Week nine marks Guru’s Day in the calendar, one of the first big milestones of the fourth year project. I had the amazing privilege of having conversations with and showing my concept to six gurus over the course of the day. It was really nice seeing the studio come together in such a presentable way too.
Ryan Hutcheon and Hazel Wylie were both previous graduates of the Social Digital programme of study so their insight was most valuable to my personal development as a design student. I spoke to Ryan mostly about my anxieties regarding my future career. I feel like it takes being in a job to get a real sense of the values of the company; I’m worried about ending up somewhere I’m not happy. I also feel like it isn’t a good idea to bounce from job to job, as I may never find something suitable and end up not developing my career as a designer. Ryan did a good of job settling these fears for me; he said to keep my initial placement for at least six months, and then to use that experience to make switching jobs easier when it’s time to move on. Hazel had actually already done this in her career, moving from Prudential to the BBC within six months of initial employment. I spoke with Hazel regarding my fears about running a workshop and she gave me helpful tips and ideas on making that experience smoother from her own experiences in teaching.
I was really happy with how well my visual-notepad desk worked. It allowed me to visually summarise what we had been talking about and to confirm that I understood what the guru had said to me. I found my conversations with Adam Todd and Jasmine Cox to be the most interesting conceptually. Adam, for example, introduced me to a product that was a dress with mechanical arms. The dress monitored the acidity of the sweat on your skin. When you are around someone you don’t like, your sweat becomes acidic, and vice versa for someone you tend to be comfortable with. As a result, this dress would recoil from people you do not like and reach its arms out towards those you are fond of. I loved the honesty of the clothing and how it acted completely out of your control; it was a very visual representation of how you truly felt about a situation. He recommended that I try foil models in my workshops, as it is a creative visual medium that no one is going to be particularly good at. This avoids someone at my workshop being particularly good at drawing and intimidating the other participants into expressing themselves less.
I spoke to Jasmine for a very long time about identity. I spoke about my experiences of gender and how I think empathy should really work in human society. I found her input to be incredibly insightful considering the pace at which I was explaining the mess of complex ideas in my head; it made me realise just how skilled she was. I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion about a wide range of issues surrounding human identity as it allowed me to openly discuss some thoughts and ideas out loud with someone who was really engaged with me.
I also spoke to Finlay Craig and Loraine Clarke, but due to time constraints during the day these conversations were cut short though they still had valuable nuggets of information within them. I really appreciate how much work and time went into getting these amazing people into our studio; they were all incredible resources to be able to draw inspiration from.
Towards the end of the week I attended a writing workshop in the Cooper Gallery. The workshop was called TypeCast and was hosted by Kirsty Hendry. The workshop focused on using tarot-card like prompts to encourage the user to engage in a certain type of creative writing.
The first exercise I was engaged in was called Auto Auto Biography which asked me to write the prompt “I was born” into my phone and let auto correct write the rest. This was really interesting as I’ve only had a phone for about a month, so the responses were quite specific. I then tried it out with other prompts such as I was reborn”, ”When I died”, and “Next Week I”. The text that was generated had some serious emotional weight to it which was really strange considering it was completely computer generated.
The second exercise asked me to respond to a photo from one of the other participants’ smart phone album. I responded to the above image of a greasy food fix. I saw this as painkillers or an alternative coping mechanism for human pain. I wrote about how we often procrastinate and chase short-term solutions that are negative in the long term just to find relief, as in this tasty, greasy food. The third exercise I took part was called Day Players, and it asked me to write a passage in which the character is told through the history of someone else. I wrote about someone grieving the loss of someone they were once close to, following them recalling their qualities in their own mind.
I thought the workshop brought out some interesting thoughts that I would never have explored without the prompting. This made me think about how I am going to design exercises for my own workshops and what kind of responses I might get from them. The design of the tarot cards was really fantastic, and I’d really love to have a similar deck of cards for activities in the future. I wish Kirsty well with the rest of her project, and I’m really glad I got to explore some ideas with her.