Conversations, Death, and Mental Models
I’ve been sharing my thesis ideas, purpose statement and sketches with others. In conversation, critiques are given, insights gleaned, and connections made. These conversations shape my efforts, minimize the risk of creating irrelevant work, and have the benefit of strengthening the bonds between myself and those whom I engage with.
“Really, this project is about death.” —Paragini Amin
Until Amin’s observation, I thought of my thesis project strictly in terms of health and behavior. Since then, I’ve been thinking about death. I am careful to distinguish between aging and dying, because, although there is a connection, they are not interchangeable: how we experience aging and dying differs; how we treat them differs. I wonder: what conversations about death will be created? (If any?) How will users’ relationship to death and dying change? (If at all?)
During last week’s Intro: 3D Materials and Techniques workshop, I pulled faculty, Amit Pitaru, aside and described my project. He pointed out that because the system feedback isn’t instantaneous, the experience becomes paramount—how is the work presented? what am I inviting people to do? to view or interact? I’ve always thought of my system as something to be viewed, however, I wonder about inviting attendees, a week prior to the festival, to sync their Fitbits during Thesis Festival.
“Why tomatoes? Why not animals, or humans?” —Amit Pitaru
I love how evocative the tomato is. I think of the summer-time, running barefoot in the grass, backyard gardens, the smell of earth. I admire its power over us: the efforts we’ve expended to stock the produce sections of our grocery stores with red-ripe tomatoes, at the expense of nutrition and taste. As a design material, of all the fruits, the tomato is the easiest affected by ethylene gas.
These days, I keep two books beside me: the Talk to Me catalog and A Touch of Code: Interactive Installations and Experiences. As I thumb through the work featured in each, I’m am aware of a broad spectrum of “aesthetics of use”: aesthetics that, “through the interactivity made possible by computing, seeks a developing and more nuanced cooperation with the object.” (Dunne, 2008) This cooperation can invite a view of spectacle, or donning for use.
Cooper Smith had this to say: “Boxing [i.e. hermetically sealing devices] implies that [the work] is done […] in your case, the more transparency the better […]” Smith went onto describe how he appreciates the dots that he is able to connect when a device is transparent. I derive a similar joy. A similar transparency will be important to my system, so that, a viewer is able to understand, a gas source, is regulated by data, as to fill a chamber containing a tomato, affecting the tomato’s maturation process. In other words: I want the mental model to be clear.
- Dunne, Anthony. 2008. Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.