Into field, proper we go. Week five begins with us being sequestered to the textiles studio. We start with some team building exercises: sitting back to back, sketching something the other person describes; building the tallest tower out of marshmallows and spaghetti (I feel many people used a little too much tape!).
Onto the brief based on the Future Generations Act: Make a community based cooperative…something, a manifesto or a game. I choose Co-op, simply because I wanted to see how I could help the local community. We were then paired into groups and given a week to come up with something that was cooperative and helped future generations.
Paired with Clio (maker), Shoaib (product), Hayley (illustration) and Josh (illustration), we wrote down a list of beliefs, passions and skills, trying to find a medium that could satisfy all our needs and meet the brief. Either through good discussion or by pure luck, we all very quickly settled on an interactive art piece where the public could not only interact with the installation, but could actively influence its form and shape. We also decided that it had to use waste products, ultimately settling on plastic bottles as they are in an abundance on the planet. By Tuesday morning, we needed an idea to run with.
After lots of research into plastic bottles, their post consumer use, installations made with them and interactive art installations, I stumbled across this image:
It made me imagine an art installation where people take a plastic bottle, write a message, put it in the bottle and then post the bottle into the display. Not just any message, a secret, something you want to, need to, say to someone but can’t. Something that, if said, would release a weight from you. How to reflect this emotion in an art display when the message is just put into a plastic bottle? What if, when the person goes to put the bottle into the display (imagine the coloured tubes in the image above are bottles), they push a coloured button that they associate with the emotion of the content of the message, and this then illuminates a light on the display (of the colour they pressed). Once the bottle is posted into the display, they then press another coloured button that they associate with their emotions now they have made their secret public – i.e. how has the art installation affected them? Has it made them happier for getting their secret out? Has it made them more sad that they can’t say it aloud? This second coloured light they press would illuminate on the exact other side of the first light they pressed so that someone can see, from a distance, how the display has affected the person. For example:
I put the message in a bottle, ‘I miss you’. When I go to put the bottle into the display, I would press a blue button as I associate this with sadness (others may do a different colour for the same emotion). After I had posted the bottle, I may think of this person, smile at the good times we had and then press a yellow button to show I feel happier. On the one side of the display would be my blue light, and on the other side (in the same position), would be my second, yellow light. Visually, passers by could see how the art installation has affected a single person, or as a whole group. People would really be making the art themselves.
It could be giant board shape, like battleships, or a tunnel to walk through, immersing yourself in the emotions around you; or a wave that people have to stretch to reach the top part. Could there be a correlation between colours shown on the board, the height they sit at on the display and the height of the people posting the messages? Are tall people more happy? Are all kids happy? As an installation, it gets people involved in art and allows passers by to see emotions of their fellow citizens, but secondly, subconsciously, it is way of collecting recyclable plastic bottles, keeping them out of landfill. Win, win?
How would the mechanics work? Perhaps, when the bottle is pushed through a hole, the outer ring of the hole can be rotated to change from a white ring of light to a coloured ring. If the next person comes along, rather than choosing a white ring – i.e. a hole that hasn’t been awoken (ooer) – they may choose to post their bottle through an already coloured light as they want to change a sad light to a happy light.
You could push the bottle into a hole and then twist the bottle so a light shines through the bottle itself. Twisting the bottle changes the colour of the light. As a low tech option, you could have several coloured bins where people simply post their bottle into a coloured bin that they associate with their emotion. I think it is important that colours are not formally associated with an emotion; blue may be sad for me, but blue may be associated with a happy image for someone else.
As a group, we decided to go with this as core idea, but each looking at it from our own personal perspective.
I made a video showing a day in the life of a plastic bottle, taking it from fridge shelf, to rucksack, to desk, being lost then found, going in the bin, being rescued, used as a vessel for a message and then being placed in our art display. Giving the bottle a better future.
Shoaib looked at the structure shape and layout, making some really nice designs with interesting results.
Clio looked at the second life a plastic bottle can have and why we choose it as a vehicle for our installation.
Hayley came from the angle of the secrets held in the bottle and showing that it could be a message with a bottle not just, a message in a bottle. She designed beautiful labels that depicted a message that was hidden on the inside of the label. The exterior design was beautiful, but gained purpose when the message was read.
How do I feel about our field trip? I feel the idea that was generated was solid and the input from the team was great; it was really interesting to see the same idea from different perspectives, coming up with ideas that I would never have thought of. Our presentation went well, each presenting our own part clearly, but ensuring the idea was presented as an overall single proposal.
Back to Product Design…