User experience design has simplified computer interaction by referencing
objects we already understand. We know what a folder does because it's close
enough to what a physical folder does. The slight differences, how a digital object
functions unlike its representative counterpart, are lost to us. We can't possibly
understand how everything works and we don't have to. As this process of
abstraction continues it becomes more difficult to imagine existences or uses for
various digital media outside of what they were sold to us as.
Physical objects have connected attributes. If something looks or feels a
certain way we can accurately predict what it can do. How digital objects appear
don't have to correspond to what they do, each attribute is coded independently.
3D engines are designed based on assumptions of how we perceive. The virtual
becomes convincingly life-like by layering concepts like light, gravity, collision
detection, texture, and Doppler effects.
The modern gallery has also been developed with a specific user experience
goal, to be a place of quiet contemplation devoid of distractions from the outside
world or of you as a person with a body among other people with bodies. Like the
computer, it wants to dissolve away from your consciousness and provide a
seamless experience. Like the folder, we have a particular idea of how art works
based on how the gallery presents it to us. By understanding the gallery and the
computer as constructions we can play with their rules. Through play we can
imagine new potential realities, both virtual and real.