Tag Archives: illustration

Workshop for Fictional Entrepreneurs @ Occupy L.A.

Reflecting on the Occupy events across the nation, I decided to focus on the individuals of this movement as a specific audience for a workshop on Fictional Entrepreneurship. I realized the significance of the movement had some parallel aspects to my thesis work thus far – specifically “defiant devices,” a project about severe constraint as creative restriction.

“Hey. Now that’s some great art!” – LAPD

In response to the initial worksheet’s results, I re-designed the form as well as it’s language to more clearly state the purpose of the exercise: create something new by defying the provided machine’s purpose. The new workbook also included varying levels of difficulty (1,2,3,4) as well as an example. As a result, the inventions that came of the prompt were much more concise, and successfully demonstrated defiance as an alternative approach to entrepreneurship.

The most interesting response to the worksheets was developed on sheet Level 4 – this was the one machine whose function even I did not know. However, the participant, a man with a soda bottle balanced on his head, and a stuffed snake around his neck assured me he knew exactly it’s purpose. The sheet’s two sections, “draw” and “describe,” then adapted to become a space for explaining the machine itself, as opposed to the machine of the participant’s design. I found this to be an interesting exercise in understanding the stance of the participant before prompting them to “defy.”

After speaking with Ben, I realized that this result could be replicated across all participants by abstracting the machines further, through a lack of description, or the design of a flowchart – with room for subjectivity from the participant. This, as opposed to the current illustrations, would open up the illustration itself for more interpretation to perhaps get more unique inventions from the user.

Workbook for Inventing Defiant Devices (WIDD Part 02)

To begin a further exploration into making the Defiant Devices project a participatory experience, I quickly generated a prototype of a simple workbook. My goal for this 2 page mock up was to take an initial stab at inviting others to experience the process of defiance.

10 participants were given a set of 2 worksheets. Each worksheet had a different machine. The participants were given the simple instruction (on the sheet) to “Draw Invent a Defiant Device that beats the above machine.” The rest of the process was up to their own interpretation – I was interested in giving very minimal instruction to better witness the participants’ inclinations and assumptions. The results were very interesting, and varied. Overall I received positive feedback from the participants about the experience of defying the machine, however, I discovered that the participants all shared similar confusions and hesitance to the project.

Over half of the participants claimed they felt overwhelmed and intimidated because the illustration of the machine they were to defy was extremely detailed (gosh, thanks guys), and they felt as though they were expected to draw at the same caliber. This intimidation sparked a bit of a lag in the participation, and resulted in the desire by some of the participants to explain through writing, as opposed to illustration, their invention.

Another discovered flaw in my worksheet was a confusion about the assignment’s goal. 50% of the participants interpreted “defiance” and “beat the machine” as “optimize the existing system” where as the other 50% interpreted the instructions as “invent a new device that is designed to break the system.” The latter is what I was hoping for.

Moving forward / other user comments:

  1. How can the workbook get progressively harder from start to finish?
  2. What language can be used to make the goal fo the assignment clearer to the participants? Perhaps an example should be in the first page?
  3. How can the experience be less intimidating for the participants without compromising the detailed imagery?
  4. What kind of reward system / conclusion could be given besides the gratitude of finishing the set of assignments?
  5. What would happen if this was a collaborative effort as opposed to an individual effort?

Workbook for Inventing Defiant Devices (WIDD: Project Context)

Defiant Devices was originally executed under the guidance of Anne Burdick for the New Modes of Reading & Writing class in Spring 2011.

An obsessive inventor has dedicated his life to defying a self-sustaining censorship machine. Every night, when they’re not looking he enters the machine, seeks it’s flaws, and invents a defiant device. Every night when he’s not looking, the machine responds, generating a new apendage, a software update. One day the inventor will beat the machine, but until then he keeps trying, every night.

“Defiant Devices” is an exploration in the history of severe constraint, but more specifically the creative defiance in response to that constraint. Censorship, and other means of limitation has historically (past and present) resulted in the formation of new language such as the hobo code, the songs of the underground railroad, and even 1337 (leetspeak).

Reflecting on this project from the lens of my current research trajectory, I have found an abundance of connections. I am interested in this project not only as a means of understanding severe constraint as a method of creative expression, but also as a space for entrepreneurial endeavor.

From this intensive project last Spring, I came out with a lot of really cool illustrations, but also a new process. This process starts with a set of rules (the machine), and results in an invention (defiant device) that breaks the initial restrictions. I am interested in how this project can shift focus to a more participatory model, welcoming more authors, and more levels for interpretation. On that note, I am currently prototyping, adapting, and (re)developing the project further into that realm, perhaps into the format of a workbook. More to come…

Investigating the History of the Future

My investigation into the History of the Future investigates historical attempts of fictional entrepreneurship (the act of fulfilling needs that have yet to exist) and diegetic business (the tangible outcome of fictional entrepreneurship). Specific points of research incorporate consumable products and services that offer visions of bionic evolution – I am fascinated by 18th century patent and schematic illustration work.

While I am interested in futurist renderings of luxury and desire, the foreground of my research and design practice focuses on visions of necessity and adaptation. I am not interested in dystopia or utopia, but the in-between: a snapshot into the every day life of our future self.

I am currently working to build an archive of these aspirations in history in order to develop a basis for my own research and design.