In preparation for my upcoming thesis review, I’ve been mapping out my process, writing down questions, pulling quotes, drawing little diagrams all in the effort to articulate this terms explorations. Where was I and where am I now and what am I aiming to do? What is my own process teaching/informing me?
Tag Archives: past work
Thesis isn’t just about picking something you like and running with it. It’s not about whittling down your understanding of a proposed topic into a precise outcome. It’s a push and pull. It’s about shifting your perspective from one day to the next. It’s about putting some things on the shelf, about exploring things that are hanging on by a thread, about going backwards, projecting blindly forward, and dancing around a bonfire of ideas until something emerges from the ashes.
There’s that old saying that Mother knows best. Well, Chairperson knows best too. I had a meeting with her a few weeks ago and she threw, what I call, a Golden Wrench into my work. For the last, roughly two and half weeks, I’ve been re-evaluating my explorations in relation to my interests within and beyond this program. I’ve been exploring things in relation to light, natural phenomena and it’s relation to human phenomena. I’ve mapped out past interests in relation to these current explorations, but in the meantime, had put other skill sets and endeavors to the wayside. While in the program, I’ve also been heavily involved in design research methodologies, social issues and design in education. What happened to those areas of interest? I have several answers for this. The point, however, is that I found a way to bring them back into the mix! This has caused me to redirect my focus on my thesis in ways still related to my explorations, but with a stronger emphasis on design research practices in relation to a pro-social agenda.
While I was exploring light and natural/social phenomena, I was also exploring social structures of neighborhoods and communities. I didn’t post much on this blog about the social aspect of my exploration, but I was researching and examining how my experiments could situate themselves into urban environments, into societies.
My thesis project has been shifting towards developing a design-based practice in relation to social issues. In specifics for this particular project, I am going to use Design Research tactics (both new and old) to understand how we can get youth and educators to think more critically about the future state of their world (“their world” being relative to the activities/workshops within which they will participate). Through the creative means of a designed probe and workshop/series of workshops in collaboration with youth groups and educators, I will spend the next following weeks exploring ways in which we can get younger minds to spend time understanding the importance of speculation and asking questions. We are often taught to ask, Who, What, Where, When and How; but what about “What If?”
How can I use the “future” as a jumping off point for this project? What creative and fun ways can we talk about the future?
Can I start uncovering ways where design-based learning projects become a portal to a global workplace and/or society that values collaboration and creative means of developing ideas? Can the imagination situate itself in intellectual or academic arenas? How can I, as a designer, shape this effectively?
Last week, I listed seventeen questions that I collected over the course of this term. I decided to try and give my own self some feedback and I think it really helped me focus what needed to be further explored, what needed to be put on the backburner and what needed to be set aside to be addressed later on when my thesis becomes more evolved. Here are some thoughts below:
1. What would be the content of the stories?
I think the word “stories” might need rewording. Something to do with a collection of opinions, statements. A space to tell what is not normally told in a way that is related to media.
2. How will I shape the storytelling?
So far, I am focused on collecting and editing, but not necessarily with the intent to reinterpret what the person is saying. Rather, I want to get to the core of what is being said. I’d like the “storytelling” to take on as much life on its own with as little influence from me as possible. Though, this leads to the question of the space/place this exists.
3. How does a public space facilitate new relationships?
The Text Wall project was an example of a public area that helped facilitate new relationships amongst a family. It’s not a question about if a public space CAN but rather it’s about HOW it provokes new relationships. I’m still unsure about the space/place and am leaning towards this being an installation. But I also have been exploring the idea of corners, ceilings, nooks…often “underutilized spaces”.
4. What are methods of integrating multiple narratives and multiple interpretations of those narratives in one place?
In my past work, I compiled a large sum of voices in one place – a wall (view past work blog entry). The interaction with my wall projects could be either singular or multiple, and each interaction evoked different outcomes with the participants. I think about my past work and know that there are takeaways I can utilize. I think the voices were effective, but I think the medium (the wall) needs to be explored.
5. How do my artifacts and visual collections connect to one another?
This term, I experimented with projections, light augmentation/refraction, shadows, motion and paper sculptures. All my projects had an organic feeling to them and a feeling of growth. Visually, my experiments have been blurred and distorted, sometimes dreamlike. They were all small/medium in size, and I think one of the next steps is to enlarge the scale of my work. I am attracted to large scale projects, and think that perhaps lighting might play a major role in this.
The shadows, scale and distorted feel of my work have been points of attraction for those that have seen my experiments. They have sparked curiosity and intrigue and I want to push these elements further.
6. How does the physical space merge with the body and why is that important?
A place of familiarity or a place of welcome. A place that seems like it’s somewhere else. A cross between James Turrell and Tara Donovan? These are inspiration artists for my work.
7. Can I get people to implicate themselves with the larger topics of the day?
Pass. This is something I can’t answer right now. Or maybe this is just a badly phrased question.
8. What if the information triggered a change in the shape of the interface, allowing one to better understand the meaning and mood of the content?
How would the so-called “interface” change in shape? Does it physically move or is movement illusionary because of a change in lighting? I am actually not interested in a moving interface, but do have an interest in lighting, particularly a mix of artificial and natural lighting. I think lighting can assist in both changing the ambiance of a space/place, but I’d have to say that lighting will be one of the factors that I will address towards the later half of my M5 term.
9. Integrating cultural traditions (i.e. taking shoes off, leaving artifacts, etc.)?
I think the integration of “cultural traditions” is also something I will address later. For example, taking shoes off to enter a space/place (namely, the exhibition) is something perhaps of a detail that I will keep on a side list of “things to do” throughout M5.
10. A space where you can imagine the existence of another place?
I want to evoke a feeling of another place, perhaps even another dimension. I’ve had an interest in “the beyond”, the horizon right as the sun sets, “the otherside”…I think stories relate to these interests because stories relate to another time – either the past or the future – and of something fictional or true.
In particular, personal questions (i.e. wall projects that asked about rants/raves and about predictions of the future) that are not often outwardly expressed or discussed are often encapsulated in a different place of the body and mind, almost in a different almost unshared or private dimension of the self.
11. How can we use existing spaces as an interface?
Is it about interface? I think I can use existing spaces, in particular the “underutilized spaces” of corners, ceilings and nooks. I think my main interests are about stories and dimensions.
12. What if it’s about a new space for reflection? What if it’s about a social network specifically meant to make people more conscious or accountable to one another?
I don’t think it’s about social networking. I think it can be a new space for reflection, listening and contemplation. What I like about time is not about how fast we can go, but more about how much we need to slow down. (Einstein’s Dreams)
13. “Who am I? How do I know that I am more?”
This was a question posed by Eckhart Tolle and I’m going to have to pass on this one.
14. What do we quest for? How does our spirituality reveal itself in the objects we own, the food we eat, the rituals we perform, the way we dress, the way we talk? Are we committed to an overall ancient truth or do we customize what we want to believe in?
“Spirituality” was an entry point. It is no longer the main drive in my thesis project, but relates to the idea of “the otherside”. I was trying to find a word to replace “spirituality” and I’m leaning towards the word “dimension”. Regarding rituals or customs, I do think rituals might be an element that could compliment my work. Or perhaps it’s just a detail better left out of the picture…once again, a thing to put in my side list.
15. What could happen on different scales? What would happen if a person’s perspective was inverted? (i.e. make people feel small or upside down, or high above…)
Is there a benefit to feeling enclosed (like in a cocoon) or feeling like there’s more of something in that space? Perhaps it’s about sculpture and tellings, which relates to the organic aspect of some of my explorations.
I don’t know the answer to this yet, but will address this issue next.
I’m thinking that this will most likely be an exhibition/ temporary installation piece that could have the potential to exist in a more permanent space in the future. Again, I have an interest in larger scaled projects, so I’m thinking this may be an installation large enough for several people to exist at the same time. I know this will evolve over the course of the upcoming Spring and early Summer months.
Content, content, content! Form and function… . What will be the content in my work throughout this year? How is that relevant and how has it manifested in my past work or in my interests as a media designer?
One of the questions that I have been challenged with and am just beginning to address is how storytelling might be able to exist in my thesis project. Storytelling has managed to manifest itself through several of my projects, and I think it is an important point of interest that has the potential to drive the content in my work.
Storytelling is a form of communication that adds value to our culture, traditions and beliefs. Storytelling adds sincerity to events and perspectives to moments in time. Storytelling can be intentional, but often times it is just a mode of expressing ourselves not just verbally, but visually as well. It is not just through our mouths or the written word, but it is also through our body language and the artifacts we make that we communicate things that are often very personal.
Storytelling isn’t just fictional or non-fictional narrative, but it is also a method of disseminating information. It is a form of communication that can be imaginative and memorable. It allows us to interpret the images that form in our minds, and helps us build relationships and connections with people and places.
Storytelling can exist anywhere – between persons, through music, in a book, in a dance, in a painting… . Stories can travel or fade away, be reshaped or reinvented. They can start as truth and end up as legends. They can carry history or predict a future.
In regards to my thesis, I am wondering how storytelling can integrate itself in a space. I also want to look into making stories more interpretive, rather than literal. It seems that my thesis is gearing itself to include visuals and sound. Advisor, Phil van Allen posed the idea of inverting the usual usages around visuals and audio. What if there was a space where the visual was more abstract and emotional and the audio was more literal? How can a space be augmented to become more personable and meaningful?
I looked back at some of the potentialities of my past work, sifting through unanswered questions, speculations and what-ifs. I pulled out questions such as:
– How does a public space facilitate new relationships?
– How do designed variations in a space change the way a person interacts with that space or with other people in that space?
– What are methods of integrating multiple narratives and multiple interpretations of those narratives in one place? (or perhaps in several places that are somehow linked to one another?)
In my time as a student, I’ve learned that a seemingly normal space, or a space of familiarity, can be reinterpreted and re-sculpted in a way that opens new affordances not otherwise expected of the place. I’ve also been learning that interactions in a space can exist in a multiplicity of ways. Small, more personable or private interactions can exist in the same space as larger, more public ones.
I know I do not want my project to be literal (that’s just a no no). I believe and trust that things can naturally emerge, and I also believe that serendipitous or more ambiguous moments allow for deeper connections. As a media designer, I do not believe it is my job to necessarily hand people information on a plate. I believe it is important for people to be more critical of their own lives and I believe it is one of my goals as a designer to create more points of inspiration and desire…portals to the imagination, portals of reflection.
A good reference point is often times your own self. I was walking down the hallways of Art Center one day and stopped because I was captured by the way the shadows were being cast on the floor by the window blinds and the trees outside. The flickering light was sweet and I felt peaceful for the few minutes I hung around by the windows.
I sifted through my past work to see if there were any correlations between what I am doing now and what I was doing in my previous life before my thesis began (my thesis seems to be weaving itself through all the facets of my life lately…in a good way of course. Eat, sleep, dream, thesis.). There were several projects that stood out, reminding me that the work I am doing is not coming from out of the blue. There have been running themes as well as assignments that have serendipitously correlated to my current work. Below are a few examples of my past work.
Spring 2008: In Super Studio 2, we teamed up and developed a virtual message board for mobile text messages. The Text Wall was installed into the homes of two families. Family members’ cell phones were hooked up to Twitter (a mobile text messaging system), and any text sent to an assigned number would appear projected on a designated wall space in a common area of the home. The once empty walls became a new space for storytelling, sharing and conversation.
Summer 2008: If Walls Could Talk was an interactive project created in Interactive Objects and Spaces 2 with Phil Van Allen. The project demonstrates how the infrastructure around us, namely walls, are listening, absorbing and remembering what they hear. By interacting with a wall and trying to, in a sense, channel what the walls have absorbed, we can recover soundbites of the moments that may have occurred around that space. By coming close to it with a wave of your hand or just the closeness of your presence, the wall will playback what it’s heard.
I attempted to further push the idea of the If Walls Could Talk project by creating a larger version of it in the alcove adjacent to our studio. The content was different in that the sound bites coming from the wall were about people’s speculation of the future. During this project, I also did an aesthetic exploration that, in the end, was not fully addressed. This is one of the reasons I want to spend more time exploring materials and lighting over the remainder of this term, because I believe the design of my thesis will be imperative to the final outcome of the project.