Tag Archives: questions

The New Untouchables

First of all, sorry I haven’t blogged in a long long while. I’ve been deep into my thesis work, so I’ve been sparse with my writing. Apologies! However, I did come across a great article in the New York Times that I’d like to share with everyone. It is called The New Untouchables by Thomas L. Friedman. It’s an article about creating new opportunities for oneself during this time of recession. I think one of the major lines that can describe this article is, “those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables.”

This also brings to light what our Chairperson Anne Burdick has to say about designers in her article, “Graduate Education: Preparing Designers for Jobs that Don’t Exist (yet)“.

I see the opportunity right now to design a job that doesn’t exist quite yet. As a designer, it is not only up to me to try my best to do well at what I do, but it is also up to me to carve out spaces, or rather, “design” out spaces in the working world that have the potential to do things that existing job positions just don’t do right now. What can my explorations do to enhance my own practice as a design researcher? What am I doing as a designer to advocate for the induction of new creative practices within our culture?

Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Process!!!

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?

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Redirect!!

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. 

Current Standing:
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?

Some thoughts on my very many questions

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.

16. How much is ambient and how much is actually triggered by interaction?
I don’t know the answer to this yet, but will address this issue next.
 
17. Where would this exist? An exhibition? A building?…
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.

Backstage Inspiration

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All photos taken by Mari Nakano. All rights reserved.

Inspiration weaves itself in and out of the self. I believe some inspiration emerges from the innate self, but also gets absorbed and then translated from our surrounding interactions with objects and beings. As a designer and maker, I believe it is imperative that I remain in a consistent state of observation and absorption. I also believe that discovery and realizations of our deeper interests comes from varying where one seeks that inspiration. 

I had the great opportunity to spend the other day photographing and hanging out with some inspiring performing artists: On-Ensemble, a contemporary taiko quartet, taiko player Kenny Endo, flautist Kaoru Watanabe, violinist Ysanne Spevack and vibraphone player Brad Dutz. I spent a lot of time not only watching their rehearsals and the main performance at the Cerritos Performing Arts Centre, but also spent a lot of backstage and down time chatting with them about their views on performance, personal interaction and design. Could they be my thesis advisors for the year? Just kidding. Well… .

All of these performers are not just good at their art and their music, but they are in tune with the people to whom they present their work, their art, their craft. They have the capability to give all of themselves, but understand that there is a space between them and the audience that they cannot control, that is left to be interpreted by the individual. I learned a lot from my conversations with these artists and agree that my work is not something I want to fully “control” either. I believe in serendipity, in emergence, in self-interpretation. I believe that meaningfulness is created because that particular individual chooses to interpret and decide a song for themselves. And if not a song, then a story, an interaction, a moment however long or short. 

I also realized that these people were storytellers who had the capability of bringing a person into another world. I am not the type to be taken aback by performances, – and I’m not saying this to flatter anyone or promote my friends – but I was taken away by their performance. Many of the pieces were often premised with a backstory (i.e. a song dedicated to the birth of a new son, a piece in dedication to a place in which they grew up, rhythms about traditional foods…), and the delivery and curation of all of this really allowed for me to connect with the musicians on different levels. At times, I felt nostalgic, sentimental, romanced, entranced and excited.  I really did! Now, the question is, how can I evoke similar experiences through whatever I create? What am I learning about storytelling from these performers and how has the arena of music and performance assisted in my understanding of my own work?

Questions, Questions Everywhere!

I am starting to generate a list of questions that I have partially addressed or have yet to address. I plan on presenting these to the faculty at my term-end thesis review. I’m a bit nervous to present, but excited to get feedback about my next steps. I’ll be adding a few more questions over the course of the next few weeks.

(In no particular order)
1. What would be the content of the stories?
2. How can I shape the storytelling?
3. How can a public space facilitate new relationships in new or unfamiliar ways?
4. What are methods of integrating multiple narratives and multiple interpretations of those narratives in one place?
5. How do my artifacts and visual collections connect to one another? 
6. How does the physical space merge with the body and why is that important? What could happen?
7. Can I get people to implicate themselves with the larger topics (i.e. the content of this space) of the day?
8. What if the information triggered a change in the shape of the interface (actual or illusionary shape), allowing one to better understand the meaning and mood of the content?
9.  Integrating cultural traditions (i.e. taking shoes off, leaving artifacts in dedication to a story, etc.)
10. What do you think of this space being a place where you can imagine the existence of another place?
11.  How can we use existing spaces or structures as an interface (i.e. corners, ceilings, nooks)?
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?
13.  “Who am I? How do I know that I am more?” 
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?
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…)
16. How much is ambient and how much is actually triggered by interaction?
17. Where would this exist? An exhibition? A building?…