Eli Blevis, Sabrina Hauser, Will Odom
The idea of images as a foundational mode of creating and articulating knowledge about interactivity has been gaining traction in HCI and interaction design. The use of photography and imagery has long been foundational in traditional schools of design. Inventories of “the best” such schools—however subjective—can be found in many business press sources . Here, we privilege two design schools as exemplars of these traditions, owing to their associations with two key figures, László Moholy-Nagy and William Gaver. Famous for its history in connecting photography and design, the Institute of Design in Chicago was founded some 75 years ago by painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy from the German Bauhaus . In HCI the centrality of visual form has been advanced notably by Goldsmiths at the University of London under the stewardship of William Gaver . Privileging these two institutions here must be accompanied by the awareness that many other fine schools and distinguished figures in the design tradition were equally important in establishing this foundational role for photography and imagery.
In HCI specifically, the importance of images, per se—in a sense that includes but also extends beyond the recording of design process or presentation of concepts—has a more nascent history. The Visual Thinking Gallery that has appeared on the inside back page of each issue of Interactions since September 2011  presents a photograph relating in some way to digital interactivity and design with only very limited text indicating a title, contributor, genre or type of connection, and caption. The core idea of the Visual Thinking Gallery is that the photograph—and its quality as a photograph in and of itself—is an important form of knowledge articulation, more important than the text for this form of contribution. A workshop on visual thinking was held at CHI 2012 . In 2013, a primarily visual, image-oriented paper was accepted into the technical program at NordiChi—possibly the first accepted archival paper in a SIGCHI technical program to foreground images over text in articulating its core contribution . And at DIS 2014, a new pictorials track  was introduced in which submitted pictorial essays were reviewed according to standards similar to those of other papers in the technical program; a number of them appeared as archival work.
Among the pictorials submitted to DIS 2014 are a treasure trove of images worth sharing. Here, we present a curated selection of the images that appeared in the submitted pictorials with some brief textual descriptions—just enough to state the importance of each image, but not so much as to preclude the images from speaking for themselves. The images combine to form a collection showing a range of different ways in which images serve as first-class exemplars of interaction design, including but not limited to:
- images as a record of making
- images as a form of making
- images as a record of process
- images as design ethnography
- images as commentary on interaction design
- images as purely aesthetic reflection on interactivity
- images as social commentary in the perspective of interaction design
- images as a record of inspiration
- images for reflection to inform a process
- images as a record of contexts and environments
- images as a record of concepts
- images as a record of aesthetic property (i.e., materiality).
In curating these images, we have endeavored to select images that are both interesting in their implications for interaction design and also fine images in their own right.
We believe that everyone can participate in making images a foundational mode of creating and articulating knowledge about interactivity. Our goal is to invite and encourage our community to consider the quality of the images they use and the roles images play in interaction design in HCI practice, education, research, scholarship, and creative activity. Visual thinking belongs to and in our community.
In the American context, we must recognize the Institute of Design for its foundational role in the link between photography and design. We also especially thank Nadine Jarvis and David Cameron for their important role in the DIS 2014 Pictorials track, and indeed the Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths, University of London for its role in promoting visuality in HCI. We also thank especially Elizabeth Churchill, James Pierce, David Roedl, and Ron Wakkary for their roles in advancing visual thinking in HCI. We also thank the many participants of the CHI 2012 workshop  as well as everyone involved in the DIS 2014 Pictorials track.
4. The Visual Thinking Gallery and its motivations are first introduced—with the very kind encouragement of Ron Wakkary—in Blevis, E. Digital imagery as meaning and form in HCI and design: An introduction to the Visual Thinking Backpage Gallery. Interactions 18, 5 (Sept.–Oct. 2011), 60–65.
5. Blevis, E., Churchill, E., Odom, W., Pierce, J., Roedl, D., and Wakkary, R. Visual thinking and digital imagery. CHI’12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, New York, 2012, 2715–2718.
Eli Blevis is an associate professor in the School of Computing and Informatics at Indiana University Bloomington and a visiting professor of interaction design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. He likes photographs and dogs.
Sabrina Hauser is a Ph.D. student in the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at Simon Fraser University. She likes photographs and dogs.
Will Odom is a Banting Fellow in the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at Simon Fraser University. He likes photographs and dogs.
The DIS 2014 pictorials are: Lorenzo Davoli and Johan Redström. Materializing infrastructures for participatory hacking; James Pierce and Eric Paulos. Some variations on a counterfunctional digital camera; Stephan Wensveen, Oscar Tomico, Martijn ten Bhömer, and Kristi Kuusk. Growth plan for an inspirational test-bed of smart textile services; Ron Wakkary, Audrey Desjardins, William Odom, Sabrina Hauser, and Leila Aflatoony. Eclipse: eliciting the subjective qualities of public places; Elisa Giaccardi, Elvin Karana, Holly Robbins, and Patrizia D’Olivo. Growing traces on objects of daily use: a product design perspective for HCI; Michael Shorter, Jon Rogers, and John McGhee. Practical notes on paper circuits; Eli Blevis. Stillness and motion, meaning and form; Diego Trujillo-Pisanty, Abigail Durrant, Sarah Martindale, Stuart James, and John Collomosse. Admixed portrait: reflections on being online as a new parent; William Odom, John Zimmerman, Jodi Forlizzi, Hajin Choi, Stephanie Meier, and Angela Park. Unpacking the thinking and making behind a user enactments project.
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