Report from Numer.02

Report from Numer 02
April 19-21, 2002
Centre Georges Pompidou
Paris, France

by Jonah Brucker-Cohen

On a warm, spring April weekend in Paris, the Numer 02 International
Conference on Interaction Design ( "Look Ahead" - opened
its proceedings to an international audience. Assembled from around the
globe by conference coordinator, Pierre Lavoie, participants ranged from
producers to designers to artists to musicians. The goal? Attempt to
build a framework for current practices and future directions in
interactivity and design using technology. The conference included six
design themed panels with over 40 panelists along with a audio/visual
music performance at the Insitut de Recherche et Coordination
Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a "Zapping" showcase featuring 30 local
designers flaunting their wares, as well as a design/programming
workshop by Ben Fry and Casey Reas - on their new interactive graphics
authoring tool, "Proce55ing".

The opening panel, "Process and Adequacy" centered on the creative
practices of multimedia teams working on interactive projects and the
criteria that makes this work valuable. Canadian designer, Stuart
Butterfield, (, opened the panel with severe jet lag
speaking on the poverty of the navigational metaphor for interactive
media. His talk focused on the need for context in navigating
information spaces and how getting 'lost' online is not necessarily a
negative experience. Arnaud Mercier, also on the panel and founder of posed the questions "Is web design dead?" and "How can
we define notions of 'quality' pertaining to interactivity?" These might
seem like lofty questions for a suspecting crowd, but they simply
skimmed the surface of the themes discussed.

The evening session on "Interactive Cinema" featured an eclectic mix of
pioneers in the field such as Montreal's Luc Courchesne
(, Michael Naimark (,'s Chris Hales, and 3D designer, Xavier Boissarie. The
questions focused on how the user can play a part not only in the
outcome of a narrative but also in creating the narrative itself as it
is generated through the interaction process. Hales' talk, "Why bother
with interactive movies?" was a light-hearted romp through the criteria
inherent to interactive movies including screen constraints and using
the movie itself as interface. He demonstrated these techniques with the
hilarious "Messed Up!", a mouse-based attempt at destroying some poor
guy's apartment by clicking on hotspots that spill wine on the floor and
knock over books. Naimark, on the other hand asked the audience a
rhetorical question, "How do you know I'm not a movie?" He went on to
talk about his past projects and concepts of "Movie- Mapping" spaces
along with his current work on "Camera Zapping" or neutralizing cameras
by aiming low-power laser pointers at their lenses.

Where day one focused on processes of visual interaction, day two
included the "Creativity and Formalization" panel which included the
relation of audio to interactive visual systems. Jean-Jacques Birg