U10 #3 – Manifesto Performances

On Tuesday we had our ‘briefing’ session for the last set brief, for which I chose the Manifesto brief by Paulus. We had to prepare a performance in the morning that represented the ideas of what we want our design and process to be like as well as our body of work. I chose the brief in expectation to get a clearer view of what it is that i am after and to be able to look back later and see if I am still keeping the guidelines that I set myself in the beginning of 2014. However I did not realise that we had to prepare a performance for the briefing session until two days before the briefing. Until then I had only been thinking about the rules and guidelines and ways I am working, but this made me think, reflect, research and analyse myself and other manifestos before the project had even officially started. What I then also realised was my projects sort of lead from one to another, given my interest in visual perception, multisensory experience, interaction from the dissertation as well as the value of the image and how it can change and make the observer aware of the process of seeing from my self–initiated project, and seem sort of similar. From the self–initiated brief that I started before the Manifesto I wanted to explore the interaction between the design and the user more to create self–reflection and awareness of the environment.

Jar of Thoughts

Jar of Questions

For the performance I prepared a ‘Jar of Questions’. Derived from the keywords and ideals that I set myself, I wanted to create something that would engage the user and make the user think and reflect and therefore transformed chosen keywords into questions. The questions, rolled up, are numbered to 20, but some of them go over 20 just to create a bit confusion and further questioning. They aim to trigger self–reflection and thoughts about what is happening within and around you. I put a bit of ground coffee into the jar before putting the questions to make the experience more multisensory as coffee seems to have a reviving reaction at least for me and reminds me of the start of a new day or having a cup of coffee in nice company.
On the performance day itself, I decided to do a passive rather than active performance. So when it was my turn to present (and be filmed at the same time), I simply handed the opened jar to the other students, the audience, and let them take one question each. While they looked dazzled when they first looked at their question and just started shouting the answers out into the air, Paulus proposed them to read their question to the neighbour and out loud for everyone to hear. While the first one, Chloe had an empty piece of paper (I left a few empty to allow for free thinking and suggesting their own question) and therefore had a weird beginning, the further the questions went the more interaction and communication there was between everyone. It was fun to see how the crowd started chatting and laughing, replying jokingly or really reflecting before replying. The question that I added most was from my previous project: ‘Did you find what you are looking for?’, but I also added questions in other languages to make people aware of other forms of communication, language and intrigue, and those were particularly entertaining. Overall I am happy of how the ‘performance’ turned out, especially since I wasn’t expecting this at all.

In the afternoon session, we were divided into smaller groups to re–interpret the manifestos that we had heard this morning in one hour and a half. In our group we looked back at each one’s presentation to capture the keywords that we kept from them and that affected us, which we then tried turning into a story but due to lack of time it ended up being a hang–man game where the keyword of each person’s manifesto was to be guessed.

The whole day was very entertaining, lively, active and nice as a different way of presenting and briefing and I left the table happy, only realising at home how tiresome the workshop had actually been. My project had apparently left the impression of triggering or even forcing social interaction between people, unconventional conversation, or even the question to me whether I had this jar for a longer time and if I use it every night to reflect on my day. The name of ‘jar of questions’ also seemed to stuck with people, and when given to outside people separately, the picked question somehow appears to create more self–reflection rather than outside communication, which was what I was aiming at during the design. Now it is time to try and find time between the finalisation meetings for the degree show identity which we are going to present on Monday to ten people from Central Saint Martins Marketing.

What was also pointed out at the end of the day, beside everyone’s enthusiastic motivation during the whole day, was the fact that this could actually happen as a briefing, a presentation made from performances and with numerous eclectic and inventive solutions varying from staged Moon landing, sky watching, test making, boxing experience, monologues or other interpretations to unicorns. Welcome to CSM!

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