15 June 2010

Discovery 1: Prototypes can spark conversations

The Prototype Symposium 2010, brought together a varied group of practitioners exploring theory, practice and recounting experiences. Yet before the speakers even began I was taken on a journey with the prototype exhibition in the foyer, these projects lead me to two new discoveries.

Prototypes can spark conversations: The work of Sarah Kettely was exhibited in the foyer of the Dalhousie building, Aeolia takes the form of stretch sensors embedded in clothing collecting data such as movement, light and or sound, a textile led enquiry designed for a cellist. It is stated that the ‘final application is kept deliberately vague’, for its purpose was to explore how materials, form and weight would interact in reality. Its existence as a prototype creates a conversation piece, how would you use the data created?

I am currently doing my masters in Design Ethnography, here we explore qualitative data method collection such as interviews, observations and participatory design research. The question I would ask myself is how would the data from a project like Aeolia further my work and understanding of my participant group. I am doing a joint project with Caoimhe, looking at older people and game play. Would I get older people to wear an object like this, instead of a cellist. Could it offer an inside look at their daily movements? Would it give another level of insight into obstacles that they face when interacting with objects, spaces and games. The answers are not present but the conversation is.

The physical form of prototypes and its connection to sparking conversations was commented on by Constance Adams, Space Architect in the first panel session of the day. Constance talked about her push to take the prototype from screen to physical model ‘as soon as it’s physical, you can see what is wrong, 2d simulations on computers are hard to critique’. I had always perceived a prototype as an object used in the design process when initial concepts are under construction and the physical shape and interactions has to be explored and tested. Yet the prototype by Sarah Kettler, designed for use on a Cellist can be reused by other researchers to instigate ideas for other types of data collection. The way I understand it is that you have to get people asking the question, 'what can I do with it?', this is where conversations begin, attachment and relationships are forged to new ideas, possibilities and eyes are opened to what is not currently being done. When you get people talking it allows others to understand 'what they do', people can connect to this and magic can happen. The fact that a prototype can create conversation makes it a tool, it seems tools can come in different shapes and sizes.

A prototype is a tool, look at how you can get your audience to talk with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment