Tag Archives: dynamic media institute

‘Volcadas con Silla’ by Courtney Brown

Courtney Brown performs 'Volcadas con Silla' at provocative.objects

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

A culture of curation

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PHOTO TAGLINE: the original cover and title concept as designed, developed and implemented by the Bureau of cyberSurreal investigation

one of the 4 streams of my design and art research and work included in my thesis from back at Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design touched upon my curation &/or co-curation and involvement in several gallery exhibitions — putting together these shows helped forge and fulfill some personal dreams for me as inspired by the inclusive, immersive and collaborative, interdisciplinary spirit of the ArtRages events frequently put on by Mobius Artists Group in Boston as well as other performance and music-oriented, multi-act shows in the area like: rösS Hamlin’s OpeNFauceT Productions; David Wengertzman’s Digital Cabaret series; Burlesque Revival Association; Leah Callahan’s Les Cabaret des Enfants Terribles; Chris Mascara’s Scara’s Night Out; and The Steamy Bohemians’ Jerkus Circus

anyhow — its fun to watch how influence and inspiration flows within and across various communities over time — and its equally interesting to see the evolution of ideas as they branch and grow and move along waves of people and places

after starting grad school at MassArt in 2008 and poking around campus and the community there i soon discovered that grad students could reserve Doran Gallery to curate shows and exhibit work

i took the dream-like inspiration from these past shows and events that i’ve held near and dear to my heart and brought the collaborative and celebratory spirit i found in them to my work and research from ‘stream 3: art shows, a streaming cycle of’ from my thesis, confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy — and in retrospect the shows i am extremely proud of the shows i dreamt up and put on and love the collaborations and event-based shows that blossomed from this fertile garden of amazing Boston show history to pick from as my inspiration

prior to my first curatorial effort at MassArt — American Cheese: an introspectionDMI MassArt colleagues Colin Owens and Dennis Ludvino curated several shows out at Doran that helped pave the way for the series of further student-run design curation that seems to have nicely inspired a long legacy of gallery exhibitions and event curation at Dynamic Media Institute

by starting up the efforts to officially catalog and celebrate DMI’s ASCii, if /then and Inter-Akt exhibitions at Doran Gallery i hope to help document and commemorate some of the early history of our show culture at MassArt’s graduate design program — i know these shows inspired me with an excited sense of the interdisciplinary and immersive experience of interacting with functional, living and working design prototypes in a gallery setting — certain boundaries of High Art exclusivity seemed to instantly break down with the inclusion of various inputs and outputs and the participatory invitation to the gallerygoer to actually touch and interact with the pieces on display in the gallery setting — the vibrant din of sound and conversation filled the room with enthusiastic conjecture about what the artwork ‘does’ in its clever, premeditated ‘playing’ with its audience

the feeling of these shows immediately pulsed in a far more alive way than the standard trip to the MFA ever conveyed to me — the work on display in this student gallery interacted with the gallery participants { no longer mere passive viewers } to meet them halfway in any interpretation of the artists’ intentions behind each piece

i hope to respectfully document these amazing early DMI shows out at MassArt with my efforts to write and composite the book A culture of curation

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the theatre of Work, ReVisited

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back in 2009 when i still conducted critical design research for Dynamic Media Institute in Boston i decided to start up a presentation series aimed specifically at helping my greener friends coming into the industry with some of the basic challenges they might encounter along the journey of their profesional lives

i’ve encountered more than my fair share of interesting twists and turns in my rather adventurous career as an accomplished experience design professional — and some of the joys and tribulations of navigating the glorious terrain can benefit by simply continuously building a better and better understanding and awareness of the environments in which we need to perform

in delving into the digital archives of my mind i recently rediscovered a few slides appropriately titled the theatre of Work — survival tips for newcomers to the workForce

the theatre of Work

the phrase by itself starts to imply some of my subconscious views and feelings regarding: the social dynamics; the essential personal behaviors we need to exude while performing; and general feel of the landscape set up by the workaday world as a means of reaching toward success for ourselves and for the companies we work for

i am an experience designer and a performance artist

i never studied the theatre, which is an important key differentiator i need to continually remind myself of along the way

its also vitally important to have an unrelenting sense of self-awareness and continuous introspective reflection for the kind of trek we’re all on within ANY industry

just this hybrid mash-up between designer and artist can have extremely important internally conflicting motivations embedded within the very nature of each role

but anyhow, i digress { i just heard someone on blogging across the way stand up and scream, ‘DigreSsioN!’ ala that famous set of passages from A Catcher in the Rye ;] }

after living a little longer and experiencing a few more years of this life of work we all live and breathe, i believe i have even deeper, more profound wisdom to share than i originally intended by designing up a few slides for a future-such talk to be about workerly advice

i am therefore re-opening this thread of thought — copy-pasting the open Keynote file and the PSD folder from my portable harddrive back onto my current active MacBook Pro device to really start digging into what new significance i can bring to the table to help people navigate the choppy waters and hopefully not make all of the same foolish mistakes i’ve made along the way

i know my triathlon could’ve gone a LOT smoother so far had i just had proper mentorship or perhaps better personal self-awareness and more thoughtful empathy to guide me

but i’m an impatient clown, for the most part

i always want the impossible and i design to reach for the bluest of the bluest skies

i would be more of a fool, however, if i continue to noodle and clown without ever learning and growing for the journeys i’ve made — and i feel that if i share some of my story in a thoughtful and meaningful way it might actually make up for my own silly idiocies and hopefully make for a better overall experience for colleagues, friends, acquaintances and frenemies that even care to listen at this point

i need to focus on my storyFirst presentation out at Massachusetts College of Art for the next few weeks, but i also hope to put some time into this theatre of Work concept, too, as it is near and dear to my heart — i want to help people and give them better perspective and hopefully facilitate better and better experiences in the world through my designwork and my design leadership

but, until then — shove off, bitchez! ;]

 

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coming, to a theatre near you

as an avid collaborator — and relentlessly sillyman and fool — my good fortune dropped me into the project work of Christopher Kentley Field back at MassArt’s relatively underground and superCool design graduate program Dynamic Media Institute

i mean, its like i had no shame at all when i take a retrospective egoSurfing search of love down interactive, online memory lane, ya know? looks like i’d do just about anything to ‘earn’ a graduate degree, ya know?

anyhow, Chris got the like of Andrew Ellis, myself and some even cooler people together to put together this excerpted short from a feature film idea that Chris had written prior to coming to DMI — see what you think — i mean, i’m pretty proud of how it came out despite the fact that i’m playing a part that seems way too naturally-acted by me — yep, that’s right, folks, i’m basically a washed-up, old, homeless-like dude on the Boston T — a real flattering way to put myself ‘out there’ as an actor, right?

anyhow, here’s the clip ‘Deadbeat’ courtesy of Christopher K Field and Vimeo — enjoy! ;]

Deadbeat (first cut) from Christopher Field on Vimeo.

mediaLuscious Design + Art Review

i just recently finished editing up the official exhibition catalog for mediaLuscious Design + Art Review — thanks to everyone for not only showing your work and participating in such an amazing gallery exhibition, but for also patiently putting up with my random email requests for photos, writings, input and feedback over the last few weeks

i have to say — this is probably the best book i’ve put together to-date, much better-looking in my mind’s eye than my own thesis even, which can probably be contributed to the fact that this project of capturing the spirit, energy, community and fun of this show was done for DMI and The DMI Family moreso than myself

anyhow, after a few more tweaks here ‘n there, i will be sure to post this up to Blurb and get a print proof to deliberate — and then and only then the book will be open for more public consumption via Blurb, ISSUU or wherever

[: what a show :]

storyFirst

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as with most of the concepts i come up with — i am flooded with ideas, raw direction, so much intent, and then i typically register a domain name, attempt designing the first iteration of a logo and put together a landing page to claim my new turf

i equate it to the modernday animal domination of mental property on the subconscious market

sometimes the investment is well worth it and the page i create blossoms into a blog or smallish web site — the initial concept evolves and moves, it comes alive either through further visual thinking or through writing down my near-daily thoughts on that particular and typically invented subject

at other times i realize my property purchase is a fixer upper or maybe a subtle spin-off of someone else’s idea, and i either work on it or i don’t, it becomes a dead end of the interwebz or a tiny root-like germinated seed of an idea in slow motion, not fully developed but just waiting to grow { but in dire need of food, water, soil and sun }

the term or phraseology storyFirst originates from Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design

i really don’t know yet where i am taking this idea, but here’s the gist and the backStory for storyFirst

Jan Kubasiewicz { sometimes known as Jan Kuba } developed an assignment as an improvisational evolution of work from previous weeks in the DMI Course Design for Motion, Time and Sound — in this week’s workshop session, our teams were to take the work done to-date and start up again from scratch, focusing on putting the story first this time

what’s your story? was also a question i recall Jan asking me several times at reviews each semester — he wasn’t really looking to string my projects together in a more cohesive manner so much as he was trying to figure out why anyone should give a shit about my project work, my research and ultimately my design

and this became a very important way of looking at the entire body of my work, at examining my process, the materials i choose to work with and the very reason why i research using both critical reading and visual design methodologies to actively understand my terrain

i think i registered the domain name for storyFirst around the time that Joe Liberty, Andrew Ellis and i collaboratively designed and fabricated the embeddedStory System for MassArt Made — i think i understood back then on some sort of subconscious level how important story was to my work and to my research in cyberSurrealism

but it wasn’t until i read Luke Wrobelewski’s recent book Mobile First that i felt the full-on inspiration to write a book about using story to drive design in a new way — i want to use story as a means to drive my professional design work and also a means to design and redesign my life { and the lives of others }

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now, i’ll be the first to admit { since we’re in a safe place here and i know you won’t just give away my little secret to just anyone, right? }, i tend to have issues with figures of authority — its almost a built-in mechanism, something i’ve only discovered through deep psychotherapy and self-reflection — i know that my satiric and humorous demeanor, my uncanny ability to ‘make fun’ out of just about anything, literally comes with severely scrutinizing the philosophies and actions of others and then trying to articulate what i honestly think and feel about well-established and revered pillars of practice and thinking

but i want this project, as much as it is inspired by my gut negative reaction to the Mobile First mantra and movement, i want storyFirst to become something of its own — i value some but not all of the thought that was put into Mobile First, i don’t necessarily believe its as practical and realistic a methodology as its advertised to be { i mean, how many clients can you convince to restart everything with a mobile experience as the filter to every single design decision you’re going to make across every extension and experience related to the brand of an organization? are corporations even that unified and organized to begin with to get THAT much buy-in and work in some harmonious, collaborative way to actually go Mobile First everytime? } — i don’t even think my most recent thinking about storyFirst benefits clients, prospects and corporations as much as i hope to benefit real people, and specifically designers

i believe that people — as natural human organisms — always strive to make meaning in the world — in fact, i believe that meaning itself doesn’t actually exist on its own in any way and that people, families, villages, societies and ultimately the symbiotic entirety of our macro-organic civilization create fictions and fact and rules around what these meanings are all about

we own a personal story,everyone of us — we can tell stories from memories, from episodes of our past and bring those stories back to life in conversation, in photographs, in dynamic media, in dance — and then we can imagine stories for ourselves and others, we can project what we think our lives can be or we can also dream up what we actually want our lives to be and then we can tell that story to ourselves and others — and then through user-centered design processes, confounded and delightfully weaved into the fabric of storytelling and retelling and actively pursuing these stories we create, we can design our lives — as individuals, as families, as villages, and as a global society

a little utopian, i know — but unless we strive for the impossible we will never achieve the dream

we may fail, and i believe right now we live in a time that manifests far more of a distopian twist on the original promises made by dreamers of progress and technology from the 1940s, 50s and 60s — but we need to follow the story, we need to follow the story a LOT more carefully and adhere to the benefits originally enmeshed with the original stories

i hope i can do this idea justice — i hope i can adequately tell the story i envision behind putting storyFirst in design and in life

 

correspondence from forsensicEvidence

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In Spring of 2011 I participated in MassArt’s MFA Thesis Show III in Bakalar Gallery, installing my microExhibit ‘forensicEvidence’ in The Pooka Lounge. I designed a fold-out postcard that mapped out my art objects on display in the little room toward the front of the gallery space — and I designed the map to spoof on CSI, making my overall installation look like a crime scene, even claiming the gallery offices as a personal, artistic crime lab for my fictional Bureau of cyberSurreal investigation.

I think I just have a thing for Horatio Caine — the overacted, ridiculous character on CSI: Miami portrayed by the utterly brilliant David Caruso. I also love William Shatner, too. Jack Klugman in Quincy. You get the picture.

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And I’m a bit of a cheesy actor myself sometimes. I take myself somewhat seriously, but not so serious as to never lighten up and just have some fun. But anyhow, back to the show …

‘forensicEvidence’ featured an array of pieces, all in various states, I guess, or at least somehow covering little stops along the full continuum of creative expression available to all artists, designers, performers and musicians. Some mediatypes were not covered in the microExhibit. I featured mostly what I consider to be ‘the dead arts’ — those more traditional, object-based creative artifacts that sit on the wall or on a pedestal. These are the kind of works that — at least since my rigorous research, studies and work at Dynamic Media Institute — when I approach these more traditional artworks now, I tend to think, ‘Yeah, but what does it do?’ I think one of the points of fE was to point out this feeling to others, at least those colleagues and gallerygoers that might’ve seen some of the shows, presentation talks and other works I created in the 3+ years I studied at DMI. By comparison, these were definitely the dead remains of projects in my creative streams, these evolving cycles of cybernetic ( one might say ‘cyberSurreal’ ) work final found like roadkill in the gallerySpace.

I will definitely come back to this topic and the major themes I expressed through this microExhibit, but for today I wanted to elaborate more on an object I titled ‘correspondence‘.

Take a look at the map:

Tucked into the corner of the gallery, somewhere between my excerpt from the Laugh Observation Library and disConnections, a simple, plain, manila envelope sat on the beautiful, blonde wooden gallery floor. The envelope is unassuming and could be misconstrued as trash, potentially not actually an intentional part of the show at all. But its definitely marked on the map and was an entirely intentional component to the show.

Through my active work in Gunta Kaza’s ‘Design as Experience‘ at DMI, I almost immediately divined a subconscious thread connecting most of my work, or at least one of the many threads I chose to pick up and follow back into the curled up inner recesses of my psyche. In this particular case, I seemed to have this fetish for containers: bottles, cans, boxes, envelopes — anything you could open and close and potential hide or reveal things with, these metaphors for ‘what’s inside’ seemed to keep coming up as I worked on trusting my instinct and quickly working on a daily basis with physical materials. In fact, I even consider each one of us as human beings to be living, breathing containers — each of us carrying with us certain energies, experiences, memories, issues and other ‘unknowns’ that typically remain hidden in our polite, public lives, but that could spring out at any moment depending on our daily interactions with people, objects and environments in the real world.

But I digress once again.

The envelope contained pieces of paper — about 4 or 5 printed messages, all pertaining to a controversial petition that at one point circulated around the MassArt Graduate social and political circles. I was upset about this petition and didn’t know what to do about the negative, angry energy that seemed to build and fester inside me. The original document was an attempt to oust my department from the MFA Thesis Shows, which I found not only utterly preposterous but extremely offensive and actually quite sad. Here were a group of my supposed peers, right? Near-future fellow MFA candidates that might go on to become university-level professors or potential future leaders in the fine art mileau — and here they were acting in the most ignorant and exclusionary way imaginable. You tend to think of artists as cool and mellow, rather accepting people that fit the typical blueprint of liberal lifestyles and all, but here about 22 of my colleagues suddenly became nothing more than potential assistant manager fodder, utter corporate politicians in every sense of the phrase. It was just so uncool to find out about and it definitely affected my workflow as an artist, designer and student at MassArt. And I couldn’t get out of the maelstrom of negative energy started by this petition in time to really focus on my work and graduate on time.

You know, you can’t just run around screaming in horror about this stuff, right? And you can only complain or try to fix it with the administration so many times. And then you just need to get back to work and express what you feel, what you experience. So, I decided to make a piece about it. And that piece was ‘correspondence’.

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‘correspondence’ was my attempt to provide a fair and equal written and documented counterpoint to the petition. I mean, if I couldn’t resolve these matters post-petition with my 22 colleagues, why wouldn’t I either write my own petition or maybe just produce other similarly official documents in an answer to the request set up in the petition? If I put my written, emotional reactions to the petition inside the manila envelope and left it on the floor of my microExhibit like some sort of unimportant debris ( as, I guess, they indeed were ) would anybody even notice? Would anyone pick up the envelope and read my thoughts and reactions to the petition? And if they did, would they be the parents, friends, colleagues and faculty of my 22 colleagues involved in these political antics?

I’ve noticed that, besides this return to the container as a material vocabulary in my personal expressive works, I also tend to leverage actual tension whenever possible. I think its part of the natural humorist in me, at least that’s my retrospective assessment at this point. But in order for comedy to succeed — even if the very content of that comedy is more on the side of black humor — in order for comedy to succeed you need to set up tension for the audience. The tension is just one part of a 3 part system called ‘The Benign Violation Theory‘. And in this case the tension came readymade in the total chance Duchampian sense of the word. I seem to figure out a timely tension to tap and then, at times, use that tension to my advantage. And that’s what I was trying to do here with ‘correspondence’, although the actual inspiration for the project work was anything but funny to me.

I think at one point I wanted to write a letter to George. Later on, toward the end of the semester I just needed to let it all go. But I feel that the matters of this petition and the fact that the readymade tension and the social segmentation between each department at MassArt, well, it was never fully addressed to my liking. There was no resolution to any of it. And that’s why I don’t feel bad at all to candidly talk about my work like this. To let you know the real story. I mean, I probably won’t name names or anything, at least not in this post, but I’m pretty tempted to at least list out the initials of each and every one of the graduates that signed that petition.

But back to the work.

I’ll admit, this piece was thrown in as an afterthought. And if you think about it, not a lot of time or energy goes into putting a big, cartoonish manila envelope with written secret messages in it on the floor of a gallery. But in this case, its the thought that counts. And the setup.

I don’t really know if anyone read the contents of ‘correspondence’, but I certainly hope so. I hope it caused a little anxiety, some return tension back atchya, that sorta thing, right? And I hope it might’ve made a few of the 22 start to think about the real people on the DMI side of the fence that innocently thought we could show with our colleagues with no controversy, politics or emotional repercussions. I mean, we all paid the same entry fee, right? And we might take different classes, but that’s no excuse to be so utterly insensate. I thought people came to creativity with a sense of empathy and a need to understand ‘the others’ in the world.

There was one morning that I arrived at The Pooka Lounge — I needed to troubleshoot my ‘bottled laughter’ prototype on a regular basis throughout the weeklong course of the show — I got to the gallery, entered my area, and it seemed the envelope was gone. Was it confiscated? Neatly tucked away, perhaps? Maybe somebody felt remorse or shame or who knows what. But anyhow, I found it pushed up inside the information kiosk of my Laugh Observation Library piece, so either someone thought it was misplaced garbage or they wanted to hide the evidence of the petition and my reactions to it.

I didn’t get the chance to sit in a hidden corner and watch if people picked up the envelope during the opening or the length of the show. I only have that one bit of proof that someone moved it, hid it away. I wonder sometimes if my imaginative flights of conditional ‘what ifs’ might be more important to my process than the actual forsenic evidence I would’ve accumulated with a webCam capture of the show. I think I put together certain projects just to help discover what the important questions are. To build out certain stories and scenarios in my mind as a way to run through the possibilities. It might be the experience designer in me coming out in projects like this, projects that run somewhere between participatory performance art and concept. A clever plant or maybe a trap. At the very least, a lure, an invitation, a provocation.

Anyone wanting to read up further on this and any of my other projects can pick up my thesis from Blurb. Its called ‘confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy‘ and I think by continuing my writing, by reflecting further on the work and research I’ve done, I am actually beginning to better understand my thesis and what I originally set out to do with my work at DMI.

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i was lucky enough last night to find a bit of processing code on an open wetware site ‘out there’ after hours + hours of research into latent + emotive telepathic communication using the arduino … a bit more difficult to find than some of the open source code that so many gracious folks share out on sites like instructables + dorkbots, but still well-worth the challenge

after really digging into the code a bit, hooking my arduino up to the MacBook Pro, uploading the program to the nifty little microprocessor that could + quick insertion of the psychotronic implants using carefully sterilized common sewing needles, Carol + i were able to transfer thoughts + feelings back + forth from across the room in relative real-time … pretty amazing stuff … we gave each other some simple commands, making each other reach up or down, turn around, wink … anything to quickly + visually confirm to each other that our digitally implemented experiment in clairvoyance was actually working

at a certain point i left the house + took a drive down to the local Friendly’s … walking up to the ice cream take-out counter, i tried tuning into Carol’s mind frequencies + quite confidently placed our order, waited the 15 to 20 minutes or so, + made the drive back home … at this point i can report back that our testing resulted in a bit of a miss due to the distance when applied to our synthetic telepathy … i got the entire order almost right, i just forgot to order the extra nuts + chocolate jimmies on Carol’s Jim Dandy … a minor faux pas, i know … but still enough to get me delving back into what code snippets i can further research online

introducing Total eXperience Design { aka TXD }

TXD y'alL, created with love by the cSi

what’s the big idea

as part of my studies in communication design and dynamic media at The Dynamic Media institute at MassArt in Boston i spent the best part of the first year in the program exploring and rediscovering a lot of subject matter i am particularly passionate about … the second semester included a continuation of The DMI’s ‘Design Seminar’ … and in this course my classmates and i got to use mindmapping, automatic writing and other techniques to delve into the realms we might consider as the focus for our eventual thesis work in design

the program is utterly amazing … and i highly recommend anyone that is truly interested in current trends in technology, communication, expressive arts and creativity and the future of humanity come to the program and at least audit a course … i’m sure that if you stop in you will witness something that you may not find anywhere else in the world … an international and interdisciplinary union of personality and expertise all brought together for the sole purpose of contributing to the future … contributing to the future of design thought and media experience

of course, this hubPage is not an advertisement for the program … i am just excited about the coursework and it is only through my own participation that i bumped across this theory … the theory that serves as the primary focus of this hubPage | blog | what have you

and that focus, my friends, is the concept of Total eXperience Design

so, for now … more digression and background on my studies … only a slight delay ( be patient ), i promise

back to Design Seminar 2 … as part of the coursework w/ DS2 the entire class participated in a community blog to explore areas of interest and help each of us discover our passions in this space … w/ each new blogPost, students were then expected to make comments on each other’s writings … and the funny thing that came out of that particular part of the exercise, at least for me, was each comment i posted, each attempt i made to give my own perspective to someone else’s perspective … each comment seemed to help both parties involved … commenting helped me deepen and clarify my own thoughts as well as offer up some valuable thought and consideration for my classmate … a truly valuable and unique exercise in community, thinking and sharing

the results of my second semester … well, i developed a preliminary thesis proposal … or i almost developed a preliminary thesis proposal … i think that my final ( or nearFinal ) presentation just put a LOT of ideas ‘out there’ … i was concerned about the loss of texture as we move from media in realSpace into increasingly more virtual expressive spaces …

i also seemed very curious about the areas between each artform or each realm of design communication ( some might call these channels ) and i called this betweenSpace

translation, as somewhat related to the loss of texture through virtualization, but more importantly, literal translation and the gigantic and ofttimes humorous, disservice word-to-word machine-like translation can do for language, this was also important to me and my thesis … you cannot truly translate a poem, right? something gets lost … either the rhythm, the nonsense, some of the meaning, i mean … there are good translations of a poem on the page, i’m sure … but no matter what it seems we lose something along the way ( and that might be poetic texture ) … i would advocate for interpretation over translation any day a the week …watching the TED Talk by Evelyn Glennie ‘How to listen to music with your whole body’ incredibly demonstrates, at one point, the important human difference between translation and interpretation … i hope to promote interpretation and to ridicule mere, robotic translation through some of my work

and i also knew that i was interested in doing unusual things with technology … that i wanted to create experiences that would make people question things or wonder if the experience they just had could even have been real

in some of my last slides … the last points of my final presentation summarized the key points in my areas of interest … and in the mix was the term ‘cyberSurreal’ … the professor leading the class ( and the program ) Jan Kubasiewicz asked if the term cyberSurreal was my own invention, and frankly, i am not sure where it came from ( i had, in fact, just invented this term as i frequently mash words together w/ a little camelCasing due to my exposure and practice with code ), but as soon as he began to ask everything seemed to make sense

i think i needed to give myself permission … it took me a year to unwind from the kind of corporate containership my professional existence shackled to me for years … i have had to live as a man in pieces for more than a decade … someone that needed to, for survival in an office ( of all places ) setting, someone that needed to sequester huge chunks of important stuff away because the establishment, the cSuite, whatever you want to call it, finds the real me ( the entire bag of thought ) a little too scary for the workplace … i don’t know, it could be my own doing really … i could be assuming that the whole package is ‘too much’ for the workplace … but i don’t think i imposed these silos upon myself … this siloing …

so it took me a year to admit to myself i was interested in cyberSurrealism … the extension of the original movement of Surrealism and all of its predecessing and postdecessing movements back and forth, into and out of the virutal and actual systems we all must live with, in, around … with at least part of cyberSurrealism i want to explore life as a living prototype … a sort of found prototype … as a performer ( and as a world citizen that needs to live in this world we were given … this hand-me-down world ) i will become a sort of usability practitioner of the world and its many systems as a found, living prototype … and from here on in it is my job to test the system and find ways to improve it

a more grand way of saying this is … through the international movement of cyberSurrealism i will act as a usability practitioner to test the world as a found, living prototype and then find areas of potential improvement and suggest ways to change the world … i hope to suggest unusual ways of solving huge problems by looking at things from a slightly different angle ( as influenced by our ‘Murray’ project in Design Studio 2 with Joseph Quackenbush,see the New Yorker article ‘Million Dollar Murray’ by Malcolm ‘Tipping Point’ Gladwell ) or by using the betweenSpace as a place of leverage … and, from a more Surreal standpoint and one that may be more literary or poetic, i am seeking poetic justice in the world through my research, prototyping and exploration of these concepts … i hope to live my life as much like a poem personified as Billy Barnum does … to seek those moments of poetry that cannot be merely translated or explained but can only be appreciated through living, through witnessing, through direct experience of that poetic moment

and that lead us to Total eXperience Design

i have many theories brewing about this topic of Total eXperience Design … i heard an excellent recent talk about multi-channel marketing campaigns, which seems to potentially be one flavor of what i am proposing to the world … but TXD is a bit different, especially when looked at through the lens of cyberSurrealism

based on Wagner’s concepts of gesamtkunstwerk or ‘The Total Artwork’Total eXperience Design would take a user-centered set of considerations ( maybe even a UCD approach, but it might depend on the piece ) to design everything … the entire experience … to take all sense into consideration … to take the temporal nature of the particular piece into consideration … to think about the impression the piece leaves w/ the listener | viewer | participant … the TXD aftertaste, if you will … and to think about the artifacts or take-aways that both the user and the world will have following the existence of the TXD piece in question or on display

how many times … how many times have i been to a performance, seen incredible work, live sound and theatricality … event-based experience … and then, in the end, the piece unintentionally ( without TXD consideration ) lives on only in the mind ( and conversation ) of the audience … in other words, adequate and important documentation and deliverables were never considered … the focus is so much on getting up on stage, using this or that technology, wearing this or that article of clothing, and yet there is no video or audio capture of the event to help the people of the future ( or even of the present ) understand or see the vision you created

if this were intentionally part of the plan, cool … not a big deal to document a rock show, perhaps … and that is fine … we can’t have a screenCapture of every single moment in lifenow, can we?

but we should at least, as artists and designers, consider the afterlife of a project or event … is there an item we would want to give the viewer | participant to help them better understand the intended meaning of the piece? to understand it after the show, after the opening? or to maybe read a year from now and in deeper yet delayed reflection suddenly understand the work in a different light?

or maybe it is what it is and that’s that … that would be fine as well … just be considerate … consider the audience, the participant, the viewer, the user, the audience … and think about what you would want them to say, how you want them to talk about your work, how you hope they understand and speak about the content from a variety of levels

but we can think about TXD as gesamtkunstwerk augmented by the latest art and technology movements

TXD = g+DM ( gesamtkunstwerk + dynamic media )

these are my preliminary ideas about Total eXperience Design

{ original post on the official TXD HubPage }