Week 1: Good Starts / by Valzorra

After completing most of the work on the online portfolio and website, I was all ready and prepared for an intense session of idea generation that Friday. We began the day with the Good Start/Bad Start Workshop, which I found quite useful overall as it gave me a good outline of the way I could go about coming up with my starting points. Due to our proximity to each other within the studio, Richard and I teamed up for the first part of the session and started answering the questions Adam had asked us. Below I’ve listed the six questions and the answers I gave to them at the time as well as an image of our work with Richard.

  1. What makes you laugh?

    • Funny Cats, Comedy Shows, Puns, Good Company, Memes, “Space Arms“, “Sounds Like a You Problem“

  2. What makes you cry?

    • Burnout, Sleeping For About Two Hours Weeks on End, Lack of Confidence, Animal Cruelty, Abuse, Bullying, Destruction, Myself

  3. What gets you excited?

    • Great Artwork, New Music Albums, Releasing/Completing a Game, New Video Games, Projects To Work On, New Art Books, Design Work

  4. What gets you angry?

    • Late Trains, Ungrateful People, Injustice, Arrogance, Abuse, Destruction, General Rudeness, Ignorance

  5. What stimulates you intellectually?

    • Visual Culture, Tough Design Problems, Poetry Analysis, Challenges, Mathematics and Coding, Abstract Art, Projects to Work On, M.C. Escher

  6. What interests you?

    • Animation, Art, Poetry, 3D Modelling, Card Games, Innovation, Technology, Geometry, 3D Printing, Data Visualisation, Coding, Design Thinking, Video Games

The six sheets Richard and I crafted together.

The six sheets Richard and I crafted together.

After everyone had set up their posters on the walls, the room was filled with hundreds of staring points to get inspired from and to consider looking into. I quite enjoyed walking around and taking a look at what everyone had come up with, because they gave me a few staring points and ideas I hadn’t instantly considered. Some of those topics include irregularities, interior design, mental health, virtual reality, uncertainty, existentialism, absurdism, space, anatomy, photography, cinematography, manipulation, loneliness, and loss. Once I had taken a good look at everyone’s posters and after some guidance from Adam on what types of topics are likely to lead to exciting research avenues, I realised that a lot of the answers I had given to the questions above would not be worth researching any further as they would likely lead to dead ends. For example, some of my answers such as Injustice or Abstract Art have a a series of different interpretations and ways to be explored because of their generality and people’s different takes on them. Whereas as Funny Cats do indeed make me laugh, they are quite unlikely to lead to anything much more productive than that. That’s why when Adam asked us to pick a few topics and analyse them further, I had a much better idea of what is likely to be an exciting theme to look into.

Based on that knowledge and on a few conversations with Sam C. and Emily, I decided to look further into the Virtual Reality, Mental Health, and Anatomy. After that, I narrowed down the topics further and decided to analyse Virtual Reality in the most detail on that day. Virtual Reality has always been an exciting concept to me as it holds the potential to transport the viewer into a different space. It is the most successful tool for immersion, and manages to convincingly occupy the senses of sight and sound. This also begs the question of what human perception is, and how easy that is to manipulate, which can be an exciting research topic by itself. Below I have attached notes and questions I explored during the session on all topics, especially VR, which was my primary focus from the entire session.

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Questions and analysis of the three topics I focused on.

Questions and analysis of the three topics I focused on.

A deeper dive into VR by answering the questions Adam recommended within the session.

A deeper dive into VR by answering the questions Adam recommended within the session.

While answering the questions, I was sure to take out some of the key themes and ideas that came out of my answers. Those by themselves can be new starting points.

While answering the questions, I was sure to take out some of the key themes and ideas that came out of my answers. Those by themselves can be new starting points.

After narrowing down my research and thought process onto VR and considering what makes VR exciting, what some opportunities within the field are, and how Leonardo da Vinci might view VR, it was time to take my research and thinking into a more visual format. It was at this point in the day that we went out to the park close to WSA in order to take some photos of objects and events that represented our theme. I was initially a bit confused about how to represent Virtual Reality within the real world, however, the moment I went outside, I realised that reflections are a form of virtual reality. When one deconstructs the term, virtual reality simply means something that’s quite close to reality, but not quite the same as it. A reflection is the mirrored image of reality, but not quite what is real, it’s a representation. Additionally, reflection can also be a very exciting topic to do research on as it has been a significant part of multiple cultures throughout history. Not only that, but there are a series of myths about mirrors and the reflected image. Below I have posted the photos I ended up taking, most of which are significantly related to reflection and reflection as a form of virtual reality.

Once we were back in the studios, we carried on with our visual research, this time by drawing a series of panels to represent the theme. I found this exercise a bit easier than finding imagery related to VR outside, as it allowed to me to represent objects and actions that were not directly in front of me. In the first of my six panels, I decided to cover a more indirect aspect of VR, which would be what you see on the inside of kaleidoscopes, which is a form of primitive VR technology. The second panel represented the inside of a modern VR Headset, which the third was dedicated to a handled accessory for the HTC Vive. My fourth panel attempted to visualise a 3D environment that may be associated with VR, the firth one showed someone using a VR headset, and the last panel referred to the famous roller coaster VR Experience. After the poster was all ready and up on the wall, I was really surprised to discover that the images I had drawn did not immediately scream VR to those that took a look at it. The themes that they wrote down on my poster were Patterns, Geometry, and Music, which were all fantastic themes I hadn’t really considered at that point and will be sure to include in my list of starting points.

The poster I created with the notes from course mates that took a look at it.

The poster I created with the notes from course mates that took a look at it.

The wall with everyone’s posters and notes, which was quite inspirational.

The wall with everyone’s posters and notes, which was quite inspirational.

Thoughts and Reflection

Overall, I thought the session on Friday was rather useful for getting a series of starting points and things to consider looking into. I especially enjoyed the fact that through the collaborative process and looking at what my course mates had come up with, I got a bunch of ideas of potential research avenues myself. I was gained a much better understanding of the types of staring points that might be worth looking into, as they need to be quite general and abstract, and not too specific. Additionally, a good topic will also have a series of different points of view and ways that it could be explored. I also found the questions Adam presented us with quite useful as they gave me a way to focus my thoughts and come up with starting points based on a specific prompt, as otherwise I was feeling a little lost. I was also quite happy to go through the process of starting out with dozens of research points and then narrowing them down to one, which was Virtual Reality in my case. It was a great miniature version of the process we would have to go through over the first three weeks of the semester and it provided me with a way I could approach the process if I am ever feeling stuck. In addition to the workshop itself, I also found the Action Plan quite useful as it outlined some fantastic ways to do further research once the four key topics have been decided on. At this stage I had a very clear idea of how to approach the process, what sort of research needed to be done, and how to go about doing. All in all, I was ready to begin the process of picking my four starting points.