Here are the .pdfs to my presentations. I made three over the course of the project and each of them were fairly different.
I think the thing that was most important to me about this project was learning the importance of designing within the given context, and not working in a void. My second proposal basically involved letting the visitors handle the objects themselves. At the time it seemed like a logical solution, because why should an object that was designed for use be locked up in a glass box? But I realized afterwards that we were designing for specifically an art museum, whose core purpose is to maintain and preserve objects of cultural worth. In my second proposal I also said that these objects belonged in an everyday kitchen or living room, which may be true for some but definitely not so for others (i.e. Zaha Hadid probably isn’t meant to be sitting in your family dining room). I understand now that in order for the design to be successful and not just wild hypothesizing and ‘what-ifs’ that contexts and existing relationships need to be considered.
In retrospect I think that my final proposal did a good job of focusing down on a simple solution to gaining access to the objects, but it is a bit unfocused and doesn’t need the complicated addition of the iPad + iPhone arrangement. I think I was tempted to use the iPhone as an opportunity to introduce a new way of using the ubiquitous device within the museum, which wasn’t really relevant to the problem at hand. It’s a good case of trying to solve problems by throwing an app at it, which in the end complicates the situation even further.
When I first interviewed Max, I tried to begin with a general, open-ended questions about his life and his interests. Some of the questions that were most fruitful to me were the ones that asked about his interests and obsessions in design and culture. Not only did they allow me to understand some of the things he was passionate about, but it also helped to reveal his thought process in a less explicit and contrived way than asking him directly. For example, one of the things I found that Max was really interested in was the development of augmented reality. I was intrigued by this, and we ended up discussing for a while the implications of the technology and its presence in every day life – how it could possibly deteriorate social interaction, how it could possibly be used as an alternative vehicle for public art, etc. This led on to us discussing his hobby of VJ’ing, in which he gathers clips and combines them with effects generators to create visual accompaniments to music. I realized later that this performative aspect of VJ’ing seemed to play a clear role in his thinking as a designer; that is, approaching problems with a playful attitude that is open to surprise and innovation through errors. I was interested to see if there was any kind of development to these interests, or if they came out of the blue, so I asked him about his interests earlier in life. Max told me that he had been really interested in video games and making things with Legos. I think this made a lot of sense and I could see how that connected to his current work now – I could see that he has an interest in creating things in virtual spaces and building new, unexpected things out of old systems. Later on in our recorded interview I tried to get him to clarify some of my earlier questions as well as ask more specific questions that I felt would give a strong narrative to the documentary.
From my research and time spent with Max I came to realize that he had approached these digital realms the same way he does design, with an eagerness to play but with an intelligent thought process that focuses on human and technology interacting. I decided to record some interactions between the two of us using Second Life, which is an open world online game that essentially acts as a cheap 3D modeling program. The appeal of Second Life was that it addressed not only Max’s passion for virtual spaces but also his playful aesthetic and demeanor. The visual appearance of Second Life can only be described as ‘crappy’, and the weird idiosyncracies that came about from the two of us maneuvering our way awkwardly through the world reflected Max’s interest in digital systems as a place for exploration and play. I also tried to maintain most shots as framing Max and his computer screen in order to emphasize this further. I originally included a sequence explaining his upbringing and his parents’ influence on his becoming a designer, but I later scrapped it as it seemed extraneous to the focus of Max’s digital presence.
On designing for the user as a group rather than as an individual. It’s a little out dated because he talks about mailing-lists which are sort of a 90’s thing, but the ideas are still there. How do you adjust the design of software to account or mitigate un-wanted anti-social behavior?