The Colloquy of Mobiles was a 1968 installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, created by inventor and cybernetician, Gordon Pask. It was an iteractive experience centered around the themes of conversation and coexistence between humans and machines. The installation consisted of female "bodies" reflecting light and male bodies emitting light, creating conversations with each other and the surrounding people. While the programmed rules in the parts may not be so sophisticated in the present day, the exhibit promotes discussion and inspires interaction design in a way that is relevant today.
In fact, the physical form, philosophy, and functionality of the installation, were extrapolated by the MFA Interaction Design Studio in San Francisco, and ultimately reproduced in its entirety—in the context of 2018. It's recreation was led by McLeish and Paul Pangaro, and will be featured in the MUTATIONS / CRÉATIONS 4: NEURONES / LES INTELLIGENCES SIMULÉES at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in early 2020.
Learn more about the Colloquy of Mobiles in this video.
This booklet aims to capture the story behind Colloquy of Mobiles. It takes you through the history of Pask’s original work, the process of recreating Colloquy 2018, and it’s implications on design in the world of Artificial Intelligence.
The spread below features the programmed, conversational specs between bodies of the installation in the form of a modern text message conversation. It ties into the theme of machine conversations today and 50 years prior. Also, given the sexual undertones of the exhibit and the idea that women and men are equal, I designed the male side to be pink and the female side to be blue.
My role in this work began with looking at the history, work, and story surrounding The Colloquy of Mobiles. I sketched out bookmaps and table of contents using this research. Given the importance of the installation's evolution, I decided to organize the booklet chronologically and take a more objective tone of voice in conveying its history, recreation process, and future implications. From image and editorial research, I began wrangling the content into the structure and purpose of the booklet, sketching out concepts and spreads.
I worked my way from the interior and opener pages to the exteriors of the book. I included some digital process work below. This process helped me to discover connections between verbal and visual elements and how to tie the details back to the overarching goals of the booklet. I learned the power of progressive disclosure and how it can create analogies between what the eye sees and the meaning of the text.
Interactions exist in an ecosystem which consists of human to human, human to machine, and machine to machine conversations.
I believe that so much of the enjoyment we get from interactions comes from a state of curiosity. We feel connections with people because we don't really expect them to respond in a certain way. In a way, it seems that the pure definition of interaction comes from the fact that it isn't so static...How can this inform how we design interactions, particularly in our age of artificial intelligence?!