Description: How do images and diagrams inform cultural identity and the navigation of social space? This is a core question motivating my art practice. To produce my artwork, I glean images and texts from magazine collections, which I deconstruct and reconfigure into new iconographies. My goal in this process is to simultaneously destabilize knowledge systems that pretend to obscure uncertainty, even while hinting at possible new understandings. Building on the history of collage as a critical strategy, I explore the role of technical images in identity formation, knowledge production, and expressions of power and authority. In this way, my work maps contextual frameworks that span disparate image cultures and identity systems. The ‘hoard’, as a type of collection, is an important space for my practice; I see the hoard as an archive and active site of social and political possibilities — a physical manifestation of the excess of capitalist culture (In this text, I will refer to the hoard as a metaphor for the overwhelming volume of cultural imagery at large as well as, a specific collection of print imagery that I see as physical symptom of the pressure of image culture). I mine these archives for veins of source materials, looking for patterns that emerge through formal aesthetic similarities. Colour and line speak from within images to reveal possible hybrid visualizations and derive new trajectories of meaning. In this work, I am exorcising my suspicion of a tendency to slip into a passive viewing position; in this way, my work is calling to (and being beckoned by) Vilém Flusser’s cautionary writings on the inherent perils of technical images in mass media. My works traverse image and objecthood. I transform print materials into photographs, then into pixels, and finally to printed-paper structures. In this way I usher meanings from objecthood to image and back again, questioning visual language along the way. With each work, I engage in a struggle to decipher and map historical traces of print images. At the same time, I am actively trying to confuse, question, and re-code visual tropes, questioning the impact of images on identity construction and broader ontologies. I bury my tracks knee-deep in scrap.
Description: The digital transformations revolutionizing so many aspects of contemporary culture are also dramatically changing government services. Designers have an important role to play in these shifts. A wide range of government services— from applying for birth certifications to voting and paying taxes; from immigration applications to citizenship and permitting processes—are becoming available in digital formats. This extension of government services from traditional countertop services to digital access means that governments are hiring designers to build these online applications and platforms. This redesign of services, when including human-centric research methods, enables citizens to have a say in the government decision-making process (Stewart, Dubow, Hofman & Stolk, 2016), and has resulted in exciting design opportunities as well as significant challenges. In this thesis, I elaborate on the practice of service design in a government context, from micro and macro perspectives, using three case studies. In the first case study, I will give an example of how governments are transitioning to redesign specific public services using Agile principles. Agile describes how prototyping and development teams experiment with different possibilities in short “agile” periods of time, allowing real end users to contribute their insights. Using rapid prototyping methods such as Agile helps provide simple and useful ways for citizens to find, use, and contribute to the design of government services. This first case study will describe agile practice in the rapid prototyping lab at Ontario Digital Service (ODS), an organization under a provincial government ministry. In the second case study, I will describe how governments practice service design from a broader perspective. This example comes from my work with Public Digital Innovation Space (PDIS), an organization under Taiwan Open Government. PDIS contributes to facilitating public collaboration with citizens and the government under a mandate from the Taiwanese ministry called Open Government. In this case study, the service design organization is tasked with encouraging citizens and other stakeholders to participate in the government decision- making process and social discussions. In the context of my Master’s research, it was important to investigate ethical issues in bringing neo-liberal rapid prototyping methods to government service design (Kimbell & Bailey, 2017). The final case study outlines a workshop I held with fellow design students to investigate one ethical issue in design; power dynamics within multidisciplinary teams. I had realized that there was a lack of discussion around design ethics in the public sector.
Description: This thesis project explores the potential of embodied play to cultivate empathy among students in multicultural classrooms in the western educational context. In a progressively mobile and intermingled world, with greater net flow of immigration from poorer to richer countries and higher birth rate of immigrant population in their new domiciles (Grayling, 2012), I deem the questions of identity, social cohesion, assimilation have become more pressing. Students in multicultural classrooms face new challenges every day. In order to establish an environment in the classroom which is favourable for learning and growth, it is important for students to learn to function cohesively despite the cultural differences between them. This research endeavours to mitigate cultural differences using the vehicle of spices. When students in multicultural classrooms acknowledge that the flavours they enjoy are a result of someone else’s labour, then they become aware of the interdependence of people on one another. Spice growers are largely from the global south. Learning about them through sensory play with spices develops awareness of cultural differences. This can lead to higher acceptance of the many different cultural backgrounds of fellow students. The design outcome of this research are a series of artefacts that use game design as a structured tool to explore embodied play in order to cultivate imagination and empathy among students. The design is targeted towards students who study at university level in multicultural classrooms in privileged western societies. Subjects such as mindfulness, gratitude, pedagogy, sensory design and imagination were explored throughout and have contributed in the journey of this research.
Description: This thesis will examine the role of a landscape photographer’s subjective view in the construction of a photographic image by considering the significance of their photographic intent, visual relationship to the physical world and personal relationship to place. I will deconstruct my series Neither Here Nor There, examining the significance of investing my own history of experience and memory into the photograph in order to explore my relationship to the landscapes I have lived in. The paper will examine the roles of the photographer and the viewer when reading a photograph, using Susan Sontag’s ideas of authority within the photograph from On Photography, Roland Barthes’ concept of the ‘punctum’ from Camera Lucida, and Robert Adams’ essay Truth and Landscape, to investigate how a photographer forms intent within his photographs. Drawing on Kaja Silverman’s World Spectators, the paper will go on to explore an individual’s visual relationship with the physical world whilst maintaining the core idea of exploring the photographer’s intentionality within a photograph by using the practice of Thomas Joshua Cooper as an example of a photographer who claims authority over his images. The thesis then analyses how concepts of place influence this conversation by using Yi Fu Tuan’s Space and Place to investigate an individual’s relationship with the physical world. Taking Italo Calvino’s Mr Palomar and Rinko Kawauchi’s photographic series The Eyes, The Ears as examples, the paper looks at the representation of an individual’s relationship to the physical world through their internal solipsistic view. The essay concludes with an explanation of how my photographic series Neither Here Nor There, tackles the issue of the representation of the photographer’s intent and subjectivevision, by offering an autobiographical reaction to my own sense of place.
Description: This thesis examines the ways displacement is reflected in artistic practices dealing with land, landscape and geography. Land is addressed here as context for histories of displaced persons and it is assumed that connection with the environment affects the human sense of belonging. The theories presented in this essay contextualize practices that turn to subjects of land and displacement approaching them in the light of embodied1 cognition. By investigating emergent and alternative patterns of agency that these theories offer, I trace a current epistemological shift described by a curator and theorist Irit Rogoff which resituates a theory of cognition within lived experience. This shift is important for considering the phenomenon of re-building a "sense of place"2 after the rupture of displacement - as a process of identity and knowledge formation. My research views painting as a practice of agency in examining the experience of concrete subjects rather than seeking formal, transcendental conditions of subjectivity. Employing a theory of embodied cognition I approach the matter of land as place and abstracted landscape painting as an artistic practice and an attempt to actively re-build my own sense of belonging. Through a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the "representational events"3 of similar practices it is my intention to create a context for my own practice of painting. Work of Ana Mendieta, Julie Mehretu, Huma Bhabha, Joshua Neustein, and Anselm Kiefer is referenced in this paper for evidence of how living away from one's home country or questioning its history is reflected in artists‘ work. I test the potential of embodiment theory and terminology application within the realm of these practices. As an immigrant I had to forge a new identity in adopted environment. In this thesis I intend to elevate the subject of displacement and migration from the matter of universal empathy to the level of identity and knowledge formation. I examine stages in my own new identity development from the rupture of displacement to the awareness of being defined by several cultures. I register how different cultural ways of seeing overlap and influence each other in my work.
Description: In this thesis, I discuss two media installations and the process and reasoning behind their creation. These include The Monster and The Explorer a three channel video installation that addresses marginal voices and pathology and my final thesis project, Bed, Door, The Order of Things an interactive nine channel video matrix dealing with intimacy and boundaries. Growing out of a desire to collaborate and choreograph a composition of elements these two works explore relationships and storytelling. Specifically, I investigate authorship as an emergent interaction and collaboration as they relate to desire in the negotiation of intimacy, bodily gesture and boundaries. I act as artist/ instigator to examine the creative process as both set and provisional using rules and improvisation toward the recording of performances for the camera. The media installation and interactive components within the resulting exhibitions work to extend the collaborative experience into the space of the gallery. I consider these two projects through their art historical antecedents from artists coming out of Black Mountain College and the traditions of the Situationist International to the conceptual avant-garde. I am especially invested in theoretical concepts that draw from philosophy to investigate what is essential to my work.
Description: This paper is in support of my artist-based thesis research entitled Aurora. My practice is interdisciplinary with a focus on installation and sculpture, consistently engaged in questions surrounding culturally inherited power structures and resulting modes of representation. This thesis research critically investigates what is understood as “traditional” in North American domestic ornamentation through considerations of complicated and intertwined histories, commerce, personal memory and taste. This paper provides an art historical and contemporary art context for this line of artistic investigation. Focusing on contemporary artists, this paper seeks to highlight the current discourse around culturally inherited materials, in particular of those from hybridized cultural identities. Drawing from theorists engaged in Marxism, post- structuralism, post-modernism; a nuanced understanding of ornament as a commodity and social signifier is highlighted. An account for the breadth of my material research is outlined in this document, focusing on three major works that were exhibited in defense of this thesis, Aurora, Secret Garden and Like Countless Men on Horseback. A focus is emphasized around sets of gestural responses to materials; these are drawing, casting, tracing, folding, cutting, and staging. These gestures invite viewers to think through their own understanding of domestic ornamentation and inherited social structures, as they focus on perceptions of appropriation, nostalgia, monumentality and memory. This paper concludes with implications of this research. That networks of associations to the self, class and history resound through the maintenance of domestic ornamentation. These networks are not static and fluctuate through trend, social norms and ideas surrounding domesticity. Thus it is paramount that in the creation of works invested in this dialogue that ambiguity is facilitated to gain entry into layered, and possibly contradictory associations to the ornamentation of the home. The accumulation of my cultural identity, lived experience, influences and biases will continue to be investigated and articulated through my practice vis-à-vis symbolic socially constructed materials and beliefs.
Description: This thesis paper articulates the ideas, creative approach, and methodology with regard to the visual component of my thesis project. As a painter, I explore the concept of the ‘public realm’ by appropriating and disrupting environmental designers’ two dimensional perspective sketches. These stylized sketches, typically used for marketing purposes within the design profession, are distorted and warped into unsettling places. Idyllic visions of parks, waterfront plazas, playgrounds, and other nostalgic public places are transformed into doomsday scenarios through the injection of fragmented media images and individual memory of catastrophic events. By making the familiar feel unfamiliar, I hope to generate a series of enigmatic and uneasy associations for the viewer. The designer's intention to convert virgin space into a democratic, civic place becomes compromised and circumspect during these moments of danger. These places deny the viewer the comfort of representing any specific location, and yet seem uncannily familiar. Built form transgresses from a designer's optimistic sketch for the future into glimpses of destruction and uncertainty. The structure of the thesis begins with an introduction to the main themes of my research. Firstly, I explore a variety of approaches to the visualization of idealized public places. By discussion of the forms and intentions of Deconstructivist architecture and the notion of the architectural uncanny, I provide a theoretical backdrop toward the investigation of contemporary approaches to placemaking. I describe my background in environmental design and the impact of my Modernist training on my painting practice. Secondly, I describe how the preceding ideas are addressed in my painting practice. By situating my work with regard to contemporary painters such as Peter Doig, Daniel Richter, Neo Rauch, and Matthias Weischer, I investigate common themes or points of departure with respect to the representation of place and space, mark making, colour and composition in their work. Lastly, I focus on six paintings from my thesis project work. I describe the creative process for generating images, discuss source material, painting techniques, the use of the figure, specific influences and the intentions of each piece.
Description: This thesis explores the political and the narrative nature of objects. It questions how we can “charge objects with issues” (Marres, 2012), and looks at the ways we build up stories through objects. In order to explore these questions more comprehensively, it considers why we need to tell stories, and what kind of stories can be told through objects. The focus of this body of work is not the functional improvement of objects; rather critical design objects are used to trigger and mobilize thoughts and reflections from the audience who will view those objects, or participate in the scenarios formed through those objects. Through critical design and a practice-led approach, the historical origin of domestic objects, and their capacity to embody our humanity and hold our attention are explored. The work focuses specifically on ceramics as a medium to tell stories. The humble vase has not only served as an ambassador of cultural exchange but a witness to history. This document introduces a historical context of cultural and economic trade and exchange and brings forth contemporary examples of storytelling through objects. A historical survey of Ming to Delft trade initiated the work and helped me consider aesthetic appropriation of culture, and the contexts that inform making. My practice- led projects incorporate traditional craft processes and skill development, supported by case studies of contemporary design practitioners, and the logic and inspiration behind their work. The main methods at play in my research are heuristic study, survey, and material practice (learning through making). I have focused on how different objects (singular) can tell different stories as well as how a collection of objects (multiple) can tell stories. Through this exploration, and in order to understand my context for making, I learned skills of making in a traditional craft: ceramics. I gained knowledge from expert craftsmen by working with them in a professional studio. I explored ideas and concepts of contemporary decolonization through a practice of making. Material agency enabled me to piece together and reconstruct stories related to my personal experience, social events and the relationship between people and objects.
Description: The early stages of the design process are often ambiguous and complex. In this phase designers discover, learn and gather much information about the audience, culture and the context they are designing for. Through the synthesis of data their goal is to learn as much as possible about all stakeholder perspectives, activities and constraints involved in the design situation in order to identify and prioritize design problems. This paper examines the value of visual storytelling methods in the early stages of the design process to enhance the identification of design opportunities, validate assumptions and improve design decision-making when designing for an optimal user experience. To help evaluate the potential benefits of visual storytelling methods a case study has been conducted with fourth year Interaction Design students at Emily Carr University involved in designing a patient tracking system using radio frequency identification technology for the BC Children's Hospital Emergency Department. This research explores storytelling as a visualization tool for translating, interpreting, verifying and communicating data collected from diverse user communities to build a better understanding of the context and circumstances surrounding complex design challenges involving multiple stakeholders.
Description: My practice interrogates the space between an object and its ecology: the relationship between material practice and complex systems, such as living ecosystems, and the environments in which they are situated. My main interest is our current ecological crisis and the precarious relations which now exist between living species and their contexts largely as a result of human interventions in the natural world. This growing awareness of the fragility of the natural world, its biodiversity, life processes, and interactions among organisms, transforms my view of the world and inspires my imagination. My practice relies on a temporal process of making, sustained through multiple stages of hand production. This approach to making allows me to intervene in and potentially rebuild more holistic and regenerative ecological relations. Exploration of materials related to ceramics and textiles are produced in an effort to create an object that mirrors the transformation of an ecosystem, or at the very least demonstrates the object as dependent on the ecology of the studio.
Description: This thesis paper addresses a personal journey into a longtime fascination with mythological hybrid characters. The studio component of my thesis work, the thesis project, entitled In the Caves of Mt. Ida, BC, is an interactive animation installation that depicts moments from a hybrid's life in its natural habitat. The viewer, while engaged with the animation, must remain quiet and stationary so as not to disturb the hybrid. If it is disrupted or annoyed it may respond unexpectedly, perhaps violently. This paper also describes an interest in interactive narrative and non-linear storytelling. It uses both David Clark's 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein and my own work as primary examples, for dismantling the expectations of conventional storytelling, while also introducing ideas of anti-narrative and anti-interaction. My method has been informed by Giorgio Agamben’s theoretical interpretations of umwelt, as a means to illuminate visualizations of a hybrid and its actions and reasons for being. The concept of umwelt also helps to establish the notion of the monster: if the hybrid is deprived of its basic needs, or carriers of significance (as described by Agamben), then the monstrous side has the potential to reveal itself. I use the concept of umwelt as a lens through which to view Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and Alan Moore’s graphic novel Swamp Thing, to examine the complex personality of a so-called hybrid monster and its capacity for good and evil. In addition, this paper also examines an attraction to horror and the abject, by way of using Jan Švankmajer's film, Little Otik, as a primary case study.