Thesis: Week 1

from the Bioglyphs exhibit at MSU Bozeman

Last semester I developed an interest in using brief moments of delight to open up opportunities for people to contemplate or create a little space of mental clarity for themselves. I’d like to pursue this idea further with my thesis. This week our thesis group, led by Despina Papadopoulos, began with some brainstorming. Here’s a rough sketch of where I’m headed…

What is it that you want to make?

I want to build a piece that uses small points of light and gentle interaction (most likely touch or proximity, but possibly breath?) to create a sense of wonder and delight. By offering this brief interaction, I hope to provide people with a small moment of clarity or contemplation. My first vision of this is as a large scale panel piece. After struggling to complete a large panel last semester, though, I’m worried about running into some of the same problems (space, material size and cost, difficulty in troubleshooting large, complicated circuits, the stress that comes with putting all of your eggs in one basket). So, I would like to build it in modules, if not as a suite of objects. I’m currently experimenting with bioluminescent algae for Design Frontiers in Biology and Materiality, and I would love to incorporate it into this project, but I’m not sure yet if I can find a way to do that with any sort of stability. So, while I am doing tests with the algae, I’m also thinking about ways to mimic bioluminescence¬†with fiberoptics or backlit perforations. Playing with the algae has made me wonder if there is a way to use water as a material for this project (and possibly change it from a vertical piece to horizontal), although I was originally vacillating between wood and fabric.
Why build it?

Too often we move through our days without stepping outside of our entrenched thought patterns. By experiencing a brief moment of delight, we open up the possibility of approaching problems more creatively and increase the likelihood that we will be patient with others. By sharing a moment of delight or contemplation, a community’s members may strengthen their sense of connection.
Who is it for?

This project is meant to be used by individuals or small groups, although it makes sense to stiuate it within a larger community. Anyone from children to adults may enjoy it.

Ideally, this piece would be placed in a semi-public site such as a school, museum, library, or hospital.

Some inspiration:

Bioglyphs exhibit of paintings with bioluminescent bacteria

Leah Buechley’s Wind Board

Jason Krugman’s Firefly

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