As we move into the third Unit, I am intrigued about how the ‘playground’ assignment which has been unfolding in bits and pieces, will shape up. Being so very used to tackling a specific design requirement in a systematic way most often than not, this approach, while intriguing, is also well, leaving me wondering what am I doing with this collection of random words, whose list has been increasing with added additions. This almost directionless approach is unnerving. I am not sure how to react. I feel as if I have no control over the process and outcome. And I guess somewhere here, it would be appropriate to refer to what John Bielenberg says.
“In the creative process, designers are victims of their own synaptic connections; subconsciously we’re following predictable pathways to solve problems [whereas] what you would want at the beginning of a design challenge is as many possibilities as you could imagine. ‘Thinking wrong’ is really about breaking those biases and synaptic pathways to generate a lot of potential solutions before you select and execute one.”
- John Bielenberg on Design Indaba.
I guess I am biased and I have hieuristic biases on how design must be worked through. I am surprised at the level of my mental conditioning over the years. I would like to see how these biases of mine are broken down, not just in words, which I know I can work at and be good at presenting my thoughts with. But in visual interpretation, visual language, how am I going to use my new found way of design approach? Perhaps towards the end of this Unit, I will have more things to add to this post.
An exhaustive set of instructions greeted me in the ‘announcements’ section of the course as to what we were supposed to do for the remainder of this Unit with the ‘Play’ Exercise. In order to make sense of the instructions, I immediately organised my folders and files within the earlier parts of this exercise so that I could make sense of what I was supposed to do next. Also, I am worrying about how to co-ordinate time with one of the partners for two parts of this exercise as I am in a different timezone, living in India. However, when doing the next part of this exercise, I can see three different patterns emerging from the family of words that we have been adding. Now with the addition of an image and a colour to each of the three sections, there also seems to be the beginnings of a visual element coming together. I am enjoying the element of uncertainty. However, having organised my collected data in sequence, I feel I am better equipped to work to the uncertainty. Perhaps pragmatism will always be my faithful companion.
This was spent in mostly in trying to co-ordinate meeting times on Skype across different time zones. I am far away in India and in a completely different time zone. There was also some initial confusion about who is supposed to do what. However, that was sorted out. That done, I finally connected with Melissa on Skype this morning (my time, Thursday, Melissa’s time Wednesday night). First of all it was wonderful to actually have a face to face verbal conversation rather than the online discussion forums that we have been communicating on. Having said that, what we both got out of the interaction were additional words and new directions to look at in each of the three sections of word bank that we have been working on. We went over both our individual lists so far in detail. We looked at how both of us had worked on our words in direct, biased approaches and then on receiving other words from our respective partners in the exercise, we were pointed towards different directions. To look for words that are not necessarily directly connected. Make newer connections. Both Melissa and I wondered what was expected of us and then spoke of how tuned our minds are to these expectations and final outcome. How unsettling it is, I felt, to work without an expected outcome.
We decided to perhaps work on developing images+ colour swatches based on these newer directions and meet again on Skype to discuss further, where this goes.
I have yet to connect with Kasey, who tried to get in touch on Skype around the time I was chatting with Melissa. Perhaps later today for me and early morning Thursday for her, we connect to discuss.
I am now looking forward to putting together a bank of images and colour swatches to co-relate with the words in each section. Play with them and see what happens next!!
Still working on finding connections. I have a tendency to generally travel a convoluted route…so I am making connections with images and colours first. Then I will work on the mind map to make connections between the three initial words. I have finished with adding images and colour to the first part of my ‘discover’ exercise and I already see some kind of a vague pattern emerging. My mind raced forward to the outcome. I was thinking of envelopes within envelopes…that tell a story. Or rather reveal a story just like how this exercise was revealed to us. So the idea of the process becomes the idea for the outcome. I’m not sure where this will move. Another thought was to create a game with word or image clues. I’m still working on gathering images for the last of the three initial words, having done the second one too.
Another chat with Melissa yeilded some new thoughts. She had already moved into her mindmap bit whereas I was still drawing connections with images and colour. While a tedious exercise that I took upon myself, I found that for a lot of words, if I chose an image, I was limiting it to my hieuristic biases, even with my choice of colour. For example if for enemy, I chose an image with a menacing looking character, it didnt quite sum up what enemy could mean…moreover, what colour do I add to it?? It was a bit challenging at times. Now having done that, I am going to move into the mind-map to draw further visual connections between the three words.
The difference in the time zones of where I live (India) and where most of the others in the batch live (US) its been difficult to co-ordinate the time to ‘meet’ on Skype. However, it has been good to connect with Melissa.
After making connections with the images, colour swatches and words, I now moved into working on the actual mind map. I listed out all the three sections with the original words along with the words that we came up with in the process of our online Skype discussions, and the connections I made were interesting. More subjective in nature. I made connections with War/Life/Birth/Human. I was connecting larger concepts with the words in front of me. And soon I was thinking about war and how we are doomed to never learn from our past mistakes. How we are doomed to let history repeat itself. It lead me to think of the paradoxes of victory and defeat. Of humiliation and valour. Peace and war. Our human nature to make mistakes. Of Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Timur the Lame and others. Of prisoners and freedom.
I am veering towards perhaps an infographic of historical facts that prove our human nature that dooms us to repeat our mistakes. Or perhaps a series of illustrated books for children (ones that can become interactive books) on the same concept. Or a series of flash cards perhaps.
I will end this post with a quote from my favourite Alan Fletcher book, The Art of Looking Sideways. Page 78.
‘Since Alex Osborn of the advertising agency Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn came up with the idea of ‘brainstorming’ in the late 1930s, business has been busy trying to wed creativity to commerce. Unfortunately the very nature of business tends to stifle creativity as the very competition it fosters establishes one of the biggest blocks : The Fear of Making a Mistake.‘
I am looking forward to the next phase of this exercise in exploration.