Friday, March 16, 2012

Tying Everything Together

As I explained in the previous post I was considering playing with the dualism of Aalborg - the two sides, making people aware of interesting experiences.
But to get somewhere you need to start somewhere so I took three A3 papers and wrote down three concepts that have been cooking the last couple of weeks:

1) An art installation:
The installation would reveal secrets when you approach it. It could be transparent bottles hanging in a tree with little LED's inside. At first glance it would be a light installation but when you look closer, touch it or shine a special light on it something else/a secret will be revealed. It could be hidden words or the installation could resemble a map over Aalborg showing interesting places to go or unknown/extraordinary/forgotten information about the city (something that is not common knowledge - for instance that there is a creek running below the streets of Aalborg, that you can get below ground outside Salling, stuff like that.)
2) Swings
Different swings/sculptural furniture/hammocks placed around the city. You can download a map/use Augmented Reality/QR codes that will tell you where the other swings are located and you can then go on a swing-treasure-hunt - and for instance use it as an activity for a date. All the swings do different things that makes the experience fun - e.g. a swing in Nytorv could be connected to a lamp that would switch on whenever someone would use it putting the person in the spotlight. Or you could combine the art installation described above with the swings and let the swings generate power for the lights inside the bottles e.g. in Kildeparken here in Aalborg.
3) The Exploration Box
A box that takes you on exploration. You will have to do certain things before you can open it. It could be taking it to specific GPS specified locations or (if more boxes were made) to "meet" another box. In a group conversation in my residence hall this idea sparked another idea: creating a christmas calendar where people each day would take the box they purchased outside to find the one box that could open their box to reveal a price. It could also be made more simple.. Like - lets say - an urban version of LUDO. Instead of having a board and a dice you would use the city as a board. Each player starts out with a box. The box will then give you a coordinate (GPS) to go to. If you make it to the location a mechanism inside the box will unlock and you will be able to open it and see the next layer (like a babushka doll). Then you get a new coordinate. But if you meet one of the other players with a box you are "hit home" and you have to put back a layer. The first one to reach the core (and its secret) has won.

Indeed the three concepts hold potential and it could be fun to make. Especially the Urban Ludo appeals to me. But making it work practically is a challenge. And since I only have until the 16th May to finish the entire project - write a report, develop and create the final product (including programing, aesthetics, function and narrative) and still be breathing I have to be realistic and be critical. And I still don't feel that the concepts really will make a difference nor get people to "explore life" - so I am still not happy with it. But time is ticking and I will have to make some decisions sooner rather than later.

Two days ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine from Germany over Skype. We talked about 'this and that' and after a while we ended up discussing extraterrestrial life, birth, life in general, existence, exploration of space and dimensions (rather deep topics now that I think about it) and of course we also discussed my project. It was truly an enjoyable conversation and we talked about how important it is to talk to people because it makes you realize things. 

And BOOM! All of a sudden everything clicked. 

What is it that I am trying to do with the concepts? 
What is it fundamentally
What is the spine, the aim, the core of the concepts? 

I would like to make people explore, get surprised, meet other people, talk to people that they don't know,  discover things - we should challenge our beliefs and question things so we widen our horizon, get other perspectives and get a bigger picture.
And how to do that? 

It's simple.


The thing is that the three concepts ideally should all lead to this - I just didn't see the profound layer of my own thoughts until now. Both dualism and interesting things are not just going on in Aalborg (Wauw, so Aalborg is not the center of the world? No, Aalborg was just the point of departure and the focus of the project) it is everywhere and in everything but in order to find new, to discover, uncover, find out, challenge our beliefs and get ideas... we need to talk and we need to share. We have all the possibilities in the world today to share and communicate on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Chats, Mobiles - the list is enormous. But it is all Human-Computer-Human interaction and not face to face. What has happened to ordinary conversation? I am not saying that we are becoming blind, narrow minded, egocentrics that only can communicate through media but we could all do with a little conversation. But its hard - I mean - for instance here in Denmark you don't just walk up to someone and start talking. It is considered rather inappropriate and an invasion of private space. Besides you have to deal with immediate reaction and response, not to mention emotions. 

My project will be to create an artifact - a small device - that will take you by the hand and lead you into the world of conversation - so to say. And here is how it all connects:
It will be a steam punk inspired device that will take you on exploration in your own life by the hand of conversation. By making it fun and playful it is possible that the "game" will give you excitement, let you be fascinated about something or make you curious. You will be told what to do or in other ways guided by the conversation, the thoughts it gives or the person you have the conversation with (known to you or a stranger). A conversation is immediate and the device can be used whenever and whereever (nationally or globally). The act of conversation is old school, non electronic fun, that will possibly make a difference in your life.

And as you will see it in some ways connects to all of this:
[- the following are the Post It's from my initial brainstorms.]

This Generally Applies for the Project 
I don’t want people to read a long explanation in order for them to understand the work – you don’t need a background in art to understand the work – have fun in your surroundings – I’m not intending to make commercial earnings with the project – the project is about exploring your surroundings and gaining experiences from life – making life awesome/extraordinary – exploration of life – explore the world and open your mind – “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in you sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain” – take it to the streets – make it urban – make it global – old note: “life is not about the goal. We are all going to finish the same way. But don’t be sad about it. Life is about the journey – the people you meet, the things you do and the experiences you have (big or small). Don’t wait for “the special occasion”. Do it now! Don’t waste your life in front of the TV waiting for thing to happen for you. Get up and get out!" Do you want to die curious?

This Is Part of the Project (primarily)
Be curious – enjoy the little things – explore – it is the road not the goal, you are not done just because you reach the destination – documentation – back to old school fun – non electronic – go out of your comfort zone – the new to-do list – sending something away – ownership vs. sharing – make someone aware of something they didn’t know about – leave clues and intentionally make people find something particular – object/item/site hunt – inspire people – old technology – something that will outlast you – the IT item – reach goals – Morse code – association – experiences – create something

This Can Be Used as Inspiration for the Project (secondary)
Open your mind up to something new – talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk to – live your dreams – Instead of looking forward to the next that will happen just enjoy the moment – meet new people – challenge your prejudice – intuition – accept difference – see things – get help from others to fulfil something – make your dreams a reality – you learn your whole life – open-mindedness – plant plants – fear of the unknown – be a child – get out of your comfort zone – become surprised – personal achievement – watching change happen – burying a message – play – make a difference – street art – dare to dream – make a to-do list – do something extraordinary – question your thoughts ask why – the easiest is always not to do instead do! – competition on Facebook: plugging your details in to compete with your friends – keep a sketchbook – fear can stop you from doing things – from the Idea Book: “question everything that is granted – rules and preconditions, practicality, logic and tradition.” – travel – show n’ tell

My initial thought was to make it a pod - almost a sheltered sofa with the device in it. But then I realized that it could be more simple. So I skipped the pod and took out the essential - it will be a transportable device that you can use by your self, with others - people you know, don't know or think you know and if I have time I will create a little cozy area where people can try it for the exhibition on the 16th of May 2011.

/Anne Sofie

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