van Gogh #3

van Gogh #3: sound art magazine, cd-rom release, 1997

van Gogh was originally a cassette tape based magazine for soundart and poetry founded by the poets Niels Lyngsø and Morten Søndergaard. In 1997 the editors decided that the magazine should be published as a cd-rom and I was invited to develop the visual- and interactive concept for the magazine.

I found it quite interesting to work with the topic "soundart" in relation to a visual and interactive oriented media. At the time multimedia productions often was characterized by heavy, dramatically animated film sequences, tech fascinated design and menues, poor content presentation and none or irrelevant interactive experience. I wanted to create something totally opposite where the media is used to make the audience question "what is soundart?", "how do I experience soundart?" and "what is an experience?".

The key element of the design solution is the user interface that works as a kind of abstract, audiovisual musical instrument or multidimensional interactive crossfield. The interface uses sound to temp the audience to experience the content in a specific order - but it can be ignored and the audience can navigate through the content guided by their own curiosity and intuition. This participation leaves a trace which causes audiovisual interference with the user interface and creates a realtime userbased composition. Each type of content was presented on its own premisses. The leading article was read out by a deaf person, the featured works of music/sound was graphically presented by their own waveforms that also functioned as navigable timelines, articles had "sound illustrations", etc.

The design concept was well met and the realisation of the magazine was made in close collaboration with the programmer and the van Gogh editors. The cross disciplinary collaboration worked quite well and resulted in additional content such as a series of x-ray portraits of sound related objects, a writable audioalphabet (based on pronounciations), various digital sound toys, etc.

After the release I became a member of the editorial group and a year later we transformed van Gogh into an art group. The design concept for van Gogh #3 became the foundation of the visual identity for the group as well as the experimental, phenomenological and cross disciplinary approach became an integrated part of our later projects.

The project recieved financial support from The Danish Ministry of Culture and was created in collaboration with Simon Løvind (as technical director) and with the editors of van Gogh (in 1997: Morten Søndergaard, Lene Wissing, Steen Johannessen and Michael Madsen).