Lukas Valiauga is an artist that you just can’t describe in one sentence. Coming from an academic design background, a young artist from Lithuania, Lukas, has explored and created whole different worlds around him. Usually, the virtual ones. His works keep pushing the interactive design boundaries and raise uncomfortable questions like the value of an artwork in a gallery. Well, today, we’re talking with Lukas Valiauga about his works and interactive design in general. 

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Interactive design, what is that?

Interaction design or ‘design for interactivity’ emerged as a response to the growing ubiquity of personal computers in the late ’80s. Businesses knew that computers are good at doing maths and processing text, but as for the day – it took a degree in computer science to use one. To sell computers for everyday use – someone had to come up with easy, visual ways of talking or ‘interacting’ with the machine. Hence the interaction design field was born.

That’s before UI, UX, IA, IxDA were a thing. It’s a bit debatable what is what in the digital world, but I like the word ‘Interaction.’ I think it holistically describes the actual goal of the practice. 

How can we use design and technology to create more meaningful experiences?

Today, the situation changes. We don’t simply ‘talk’ to the machines when we choose to.

On the opposite, our lives are mediated by them. I don’t mean a – ‘robot, hand me a cup of coffee’ situation (although that does exist). I mean, your insurance price is created by an algorithm. Adverts for the stuff you buy are served by music, clothes, sports routines, weekend activity suggestions, people you date… I mean, the list goes on and on. 

From this point on, everything we create, one way or another, will have a technological touchpoint to it. Because of that, interaction design’s responsibility is to connect separate design disciplines making sure that the stuff we design has actual meaning beyond form and function. 

Like, do you understand the way the insurance price has been determined? Is the dataset used in the process really unbiased? Does this product empower you as a decision-maker? Does it make you a stronger part of the community, or does it promote isolation? 

Or… Are you really discovering new music, or are you simply listening to the similar-sounding stuff you liked before?

Tell us a bit in few sentences about your works:

Tower block game. Why, when, and what was the most exciting about this project?

Why: Because games are a form of art. And vice versa. 

When: In London, I used to take a road to work that would lead me past the high-rise estate. The sight would remind me of neighborhoods made of prefabricated concrete blocks – such a familiar sight in Lithuania! I would then feel nostalgic – felt I needed to tell it somehow.

What was exciting: I completely forgot about this project, and a few years later, it got picked up by the media. Now again, from time to time, I see the project resurface the web as something new. It’s funny. There is nothing ‘old’ on the web, only – ‘new again.’

Tower block game
Tower block game

How blue is the sky blue. Why, when, and what was the most exciting about this project?

Why: Because for the first three or so months of living in Italy, I could not stop looking at the sky, thinking just how perfectly blue it is… How blue? 

When: During the incredibly creatively charged residency year in Fabrica. It is a cultural research center in Italy, run by the Benetton group.

What was exciting: It started as a silly conversation on the way for lunch one day and ended up in the design museum in Milan.

How blue is the sky blue

Tagline poetry machine. Why, when, and what was the most exciting about this project?

Why: If you read any of the marketing taglines, they sound so silly and vague outside of their advertising context. Kind of like bad poetry. 

When: During my last year at university. Probably the first ‘interactive’ project. Really quick thing, but it got me more excited than most of the stuff so far at that point.

What was exciting: Every year Royal Academy in London raises a Summer Exhibition. It’s a super well-renowned art fair. During the show, celebrity artists and less known local artists exhibit and sell their work. A couple of years ago, Ieva and I sneaked into the show and stuck one of the Tagline Poetry prints onto the wall next to other artworks. 😀

Try it here.

Tagline poetry machine

The impressionist. Why, when, and what was the most exciting about this project?

Why: Because what is the value of an artwork in a gallery… Really??? 

When: During the United Colors of Benetton, AW17 collection preview show.

What was exciting: While at Fabrica, the design team has been approached to create a show for Benetton’s upcoming collection preview. I collaborated with Swedish artist Jonas Eltes for what was supposed to be a critique of the show. The piece ended up ‘impressing’ the audience and traveled to several more shows after that.

The impressionist
The impressionist
The impressionist

Music notes. Why, when, and what was the most exciting about this project?

Why: Because it’s incredibly exciting that technology enables us to reimagine every day and invents new functions for the stuff that’s, most of the time, actually quite dull. 

When: Between Ieva and I relocating from London to Amsterdam, becoming homeowners, expecting a baby, and enduring the global pandemic. 

What was exciting: I loved filming the clip with Ieva!

Starting Point. Why, when, and what was the most exciting about this project?

Why: Because it’s exciting to use technology to come up with new ways to tell a story.

When: In 2019.

What was exciting: We used shapes of real objects to represent each artwork, telling each artwork’s story. One of the pieces titled ‘Slag baum’ by Andrejus Polukordas talked about institutional barriers.

So, as a symbol, we made an object of a classic institutional stamp. Each time using the stamp, the visitor would activate a snippet of a story. People got so carried away at ‘stamping’ that the object had to be replaced almost daily. Yes, smashing things in a museum is exciting!!!

As our topic of the month is anger, tell us, what are you most angry about?

Right now, I am most angry at the levels of ignorance in terms of how we deal with the pandemic.

Ignorance of people not following the rules, ignorance of governments pretending people in gig economies will stop working just because they are told so. Ignorance of people who say it’s their choice not to take vaccines. 

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