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Nonsense LaboratoryBack

For Google Arts & Culture, we designed the user experience and interfaces for a set of digital tools and a website developed by artist Allison Parrish that create different forms of nonsense words based on user input.

Users of Nonsense Laboratory are able to partake in a guided process of creating logically-generated nonsense. To provide a sense of what the tools in Nonsense Laboratory do, here is a brief description of each:


MIXER: Combine two or more existing words to create a nonsense word

MOUTHFEEL TUNER: A user can manipulate a sentence by emphasizing phonetic sound characteristics

RESPELLER: Respell sentences as if they were spoken without using certain sounds or letters

SEQUENCER: Invents new words by sequencing mouth movements

EXPLORER: A user can scroll a word map of related nonsense words, with an existing word as a base


Our job was to assist the artist in parsing through her research and existing ideas of how the tools might work, and develop a set of interfaces and tool functionality that both properly exhibited the machine learning research and also that made sense and felt fun to a general audience. In order to accomplish this, we researched linguistics, interviewed the artist, and were led by a guiding principle of bringing clarity to complex technology while inviting play within the set of tools.


Developing the UI of the individual tools themselves quickly became the foremost and greatest challenge of the project. We needed to make the interfaces of the tools clear and engaging, as well as highlight the technology being used without bogging users down by too much of the complexity of how it all works.
Deciding which tools and how many would be featured was also among the challenges, since there were many machine learning technologies that Allison researched and explored and different parts of tools could be clumped together or separated.
Lastly, determining a site flow that would encourage users to jump between the different tools and try as many as possible was a challenge as well. Below are some of the early tool interface sketches, and some final screens from the project.

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