Category Archives: light

minor personal shifts

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although the idea of a ‘title’ in my professional life never quite gets me to a phraseology i am ever personally satisfied with, i do think that i may want to adjust my own personal, interdependent brand to something more aligned with who i really am as a creative individual

i typically come into a corporate organization in roles like:

  • experience designer;
  • Senior UX Designer;
  • UX Visual Designer;
  • UX Lead;
  • or UX Architect

marketingfacts

my own little tweaks to my titles in the past include phrases like:

  • Lead Designer;
  • Senior User Experience and Innovation Architect;
  • interdependent artist and user experience design consultant;
  • and most recently, just DESIGN

through these improvised and hyperbolized adjustments to who i am as a designer within the context of a company or contract, i can definitely now see i have been having an identity issue over the years — through my title, i guess i am striving, in some way, for a better-empowered and more-important contributing role within the organizations i engage with as a designer

 

pay-as-you-drive-300x243on the drive into work today i took a photo of the sky

less than a mile from the office i noticed a particular patch of clouds, the sun burning a brilliant white hole through the darker, floating materiality and wonderment suspended in a slow crawl across the sky ( as shown at the top of this post )

i tend to look up when i need inspiration or a meditative moment to bring me back to me in a calming, reflective way

i guess i couldn’t help but thinking about all the nonsense of titles and roles and the sort of self-bending, -twisting and -shaping we put our minds, behaviors and speech through just to fit into the context of our work environments

you play a role, after all

and you can never ever be truly honest ‘out loud’ regarding your thoughts, expectations and desires in the workplace — even those honest aspects that directly pertain: to the surface veneer around your particular skills and expertise; and the growth, direction and potentially improved capabilities you can drive to through your daily work, collaboration and training, thereby increasing the value and integrity you ultimately offer the business and it’s clients and customers

believe me — any sense of pure honesty can easily offend your work colleagues in an off-putting and detrimental way

 

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i’ve been let go on a few occasions for cutting through the bullshit in several of my efforts to guide teams and businesses through:

  • revelatory critique;
  • honest assessment of distracting dysfunctional dynamics residing within teams;
  • questioning the status quo around processes and workflows;
  • and suggesting hypotheses that could re-direct group dynamics to more fruitful interpersonal behaviors and smoother, more collaborative ways to work together

anyhow

 

long story short

with a subtle personal shift to thinking of myself as lou suSi DESIGN, i wanted to establish a mood and mindset for myself that consistently stayed with me from job to job along my career path, regardless of what company i chose to engage with for either full-time employment or consulting-based work

i also used the personal title shift to simplify who i am for myself and for the people i interact with in my career and in my personal life

 

This confusing diagram could probably use a bit of a re-design

UX design is difficult to explain to people outside of the industry

hell, its even difficult to discuss UX with other professionals working in the field as there are so many varied titles that overlap with one another and that provide all of these implied niche-variations that just feel utterly confusing and meaningless to me at this point

as a human-centered designer — and as a designer that primarily focuses on story to drive and guide every part of my process — its more direct and honest to simply say i am a designer and then go into the details about what and how i design if the conversation goes to a deeper place

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — as an actual embodiment of a character: a persona, if you will — i can properly position and center myself around who i am within my daily workaday context

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — i clarify my thinking about: what i do and how i do it; as well as how i relate and communicate and collaborate with people in the most human way possible within the set-up and on the stage of these corporations

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — i can also better focus who i am on the job as well as the perspectives, and the value of those perspectives, i bring into all of my collaborative work

 

here come the clouds again

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because i make my living ( meaning the money that supports my family and i in this capitalistic world of democracy, consumerism and darwinian daily social survival ) almost solely through design ( i also get to teach design, which is a wonderful way to share and deepen what i offer to my profession ), i oftentimes forget that at heart i am really an artist

i began to draw every day as a child of 3 or 4 and i have always cherished creative and expressive work across any medium

so to better suit who i am in the world — and how i am in the world — both professionally and personally — i want to assume a new role and a more honest, holistic description of myself, mostly for myself

instead of all of those complicated titles prescribed by corporations and business and UX and design, i instead will now think of myself as a practical dreamer

of course, this might not be what i say to people i meet at a professional networking event, at least not on the first handshake introduction

but maybe in curatorial and art-affiliated circles — that community might get it and accept me as i am

to make this stream of subconsciousness a little less passive-aggressive-wishy-washy, i want to end on this set of statements for today

i am an artist and designer

i am a practical dreamer

and its so nice to meet you

have a wickid fun weekend!

hope to see you again soon

artist

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 11:  Musician Prince speaks onstage at 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Barbra Streisand at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** Prince

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 11: Musician Prince speaks onstage at 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Barbra Streisand at Los Angeles Convention Center on February 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. ( Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage ) 

our new granddaughter

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Carol and i are sooOOoOoo happy to welcome our brand new baby granddaughter to the world — she’s such a precious, peaceful little baby { born on Thursday, April 23rd 2015 } — we love you

on laughter and control

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Laughter is a loss of control.

— Walter Ness, Energy Theater

Happy Birthday Walter!

WalterNess

Hi Kathryn,

I’m not sure what’s going on tonight — I’m guessing an underground continuing version of Energy Circle and a celebration of Walter’s birthday? Too cool!

Well, here’s my appreciation of some moments spent with Walter …

Jon HindmarshDeb Mascara and i started up a series of laugh performances as Laugh Foundation and we were preparing to perform for a show at Doran Gallery at MassArt. We couldn’t find a private spot to warm up and practice, but luckily we found a nearby elevator to laugh in and Walter was there to share in our rather public laugh intervention performance on this readymade stage. It was such a delight to share in this merry mirth-making experience with Walter, Laugh Foundation and some random students and parents on the elevator — a rather interesting little experiment to conduct together with our amazing guru of laughter, energy and joy, thank you SO much Walter for giving us your insight and guidance into the human phenomena of laughter and energy! You’re the best!

Happy birthday Walter!

Much love and laughter to everyone tonight!

lou

some definitions to consider

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i look back lately — at my previous research and active design work at Dynamic Media Institute

i am re-opening my book — my design thesis book, that is — to once again take a look inside my veryOwn openContainer, and my intention to continue my investigative research into laughter, cyberSurrealism and the human experience swells and motivates me with a newfound retrospective clarity that i just frankly wasn’t ready to tackle back then

as i delve deeper into the investigation — an investigation that brings me to new areas of dangerous confrontation and heightened, intense self-awareness — i ready myself and my future audience of readers and participants with these 3 crucial definitions stolen from — or, uhm — cited from the Wikipdedia as core concepts for your consideration — important terms of reference regarding the underlying purpose and nature of my work

 

awareness
Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception andcognitive reaction to a condition or event.
Read more about Awareness on the Wikipedia

consciousness
Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: sentience,awarenesssubjectivity, the ability to experience or to feelwakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.[3] Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.[4] As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives.”[5]
Read more about Consciousness on the Wikipedia

mindfulness
Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”,[1]which can be trained by meditational practices[1] derived from Buddhist anapanasati.[2]

The term “mindfulness” is derived from the Pali-term sati,[3] “mindfulness”, which is an essential element of Buddhist practice, including vipassanasatipaṭṭhāna and anapanasati.

Mindfulness practice is being employed in psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorderanxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.[4] It has gained worldwide popularity as a distinctive method to handle emotions.
Read more about Mindfulness on the Wikipedia

 

All preceding definitions from this blogPost came from the infamous Wikipedia out there on the webz. Go check it out { as if you’ve never heard of it, right? } and don’t forget to occasionally donate a bit to keep the project funded and smoothly movin’ along — we all learn soOOoOoo much from our little Wikipedia that could now, don’t we?

 

wikipedia1

 

shazbot

robinWilliams

now you are free, my friend, finally free — and you are with all of us, in all of our hearts and thoughts and in the energy that feels good and alive and light and happy

thank you

you gave us so much

myOwnMind, LLC and a little storyFirst out @ the UX Boston Conference #1

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i recently established a new concept based on a slew of back-logged experience design ideas i’ve decided to revisiting again and really start actively digging into — i’m calling this latest self re-invention design exercise myOwnMind, LLC, and the original idea came out of my own improvisational humor in a passing conversation with friends

in a fun back-and-forth exchange of energetic and fun discussion, i told my friends,

‘yeah, i actually used myOwnMind { to do that } — its, like, the original app’

as if my brain were some mysterious technology that i somehow ‘tapped’ into in the process of getting some design work done for a client

 

i’ve actually evolved the idea in a very wonderful sort of way into an actual, semi-realistic business concept by putting some company information up on LinkedIn … and i seem to keep getting a lot of amazing positive response from the brand and the concept — here’s the basic gist behind myOwnMind as copy-pasted directly from my LinkedIn Company Page Description:

By leveraging a variety of somewhat nebulous experimental cyberSurreal techniques — the interdisciplinary consulting team at myOwnMind deeply focuses on both client- and self-initiated project-based work to create change for good. 

Don’t just think about it — and definitely don’t merely complain about the frustrating state of the world as we’re experiencing it today — work with us to actively engage in collaborative efforts to change the world.

in just the last 2 to 3 days since posting the newly-designed logo, wordmark and tagline to LinkedIn and to the myOwnMind website, i’ve received more than a dozen congratulatory messages for people in my network as well as other messages from several companies and individuals reaching out and expressing interest in finding out more about myOwnMind — which is truly cool news by me, right?

 

one last tidbit i need to mention before folding up this little twisty origami blogPost is how happy i am and how lucky i feel to get the opportunity to present my storyFirst talk out at the very first UX Boston Conference at the Microsoft NERD Center on Saturday, July 19th

i first presented storyFirst out at MassArt as part of the Continuing Ed Lecture Series back in February of 2013 — and although i previous discussed ways to better leverage storytelling { and aspects of story via narrative and various narrative elements } in some casual settings, organizing my thoughts on the topic and presenting at MassArt gave me the tremendous opportunity to really hone in on how to initially articulate my ideas and discuss the benefits of putting story at the center of such an interdisciplinary and complex set of processes

now, thanks to this fantastic opportunity to revisit the talk via this public speaking engagement out at the UX Boston Conference, i’ve taken a few steps back and thought through the core message in a far deeper, richer way — i truly feel that this second installation of ‘A storyFirst Approach to Human-Centered Design‘ will more succinctly and more powerfully reveal the core message of the talk while also elaborating on the significance and value of putting story smack dab in the middle of the process

i’m really looking forward to giving the talk at the UX Boston Conference and i hope to see you there!

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a little game

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my art can sometimes feel a little ‘all over the place’

i don’t like to limit myself too, too much when it comes to my vehicles of expressive delivery — that combined with my natural tendency toward a scattered but exciting sense of ADHD plus my rather lengthy and continually-expanding collection of influences and inspirations makes for a rather eclectic body of work that i sometimes try to organize into threads or streams of my work

in my design thesis from Dynamic Media Institute, ‘confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy,’ i purposely chose the term ‘streams‘ for a few reasons:

  1. i feel like my subconscious is a far more present and powerful force in my creatively expressive, personal work;
  2. i enjoy following my subconscious — my streams of subconscious — to archeologically mine for the deeper, personally-symbolic inner significance that i’ve accumulated like a patina over the course of my life;
  3. i know that i naturally tend to bury certain emotions, memories and stories in the strange style that a chipmunk saves away little morsels for the long winter ahead — these might be feelings that are far too shocking and powerful for me to handle in any conscious manner in the current moments i am living in, and i am almost certain, for the most part, that a significant amount of people partake in this similar activity as a mere means of surviving the ‘day to day‘ dysfunction and chaos we all encounter along our life’s journeys;
  4. i also tend to hide away from time to time, sometimes for large spans of time, greatly depending upon my mood and certain life events — i can nicely attribute this behavior, to sort of tuck myself away inside my shell, to being born under the sign of Cancer — the symbol for Cancer, of course, is the crab — and after spending many an afternoon tide pooling with my wife and son, flipping rocks along the shallow shoreline out at Lynch Park in Beverly among other beautiful Atlantic coastline seaside retreats, i’ve developed an observational understanding of not only the ‘tough, outer exterior’ of the crab and the notion of ‘crabbiness’ that might be somewhat symbolically mapped to the drastic shift in moodswings i experience on a fairly regular cycle, but i also now better ‘get‘ how these little pinchy critters live — tucking themselves away, a bit under the sand or between the rocks as the tide ebbs and flows — its an interesting lifestyle to study and reflect upon, especially knowing that there are definitely some similarities between my own behavior and that of these amazing little moody crustacea;
  5. i guess i’ve veered away from exploring why the term ‘streams‘ so nicely captures the nature of my work and certain categories of recurring episodes in my work — this last enumerated bullet point, to get back to the concept of these streams of subconscia, pertains to the rather interesting evolution within certain streams of my work — as i tend to, at times, act more like a chess player than an artist, as i move and follow both the journey of certain objects and installations from literally geopolitical ‘place to place’ as well as the state of its existence into the next, and sometimes even beyond itself out into the metaphorical afterlife of the piece or its sub-componenture

today’s update on the information kiosk i purchased from Border’s Bookstores prior to the closing of the bookseller chain brings us just a few yards away from where it previously resided over the last 6 to 9 months or so — i don’t think this will be its final destination, by any means, however, i can see an interesting new stage in the piece’s evolution coming together in my mind’s eye

i original purchased the kiosk to build out a prototype for my Laugh Observation Library back at DMI @ MassArt — the LOL included a bookcase collection of 100 bottles containing a variety laughter samples per bottle along with this oddly orange information booth housing a laughScan Station to actually activate each sample for further faux-scientific research into humor and the human phenomena behind laughter

the original and only installation of the Laugh Observation Library appeared in The Pooka Lounge in Bakalar Gallery at MassArt as part of forensicEvidence — the name of my final showcase of work in the 2011 MassArt Thesis Show from my DMI @ MassArt experience

in retrospect the statement that my micro-installment made perfectly fit the bill regarding my discoveries around both MassArt and gallery exhibition in general — and this particular piece, although not exactly aesthetically matching the clinically sterile environment of a traditional scientific laboratory setting, especially that of a forensic investigation crime lab, really seemed to appropriately comment on my personal feelings regarding what Brian O’Doherty describes as the ‘white cube‘ controlled context of the gallery space associated with High Art

in fact, this installation and my personal aesthetic not only provided a silent and polite, subtle sociological commentary on both Art and Science as rather haughty professions, but the rather organic, make-shift style of my work also appropriately mocked the institutionalized aspects of high formality associated with not only Art and Science, but even with Design itself for encouraging a somewhat exclusive attitude within its highest of the high socio-professional, pseudo-political circles

the pieces i presented in forensicEvidence were the dead remains from my work at MassArt — the physical evidence of my work, but also of the pretend criminal activity i either partook in or witnessed while researching and working on my art at MassArt — now, of course, art-making is not exactly a criminal activity, although sometimes it can feel like such an endeavor when living and working outside of the inner protected sanctum of academia and its related artedness, but in some ways i felt like i definitely witnessed what i came to call ‘Crimes Against Creativity‘ — i won’t elaborate too, too much here on these crimes i witnessed, but i definitely felt a bit disappointed in some of the people and vibes i encountered while working toward my graduate degree at MassArt and unfortunately these were events, policies and behaviors that i will not soon forget and nor would i ever expect an institution of higher learning to simply grin and bear without pursuing some follow-up activity to properly set the record straight and rectify unacceptable, malicious and ignorant behavior

… anyhow …

following forensicEvidence — the kiosk remained in the back of my truck, nicely sheltered from the elements, but definitely getting in the way of any sane semblance of life

a month or so after i took the information booth out of my truck and left it at the head of my driveway — although a bit silly-looking in its now more ‘natural’ surroundings in this highly wooded area of Boxford, i actually loved seeing this ugly, orange desk-like fixture from a typically highly-corporate retail environment now planted in the midst of trees and lush, green ferns and other fertile elements of the great outdoors — and i was extremely happy not to have followed my original bad instinct to just leave the kiosk in a nearby cemetery { after, of course, taking some choice photodocumentation of this potentially-strange, satiric gravestone tribute to The Information Age — which would’ve certainly been bound to be an entirely illegal but hilarious act of vandalism or refuse disposal in the eyes of the court, i’m sure }

but now, many months later, after surviving an Autumn, Winter and Springtime out in the driveway, i decided to drag the information kiosk up the steps into our backyard and set it out just at the edge of our deck

here i hope to festively decorate the kiosk with some simple crushed stone around its base — maybe arranging some beautiful potted plants on the tabletop and around its stable and heavy periphery — perhaps this Summer and into the Fall, this will be our funerary preparations for the kiosk before finally allowing myself to emotionally let go of a piece that never quite got beyond the prototypic stage — this might be a truly wonderful way to commemorate the short lifespan of this mysterious object that i’ve carried around with me from place to place, an object that has come to symbolize the weight of the personal information we carry around with us in life

its time for me to prepare

these are the last few months i will live with this bizarre physical manifestation of my memories, feelings and unnecessarily burdensome set of heavy experiences i still find myself hanging onto

i will be certain to document these last arrangements i make with the kiosk — i hope to focus on growing something positive and beautiful on, around and through the information booth — to evolve some of the confounded emotions and energies that remain into / toward a blossoming garden of new vegetal information for further maturation and growth and positive seed for the future

the laughterLife

little child baby

i so wanted to already unrealistically be done with my re-written thesis by now, which i realize is simply ridiculous

one of my main issues — both my biggest challenge and my greatest attitudinal asset as an artist and designer, actually — is my utter lack of any sense of realism

i am Surrealistic through and through

and with my previous thesis work, too, i’ve contextualized my work and personality as that of a cyberSurrealist

but this was the distracting pull that veered me away from what i now feel should have been my main thesis focus — laughter

confounded — as nicely expressed by my überStrong and somewhat out of control subconscious interior — was just that on SO many levels

confounded

confoundedCoverNew_WV.indd

i love the work i did out at DMI to death — really i do — but i completely understand some problematic issues of my own struggle between focus and blur — i even had very specific slides in my performative review presentations that visually depicted my tendencies to ebb and flow from one mode into the other

of course, there’s nothing wrong with pushing and pulling between more focused work and blurry brainstormy fun — but then, when trying to research, design, test, reflect and articulate on a meaningful topic, that’s when its important, of course, to try and pull something reasonably understandable together as a final product with important conclusions for an audience’s considerations

i got excited about founding a movement of one { which i now find hilarious } — this soft revolution of sorts that gave me the good excuse to ‘act out’ a little bit and experiment with psychoSocial boundaries that are now beyond blurred due to an increasingly fleeting technohumanic evolutionary ecosystem — there’s no guardrail to this shit at all — and the lack of rules or standards opens up plenty of opportunities for us all to exploit as cartoonish iCapitalists set loose on the world

wdwwwtd

 

there are little to no consequences for acting more and more emotionless and robotic — for approaching the previous dotted-line boundaries that were once oh so clear to us all but that are now very easy to step across in the most silly, passive-aggressive ways imaginable

and, of course, we’re all well aware that these things happen every day — corporations seem to lead the way by transgressing what we all know is the territory of wrong and then either asking forgiveness later or somehow making the bent or broken rules officially and permanently forever bent in the way of corporate favor

but now, back to laughter

The-Power-of-Laughter

i’ve got to get back to laughter

both as a topic to finish my research, prototyping, reflection and reporting on and as a lighter way to live my life over these last 30 to 50 years or so

i’ve been feeling heavy lately

i’m physically heavy — or as they say, obese

i’ve always gone up and down in weight, its been an ongoing life challenge for me — and every once in a while i put my best effort into getting healthy by starting up jogging, watching what i eat, going to the gym, staying away from sweets, all that, ya know? 

but that kind of life is just SO boring — the vigor and fun gets just sucked right out of every minute when you’re watching every little morsel you eat — and SO many options at restaurants and even at the supermarket are simply off the table — life becomes a little less flavorful

and, on top of all that drop in the joy of eating, exercise is just dead boring to me — hamsterwheel cardio in front of a row of vapid television programming while listening to the current piped in muzak poppedness feels like such a waste of fucking time — i mean, i know it isn’t — its a little road to recovery and all, but jeez, wtf? ya know?

so, besides being physically heavy, i’ve also been extremely spiritually heavy as of late

i feel that at the tender age of 44 i’ve accomplished enough in life, but i don’t feel like i’ve done anything all that ‘great,’ if you know what i mean — and now that times a tickin’

i mean, besides being a relatively decent dad at times and a semi-decent person { mostly by comparison, which i guess isn’t saying all that much at the end of the day … hmmMMmmm } i’m not feeling like i’ve made a dent in some of the big challenges we face in the world

but then again, who am i? right?

what can one person possibly do to make at least a minor portion of some of this shit we deal with ‘right’ for our future generations?

 

at times i’ve described my thesis — my previous thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy — as being about ‘laughter, humor and the area inbetween’

my contextual history from confoundedsomewhere between humor and laughter — at least captures different definitions for the word ‘funny’ as a way to establish the uncanny valley of humor i typically situate myself within — as a sometimes amateur comedian, i am actually quite bored with comedy and often plant myself as a performer, or even as a member of the audience, as a bit of a virus — at this point, comedy is a commodity and so much of it just isn’t funny at all in the ‘ha ha’ sense of being genuinely funny — humor is now vastly flattened, predictable and unsurprising and much of the time a stand-up comedian or even the actors in a situation comedy vastly depend upon the magic of the setup of a comedy club or televised comedic show to land the laughs

i get the sense that we’re practicing the ghost-rhythm of the previously established comedic delivery and ultimately leveraging the tickle-theory basis of something like Peter McGraw’s Benign Violation as a delivery strategy to make people laugh — but i’m still not convinced any of it is truly ‘funny’ per se

what i’m finding lacking in the research right now is a lack of openness to many perspectives

in order to understand laughter as a human phenomena i think we also need to study and research laughter, humor, comedy, funniness and the lack of funniness to better analyze the entire milieu of these built-in forces within us all

what makes something funny? what makes something unfunny? why do we laugh? what’s laughter all about? why do we need a joking comment or a television canned laugh track or the wonderful trappings of a stand-up comedy club as the contextual ‘space’ that gives us permission to laugh?

these were areas i lightly focused on in my 4th stream in confounded — the last stream, too — but one that still feels somewhat incomplete, hurried and waiting for continued work and revelation

i touched upon a lot of important thought and research around laughter but didn’t give myself the space and time to properly focus this vastly important area of my research

this is the page i’ll now turn to — i want to re-open this stream of research, work, prototyping and reflection to finish the work that i started and finish it up in a far more rewarding manner

i don’t know if this will end up feeling like something ‘great’ to offer up to the world, or at least not ‘great’ enough, but i think this work deserves to be finished in a decent manner

i will treat the topics of laughter, humor, comedy and funniness { and even lack of funniness } with dignity and respect

and then i will eat them

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