michael naimark

Speech for the Opening of the Tech Museum of Innovation
San Jose
March 2, 1999

Art at Interval

Michael Naimark


Thank you, Peter Giles, Emily Routman, Beau Takahara, and Chet Anderson. And my many colleagues at Interval who helped work on these exhibits. Amy Hyams, who held it all together. And particularly to David Liddle and Paul Allen for giving us the creative freedom to pursue research in a less direct way than is usually the case.

I think it's great for a tech museum to have an interest in art such as ours and "Origin" and believe that it has value to the overall museum experience. But I also don't believe art and technology are the same thing, or that interactions between artists and technologists are necessarily harmonious.

My boss David Liddle was once asked what the most satisfying part of his job was and he said "dealing with creative people." Then he was asked what's the least satisfying part of his job and he said "dealing with creative people." Nobody said it was going to be easy.

But we believe that it's important to have a small but lively art and new media component as part of our everyday research activities at Interval. Important for Interval. There are several reasons why I'd like to share:

First, they provide stimulation and provocation to our research community, adding meaning, entertainment, and emotional resonance to our work.

These projects often act as magnets to bring together unconventional combinations of skills and talents.

They can also provide content to test tools (and even tools to test content).

Some of these projects are means for collecting data, both through explicit query as well as through observation.

These projects may lead researchers down unforeseen paths and result in new discoveries and intellectual property. We've been awarded several patents as a result of the exhibits you see here.

Finally, external deadlines and public scrutiny serve as forcing functions for decision making, rigor, and completion. They keep us street-smart. "Putting on a show" is a test bed for new ideas, a simulation of the real world.

Interval cares a great deal about the real world. As you may guess by the diversity of our exhibits, we have a uniquely diverse research community, which includes psychologists, musicians, animators, craftspeople, and designers as well as scientists and engineers.

One of the few things about which we all strongly agree is that the high tech revolution will affect everyone, not just small groups of the real world.

Interval is a dot-com. It is a commercial venture, however experimental. And we believe that we benefit from supporting and exhibiting some of our work. Hopefully the museum and the public do as well.

Thank you.


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