Adventures in Smartsurfaces

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the end? December 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelboswell @ 8:05 pm

I just sent an email to my team today, which read:

Hey team,

I just wanted to say that I sincerely enjoyed working with each and every one of you during this class, and in a lot of ways I’m sad it’s over (though I did enjoy sleeping last night). I sort of wish that we hadn’t ended on the note we did yesterday, which I felt was sort of anti-climactic considering the amount of work that went into our project. I can only hope that our professors ‘get it’. I don’t know about you guys, but I thought everything would come to a close in a much more profound way, but I think we were all too tired to be profound yesterday πŸ˜› What I suggest is that we get together once more, time permitting, just for fun this time. Bar night with shirly temples? Potluck or drinks and snacks at my house? I think our group dynamic fell apart a bit this week, and I hope we can all breathe a sigh of relief that it is over and shake hands for a job well done.

Any thoughts? I was thinking maybe monday or tuesday night if everyone is free?

again, thanks for a great semester πŸ™‚

Rachel

I think this really sums up how I feel about this class, which did and did not come to a close for me yesterday. I never thought about this class as a means to an end product, in which case I might have been sorely disappointed. Simon did not work, but he made me work, hard. I only wish our critique had been more about us than it was about him.

My favorite memories of this project are of figuring out angles with Marc and Lindsey, stripping wires and watching movies with Damien, drilling holes, etc. Basically all the menial tasks that Marc suggested were perhaps not the best ways to use our brains. These are my favorite memories not because of what I was doing necessarily, but because of the people that were around me.

I have been struggling as of late with what exactly I want to do, what my mind and body enjoy doing, what challenges me in a good way, and what will make me happy. I still don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I do know that I have a need to be surrounded by people that are doing something, thinking something and enjoying it. I feed off of the energy of others, so much so that I find it difficult to get anything done, or even move, if I’m not working on something with someone else. I need team projects, I like them, team dynamics and all, because I feel part of something bigger and better than what I can do alone.

I’m going to say that this is a basic human need. We are social beings, and perhaps I feel it more than others because I have thought about what happiness is and how I can get there extensively. In John Thakara’s book In the Bubble, he describes an ideal society “in which well-being is based on less stuff and more people”. This class and this book, among others, have drastically changed the way I think about myself as an artist and as a designer.

I thought I wanted to be a cut-and-dry industrial designer. I thought that would get me somewhere, so to speak. I was going to make furniture and useful things. But things isn’t where it’s at for me anymore. I want to make relationships, connections and happiness. This is not to say that I am throwing art and design out the window. On the contrary, I am going to use those things to try to create environments, products and services that bring people closer together, connect them to their environments, and synch the natural rhythms of the world with our currently disconnected and isolated conception of society.

Simon was not the end, he was a means to an end, an end that is far, far off in the distance. I think it was said at some point yesterday that perhaps time was wasted on Simon when we could have been making something much more important that, for example, started someone’s heart. I totally disagree with the notion that happiness is a trivial goal. I think it is possibly one of the most important issues that we as humans face at this point in time. If you restart the heart of a miserable bastard, he will still be a miserable bastard.

Unhappiness springs from isolation, desperation, disconnection, and a myriad of other factors. If one feels connected, supported and necessary, even if is a connection with the natural world rather than with people, the likelihood that that person will be happy is greater. Give a lonely person lots of super-sweet technology and the most exquisite furniture on earth and he will still be lonely. We can never have everything unless we have each other.

I of course have much more to say about Simon and the last stages of construction and installation, but I wanted to get all of this out there while it was on my mind. SmartSurfaces was a great class, and I hope there are more like it at Michigan in the future. Thanks to our professors for their extra time and effort, I know it Β can only get better from here πŸ™‚

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