Impact and Influence Workshop

The impact and influence workshop helped us gain valuable insights as we move forward in defining our final major project. The disruptive approach to the workshop helped in defying pre conceived notions and alluded aspects of our project that we might have not given importance to before this workshop.

The ‘priority assessment chart’ helped in mapping my insight decisions in order to visually and cognitively register where I stand in terms of making these approaches/methodologies a reality. Two out of the three insights I gained were in the aspirational sector; this reiterated the face that I need to narrow down my topic which is primarily knowledge based to a more practice based outcome.

The exercise helped me question my assumptions and ensure that the terminologies and concepts that I might be using in my research question are not too subjective and biased. The particular exercise where we listed down all the things that go into making a single object that we need to complete our thesis project was eye opening as I realized the magnitude of the project I might be undertaking; and as a result occupying a certain stance as a designers and researcher. By the end of the day I had rephrased the word ‘technology’ in my research question to ‘digital applications.’ The step by step approach made the task of filtering easier as a constant external opinion allowed me to tackle bias in my approach to the project.

Initial project overview:

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An empathy manual for technology driven products and applications dealing with human problems.

Overview after workshop:

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An empathy manual for digital application companies that cater to social and psychological well being for millennials.

The practice of thinking, writing, exchanging and reviewing are all great exercises when done individually; and more so when done one after the other. The workshop fuelled my thought process by disrupting, dissecting and discarding broader themes around my final major project thesis.

 

 

 

 

Understanding Identity and Childhood through Tactile Objects

The exhibit at V&A Museum of Childhood, Century of the Child: Nordic Design for Children 1900 to today, is a fascinating overview of the evolution of Nordic artefacts centered around the needs and wants of a child over the 1900s to the present day. Children are pivotal to the growth and development of society and its cultural fabric. The wellbeing of children is a direct reflection of the values harnessed by family, schools and other branches of a community.

Of all the sections in the exhibit I found the one about ‘Design for Living’ most interesting and relatable. This aspect of creating an amiable, comfortable environment that allows them to play and learn at home has a direct co relation to the mental health and well being of a growing infant. I found the whole aspect of the consumer products that were developed for the children – being ‘designed to aid the child’s development, encouraging them to create, construct and play’ – close to home.

Growing up in the 90s I had a lot of physical artefacts and toys that I would engage with as a child. Tactile objects always allow a child or even human beings for that matter, to explore, create and construct. The feeling of flipping through a pages of a book or putting the pieces of paper together are quite different from scrolling through YouTube videos or dragging and dropping pieces of a jigsaw on a tablet. The fact these products have a tangible value to them gives them an emotional appeal as well; the artefacts become a source of semiotic and emotional association with people, memories and values.

One such product on display that was similar to an artefact I had a child was – the ‘boo boo patterned duvet cover’ which was reminiscent of the patchwork quilt that was common in Indian households in West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh also called ‘Kantha’. Identical to the colour palette found in the duvet cover, the patchwork quilt had often had visual stories depicted in bright colours embroidered on them. Kantha in Sanskrit means ‘rags’, as a lot of the Kantha patchwork was created from discarded but vibrant cloth from traditional Indian garments. These Kantha stitch quilts often became heirlooms for generations due to their soft texture and delicate craftwork. The quilts often had embroidered narratives that depict stories of popular folklore. The Kantha quilt is an artefact that is indigenous, imaginative and tactile. We must re imagine these products, in the future while deconstructing our technological worlds to build a more memorable childhood for future generations.

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Traditional kantha stitch fabric

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The duvet at the mueseum

Citations:

http://thekanthaproject.siterubix.com/the-history-of-kantha-stitch

http://www.home-soul.co.uk/Blog.aspx

Somewhere in Between: The other side of empathy

The exhibition at the Welcome Collection is about the intersection of science and art and one being used with another in order to portray diverse concepts like –genetics in contemporary cattle farming, the extended possibilities of touch, sexual health and virus transmission and the human capacity to hold one’s breath.

I found all the topics really interesting but the one that stood out for me and is closely linked to my project was the one about synesthesia by Daria Martin. The outcome of this project was two films screened in the exhibition space, adjacent to one another. Daria Martin explains synesthesia in the catalogue for the exhibition, “synesthesia is an experience in which a stimulus in one sense provokes a subjectively experienced stimulus in another.” The concept of synesthesia explores the ability to move beyond the individual senses of sound, smell, sight, taste and touch. It dwells into the possibility of a human being’s ability to feel when someone else experiences a sensation, for example; if I were to feel the sensation of touch on my shoulder even if I wasn’t exposed to it.

The two films also highlight the possibility of the phenomena being detrimental to the emotional state of a person, is it pleasing to experience the sensations of a different individual constantly? Is there such a thing as too much empathy? This extreme viewpoint on this regard challenges the inherent knowledge of empathy being a detrimental catalyst rather than a driver – “it often causes synaesthetes (people who can experience the phenomenon) to withdraw socially, because our world is not built for such empathy.” The visual language of the films explores this notion as well as ‘At the Threshold’ explores the dynamic of a mother son relationship who are both synaesthetes. The son is anxious to leave home while the mother is hesitant on the same. This analogue film styled in an overtly dramatic way, in terms of direction and set is inspired from the 1950s. It almost adds another layer to the already volatile relationship of parent and child. What would happen if a parent was not just perceptive but could actually physically feel and experience their child’s bodily experiences and vice versa?

The characters in these films experience a kind of synesthesia known as ‘mirror touch synesthesia’,  “which can be conceptualised as a heightened form of physical, and to a degree emotional empathy.” The terminology of this phenomenon could be linked to the concept of ‘mirror neurons’, which are a set of cells in the in the human brain stimulated to perform a certain action when we see another person performing the same action (laughing, reaching for a cup). Mirror neurons help humans and animals navigate and grow in social situations. Mirror touch synesthesia could be seen as a heightened form of this function, where one is not able to see, perceive and subconsciously register but also physically experience the actions of others.

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Sensorium Tests/At the threshold (Image Source: Wellcome Collection)

Citation:

Catalogue for Somewhere in Between by Wellcome Collection

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-mirror-neuron-revolut/

 

A manifesto for our generation: Let us not be a generation consumed by ourselves.

A perpetual whiff of dissatisfaction flows through our generation.

The world is moving forward but we are losing touch with ourselves.

 

Our lives are dictated by technology.

 

Technology that is supposed to make our lives easier.

Technology that can perform the simplest of tasks.

Technology that shows us what we want to see.

Technology that tells us what we want to hear.

Technology that lets us not be responsible for our own actions.

Technology that lets us modify ourselves to please others.

Technology that hoards us with information we do not need to know.

Technology that fuels the fire for self obsession.

Technology that consumes us.

Technology that allows us to be consumed by ourselves.

 

Let us not be a generation consumed by ourselves.

 

Let us live for now.

Let us live for the present.

Let us live for what is real, not hidden behind layers of filters.

 

Let us live for others.

Let us live for the joy of giving.

Let us live for the smiles that we see on the faces of our loved ones.

 

Let us live for experiences.

Let us live through all our senses.

Let us live for the moments which are greater than the sum of the parts.

 

Let us live to grow.

Let us live to learn.

Let us live to never stop becoming a better version of ourselves.

 

Let us live for love.

Let us live for authenticity.

Let us live for the feelings that are a large part of who we are.

 

Let us put the phone down.

Let us put the tablet away.

Let us look up.

Let us step out for a walk.

Let us have a conversation.

Let us let others in.

Let us not be consumed by technology

Let us not be a generation consumed by ourselves.

 

 

Politics of participation in Art : Evoking awareness through art in the Age of Capitalist Monopoly and Technology.

In Bishop’s book Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, we are exposed to the idea of art standing for something more than just an image for visually aesthetic purposes. Even though this cultural shift first happened in Europe during the historic Avant Garde movement in Europe in 1917, art as agency has grown to become more eminent as a social catalyst that invites discourse and dialogue.

The concept of art and agency took on a new dimension with protest art. Protest art came about in the 1920s with the Dadaists (Zurich based European Absurdists). Protest art in terms of an agency can be found in various degrees in terms of the subtlety expressed through an image, or more performance based mediums like theatre or song writing. The painting/ depiction carries a certain ontological meaning that could state a larger phenomena and allows participation for the people who are exposed to, or express discontent on the same phenomena. The signified becomes an ideology, and the signifier or agency is the art form. The concept of transmission of affect also implies in this case where the subject of art intended to cause a certain physical reaction due to the emotion triggered by the image/art form.

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968

Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ was one of the most iconic artworks of the Dada art movement.

I would like to mention two artists whose works have evoked notable ‘reaction’ in the age of capitalism, surveillance capitalism (which was caused by corporations gaining monopoly over the internet). One would be Banksy, who is probably the most controversial graffiti artist of the late twentieth century. Some of Banksy’s artworks have a clear undulated message, where the artwork is almost a direct satirical representation of the issue he tries to highlight (in case of the image below) – the Syrian refugee crisis. Banksy happened to speak about this particular work of art – “We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.” This work depicts Steve job, who was actually the son of a Syrian migrant who travelled to America after the Second World War.

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‘The Son of a Migrant from Syria’ 2015 (source: The Telegraph)

Another one of his famous works ‘Balloon Girl’ was chosen as Britain’s favourite art work in 2016 in a poll done by Samsung. This mural originally painted on to a wall in Shoreditch shows a young girl letting go of a heart shaped balloon. The nature of the mural which might appear dreamlike to some, depicts hope, in a world marked by atrocities like 9/11 and the refugee crisis. The fact that it was voted as Britain’s favourite painting conveys how his subject struck a chord with the audience and triggered some kind of an emotional reaction within them. This participation might be somewhat passive physically but created a larger emotional impact that resonated with people. The Steve Jobs mural was more direct and assertive in what it signified than the ‘Balloon Girl’ which was more of a subtle trigger.

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‘Balloon Girl’ 2002 (source: guyhepner.com)

Another artist whose work could fall under the bracket of protest art but in a different cultural space would be Simon Denny.  Denny’s work “addresses today’s major digital issues such as crypto-currency, big data and internet surveillance, along with the biggest players in this area such as Peter Thiel, Kim Dotcom and Jeff Bezos, as well as the founders and inventors of new digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.” (Hamish Coney, a conversation about Founder’s Paradox, Newsroom). This work of art is currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland. The game is based on the popular board game ‘Life’ to highlight the evils of surveillance and the possible dangers of tech. It allows participants in the game to think of their own actions – while playing the game, and questionable values that underpin surveillance capitalism. Denny says “Presented in this alternate visual context, the very real concepts can instead be “posited as some kind of weird fantasy”—one that may actually help viewers better evaluate the legitimacy or absurdity of the underlying phenomena” (Denny, Artnet, 2018). ‘The Founder’s Paradox’ is a satirical modern take on the downside of the digital age where the medium and form can be instantly identified by the participant by means of popular culture and re designed to transfer greater meaning to the artefacts and the game itself.

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‘The Founder’s Paradise’ (source: Artnet)

I wrote about Banksy and Denny’s work because both these artists use art as an intended agency to spark a certain trail of thought or emotional response in the audience. They deal with similar concepts but are unique in their medium (Banksy in the late 1990s with the trademark stencil graffiti and Denny more recently with the oversaturated visual language of tech and data). It would be interesting to see the course of art and agency as artists pull away from traditional aesthetic to explore the cluttered semiotic sensibilities which prevail in our physical and mental spaces.

Citations:

Bishop, C. (2012) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, Verso Books

Brennan, Transmission of affect

https://www.format.com/magazine/features/art/brief-history-protest-art

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/simon-denny-board-games-1233644

https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/02/05/81232/a-conversation-about-the-founders-paradox

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-40717821

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/dec/11/banksy-uses-steve-jobs-artwork-to-highlight-refugee-crisis

 

 

 

Backcasting tool

I chose to look into the voice recognition and assistant trend and projected the ultimate use as something more related to emotional human needs.

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References:

http://www.futureofeverything.io/2017/06/13/future-voice-recognition/https://www.voicebot.ai/2017/07/14/timeline-voice-assistants-short-history-voice-revolution/https://medium.com/swlh/the-past-present-and-future-of-speech-recognition-technology-cf13c179aafhttps://www.pcworld.com/article/243060/speech_recognition_through_the_decades_how_we_ended_up_with_siri.html

 

Plagiarism and Inspiration

This week we had Debra come in and talk intellectual property rights. With plagiarism rapidly on the rise with art and creative work being accessible to people through social media and public platforms, copyrights and protection of one’s intellectual and creative rights is something that is extremely relevant in today’s scenario. While artists are more encouraged to put their work out there, there is also an increase in the number of times designers put out requests to ‘report’ users as they spot their work on other sites without permission. Creative professionals are aware of their rights and are willing to take a stand on plagiarism. What are the different ways to protect work that is mostly done on an individual scale and advertised through social media?

For example, the website Trademark Now explores this question with special references to corporate use where they have instructions on how to claim trademarks on social media platforms.

There is also a flip side – to educate and make artists designers aware of the differences between “gaining inspiration” and going on to create something that is obviously differentiated in terms of the more exterior design element like type and design from the “source” of inspiration but is pretty much the same in terms of concept. What is the difference between following a trend like “dynamic identity design” and designing a project which follows a similar visual code as an existing dynamic identity design like the MIT Design Lab? I think these are the some of the questions that we could as future design managers we should definitely consider, how we can steer creative professionals to always add a layer of their own while adapting a concept that they might think resonates with a company’s brand communication.

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Barbara Kruger’s unique take on the subject of plagiarism in her distinctive style.

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MIT Media Lab’s dynamic logo system was one of the first to start this communication design ‘trend’.

Citations:

Reflections Debra Goldwyn’s session

https://www.trademarknow.com/