Erik Adigard is a communication designer whose work stretches into domains as broad as identity systems, web sites, videos, visual essays, and book design, as well as documentary films and installations in art museums and exhibitions. With distillations of trends and ideas into visually arresting spreads and iconography, Adigard and his M.A.D. company partner Patricia McShane's work was a key element establishing Wired magazine's visual storytelling from its start in 1993. This last decade has seen Adigard nearly as involved in installations and art venues as he is with his admittedly broad design practice.
Adigard’s most recent public work was AirXY, for the 2008 Architecture Biennale in Venice, created with M.A.D. and Chris Salter. A multimedia installation with interactive animation, sensors, haze, light, and sound, AirXY explored space, architecture, media, and the human presence, extended by sensors and transformed by interfaces and networks. Its manifesto described the “de facto landscape of screens” and disembodied living and called for “re-materialization” that would unite “data and bodies.” It followed Dualterm, in which Adigard and Salter used a Toronto Airport Terminal as a mixed point of departure into a SecondLife 3D world, along with other, less virtual destinations.
Friends and sometime collaborators, we sat down in a San Francisco Mexican restaurant--in the midst of a blaring and lengthy Michael Jackson tribute--to talk about how his approach changes when working in the different modes of art and design. -John Alderman