It was technically a “day off” from work, but somehow, I managed to be up before 6 a.m. That didn’t help me beat Twin Cities traffic. It made me and Elaine just late enough that by the time we made it to the site, the workshops were already filled. Fortunately, that wasn’t going to be a problem, thanks to the stacked lineup of AIGA’s one-day Eye on Design Conference last week.
There are a few simple rules in this world. You should pay your taxes, look both ways before you cross the road, always love your mom, and in the world of design a few other rules. Like, know what a typeface is and why that isn’t the same thing as a font. Once you’ve covered that seemingly obvious rule, you learn fun words like “Futura” and “Helvetica.”
For those familiar with that second word, it may be because of the documentary of said name, Helvetica. Maybe it’s starting to ring some bells for you. If not, Gary Hustwit directed Helvetica. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Elaine: I’ve never tried virtual reality and I’ve never had the desire to. After hearing from Hustwit, I see the importance that VR has and will have culturally in the very near future. I learned a lot from Hustwit about what virtual reality looks from a design and film producer aspect, but more importantly, how it can be used to bring very real and important experiences to an audience. Hustwit has completely changed how I feel about VR and I believe he will be a pivotal person that drives it to a place where everyone can benefit from it.
Daniel: The main focus for Hustwit was definitely based on utilizing evolving technology like 360 video and virtual reality. I think he’s going to nail it with this new project, because it’s about something so much more important and bigger than just pushing the envelope of viewing – it’s about a broken justice system.
Before hearing Hustwit speak, I didn’t know that Virginia has the highest juvenile incarceration rate in the United States. His technology is helping viewers experience the tight confines and prison-like conditions that children are experiencing.
Keeping it rooted in the more familiar grounds of design and film, the project that his presentation focused on is centered around an art program that six youths participated in as a type of work release from juvenile detention. They spent six weeks learning about art in its various forms and then there was an exhibit that featured the VR renderings. It was a sober, but triumphant moment for this project. Hopefully, its impact will be felt far beyond those few who were able to attend the display in person (hundreds had to be turned away due to limited time and capacity of the exhibit in Virginia).
Hustwit inspired while exposing an uncomfortable truth, forcing us to explore our own perceptions of crime and punishment, using the context of emerging video technology and some good old-fashioned art.