Villefontaine Course

Course on design fiction 2014, general feedback

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Feedback
Concerning the justification of design choices in order to achieve “uncannyness” in a critical design project:
I regret that we did not have the time to work on the design choices. I trust the students’s design skills – better designers (among the students) need less supervision on that part – but I would have liked to investigate that part a bit more with them. Moreover lately my research focused on how to communicate a design fiction project and I only gave them guidelines (there was no teaching schedule to supervise that part of their design process).

Ajustements
We worked on communicating the project with a professional photographer. The main necessary steps that emerged and that I rehearsed from groups to groups are:
1- Who tells the story (choose a posture when presenting the project)
2- How to tell it (choose a relevant visual grammar, aesthetic codes, kind of media)
3- Who to reach (choose who is the target of the sayer + who is your target with this project, this influence the (2) and the type of preferred platform to remediate the project (blog, magazine, gallery, etc.)
4- What to say (double-check what is your message, your values, your problematics and that your formal choices are relevant regarding them)
5- Audience test: the user test of design fiction (present your work often during this period if you did not do it all along the design process, tune your choice (parameters listed above – don’t say too much, make it understandable, (dys)utopia) to avoid non-meaningful reactions)

Some examples of aesthetic code and type of media
From RCA—to Terry Richardson—to NearfutureLab (Twitter)
+ Insérer 1 screenshot des slides / retoucher l’ordre des slides qui était chelou)

Kind of media used: Youtuber, advert campaign (print, video, web), interview, TV documentary, facebook group, official institutional documents (website, posters, elector card…)

Other (optional) advices that emerged
• Find some coherence, a link between all the material,
• Display as a modular story that an audience can enter at any points (avoid one way story-telling / step by step story in an exhibition
• Focus on one main media (often video)
• Consider showing the usage VS telling the usage (testimony)
• Show user and anecdotic parts of your world
• Don’t show your researches, you are no more a student
• Avoid showing straight forward an historical evolution

Random references we evoked
Inspirations about prototyping with speculation and design fiction examples
• Meanwhile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmokqDrIBKg
• Matin Brun: http://youtu.be/JP_D0l9p_zA
• Black Mirror S01e03: http://www.watch-tvseries.net/series13/Black-Mirror/season-02-episode-01-Be-Right-Back
• Black Mirror S02E01: http://www.watch-tvseries.net/series13/Black-Mirror/season-01-episode-03-In-Memoriam—The-Entire-History-of-You
• Her: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798709/

• Dossiers Akashiques http://www.akashic.ch
• Forteresse Digitale, Dan Brown http://www.amazon.fr/Forteresse-digitale-Dan-Brown/dp/2709626306
• Strange Days, Kathryn Bigelow http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114558/ Look at the 2nd video: http://www.my-os.net/blog/index.php?2008/11/02/1155-vue-a-la-premiere-personne-au-cinema-et-dans-le-jeu-video
• The City and The City, China Mieville http://www.amazon.com/City-Random-House-Readers-Circle/dp/034549752X
• Ethical Autonomous Vehicle (About ethics and algorithms) http://www.mchrbn.net/projects/ethical-autonomous-vehicles/
• A serbian film (very violent) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1273235/
• Nymphomaniac http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1937390/
• Expo EDF fondation Alive http://alternativecommunication.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/exhibition-alive-at-the-design-frontiers/
• Serge Tisseron, opposé a l’écran en bas âge http://www.amazon.fr/Les-dangers-t%C3%A9l%C3%A9-pour-b%C3%A9b%C3%A9s/dp/2749210569
• Copyright Glasses by Nikita Jerschov http://www.tei-conf.org/14/program/706.php
• trello.com
• hello h5 http://www.hello-h5.com/main
• mother (adadjian) https://sen.se/

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Villefontaine Course

Course on design fiction 2014, how to mediate?

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Quick reminder note of all the steps used when creating design fictions.
Please design a:
1- Alternative (to the current world: change a little grain of sand and deploy its consequences in people’s life)
2- Bridge (from one world to another, make it believable = probable + understandable)
3- Balance (between strangeness and familiarity to make your project “uncanny” and to trigger meaningful reactions)
4- Communication (including the story + a communication situation)

4- Communication :
How to tell your story?
• Introduce your practice, allow (auto)suspension of disbelief to suspend incredulity
• Highlight and avoid precise problematics
• Don’t tell everything, leave trails of reflection, leave room for people’s imagination
How to mediate the project?
• Choose a posture (narrator)
• Choose a tone of voice
• Choose relevant medias

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Villefontaine Course

Course on design fiction 2014, how to balance?

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Step 3 of the course: tuning
Students all isolated an observation of the current state of things + trends (using the why” formula). They proposed an altered element (using “what if”). They described an alternative version of our world and proposed an object (a solution to a new problem, or other type of objects). They have an amount of material, now they need:
• to list and choose what problematics to avoid, which one to keep;
• to choose a scenario (an order) to introduce their story.

In order to list the material:
You can print everything or use a digital timeline (blog post, array, trllo.com, etc) divided in categories. It is like an array describing the evolution (time on the X axis) of the different categories of your world (politics, social, economics, professional, etc.).

In order to communicate the project/tell the story:
It is all about weavering a narrative with a selection of these elements (fil rouge).
The narrative can have a large scope or a deep one (scheme)
Evernote Snapshot 20140519 152854

In order to tune the communication/story:
Adjust these parameters of the narrative,
• Un—necessary elements (selection based on understanding, emotions.. or on Rhetoric criteria).
• Tone (posture)
• media used
• dystopia—utopia
• add time & place (+chronology)
Etc.

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Course on design fiction 2014, how to provoke reactions?

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2. PROVOKE MEANINGFUL REACTIONS
2.1 THIRD STEP – COMMUNICATING THE ALTERNATIVE WORLD
• Exercise – test your world
Déclinez différentes propositions avant de choisir, racontez votre histoire, représentez vos idées, montrez-les / testez-les avec différentes personnes puis corrigez, affinez, pour être sur de provoquer la réaction voulu (émergence de questions précises).
• Exercise – 6 words novels
Trouver un nom à votre projet, en 6 mots, en mode micronouvelles (plus d’info ici : http://www.pop-up-urbain.com/concours-six-mots-pour-ecrire-la-sci-fi-la-flash-fiction-comme-outil-prospectif/ ).
• Remind that the “What-if” that come from nowhere (in other words disconnected from a relevant observation of the current world) are less effective.
• Passerelle : Il est nécessaire de créer un pont entre le monde d’aujourd’hui et le monde que vous présentez. L’objectif est d’assoir les bases de votre histoire en terme de crédibilité afin de permettre à chacun (peu importe son bagage culturel, état d’esprit du moment, etc.) de croire à la probabilité de votre “Et si”. C’est la condition qui lève les barrières de l’incrédulité (chercher “suspension of disbelief”). Sans ça, aucunes chances que l’audience adhère à votre histoire, laisse son esprit vagabonder dans votre univers et se frotte aux questions que votre proposition doit faire émerger dans leur tête.
Cette passerelle, cette amorce, se décline à plusieurs niveaux :
– Logique de basculement du monde actuel au monde alternatif (Quelle cause-s › Quels élément-s altéré-s › Quelles conséquences) ça peut être des tendances actuelles, un fait historique (ou non), un parti-pris…
– Moyens de basculement de l’état d’esprit de l’audience vers une immersion dans votre univers (quels média utilisés, langage graphique, etc. ça passe également par expliquer (au jury?) que votre projet est une démarche de recherche spéculative)
– Tenir compte du bagage culturel de l’audience face aux connaissances nécessaires pour comprendre comment le projet marche (convaincre un expert ou expliquer à un non-initié)
[Imaginez ça comme une fusée à étages, il faut d'abord faire rentrer les passagers dans l'astronef, faire le décollage, user chaque modules de propulsion pour enfin finir le décollage et nous emmener vers votre nouveau monde (puis foncer vers l'infini et l'au delà, ou se mettre en orbite…) – pas encore claire cette métaphore]
• Thématiques : attention, votre projet fera forcément émerger plusieurs thématiques dans l’imaginaire de l’audience. L’audience les relèvera plus ou moins selon sa sensibilité mais peut également bloquer sur une question/débat qui n’était pas votre intention ou pire, être rebuté par ces thèmes et passer à côté de ceux que vous visez. Il est donc important d’être conscient de ces thématiques et de les lister. Vos choix de design permettrons d’éliminer certaines thématiques et d’en mettre en valeurs d’autres. Exemple, le collier de Dog&Bone fonctionne en bluetooth pour éviter un faux débat sur les ondes du téléphone et les maltraitances faites aux animaux.
• Quotidien : ne pas oublier de décrire le quotidien, les habitudes, l’expérience, les sentiments des utilisateurs de votre monde – ça donne corps à votre histoire, un autre moyen de la rendre crédible.
• Degré d’altération : l’écart que vous faites avec le monde actuel est à maitriser – il peut être grand ou très léger et avoir des répercussions fines et pertinentes, éviter la caricature, l’humour burlesque ou la dystopie totale.
• Balance : trop familier et votre projet ne suscitera aucunes réflexions, trop étrange et il sera impossible de s’y identifier (ou il rebutera carrément). Il vous faut équilibrer une balance entre les deux (décliné dans l’histoire, l’usager, les matériaux, l’esthétique, les codes visuels voir même les médias utilisés pour communiquer le projet). Exemple de Dog&Bone, collier en cuir + perforations semblables à celles d’un interphone + usage existant de parler à son chien = familier / led verte et micro sur le collier + téléphoner au travers de son chien = non-familier.

Diagram of the bridging technique observed in the students work (improved and structured) when presenting their idea.
They might consider telling the story backward or finding ways to make it accessible by various points of entries (exhibition context of encountering the work)
Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 16.45.25

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Course on design fiction 2014, how to switch to fiction?

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Last year when I gave my course it was really hard to switch these designers’s mind to the fiction mode. This time we worked with a professional writer that helped us with righting routines. Here is the notes I took.

List of exercises I propose.

1. GENERATING ALTERNATIVES BY DESIGN

1.1 FIRST STEP – ATLER THE  CURRENT WORLD
• List of tools (cars) to than can be used to stimulate designers

• “Cadavre exquis”: everybody list 3 of each items, then we mix all together
Place(city, place…) + Moment(epoque, hour, duration, situation…) + Object(tool, accessory, decoration…) + Person(user, spectator…) + Action(user need, user expectation, aim…)
Lieu(ville, emplacement, posture…) + Moment(époque, heure, durée, situation…) + Objet(outil, accessoire, décor…) + Personne(usager(s), spectateur(s)…) + Action(besoin, attentes utilisateur, objectif…)
• Fiction writing techniques:
– Choose a word/topic
– List related words (brainstorming)
– Regroup them in 2 categories: “Abstract/idea” and “Concrete/Material” (e.g. Word=The Escape, Abstract=To hide, Concrete=A cat)
– Combine/un-match words from Idea+Material to make accident and generate new ideas around the original concept.
– Write “what if” questions based on the combinations.
Is this more relevant to do this using existing usages or elements of a SOTA on a specific topic, to be more design driven.
• Activity n°1 – What If Finder – 30 min / keep 3 ideas to present in 3 x 30sec
– Gather matter on your topic (SOTA), list a series of facts about current state of things
– You can formulate these facts using “Why” formulas, questioning current paradigms with you own sensibility
– Choose to change one element in that list. If it helps, think of these transformations as mathematic operations: invert, mix, rotate, translate, subtract/add, diminish/augment.
– Formulate a series of “What if” questions
– After the activity, it is good to take the time to compare the “what if” to more material (futurology diagram for instance) and especially sci-fi stories that often already covered part of your “What if”
• Activity n°1 bis (optional) – Brief maker – 2×30 min, present 3x1min
– Let’s list what composes a design brief
– Now fill the categories on post-it notes with your matter (brainstorming)
– Select 3 briefs (3 packs/lines of post-it)
– Choose a random element from the previous pos-it list and change one element in each brief
– Produce 3 “What if” corresponding to the brief and present them
• Activity n°2 – Exploring consequences – 30 min, present 3x1min
– Select one “What if”, consider it as a grain of sand in the current system.
– List all consequences you can think of
– If it helps you, explore these categories (personal, interpersonal, professional, associative, institutional, commercial, infrastructure, geography, demography, housing, social, etc.)
– Gather them in themes/problematics
– Describe 3 consequences: 1 desirable, 1 not-desirable, 1 anecdotic.
• Exercise – Ethno of the furur
– In order to avoid naive replies,0 describe user reactions to these 3 consequences (like an ethno-anthropologist immersed in your alternative world). Describe user everyday life, feelings, habits, archetypal objects. This give more body to your story.
– Feel free to deploy the consequences of your sand grain many times, in many levels of depth (sometimes more and more anecdotical).
– Feel free to list user proofs of adoption (vocabulary, names, expression, gestures…), miss-approriation, strategies for avoiding, new forms of crimes (hacking, black market, pirating, porno, bugs, etc.) – remind that frictions and dystopia is often easier but less subtile

 

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