Spending a Day in the University Library

It is fun to get out of the house or office to work in a different place. Having meetings with students in town to discuss work or, like now, finding a desk in the university library and read and write from there. Today I found quite a nice spot with plenty to distract me from reading my email.

 

Utrecht University Library Art History

Utrecht University Library Art History

Browsing through some books.

Browsing through some books.

 

On Show in London: “Tadema” and “California: Designing Freedom”

Very enjoyable exhibit at the Leighton House in London showing works by Tadema. As the house is close to the Design Museum we decided to look what was on show there as well. It was great fun to spend a couple of hours at the California: Designing Freedom exhibition.

From the exhibition’s webpage:

“How did California come to have such a powerful influence on contemporary design? California: Designing Freedom explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how ‘Designed in California’ became a global phenomenon.

The central premise is that California has pioneered tools of personal liberation, from LSD to surfboards and iPhones. This ambitious survey brings together political posters and portable devices, but also looks beyond hardware to explore how user interface designers in the San Francisco Bay Area are shaping some of our most common daily experiences. By turns empowering, addictive and troubling, Californian products have affected our lives to such an extent that in some ways we are all now Californians.”

Susan Kare's notebook

Susan Kare’s notebook

With great food in Fortnum and Mason, Portland, and the OXO tower restaurant and more art in the Royal Academy of Arts with the Summer Exhibition, it was another great weekend in London.

Summer Exhibition London

Summer Exhibition London

Touch Research / Socially Intelligent Robots

My PhD student, Merel Jung, became a doctor today by successfully defending her PhD thesis, “Socially Intelligent Robots that Understand and Respond to Human Touch”. You can read more about her work in this article (in Dutch). Or by looking up her publications of course.

From the introduction:  ”People express themselves through social signals in the form of verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Touch is one of the important nonverbal forms of social interaction as are visual cues such as facial expressions, gaze, body posture and air gestures [116]. However, compared to vision and audition (as in vocal cues), interpersonal touch does not generally receive much research attention yet [40, 50]. Similarly, the touch modality is of- ten overlooked in human-computer interaction such as remote commu- nication and in interactions with embodied or virtual agents [112]. As interactions with social robots are likely to become more common in the near future these robots are expected to engage in tactile interaction with humans [112]. Therefore the aim of the research presented in this disserta- tion is to work towards socially intelligent robots that can understand and respond to human touch.”

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We had the honour to have Mehdi Ammi and Karon MacLean to be on her committee.0079_IMG_3010 0081_IMG_3013

Soestbergen Cemetry Utrecht

When I look outside my window at home I see trees across the dead end street that we live in. Currently I cannot see what is behind them. The foliage hides the view on the graves on  the first general cemetry of Utrecht, designed by Zocher in 1830, “Soestbergen“. It is not Pere Lachaise, it is small, but green and peaceful. Gerrit Rietveld (Stijl, designer, architect) is buried here. It is nice to visit  and find peace and quiet there once in a while.

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Crazy Days



Thursday: I was a bit late in applying for the visum for China so I needed to go to there in person. Need to prepare my talk on Empathic Lighting for Friday. Saturday: preparing my invited talk for China and go to Ronald (Poppe) and Sophie’s (van der Zee) wedding party. Sunday: fly to China. Monday (actually 3 hours after landing) present the talk… Luckily I could spend a few more days in China. I had asked to see some contemporary art and that is what I got. AMAZING. It was nice to see the works by the students graduating from the college of arts. Only to return home and then travel to Paris for a meeting of the Aria Valuspa project. Prolonging the stay for a few days to visit the wonderful Cluny museum for the first time. (Also enjoyed Karel Appel’s retrospective in the Museum of Modern Art, and the food of course…)

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PhD Defense Jeroen

My PhD student, Jeroen Linssen successfully defended his thesis on Meta Matters in Interactive Storytelling and Serious Games (A play on Worlds).

From the press release: In this dissertation, I investigate the use of storytelling techniques in the domains of interactive storytelling and serious gaming. The field of interactive storytelling attempts to create and analyse systems that allow users to influence the plots of stories. Serious games provide experiences not solely for entertainment; in this dissertation, I investigate serious games with educational purposes. In both domains, I inspect how both human users and virtual agents (artificial, autonomous entities) can perceive stories.

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Boston. Science. City. Art.

At the preconference of the Society for Affective Science in Boston I gave an invited talk in the session on Affective Computing. We had taken a few days extra to explore Boston a bit further. We loved it.

We spent about six hours in the Museum of Fine Arts and saw less than half what is on show. It is simply amazing. Luckily they have nice food as well.

Food in Boston MFA

Food in Boston MFA

 

 

Robby, TED-x, Paris

It is crazy times again. Friday, my PhD student Robby van Delden brilliantly defends his thesis. Steering Interactive Play Behaviour. I have to miss the party afterwards driving to Hasselt where I will present a TED-x talk on Saturday. Returning home on Sunday to leave again for Paris on Monday for a project meeting.

On Robby’s thesis: “Play is a powerful means to have an impact on the cognitive, social-emotional, and/or motor skills development. With the introduction of technology new possibilities emerge to provide engaging and entertaining whole-body play activities. Technology mediates the play activities and in this way changes how people play. We can use this to design systems that encourage wanted types of behaviors with technology.”

Robby's PhD Defense

Robby’s PhD Defense

Hockney, Michelangelo and Sebastiano in London

There were some good reasons to get away for the weekend to London. Prime reason was to see the Hockney exhibition at the Tate

London weekend

London weekend

but then of course there was food, Tate Modern with the magnificent Rauschenberg exhibition, the Shard, Design Museum and what proved to be the most interesting part: the Michelangelo and Sebastiano exhibition in the National Gallery. The Guardian had a nice review on it.