Sep 17, 2012


I came across a new word today... skeuomorphism. Here's what an article in had to say about the word...

What’s skeuomorphism? If you’ve ever used an Apple product, you’ve experienced digital skeuomorphic design: calendars with faux leather-stitching, bookshelves with wood veneers, fake glass and paper and brushed chrome. Skeuomorphism is a catch-all term for when objects retain ornamental elements of past, derivative iterations--elements that are no longer necessary to the current objects’ functions.

In software, skeuomorphism can be traced back to the visual metaphors designers created to translate on-screen applications before users were accustomed to interacting with computer software: virtual folders to store your documents, virtual Rolodexes to store contacts. But over time, skeuomorphism has seeped into all areas of UI design, especially in Apple’s software, where text documents, for example, are made to look like yellow legal pads.

"It’s visual masturbation," says one former senior UI designer at Apple who worked closely with Steve Jobs. "It’s like the designers are flexing their muscles to show you how good of a visual rendering they can do of a physical object. Who cares?"

I have been thinking all day about this concept, skeuomorphism, in regards to the theatre. 

I was having a conversation the other day about what the future of theatre would look like and what it would take to make a legitimate impact on the mass culture again. As the conversation continued I stopped at one point and made an observation that no one can really see the future, not really. Whatever comes along will come out of the blue. The catch will be not tying it down with carried-over concepts from the past (or even the present).  The contemporary trend is to look backwards in order to feel like we are looking forward... And I'm not sure if this isn't the very thing that holds us back most of the time.

Anyway, it's an interesting word... skeuomorphism.

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