Making Future Greeble
An interview on just out with the designers responsible for the look and feel of interfaces in the recently released Tron: Legacy film reveals an interesting design fiction tension that arises after several generations: the desire to fight one rendering of a fictional future with another. While Tron: Legacy, like Tron before it, is a fantasy present, the dynamic is still much the same as trying to design a future: working out the look, feel and experience, whether its a future state or a loosely distributed present.
In the interview with GMUNK, one of the principal designers, he speaks about his team's task in terms of wrongs to right:
"I take representing digital culture in film very seriously in lieu of having grown up in a world of very badly researched user interface greeble. I cringed during the part in Hackers (1995) when a screen saver with extruded "equations" is used to signify that the hacker has reached some sort of neural flow or ambiguous destination. I cringed for Swordfish and Jurassic Park as well. I cheered when Trinity in The Matrix used nmap and ssh (and so did you). Then I cringed again when I saw that inevitably, Hollywood had decided that nmap was the thing to use for all its hacker scenes (see Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, Girl with Dragon Tattoo, The Listening, 13: Game of Death, Battle Royale, Broken Saints, and on and on)."
While GMUNK's crew focused on bringing elements of interface design that are relevant and credible to programming, and more importantly hacking, they also had the tough job of picking up design cues from the groundbreaking art direction of the external (really internal, in-device) environments in the new film while staying connected to the original Tron's attempt at same—effectively bridging the credible present with a stimulating near future, while giving a nod to the past. Dizzy yet?