My Blog

My process and a peak at all the fun I have.

design-manifesto

I’m take a digital media interaction design class at the d.school this quarter with some awesome mentors.  I designed these icons for our first project as a representation of some of my passions.

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I’ve been inspired by many chairs over the last week or so and spent far too much time in my head and on paper sketching ideas.  Last night I cut and assembled the chair I designed in six hours using 2 2x4x8’s and a 4 foot by 4 foot piece of 1/2″ plywood.  Here is some process documentation and some photos of the final project.  I was pleased with amount of time it took to cut and assemble but not so happy with the bulkiness and lack of personal expression in the piece.  It was a great exercise in making a functional and comfortable chair, which I have never attempted or done before and I’m excited for the next 7 weeks to fully design and explore my next chair.

 
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This guy is a rockstar.

Check out this prototype I’m testing that will allow users to send physical cards to family and friends with just a few keystrokes.  Website here.

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I wanted to actually see what it would be like to get people who mostly had no idea how to make chicken nuggets make them in an assembly line.  I set up a simple assembly line with instructions and had each member of the thesis class man stations and isolate themselves by wearing headphones playing factory sounds.  The only exception was DeWolf and Xander, who worked together to butcher the chicken and who really enjoyed the experience of working together.  I designed and printed the instructions and also designed, printed, cut and formed the nugget packaging.

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There are still many things to work out here, including the concise message I want to convey and how to ensure that it is not muddied by the participants actions and participation.  This is a video of what happened:

Feedback + Thoughts (11.19):

I realized many things in prototyping this experience and was also inspired to move forward with the idea.  These are notes from critique with my fellow students as well as guest critic, Masako Fujihata.

  • Some participants enjoyed working as a team and the idea of working together to create something
  • The sound creates a feeling of isolation vs. everyone hearing it together (headphones vs. speakers)
  • Participants wished that they could have completed all the steps as a group from start to finish, instead of using ingredients already prepared for each step.
  • Is the final product an “artisanal treat” or sealed and inedible?
  • What is the connection between audience and process?
  • Should there be a distinction between signing up to be factory worker or signing up to eat a nugget? Should it be random? Should eaters be completely disconnected from the participants?
  • What is the method of creation vs. delivery of nuggets and how does it affect each sides experience.
  • Sign up to receive and it’s by chance whether or not you get to eat or create.
  • Define a language of invitation and selling/giving away, etc.
  • Clearer instructions, how are people taught to do their stations?

Evaluation:

It was thrilling to actually try out what has been slowly snowballing in my mind all quarter.  The path wasn’t clear from the beginning and I think the desire to work with food, food processing and cooking as mediums was distracting and difficult to manipulate.  The prototype proves that delving into processing food by allowing individuals to engage in the processing is both stimulating and thought provoking.  Clarifying the message may be something I’ll have to address in creating the environment, simplifying the instructions and exploring the output, what happens with the final edible product.

NEXT  Creating this as an experience to convey a message is no easy challenge but I remain excited to continue forward, focusing on the details that matter most and building the ecosystem in which the experience will exist.  Over the next 10 or so weeks I will design the experience from what participants will have to wear as they engage in the process to how the output will be branded.  There are many logistical hurdles ahead like how the piece will remain clean and food safe and that will also require another level of design: everything behind the scenes must also be carefully thought out for this project to work.  It will almost be like starting a tiny snack restaurant with a rotating staff that must be retrained at the beginning of every shift.  But I think that is part of what is so exciting to me about this project.

Audio listend to by the participants using headphones while doing their task on the assembly line. Credit.

My concept is to have visitors the gallery butcher chickens, grind meat, shape the ground meat into nuggets, bread and batter them, par-fry them and then vacuum seal them so the visitor can take them home.

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Through this project I hope to address and accomplish the following:

  • Involve and expose viewers to the performance aspects of preparing and cooking
  • Demystify the complex process of creating a processed food and empower people with the confidence to experiment in the kitchen and be adventurous with ingredients
  • Provide an artifact of the experience in the form of a packaged frozen product that could be consumed or live in the viewer’s freezer.  It’s funny to suppose that someone might keep an art piece in their freezer but also could eat it and keep the packaging out on display.  The packaging must be considered as much as the process the participants will engage with.

Other thoughts:

  • The actual making of nuggets could be behind a curtain or wall such that the viewers only see a final product and then if they consent can step behind the curtain and participate.
  • There could be some hint as to what the final product is outside the gallery — for example, an overstated, or oversized example: a giant chicken mcnugget.
  • the “costume” and culture must be well established so that participants feel like they are part of a real, existing process and team.  Consider the factory experience.

Feedback (11.17):

  • separation between people participating and people watching
  • who gets to participate vs. who watches
  • do they participate in pairs? one person makes it, one person gets the product
  • can you just hear it? see suggestions of what’s going on? smell it?
  • how do you heighten the experience with artifacts or other additions? to draw out necessary thought and consideration – don’t want them to figure it out right away
  • customized, non-directly abstracted artifacts of process (custom coats, hairnets, protect
  • How disconnected can I make people feel from the final product? Just cogs in the system
  • Branding markets process (Intel) not item — stories — make fun of farm to table
  • Anonymity of people doing the process? Block out their faces or what they’re doing?
  • How to get ppl to focus on what I want them to focus on**
  • Do you need 6 ppl to participate

Evaluation:

This project was really about choosing and defining a direction for the next 14+ weeks of planning and building.  I feel like the central idea, allowing viewers to engage in a very controlled process to create chicken nuggets will definitely force them to think about what and how they cook and eat.  I’m happy with the success of this proposal and concept and I’m excited to move on to prototype what it might look like in a gallery setting, starting with actually just having the class make nuggets.  So, overall, a successful project and I’m really excited to move forward and start prototyping what the experience will look like.

I’m considering how best to portray performance in food as a gallery installation piece. I think the subject must be quite striking and also accessible to anyone.  We have all heard myths about how McNuggets are made but I think participating in making them would be a very different experience.  I’m considering building an installation in which participants actually make chicken nuggets and participate in various stages of the process.

And to figure out how they’re made, I found a few very interesting videos put up by McDonalds and Cargill that show the process:

It’s also interesting to note how style food for ads compared with how it looks when ordered in a restaurant. This could also be an interesting comparison and participatory installation.

So, using this recipe as a guide, I made some turkey nuggets to see how feasible it would be to have people make mcnuggets in a gallery setting.

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