Mind Your Own FUTURE (PDP)

MYOB

From the off, I was keen to try out MYOB.  I saw it as an opportunity to learn new skills, create something and place it in the public eye for scrutiny.  Also, the chance to earn some bunce is  always a bonus.  

Day one arrived with a feeling of trepidation: who would my team mates be?  Would they work hard, have interesting ideas, like to challenge convention?  First impressions were good.  We were down a team member, but the team I had were friendly and we got on well, bonding over similar sensibilities.  The issue came when settling on an actual product.  We were all strong minded and didn’t want to pander to someone else’s idea, if we felt it too weak.  This is good, never back down from something you believe in.  What did happen however, was we produced something which I think we all liked, but didn’t love.  This, for me, is the biggest disappointment of MYOB.  I wanted to really try something different, something challenging, eye catching, but I think we all………compromised.  

With the team nominating myself as leader, I assigned roles based on individual desires, (not just skills), and the project took a head of steam.  

Our missing team member joined us.  No problems, we could adapt and bring her up to speed, take on board any input and modify the project accordingly.  This was not easy.  New-Team-Member tasks were not completed, communication non existent, both distant and in person.  ‘Present’, but not in the room.  Regardless, we carried on.  One of the greatest draws of Field is the opportunity to learn new skills.  This did not happen.  Time was so tight – it was run concurrently with a heavy Subject project – that we all reverted to our existing skills.  Not for want of trying I tried to see if others wanted to try something new, but it just never happened.  It ended up a case of drawing up a schedule, assigning tasks and getting on.  I feel as though, however, that I was able to keep everyone happy, hitting the targets we had – taking on a big block of the work myself – to ensure our team succeeded.  

How do I judge the success?  We made a fair profit, but this was not it.  Did we have fun?  Did we learn anything new?  Fun, yes, mostly through spending time with my new friends and working as a team, but did I learn anything?  I learnt that I am more of an outgoing and encouraging person than I first gave myself credit for, but in terms of new skills?  Not so much.  Was this down to the product we chose – a case of compromising to appease each other – or a lack of diversity in our skills.  We couldn’t exactly make a ceramic tea set!  

One final note goes to Richard.  He was enthusiastic, encouraging and genuinely concerned that everyone did a great job.  I for one really appreciated his feedback.  Oh, and just to finish, Mat almost blinded himself.  Who knew MYOB was so dangerous!  Overall, stressful, challenging, fun but ultimately, I wish we just went NUTS with our idea.

 

Futures

Futures has taught me so much that these 500 words will be pushed to bursting point!

I must admit I was nervous.  Again, who would be my team members?  Robbe, a PD student visiting us from Belgium, was great.  Enthusiastic, hard working and really happy to try out some crazy ideas.  Nice one Robbe.  The rest of the team were mostly……not there.  Myself and Robbe were always in……plus one other member.  Generally, not the same one.

Futures challenged us.  Made us think.  Really think.  No bad ideas, nothing was too crazy.  Everything on the table.  I loved this.  L-O-V-E-D it.  How far can you go?  

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Brainstorming

Robbe and I worked well together.  I would suggest something and he would add to it, (new skill learnt right there – TICK!).  We came up with a lot of ideas that were genuinely exciting: What is emptiness?  Can we prove that CCTV cameras steal the soul?  What would happen if this were true?  What if all trees played music?  We fleshed out these scenarios, referencing difficult texts and citing subject matter that we were once too unenlightened to explore – Paul Klee, Yves Klein (love this guy), Olafur Eliasson.  This is what Futures has provided: Enlightenment.  It has pushed us into the dark recesses of design but with the tools to explore.  Boy did I explore!  I was reading critical design again, (hey old friend; missed you), looking into art, (previously, I thought I would never ‘understand’ art, but it makes a heck of a lot more sense now) and keeping a journal of my ideas.  I was heading deep into the darkness, books under the arm, reasoned argument forming in my head.

I bumped into someone in the darkness.  Callum (https://perditionblog.wordpress.com/).  I was having so much fun that I started to have discussions with people from other teams.  Callum and I ended up having deep conversations about separate ideas.  Could we create the ‘afterlife’?  We came up with a concept of the Amazon Pulse.  A future version of the Amazon Echo.  It takes the thoughts, memories and personality of a human who has shuffled off this mortal coil, (scraping it from social media), and uses this data as the AI of the machine.  Oh, and it also animates the ashes of that dead person.  Is this life or death?  Afterlife?  Will this Amazon version of the human be a ‘better version’ as people only seem to post positive, good-times stuff on social media?  This was some deep stuff, critiquing society and it’s prolific spread of data, but I HAD A BLAST!  Two additional PD students joined us and we formed a splinter group.  

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Ask your dead relative a question!

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With both projects running side-by-side, I thought it may have been too much, but I was keen to try and do more.  I was enjoying the freedom to spread my wings so much that I was writing ideas even on presentation day.  

Post MYOB, I was determined to learn some new skills.  As leader of the team, I asked who would like try out something they have never done before.  We had a group of self defined deliverables (planned out be me), and we each took our route through them.  I sketched.  Can’t sketch, so I wanted to try.  Steve complimented me on the end results.  It was worth the risk.  

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What if trees and plants played music?

 

In the splinter group, I tried my hand at making a video demonstrating the ‘data capture’ of our Amazon Pulse.  A ‘data top-up’ service Amazon offer.

 

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Filming myself.  I have a comedy face….apparently.

Again, it went down well.  We had researched our new ideas fully, backed them up with reasoned arguments and presented something which was succinct; positing questions, not answers.  It would invite people in to say, ‘What is that?  Why would we want that?’  Brilliant.

New skills were learned, friends made and bonds formed that will no doubt shape my future.  Moreover, my future is dark.  Or should I say, in the darkness.  I have been shown how to dig deeper into the dark corners of my inner craziness, but now I have been provided the basic survival skills.  From Futures, my future is open.  I am trapped no more.

 

Reflection

Field level 5 has been a difficult beast.  It has been one part stressful, one part exciting and one part disappointing.  By the very nature of being teamed up with new people, my stress levels rise.  I work hard, try hard, and wish to get the best out of each new situation.  If I am teamed with people who just want to do the bare minimum, then my experience is marred.  For this reason alone, Field can be a bit of a lucky dip.  If you are paired with equal minded, experimental people, you are likely to be on a winning team and have a great time.  If you are with people who barely turn up, Field is a struggle.  Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle.  With MYOB, if you happen to have a team member from a specifically skilled discipline – Maker, Ceramics etc – you are opened up to a whole new world of ideas and have the chance to learn something new.  This is the whole point of Field – skills transference.  Students teaching students.  This does not really happen.  With MYOB, I was lucky.  I had team members (bar one), who wanted to learn.  We just had a limited skillset and a tight deadline.

I did learn a lot about myself: how to deal with stress, balance difficult situations and climb a steep learning curve.  I like a challenge and Field was certainly providing that.
So what else should field provide?  A chance to explore something new.  Now this comes down to making a sensible choice with the chosen module.  This was tricky.  I knew what to expect from MYOB as it was self descriptive, but some of the other choices were just confusing.  A description on Moodle just isn’t enough.  With Futures, I knew the lecturers who were presenting it, and this was my main reason for choosing it.  The opportunity to think on the fringes of normality.  What I didn’t expect was the effect this would have on me as a designer.  It has changed who I wish to be, redirected my practice, made me consider questions I would once ignore.  Post Field, I now look at a brief, pull it apart find the justification to design.  I’ve never just followed a brief, but now, if I can’t find a genuine reason to design, then what is the point?  I reference texts, looking for backing to my arguments, challenge convention.  I am now keen to learn.  This has always been the case but my scope has changed.  I wish to absorb from wider sources.  Rather than going left or right, I wish to go up.  This may not make much sense, but this is the point.  It has made my thought process muddled, foggy, without clarity, but I am happy about it.  If things were simple, no exploration would be needed.   With the obscurity, I am forced to try out different responses to questions.  It has made my life much harder as a result, but it is for the best.  The struggle is worth it.

 

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What makes, me?
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