I find very interesting the fact that on your website your digital projects are visualised deep in paradoxical 3D environments. Is that a metaphorical way to represent the way you intend the website medium?
Websites and the devices they are presented in can not be separated. The design of a website is always bound to the screen and the human machine interaction, which is provided by the device. The inception of presenting a website on a website which both are in a device becomes problematic in a sense that everything has its own design and competes with each other. Our aim with the paradoxical 3D environment is to minimize this competition by over-exaggeration. The medium literally becomes the message. With this presentation of our work we also try to interpret and portray not only the look but also the feel as well as the general idea of the project. Shout out to Jonas Liebermann who artistically reinterprets our work.
Are you always involved in both design and development? How do you make them interact?
To create new digital experiences and unseen results you can not separate code from design. We have a strong belief that a digital/web designer must deal with code. You cannot design a system you don’t understand.
In our websites we tend to create unique experiences. We research the potential and possibilities of the web as well as getting to the bottom of the conventions of web design. The unique experience is the core of our websites. Graphic design may make a website look special, but in combination with a new, never felt interactive experience it becomes unique.
So far we have never done a project where we have not been involved in coding. But with bigger projects we tend to work together with specialists, which is also great because you can learn a lot by working together with other developers and designers. We have to see how LK evolves in the near future but we will always design & code the unique interactive experiences on our own.
How does your stack look like? What tools and technologies are you experimenting with?
The concept of our websites is always based on the content. With that in mind we start to work out an unconventional experience based on whatever technology suits the project best. Our basic stack is Kirby CMS as Backend. In Frontend we don’t use specific frameworks but mostly jQuery atm but we are keen to learn Vue.js. We used a ton of libraries and plugins in our projects like OKZoom, matter.js or paper.js to name a few. When it comes to web shops we work together with Guida Ribeiro with a WordPress Woocommerce setup. In programming we have experience in JAVA, Processing and P5 as well as in Physical Computing like Arduino and computable materials. For version control and collaboration we use git with Bitbucket and Sourcetree. For our the upcoming web residency for Urbane Künste Ruhr we worked with node.js and websockets.
How did you start working together as Liebermann Kiepe?
We studied Communication Design together in Mainz. But it was after Max left Mainz to study Interaction Design that we collaborated more on web based projects. However, we started working together by having a self publishing collective called ‚Hauptsache Hässlich’ together with Yannic Pöpperling. We never took it that seriously but were always invited to fairs and unfortunately ended up being sth. like a satirical design collective. We buried ‚Hauptsache Hässlich‘ after we claimed at a self publishing fair in Mainz that a fish kebab we sold there is the same as a book. The whole fair was smelling like raw onions and fish. We are still very sorry about that, … but yeah experiences like this and the long term relationship over several years ended up with both of us living in Hamburg and running a studio together at Open Office.
A question for David: would you describe the idea behind hallointer.net and your definition of contemporary internet?
The basic idea of hallointer.net is to expose my own research results and to open the process to a bigger community. The focus is on the connection of innovation in graphic design, interaction design and technology. It unlocks space for concepts that do not necessarily spring from the high-end sector or are super glossy.
When I started doing that, hoverstat.es and ecogex.com/delectable (which I still appreciate) were the only collections that made it possible to find out what is currently being worked on, and especially who is working on it.
In the meantime, hallointer.net has a slightly wider range. In addition to its informative level, it provides the opportunity to create a resonance space for innovative projects, which I personally see as important.
Contemporary internet has its own meaning in each of the disciplines necessary for its realization. Superordinately, I would say that on the one hand it is about the fusion of disciplines, on the other hand about the possibilities of now.
Despite it being a still very young discipline, many conventions have been developed that make it difficult to realize new ideas. In addition we are dealing also with user habits from a long history of analogue media. Contemporary internet means for me to develop appropriate concepts according to the content, considering all possibilities to make the experience of using a website more functional and exciting.
In summary the focus of hellointer.net and also my understanding of contemporary internet is a reflection of how I try to work.
A question for Maximilian: would you tell us more about your coding experiments like Camouflage Computer Program and Windows and Mirrors?
The idea of ‚Camouflage Computer Program‘ evolved by investigating the art of Heinz Mack after the ZERO exhibition at the Stedelijk museum, Amsterdam. He placed mirroring sculptures in the Sahara. These sculptures seem to disappear in the dunes. I was fascinated by the fact that he intentionally created disappearing art in the middle of nowhere, where additionally no one can experience them. In the exact same time I visited a course by Frieder Nake and I connected what I learned about early Computer Art with the fascination of Heinz Mack’s work. Subsequently I developed an idea to make a computer program, which only purpose is to hide on the screen. Feeling comfortable in Processing I managed to program a window that camouflages by adapting to the background.
The idea behind ‚Windows and Mirrors‘ is that a computer window can as well act as a mirror. Computer designers often assume that the interface should be a window, meaning a flawless user experience that is so clear that it will not be questioned, whereas digital art insists that the interface can also be a mirror. ‚Windows and Mirrors‘ is an artistic interpretation of both thoughts combined together, not excluding themselves. The artwork is also a homage to the book ‚Windows and Mirrors‘ by Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromola, which I utterly suggest reading if you are interested in Interaction Design and Digital Art.
Would you tell us more about the Urbane Künste Ruhr website you recently launched in collaboration with Lamm & Kirch and Dinamo Typefaces?
This project combines a lot of interesting aspects, one of which is that we are finally able to use variable fonts in a project. Variable Fonts do not only change the way of using fonts in the web, it also solves simple design problems that we were never before able to solve. Here we speak about the simple fact that we were able to fluently transition a normal font weight to bold on hover. Despite of the technological innovation we really have enjoyed working together with masters in their disciplines on this project and that everyone involved has a huge respect for each others work. Especially the close collaboration in concept and design with Lamm & Kirch was very enjoyable for us; experiencing their approach to design. Our approach is very technical and sometimes brutally rough, whereas they work very detailed and nuanced. A real pleasure. The real Urbane Künste Ruhr website will be released this autumn and we are very excited.