Week 43 - 28 January 2022

  • This week I submitted my research plan to KIT.
  • My first draft, which I ran through with my prof on Thursday, was about investigating methods of co-prototyping for public space on a 1:1 scale. The presentation went fairly well and we discussed tightening it up for submission.
  • Between that discussion and the submission deadline I had a chat with a friend and realised I was much more excited about her topic than my own, which was unnerving. Suddenly I could put my finger on how I felt about what I'd written. Glib.
  • My initial proposal was juggling two things - co-design and community engagement and a spacial practice. I realised a few things. I'm more interested in the latter - the formal quality of space, over community engagement. And although I have built some stuff, it has always been as an amateur - I mean this as much in terms of the methods and processes I've followed as my skills. It suddenly felt extraordinary naive to attempt to create something inviting participation when my own understanding of space and how it works is so low. I am also deeply skeptical about co-design.
  • So I scrapped my draft and wrote something completely new. It is now looking at objects and our relationship with them. Something much more formal and much less fashionable - I can see how it might seem indulgent when the world is on fire. But it feels urgent and fundamental and contemporary to me. A few connected observations -
    • Object Oriented Ontology, drawing on Heidegger, asserts that all objects are unknowable. This is an idea that oscillates between absurdly common-sensical and tricky to grasp. I agree with it.
    • We give things names - chair, table, etc. Not being able to name something is uncomfortable. Also, 'Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees.'
    • Things in the metaverse look remarkably like things not in the metaverse - despite the fact that technocrats thought VR would bring an unbounded world of new possibilities. Why are there chairs in the metaverse?
    • Our ecological crisis is caused by the fact that objects are unknowable, but we think they are knowable. See Being Ecological. This feels like a massive leap but I don't think it is when you look at how easily we consume and dispose of things.
  • Focussing on objects also allows me to develop my spacial practice. I am more interested in objects that relate to the human body than the hand in scale.
  • So that's what I've submitted. Let's see what they say.
  • On the UAL side we've been looking at mapping over the last few weeks.
    • A broad introduction to maps, how they can lie, how they interface with power dynamics, etc.
    • From a design perspective, STEEP and Multi perspective maps
    • How maps can be used to engage with wicked problems
  • This broader perspective on maps has helped me situate my own design practice. I've been loving the things we've been looking at. Interestingly, the reading I've been doing for my KIT research plan, specifically Being Ecological, feels like it argues against this kind of use of knowledge for engaging with wicked problems like the climate crisis. Saying I'm being pulled in two directions feels reductive, but they're definitely between parallel and orthogonal. Of course, maps are not the territory, but the question is whether they allow us to better navigate wicked problems, or if they just give us a false sense of certainty.
  • I'm feeling deeply engaged in what we're looking at this term - much more so than the last. I've also picked up a larger product design contract, at a mental health startup, which is keeping my brain ticking over. It feels like feeding the brain with problems that are linear - like creating a prototype - helps it to unpack the non-linear things that I'm coming across in my studies.

Last update: 2022-01-28 12:00:00 -0600