Point in Passing's new website embodies the studio's ethos as a "living system"

Based in Brooklyn, the studio utilises spontaneity in both its process and outcomes. Here, its founder John Soat weighs in on the possibilities of art directed automation.

Date
22 January 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

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Point in Passing is a design studio based in New York, co-founded by John Soat and Eric Reiper, on the idea that the studio’s output would always feel “like a living organism. Never static. Responsive to stimuli. Not always predictable. The potential to evolve.” So, when it came to relaunching the studio’s website at the end of last year, the Point in Passing team saw it as an opportunity to reflect this ethos, creating a site which differs with every visit.

Available to see at pointinpassing.com, the website takes the studio’s logo (14 circles, each representing a letter of the studio’s name) and arranges them in a “unique physical system” with each refresh. It’s a sort of personal logo for anyone who visits the site, utilising the possibilities of the web to curate individual experiences in an automated manner.

It’s an idiosyncratic approach to creating a portfolio, both in terms of user experience but also in the way it reflects the studio’s works. No matter what the project, Point in Passing looks to create “living systems” which then go onto to create outcomes they could never have imagined. It’s “incredibly rewarding,” explains John. “I feel it’s a reaction to perfectionist tendencies, where I would find myself overworking a piece to the point where it lost its soul, or I no longer cared. Living systems allow inspiration to be found even in your own work – for a life to exist beyond your control.”

A project which demonstrates this approach, and which is a favourite of ours, is wwwwwwwwwwwww.xyz. A browser-based web platform, it repurposes YouTube content and converts it into a realtime VJing tool. “A user can live edit four videos simultaneously using their computer keyboard,” John tells us. “The beauty of the app comes from the true spontaneity of the videos that happen to come together. We curated thousands of videos in different categories, but there is such joy in the serendipity of a song you decided to play, lining up perfectly with a set of videos the app happened to load in that given moment. Your brain attaches meaning and finds patterns in seemingly disparate content. Such a personal connection is formed in knowing that this moment happened for you alone, and it will never happen again.”

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Point in Passing: wwwwwwwwwwwww.xyz

Clearly, spontaneity is a driving force for the studio. It’s an outcome to strive for but also something which helps define Point in Passing’s visual language. Motivated more by ideas than aesthetics, John explains how the studio’s work can be defined by “the exploration of the happy accident.” It’s not the tools therefore that define their work, he continues, but the process taken to create it. “We always ask ourselves, how can this process be uniquely our own?”

This is even more relevant when you consider the context in which Point in Passing is working: the digital world. “The tools we work with evolve on a daily basis. Video tutorials exist for almost any look you’re trying to achieve. Quickly finding and curating visual inspiration has never been easier. If you’re struggling with a technical problem, someone has likely dealt it and written the answer on a message board.” It means the tasks which used to sap the studio’s time have now been alleviated, allowing the team to “ask bigger questions and come up with stranger solutions.”

It’s on this point that John reveals what pushes the studio to keep exploring, concluding that: “What excites me most about graphic design is that we’re in the infancy of this period of art directed automation. Video games have been adopting elements of procedurally generated content for years and I’m excited for the design world to follow. In the last few years, you can feel design slowly coming to life with motion being adopted on nearly all digital platforms. The tools we work with in many ways define the work that we do and their boundaries and capabilities are becoming more free. Design feels more like a living being than ever before.”

GalleryPoint in Passing

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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