Tag Archives: research

Summer Institute for Teachers


I had the privilege of observing the Summer Institute for Teachers here at Art Center at the beginning of this month. I had the chance to observe how to apply design-based learning tactics into teaching curriculums, and have been utilizing my experience to apply to my own thesis work. Sitting in with teachers was great because I was able to understand the constraints they face, as well as learn what they know about how to work with young students. One of my goals coming into the Media Design Program was to prepare myself to be a design-based educator upon graduation, so it was refreshing and encouraging to be around enthusiastic teachers. There were many tools and methodologies presented that I know will greatly help my own work as a media designer next term. I think one of the bigger challenges for me is really being able to articulate the importance of me as a media designer in the world of design-based learning and thinking. This is something I plan to solidify over the break, and I know it is imperative in helping steer where I take myself over the course of my final term here at Art Center.

Here are photos of some of the teachers working on building communities, using existing craft materials:





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?





Probe Kit Ready!

Here are some photos of the Future Creature Probe Kit in it’s most finished form! The plan is to make multiples of these for each participant. This will be the jumping off point for the workshops I will be running with youth and, hopefully, with some teachers/educators later on! The kit provides a simple way to get an LED functioning, and is meant to work in conjunction with other activities – i.e. creative writing, sketching, scripting, illustration, etc. 




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?

Steve Roden Workshop

@ The Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock
presented by The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS)

I had a chance to attend a three-hour workshop called Make It, Perform It, Install It: Listen facilitated by sound artist Steve Roden. I wanted to attend this workshop because I figured it would bring inspiration and new perspectives to my own thesis work. Steve Roden started off by presenting some of his work. One of his focuses is on the translation of letters, numbers, shapes and color into new forms through the use of self-imposed codes and constraints. I really enjoyed viewing his work not only because his interests relate to sound and language, but also because he’s a man of juxtapositions who finds inspiration and new meaning by removing some of the obvious and distorting the senses.

During the workshop, we had the chance to create a bit of a collaborative orchestra of sound, film and color. There were about fifteen people at the workshop and we each were asked to color a portion of 8mm film that was strung between all of us. As music and sounds played in the background, we were asked to draw on the film according to the way we felt. When this part of the exercise was completed, we ran the film through a projection reel to see what types of patterns would emerge. 

Prior to arriving at the workshop, we were asked to bring instruments or sound making devices. I brought some percussion instruments, but others brought guitars, violins, digital devices, bells, their own voices… . The film was played again, and this time, we were asked to play our instruments according to relative connections the patterns we were viewing. Steve asked us not to play tunes to the literal movements and color patterns – he wanted us to observe the smaller details of the visuals and he also wanted us to listen to the other participants and allow everyone to have their own creative sound space. One might think that we would have played something horrible and messy, but the outcome seemed quite the opposite. Instead, there seemed to be moments of, hmm…harmonious dissonance. In many ways, it seemed very much like a design research exercise and because it was very free in nature, I felt it was easier to be a creative participant. 

There were a few takeaways I learned from this workshop. First, experimental projects have to be thought-out, but they don’t have to be complicated. Through our exercises that evening, I learned quite a lot about the integration of media, interaction and space. Experimentation doesn’t have to be hard – you just have to do it and learn from it. Second, live participation can be very rewarding, especially when the interaction you do is not just between you and a device or machine, but between other people as well. There is something much more personal about making with others. One other observation I made was about alternative ways of displaying light and color. The workshop allowed me to realize that I must keep my options about in terms of how I portray light and color and what mediums I use to project light. I.e. Not everything I make has to be be about LED’s. Rather, where else can I gather light? Projectors, shadows, natural light? Also, what subtleties can make my work more meaningful, more detailed, more – for lack of a better word right now – poetic?

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.

Blog + Note Scan


I took a walk down memory lane, and decided to scan through my entire blog and my notebook from front to back. I wanted to organize words and categories in a way that could act as a quick–read summary  of what I’ve been processing this term. I’ll probably hang this on my ceiling above my bed and maybe cover my car windshield with it (just kidding). I broke down my collection of words into four categories: Content, Technical Elements, Space/Form and From Nature. These seemed to have emerged as my main areas of interest over the past few months. Granted, a few or many of these will be crossed out or swopped for something new as I continue my explorations, but I feel this list helped me find clarity and a clean base to build upon.

Pulling from these, I think some of the more major attractions I have are: