Time Line
Aug. 24, 2018 - Sep. 21, 2018
Course
Discovery & Invention
Professor
Nassim JafariNaimi
TA
Aditya Anupam
Team Members
Keria Blunt, Patrick Fiorilli, Huan Deng
See my teammates' portfolios at:
Keria Blunt, Patrick Fiorilli

Design Team’s Statement

The theme of the project is mapping the transition from winter to spring. Seasons are important transitions for nearly everyone on the planet, and we decide on this particular change in part because it presents itself as the most outwardly dramatic. Each of us presents our unique experience of the two seasons and how our minds and feelings change during the particular transition. In our work, winter and spring are no longer depicted in a common way, as “the coldest season” and “the reviving season”. Instead, they encompass our memories and habits, impacting our behaviors, feelings, and perceptions unconsciously. These trivial changes are demonstrated through our body parts as it is the parts of the body that are most outwardly exposed to and affected by seasonal changes. With that in mind, we relate our impressions of the winter-spring transition to the design of a brain, a nose, and a mouth respectively. By arranging them vertically, we believe we could capture three distinct, but cohesive personal accounts.

 

Ideation

During the brainstorming stage, each of us came up with different themes. Themes below were what I had in my mind. We were all interested in the transition of seasons as it is about how the environment changes and how our habits change accordingly. Such a theme gives us more space to come up with our personal experience, which we have taken for granted for long, to represent who we are in a brand new perspective.

Furthermore, we narrowed down the transition of seasons into the transition of two specific seasons--winter and spring, mainly because the surroundings as well as our behaviors experience more dramatic changes during the two seasons. And personally, I hated winter while it was the favorite one for another teammate, so we assumed it's intriguing to see how our preferences would be presented differently.

After settling down on the theme, each of us sketched our experience from different perspectives. For me, I thought of my experience of observing the surroundings, commuting from home to school, going hiking, choosing restaurants in both seasons, and came up with the following sketches.

 

Then I selected three works out of the 12 sketches to iterate. Sketches on the first row were based on my personal and physical experience in different seasons, whereas the second row represented more general and imaginative feelings. Although I loved the "meaningless" and abstract sketches in the second row, I did not think I could attach more personal stories to them as they were based on my stereotypical image of a cold/hard winter and a warm/soft spring. 

As I hoped to tell my own stories through my work, I preferred to show sketches on the first row. The home-school commuting piece, the restaurant mapping piece and the Yosemite trailing piece stood out for me since I exprienced the winter-spring transition and had so many great memories at each place. Moreover, they looked more mappy and showed my memories about a certain place through different perspectives. Hence, I chose to iterate these three works.

(The first sketch was a snapshot of my plant. The fifth sketch was footprints on the land with and without snow. The sixth was newton balls showing that the seasonal transition was constant.

  • different restaurant options in winter and spring

  • different commuting routes in winter and spring

  • different trail routes in winter and spring at Yosemite Park

Critique 1

The design team convened on the morning before our first presentation to offer feedback to each other. Seeing all of our designs up together, I was worried that my designs focused too much on mapping the routes instead of my feelings. 

By listening to the critiques for other colleagues’ work, I found that combining more emotional elements into the drawing would make the work more personal and unique, which was partly the point of the first project. From the critiques for my design, the suggestions were that:

  • There lacked a kind of directionality in my work and in our works as a whole

  • I just presented spring and winter separately without the transition between the two seasons

  • The experiences were commonly shared and not unique enough

  • The lines were not given enough consideration.

 

So in the following discussion, we decided on three aspects for improvement:

  • The balance of abstractness and literalness

  • Uniqueness

  • Directionality​​

Narrowing down

Inspired by Patrick’s work of the nose, I thought to describe the seasons through our senses was a great way to show how we were affected by the surroundings. Thinking of the food map I draw, I guessed I could show my understandings of the season transition through my mouth.

Moreover, the “peeling” method inspired me to make a mask to cover my mouth. I had such an idea because I was used to wearing a mask during winter in Beijing, since the heating system partly led to the poor air quality. So I hoped to show my environmental concern of Beijing’s air pollution through the mask. And if the mask is peeled off, a lip of spring would show up. My teammates appreciated the idea of the mask and then I went back to draw different shapes of lips and designed several paper masks. For the mask, I drew an outline of the polluted scene to figuratively represent what I saw outside of my dorm window in Beijing. I expected that it could show my refusal to the horrible air quality as well as my hope for a fresh spring.

For the lips, I tried different shapes. Some were specific whereas some were abstract lines. I wanted a half-open mouth to show my will to interact with the surroundings after a long, gloomy and horrible winter. I was hesitating between the petal-like lip and the one with a curvy line (2nd on the right side). The former showed the motivation to "bloom"--the dark emotions eventually came out of within. The lines on the lips showed the direction of coming out. The latter one was more abstract. If audiences' eye moved from left to right, they would see my feeling getting more vivid as the lines were getting wavy.

Critique 2

With Keria’s eyeglasses of routes on the top of the triptych, Patrick’s nose and mustache in the middle, and my mask and lip at the bottom, I could see the directionality and cohesion of our work. However, after Aditya’s critique emphasizing the discontinuous transition from the mask (winter) to spring (lip), I realized that I might need to try some transparent materials for the mask to invite the audience to see the lip inside.

After a series test of various materials, ranging from sketch paper, tissue, and plastic bags, I decided on using a semi-transparent plastic wrap to make my mask. 

Through the semi-transparent plastic, the audience could only see a small shadowy figure and might be interested in what’s inside. By walking close to see from the opening of the mask or taking off the mask (I used reusable sticky tabs) to find out the lip, the audience could go through a sort of transition experience between the two elements in my work. Meanwhile, I decided to remove the outline of air pollution since I wanted to focus more on my emotions. The mask not only demonstrated my concerns for the environment and my health, but also represented my habit to avoid social interactions in the gloomy season. So I made wrinkles on the plastic mask to show my mood. For the lip, I decided to use a single line to draw a half-open mouth. On the one hand, the line would extend out of the mask, a clue for the audience to look inside. On the other, the mouth half opening represented my tendency to talk and communicate, which set a great contrast to the mask. And as the line is getting more curvy on goes up on the right side, it represents the gradual awakening of my mood.

Proud of our final work! Great thanks to my teammates.

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