Computers, Angry Art Students, Hands, and a Manifesto for the Future

What happens when you sit down in front of a computer? Do you get tense? Do you feel frustrated? Does it feel confining? Do you find it the most liberating and fun thing there is? Are you equally as fascinated as you are perplexed?

We have expectations of everything in our life. We use a computer because we have a use for it and we expect something of it and expect (or at least hope) our interaction will happen in a certain way.

What has always struck me is that, with the exception of a computer science lab, most people get frustrated, or at the very least feel constricted by computers. In a painting class, time in the computer lab is filled with many deep sighs and exclamations of frustration.

Most of us are pretty good with our hands. They are often our tools for experiencing the world. We spend our life learning how to use them and communicate through them in different ways. They connect us and bring us closer to things.

Most hand interactions are very basic and very responsive. You pet a dog and not only does the dog respond to you but you experience pressure and texture through touch. Using a pencil to draw gives you a very focused but also limitless experience in which you are able to make motions through space and produce physical, visible, results.

If you really dig deep, using our hands is quite complex. It is an achievement of human evolution that we are able to use our hands as the communication and interaction tools they are. We spend so much time with them and they are so much a part of us that as you read this you are probably having an interesting experience of realizing you actually do have hands. Their complexity is innately effortless.

It is thusly no great surprise that touch screen are so sought after. They introduce far more responsive feedback and give us better utilization of our innate human tools.

The frustration I think most people experience with computers is from the disconnect they experience from their natural world to using a computer. Throughout our daily lives, we are made to navigate through space, utilizing all of our senses and especially rely on feedback from our environment. With a computer, much of this is lost. We are confined to relatively small screen that has virtual space and virtual organizational systems. Though they rely on certain schemas from the natural world, like the desktop, they are far from it.

I predict a future in which computers dissolve into our world and become naturally integrated. Computer labs of tomorrow wont be computer labs at all. There will be no mysterious boxes, there wont even be a thing to call a computer. This is beyond just touch screens.

Happiness is alignment and as long as computers do not align with the natural ways we navigate our world, computer labs full of art students will be filled with tense air and the aroma of frustration. This does not need to be so.

Why can’t drawing be as easy, possibly even the same as, using a piece of technology? It can, it just takes some people with a bit of motivation to see the world differently.

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