Prototype #2: Imagined Objects as Story

My second prototype form is inspired by Daniel Spoerri's work. He would have a dinner party or event and then keep the plates and tables eaten off of in the form of a "snare-pictures," a type of assemblage or object art. The reason that I like this form is because of what it tells about the people who had these experiences. I am interested in understanding what story a user would make after viewing a collection of objects.  Are there connotations about someone we can learn form seeing a collection of their possessions?

Peter Menzel photographed families from around the world with their possessions and published a book about it. I wonder what story those images would tell if those people were removed from the picture? 

Texas from   Material World: A Global Family Portrait   by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

Texas from Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

I used the second prototype to explore form rather than concept. I created a workshop/user test for my second prototype. I gathered a series of objects and presented them to a group. Each person was given a pen and a notepad. They were asked to explore the objects on the table in front of them and then create a story about the person who they might have belonged to. They were also asked which of the objects told the story of the character most strongly and why. My thesis partner, Ezgi Ucar and myself presented these objects to two different sets of people for a total of 30 people in the user test. 

The Character

I discovered many similarities between the kind of character most people imagined after interacting with the collection of objects. Most people described this character who owned the objects as a woman in her late 20s to 30s. They described her as a traveler and an imaginative person who loves animals and music. They also had similarity across the objects which resonated with them to tell the story of the character. The Objects That Told The Story:

  • Glass box with moss and a crystal in it

  • A wooden flute

  • A tiny toy VW bus

  • A book of Finnish love poems

Midterm Presentation and Feedback

For the midterm I made sure to contextualize my work in terms of climate change and more specifically the issues of climate change and drought within that region. I also presented the notion of a future narrative in order to explore how this area might look through the eyes of a character living 50-80 years in the future.

My feedback from the critic, Madeline Schwartzman,  was mixed and somewhat hard to follow at times. She provided one excellent research article about the San Joaquin river that runs through the state of California. (CNN 2014) She was very interested in the idea of a fiction that expressed something about the future. She was less interested in the idea of California and also said that the dress idea I have that responds to the weather or pollution is uninteresting unless it was more of a data visualization with character like this online Wind Map. (Wind Map 2014)

The feedback from Melanie Crean was centered around me further narrowing down my focus on the area and issue I am studying about climate change. She encouraged me to figure that out while simultaneously broadening my response to that issue so that form follows concept a bit better. She gave me three concrete ideas on how to move forward:

  • First, based on research about future climates, find some specific aspects you feel are really compelling.

  • Then, write a detailed description of the world and what / why / how it is.  Think Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

  • Then, consider what types of things are normally used there, would be transgressive there, etc.

Next Steps

I am going to create a more detailed character and user persona for this fictional future person. That will guide my design process. The objects that resonated with people will be a form guide to inform what types of pieces I will make for my thesis.

I am also doing research on the dust bowl of the 1930s which I will use to guide my visual style. I am also looking for parallels between what is happening now in California and what happened then in Oklahoma.  Then I will isolate the similarities and characteristics of the current drought in California and (using the Dust Bowl as a model)   project what kind of changes we can expect in the climate moving forward in time.

From there, I want to then explore the kinds of objects this person living in this place, or perhaps migrating from this place, as happened during the migration from Oklahoma to California during the dust bowl, would be using.

I hope this exploration will allow me to further imagine a future world that expresses the consequences of not taking care of the environment of our current one.