Hiroshi Ishii – Materiable
This series of creations/projects by Hiroshi Ishii and the other team members of the group is perhaps the most famous, and possibly therefore most cliche Looking Outwards pick, by the Tangible Media Group. I personally connect to this project because I have seen the documentation long before this, I think possibly even before college years. I had never heard of physical computing, of interactive art or anything at the time. I just knew, when I saw it, that this was the future!
The Materiable “tables” are complex yet simple designs that allow you to “form” shapes using blocks on motors. As seen in the documentation, you can use programatic designs (such as 3D graphs), interactive reactions (such as motion sensing) and “moldable” forms, which react to direct physical actions like pushing down on the blocks. I really loved the visualizations of the 3d graphs, and the “real life” example of the phone that moves into view.
Some critiques on this would, I suppose, be that it is still a bit too static (limited by a square of area on a table). I would love to see a room-sized version of this where you can walk on it and interact with it that way, perhaps with a 2-3 foot height when each block is fully extended. And, of course, “resolution” also could be increased, although with each additional “pixel”/block resolution, the complexity would only increase. But maybe in time.