Field summaryPosted: May 8, 2015
My first field module was interaction design, with our brief being to design an object with a computing element which you interact with without a screen. I found this to be a really interesting brief, although I was inexperienced with creating anything with computing functions I was looking forward to learning these skills. It quickly became evident that the focus of the exercise was much more focused on the design aspect and making a prototype, rather than a finished functional item. This gave me an interesting insight into the design process in terms of a product designer, looking at the target market, creating a video demonstrating it’s function, and looking at methods that can be used to trick a person into thinking that a prototype is fully functional when in fact it is being controlled manually behind the scenes. The video element especially was something I really enjoyed, and I found it really exciting to be able to go out and film my own video of a product and then sit and edit it together. I felt that I really gained a valuable skill that I wouldn’t have otherwise explored thanks to this project, and I think if I were to film a video again I would be far more confident and have a clearer idea of what I am doing. I also plan to go back and re edit my video, as I feel the original one was far longer than is necessary because I was under the impression the video had to be exactly 2:30 seconds long and so spent a lot of time laboriously making it fit that time, only to find that the time constraint was far looser. For my presentation at the end of the project, I was one of the only people in the group to have any form of physical prototype, let alone working, which it was by means of taking a mechanism out of a toy I already owned but which roughly demonstrated the function I wanted it to have. I feel like this has possibly caused me to have set myself a harder task in carrying the project forward, as most people will have just gone on to make a prototype whereas I now have to develop upon that prototype I have already made. My original plans for the project were quite ambitious, having internet connectivity, touch sensors, heaters, and all manner of things, despite having no experience in the area of arduino or knowing what components I would have to purchase. However, looking at things now and with the time I have left for the project, it is looking like I am going to have to narrow my goals and simplify it to just responding to touch with sound, which I feel is admirable enough in itself if I can achieve it. One of my main issues with this is not having the on hand technical tutoring to support me with my ambitious ideas, and I’ve found arduino a very difficult area to just jump into without first understanding the basics of components and coding.
Internet of things:
My second field project was the internet of things, which I was very much looking forward to as it is one of my tutor’s (Ingrid Murphy) main passions in her work, and I had heard a lot about it’s possibilities and was again interested at learning how to bring more technical computing skills into my work and hoping this subject would teach me them. However, unfortunately Ingrid herself had been booked very little time for tutoring this subject, and the majority of the tutoring was done by two different tutors, and I personally found very little of what they spoke about to be directly related to “The Internet of Things”. At no point during the project were we ever pushed into formulating ideas for an actual project, and instead it was largely us being shown different technologies such as 3D scanning and printing, Augmented Reality etc, all of which I had already been shown as a Maker student. Because of this, it wasn’t really an eye opening experience to a whole new world of possibilities for me, and even so I feel like a process isn’t a very good starting point for a project? In my opinion a process should be decided upon after having an idea, and while having a wide knowledge base affords you a better choice in options to best express your ideas, and may allow you to think in directions you wouldn’t have otherwise, I don’t think it’s good enough to just say “I’m going to do a project on 3D printing”. Because of having no clear end point to work towards, as well as the fact we had been shown little to no examples (other than by Ingrid) of these technologies and ideas being actually integrated into artistic works, I found it extremely difficult to come up with any ideas for this project at all as I simply had no context in which to work within. There was a strong focus on coding by the main tutor, however again having no end point to work towards I struggled to know what I was aiming to achieve with the coding and it all seemed like a difficult and fruitless effort. The Raspberry Pi was also something that was emphasised a lot, which was something I had heard of but had no personal experience with, and again not knowing what I could possibly purpose it for it seemed like a waste of time and money to purchase one, but then much of the teaching became redundant because it was based around programming a Raspberry Pi.
In all, while I think the idea of field is an admirable one and one that has the potential to work well, I feel like the execution on the whole is poor and uneven. There seems to be a great disparity between projects, with some having a very high workload and others having very little, some needing physical outcomes and others resulting only in an idea or a group experience. I think what I found most difficult about the field experience was the fact it was spaced out over many weeks, on a Tuesday and Thursday in the middle of the week. While I understand that we are meant to be simultaneously working on our Subject work over this time, I found that it was really impossible to be putting any real focus into more than one project at once. The modules either left me with no spare time at all as I was having to work on my field work over the rest of the week as I was with the Interaction Design project, or then having the opposite with the Internet of Things where I had no work to be getting on with, but the week was broken up so that I couldn’t get into the flow of focusing on my Subject work. I would much prefer if the project was given a dedicated block of time, say 3-4 weeks of time to be solely focused on the field project at hand with tutors available at least 3 out of 5 week days with work to be getting on with on the days without tutor contact. Not only this but I would like a more balanced standard of field subjects to choose from, each with roughly the same amount of work being asked for it so that everyone is working under the same time constraints and producing the same degree of work. I also struggle with the concept of having to be developing our final presentation for our field subject into an ongoing and improved project, as once you begin working seriously on Subject I then find that there is very little time to be revisiting field, and it is too much to be juggling all at once. If I had the choice, field would be condensed into entirely the first term, with each field module being self contained with a finished item being presented at the end of it. This then allows the ideas and experiences from field flow into the subject work more organically, as currently I’ve found field to be more of an interruption and an obstacle to my Subject work, as by the point you get to seriously start working on your Subject in the second term you have already at least settled on an idea which is then difficult to stray away from and incorporate elements of Field into .