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BOUNDARIES – STUDY BLOCK ONE

27TH NOV'23 - 15TH DEC'23

WEEK 10: 27th Nov – 1st Dec’23

27th Nov’23 – Boundaries Brief and Screen-Printing workshop

This semester's final module focuses on the theme of boundaries. For the screen-printing workshop, we were divided into two groups. In the morning, we received an overview of the new module, encouraging radical entry points into understanding practice. This involves exploring new forms for project interests or generating critical design responses from speculative, fictional, or experimental catalysts.

The module emphasizes the "designer as author" debate, examining the discourse between maker and reader, the evolution and use of works, and how the work disrupts or provokes. Key theories and ideas form the foundation, with a strong emphasis on a 'praxis "-based approach, "making in new ways," and exploring arts-oriented methodologies globally, including studios and practitioners at the forefront.

In the final 'deconstruction' module, a critical and contextual essay tied to a practice-based inquiry is submitted. Boundary-Work challenges contemporary design boundaries, sparking debate about the field's relationship to political, social, economic, and cultural environments. The essay topic theory informs the creation of an unexpected design prototype envisioning the future of an art school or design studio, embracing utopian, dystopian, absurd, playful, or critical ideas. The resulting project includes a 2500-word academic inquiry and an associated design prototype or concept film.


This project represents a significant challenge, especially for someone like me who has not previously created an artefact. The prospect of developing an individual prototype, system, or artefact in response to the workshop and theory lectures is both exciting and challenging.

The day I was continued with a screen-printing workshop. Despite my previous experience with screen printing during my undergraduate degree, the session provided a fun opportunity to refresh my knowledge. We learned the basics and were given the freedom to print a design of our choice. Additionally, we explored adding two or three colours to enhance our prints. I created two designs that I found satisfying.

28th & 29th Nov'23 - Jack Bardwell Workshop

During the two-day workshop, we were fortunate to have Jack Bardwell, a spatial artist and designer from Rotterdam, share his projects with us. One project that caught my attention was the alternative audio guide, which I found both intriguing and the optimal solution for that particular endeavour.

The workshop centred around exploring our university’s campus, presenting an opportunity for collaborative learning. As we delved into the inner workings of the institution, demystifying its systems, the campus became a canvas for experimentation and growth. It begged the question: What can we discover by collectively managing our version of the university for a day?

Our task was to select a captivating aspect of the university and independently run it for a day. This could entail overseeing the library, managing the canteen, handling cleaning duties, organizing a talk or seminar, conducting a class, overseeing a printer, or managing another facility. The process was to be documented collaboratively. With this directive in mind, our group opted for a campus tour.

 

We meticulously observed previously overlooked aspects of campus life, seeking areas with untapped potential. The Student Union in the Falmouth campus, opening a bar, and Skillshare between different disciplines and notice boards emerged as potential service areas. Subsequently, we divided into smaller groups based on our interests, and I gravitated towards Skillshare between different disciplines.

Each team presented their concept, engaging in extensive discussions to determine the most suitable idea, and we ultimately decided to proceed with the notice board concept.

The concept revolves around creating a performance art installation, where individuals from the class don protective suits adorned with pinned paper.

 

Each suited individual will be accompanied by a buddy, guiding them to various areas of the campus. The buddies will encourage other students by posing a question: “If you could alter, add, or remove anything from this campus, express it through writing or drawing on the attached paper.” Meanwhile, the remaining students in the class will be tasked with capturing photographs or shooting videos of this interactive art project.

We were organised into distinct groups, each designated for different roles: those in suits, costumes, buddies, and documentation. I was assigned to the documentation team, responsible for capturing and photographing the performance.

 

Following that, we worked on establishing a timetable to coordinate our tasks. As we began the division of tasks, I focused on gathering information and documenting the proceedings. While documenting, I also tuned in to the conversations around me. During the review, some individuals struggled to formulate their thoughts, and there was a repetition of words among some participants. Others shared anecdotes about the campus, making it an opportune moment to be present. Reading through the collected writings proved to be an enjoyable experience, showcasing the diverse perspectives of the participants.

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Following the presentation, we jotted down key points from the papers adhered to the suit. These highlights underscore areas that require improvement on this campus.

Reflection - The workshop allowed me to discover previously overlooked areas on campus, providing insights into their potential for capturing students’ attention. The idea of using a notice board stood out to me as an effective way to engage students, especially since many tend to overlook it. Human nature dictates that when individuals encounter something new in

their surroundings, curiosity is sparked, leading them to inquire about it. This concept inspired students to take notice of the notice board and ultimately led to the formation of a campus student union. I found the workshop to be enjoyable and enlightening.

WEEK 11: 4th Dec’23 – 8th Dec’23

4th Dec'23 - Reading

I understand this module, I did the reading of two books, Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative and Alternative Things and Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming.

I have selected some paragraphs from these two books.

Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative and alternative Things

Discursive designs are good(s) for thinking - goods that are good for thinking. This reference a particular social-scientific idea from anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss in 1962. He wrote with regard to totemism that,”natural species are not chosen because they are ‘good to eat’ but because they are ‘good to think’ (“bonnes a penser”). This has bolstered the conception that any artifact

within a culture does not exist merely for technical or utilitarian purposes but is also symbolic stuff that allows meaning to be constructed and conferred. For example, bacon is more than just tasty food. Among many other culturally specific ideas, it embodies certain beliefs about commercial food production and distribution; human nutrition; religious proscriptions; and (lack of) animal rights and the hegemong of species.

Four Field framework that emphasizes primary agendas that can assist in decision making and communication are commercial design agenda centers on profit, responsible design agenda centers on serving the underserved, experimental design agenda centers on audience reflection and

discursive design agenda centres on audience reaction.

 

Starting a project while considering the four-field framework can help focus design intent and assist when faced with the innumerable decisions that are part of the design process.

Dunne and Ruby use Speculative everything to help clarify their understanding and relationship to

critical design as the term’s progenitors while establishing a seminal conception of what speculative design is amid “many interconnected and not very well understood forms of designs” like “critical design, design friction, design futures, anti-design, radical design, interrogative design, design for debate, adversarial design, discursive design, futurespacing, and some design art. 

Speculative design encourages the imagination of alternatives and tends to be softer with regard to

any critical positioning. Design fiction is sometimes described as a type or subfield of speculative

design, and it also often deals with emerging science and technology. It often shares the same future

focus and draw quite deliberately on literacy and cinematic fiction which usually is manifest in the

designer using narrative iinstruments like videos, photo sequencing, and short stories or descriptios.

While speculative design tends to be more future oriented, it is somewhat common for design fiction

to imagine alternative visions of the present.

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Speculative Everything : Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming

There are other possibilities for design: one is to use design as a means of speculating how things could be—speculative design. This form of design thrives on imagination and aims to open up new perspectives on what are sometimes called wicked problems, to create spaces for discussion and debate about alternative ways of being, and to inspire and encourage people’s imaginations to flow freely. Design speculations can act as a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to reality.

Definition that “critical design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions, and givens about the role products play in everyday life.” It was more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a methodology. Its opposite is affirmative design: design that reinforces the status quo.

Critical designs are testimonials to what could be, but at the same time, they offer alternatives

that highlight weaknesses within existing normality. All good design is critical. Designers start by identifying shortcomings in the thing they are redesigning and offer a better version. Critical design applies this to larger more complex issues. Critical design is critical thought translated into materiality. It is about thinking through design rather than through words and using the language and structure of design to engage people.

Critical design can often be dark or deal with dark themes but not just for the sake of it. Dark, complex emotions are usually ignored in design; nearly every other area of culture accepts that people are complicated, contradictory, and even neurotic, but not design. We view people as obedient and predictable users and consumers. Darkness as an antidote to naive techno-utopianism can jolt

people into action. In design, darkness creates a frisson that excites and challenges.

We believe that our behaviour does need to change, but it should be up to either individual to make changes in their behaviour (for example, in health and exercise) or the government to ban some kinds of behavior (such as smoking, which affects everyone, not just the smoker). At both extremes the

rationale for change is explicit. Design can play a role in highlighting what might happen if behaviour does not change, what can be achieved if it does, or simply communicating what needs to change and how.

Having read these books, I gained a clear understanding of the terms and their meanings. This provided me with valuable insights into my objectives for this module.

INSPIRATION • INSPIRATION  INSPIRATION • INSPIRATION

As designers, we often grapple with the quest for inspiration, drawing it from various sources. Each designer has their unique approach, seeking inspiration from realms like social media, nature, films, ChatGPT, and more. The choice of inspiration is contingent upon the specific work one aims to create. Some designers and artists encounter challenges in finding inspiration, facing issues such as difficulty initiating tasks or projects, procrastination, and a dearth of energy and enthusiasm.

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