I’m not sure the word design means anything. Or at least, it means less and less the more and more we use it. So I call myself a tinkerer.
In my work, that manifests in a few ways:
Pathological curiosity. Gaps in my knowledge feel like a personal fault. From electronics to mental health, I’ve cultivated the ability to rapidly learn enough about a topic or a medium to become dangerous.
Provocative making. There’s magic in making the intangible tangible. Digital objects obviously have their place, but there’s nothing quite as evocative and provocative as forty pounds of books, or an incessantly ringing phone.
Disarming playfulness. Levity is a powerful tool, especially in contexts where it’s unexpected. Humor brings a critical distance and can defuse sensitive topics, like death and dying and psychiatry.
The Act of Diagnosis( 2018 – 2019 )
Mental health and its discontents. In my master’s thesis project, I investigated the past, present, and future of mental health diagnosis. The linchpin of the system, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, became my focal point. I created a series of objects that make the DSM’s absurdity tangible. (more)
Tibby & Vim Dolls( 2017 – present )
Toys and play as tools to promote honest discussion about life’s most difficult topics. Many norms and taboos are instilled in childhood, but the particular receptiveness of children could also provide an opportunity to break taboos. Tibby is a doll designed to allow children and adults to engage topics like aging and death in a low-stakes but honest way. (more)
#metoo Machines( 2018 )
Innocuous-looking devices that lend immediacy to a movement. There have been more than twenty million #metoo tweets. But what does that number really mean? These machines attempt to translate an avalanche of tweets into something you can feel — into something you cannot ignore. (more)
Math Square( 2013 – present )
An interactive floor installation for New York’s Museum of Math. Imagine an iPad, except fifteen feet on each side, and you use your feet instead of your fingers. This piece makes a variety of abstract mathematical concepts into fun, kid-friendly activities and games. (more)
NatGeo View( 2015 – 2017 )
The flagship iOS application for the National Geographic Society. This innovative, truly photos-first experience was NatGeo’s initial foray into native content delivery for mobile devices. Now discontinued, its legacy lives on. (more)
These are small, niche, or old things that are still worth mentioning.
Triller. I developed the initial iOS app for this popular music video platform, including its innovative UI, audio analysis framework, and automatic video editing smarts. (site, app store)
Sounds of McGuinness. I used to live on a noisy four-lane highway in Brooklyn. I stuck a microphone out of my window for a week to find out just how noisy it was. (overview, technical details)
Coughing planter. An attractive planter with a hidden air quality sensor. When there is excessive CO2 or other pollutants, the plant coughs. (instructable, source code)
Reverse engineering for fun & profit. I enjoy making software do things it’s not supposed to. Like access the built-in macOS dictionary, use private emoji utilities, or figure out what browser tabs you have open on your phone.
jutil. A tool for reading and manipulating JSON on the command line. Much more sane than jq, the alternative. Though I suppose I’m biased. (site)
Objective-C style guide. Though it’s passé in the age of Swift, I wrote this opinionated (and somewhat unconventional) style guide when I was teaching iOS programming to beginners. (site)
Tim Clem is a tinkerer and programmer. Owing to decades of software development experience, his work frequently incorporates technology in unexpected ways. Preoccupations with language, education, and the unknowability of other people are also regular influences on his practice.
Tim has a BS in mathematics and an MFA in Transdisciplinary Design from Parsons in New York. He is from the middle of nowhere Virginia (population 1,100 on a good day) and currently lives in the Bay Area of California.
Tim worries that he might be an artist.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a copy of my CV, advice, or just a chat. I don’t keep much of a social media presence, though I do have a Twitter account with one tweet, the text of which is “Help.”
I am frequently doing weird things over on GitHub.