3×3 with Jacques Laroche.

July 14, 2010 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Jacques Laroche is a computer scientist who explores the intersection between science, politics, and society. He is also an active creator and thinker, who avidly believes in the power of design.

What do you design?
I design objects and ideas that push the boundaries of standard conception. Although objects are inextricably linked to ideas, I specify objects and ideas because I have worked in the the realms of physical creation (photography, digital component design, circuit bending, music production, etc.) and of pure thought (philosophy and writing).

I believe that when one engages in the practice of writing they are in effect involved in the creation, or design, of ideas. Accomplished writers take this further by weaving their ideas into a web that catches the minds of their target audience, sometimes known as the efficient transmission of memes. The totality of this process – creation of ideas, identification of a plausible target audience, and distribution via an effective medium – constitutes an intricate design process.

Where do you design?
When I was involved in photography, my location was New York City, mostly at night and usually confined to sites with a sense of symmetry. Electronics design usually happens in my home, on a central sturdy table that’s covered with audio and video cables, wires, components and tools. Adjacent to the table is a computer where I research the project at hand as well as a library of books for the same, though analog, purpose. Writing happens either at home, at coffee shops, or in libraries.

Pathways by Jacques Laroche; chair, presumably where thinking occurs

Why do you design?
For two reasons: First, because accepting the world at face value is not an option for me. In the particular case of the design of electronics, users – or citizens (as opposed to “consumers”) – are provided with an intentionally limited options. Increasing the functionality and availabilities of a product, for example the amount of sounds on a drum machine, can be easy, but most manufacturers maintain a fairly stifling and presumptuous relationship with their consumers by controlling the availability of a feature or overall product. In effect, corporations are telling citizens  “our job is to design and produce, your job is to passively and continuously consume”.  From where I stand, this is unacceptable, and active design on the part of the citizenry is one definite way to counteract this fact.

Second, I believe that creation is an integral part of human purpose. Design is essential the spiritual well-being of an individual. When someone contributes something that they have personally designed (whether the item exists physically or solely in the realm of ideas), he or she will likely feel useful to and integrated with his or her family, community, society.

drum machine modification, in progress

July 14’s daily design idea is be more like Jacques: “opt for vitality rather than stagnation, contribution instead of passive consumption, life over death.”

Find Jacques on Current Perspectives.
All images by Jacques Laroche.


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