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User Preferences: Tech Q&A With Robert Strati

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do.
January 16, 2013, 4:10pm

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do. The questions are always the same, the answers, not so much. This week: Robert Strati. Click here for more User Preferences Tech Q&As.

The Creators Project: Who are you and what do you do?
Robert Strati: My name is Robert Strati. I make digital compositions exploring the fundamental visual language of diagrams (points, lines, and curves). They can be found as .JPGs around the web and I also make them into prints and scrolls, which I show in exhibitions. I just had a show in December at Robert Henry Contemporary in Bushwick, New York, run by Robert Walden and Henry Chung, both great artists who have created a gallery with a truly unique vision. Also, a number of works are up now in L.A. at the Arena 1 gallery at the Santa Monica Studios in the group exhibit “Infinity +1” with Casey Reas, Debra Greene, and Mitra Fabian, curated by the incomparable Christine Duval.

I also make paintings, installations, performance projects and sculptures (made of tape, wire, helium balloons, light, and space). In the past few weeks I’ve started a project on Tumblr about Creating Civilizations.

I should also mention that I spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing user experience and helping people make software and websites easier to use.

Composition of Entanglements.

What kind of hardware to you use?
I use a MacBook Pro. I also get help from Scott Kiernan’s skills with his large format Epson 9800 printer.

What kind of software do you use?
Adobe Illustrator.

What piece of equipment can you simply not live without?
Although I rely on all kinds of amazing equipment, I have a secret dream of living without any at all.

Composition of Inverted Spheres.

If money were no object, how would you change your current set-up?
I would look into getting a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer to experiment with. I’m interested to see what some of my digital compositions would look like in 3D.

Is there any piece of technology that inspired you to take the path you did?
In my user experience work I often make maps of websites in Illustrator. I use one layer in Illustrator for the wireframes and a separate layer to draw the lines between the wireframes. There was a fairly complicated map I was working on and I turned off the layer with the wireframes, so that only the lines between them were showing. It was just a glimpse, but it reminded me of lost and forgotten text. The emptiness between the directional lines allowed me to imagine new ideas that could fill the space and sparked the desire for understanding the imagined ideas in more detail. This showed me the power of the most basic elements of diagrams and helped me to move forward in creating my digital compositions.

Composition of Relational Dynamics.

What is your favorite piece of technology from your childhood?
OPERATION® Silly Skill Game… I loved the precision required to do the surgery and how the game would respond to your actions.

What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
An application that would use mapping technologies, GPS tracking, distribution system and supply chain applications, financial sharing tools (Kickstarter, Strike Debt, CES) and social networks to actualize Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game.” It is fascinating to me how all the parts and pieces required to make this game a real world active technology are essentially in place. It could be a step in realizing the true promise of technology—making people’s lives substantively easier. I would definitely be interested in diagramming the UX on that one.

Images from Creating Civilizations and “Infinity +1” at Arena 1 Gallery", January 12th—February 9th, 2013.