the creators of the concept and creators of its product.

6. How do you see yourself, more a designer or programmer? As a designer, do you feel some restrictions/limits of software you are using and can you give me some examples? If you are a programmer, how do you collaborate with designers? Does it influence your work in some specific way?

I've since abolished the idea that I'm either:) My involvement in projects often contains both roles, but I don't have the interest in or commitment to specialisation that I believe the terminology requires. Researcher and
developer is a generic term that I often use:) As far as limitations is concerned, my opinion is that a concept can only exist when there is a set of criteria that allows one to validate the concept. Limitations is part of that criteria.


7. Self-made programs seem to bring a 'game' aspect to graphic design life… Did you use programming knowledge in both 'for fun' and commissioned projects? Are your projects published on the internet? If so, where? (URL)

I've only wrote one game, in BASIC with a ZX Spectrum:) It was this little rocket shooting other rockets. I thought it was very cute, really:) In most of my projects I hope to introduce a 'joy of use', but find myself tiredlessly [and irritatingly] trying to justify every element: (Yet, once in a while, playfullness might creep through the cracks in various ways.
For example: The instant.poll on alt.sense www.altsense.net/projects/poll/ is pure silliness on a site that otherwise tries not to be.
www.altsense.net/library/interactive/3d/3d.html contains a shockwave 'sketch' that added an interactive element to the logo I designed for type01. A multi-user, conversational agent [mu-mu™] was added to this sketch [unfortunately down on the moment] link_R.I.PPER™ www.altsense.net/library/source/link_ripper/index.html has a certain fun aspect to it, though many of the portals didn't really perceive it as such :))
However, playful, or non-committed experimentation is part of my approach to both personal and commissioned projects; and I attempt to utilise 'discoveries' wherever they are appropriate.

8. What about the computer aesthetics? Do you attempt to reconcile the contrast between the natural and technological looks of your results? How?

To be honest, I never gave this much thought. The nature of a medium will inevitably have a stylistic effect on the aesthetics; to try and manipulate this is in my opinion a time consuming and unneccessary exercise. Visual appearance is only part of the beauty of computers. On the other hand, to willfully force a stylistic element true to the medium is equally 'wrong'. Visual style is more about the context of the content than the context of the medium.

9. Are you attracted to exploit the programming in order to help the computer become more 'human' or 'emotional' (to simulate our 5 senses)? What are your results?

Not really. The human mind has the ability to adapt to different environments and there's [imho] an over-emphasis to recreate or simulate the way we respond to a physical realm in a digital environment. There is certainly fundamental human traits that can be exploited through computing, but the exploitation does not come from humanising the computer, but from understanding the interaction between human and computer.

10. Can everyone learn how to create a programme? python.org gives the programming language and manuals for free for anyone interested…

There's so much methods for creating programs, that one's involvement with programming is only limited by your interest in it. Ability and interest seem to have a lot in common when it comes to the digital playfield:)

11. Will you be developing your programming knowledge in your future practice? Do you have any plans in relation to the 'D + P' issues?

Oh yes:) But not to pursue programming as an end in itself, but to allow me to continue to understand in which way it can facilitate me in developing our understanding of digital communication. My love for design and visual culture will hopefully ensure that most of my projects integrate and explore 'D + P' issues, even if that is not the final objective.

12. Did you publish/can you recommend some articles related to the theme and where?

The following is some articles I wrote that might be relevant:
Eulogy for design www.altsense.net/library/factual/design.html
Redefining a Conceptual Approach to Multimedia

ps. These are rather old, and I probably changed my opinion/s since then:) The following discussion might also be worth a read, or at least entertaining:

Thanks very much. Now, you can go watering your garden again.