U10 #3 – What, Why and How.

My manifesto started out with a few main questions that were part of my first self–initiated brief experimentation with the communication between the work and the viewer which was ‘Did you find what you are looking for?’ as well as ‘What are you seeing?’ (the contrast between past and current tense aiming to create nearly a contradiction between the current action and the unchangeable past). The main part of my first self–initated brief was that I wanted to make the observer question what it is that they are looking at, the process of their sight and to create further questioning into themselves or with other people.

I then sat down to collect keywords that I collected as being important for myself in my practice and things that are important in my life. While I looked at different (design) manifestos (mainly from the Manifesto Project) before the briefing and in preparation for the performance, I continued collecting keywords. I call them keywords because I carry them around in my mind and they are triggers for specific thoughts, aims, comments and feelings that I know. They sort of compress what I feel that I want to say. With these keywords and in combination with the sight–questions I started writing further questions that relate to the keywords and what I feel is important around myself. All of these diverse questions that all somehow include how someone might feel, behave or live their life were then put into the ‘Jar of Questions’. A few examples of these questions are:

– Did you find what you are looking for? (repeated mostly, because it can create a moment of self–reflection for the readers and make them consider their actions more)
– Did you do something perfect today? (procrastination/making up excuses)
– Which window has your favourite view? (as an invitation to have a break, being aware in and of the environment and include the senses and perception)
– Wien verstees du net? (a few questions are in non–English to make the reader aware of outside cultures and languages)
– Whose birthday is next? (as a trigger to think about the people that are around you and care for them)
The questions were numbered onto /20, but continued over 20 as well because I wanted to push further questioning, although this would only have happened if a few questions were picked together, not isolated.

With these numerous questions in a jar smelling of coffee to have a refreshening smell with it, I went to the briefing not sure what/how to use them in an action that considered a crowd rather than isolated people. The tool for introspective self–reflection then turned into an outward forced communication tool. The questions written with a lot of thought behind them were transformed into awkward conversation–starters between the whole group with a lot of laughter as well as confusion and a bit of self–reflection depending on the different characters. As passive feedback (because we didn’t sit down in a round and talk about it, but created outcomes in groups instead) I was associated with the job ‘marriage counsellor’ and keywords for it were forced communication, prompts openness and little secrets while the jar of questions stayed in people’s heads.

From the briefing to the interim crit I did not have as much time as I would like to have had because of preparations for our degree show presentations while we were still in the run. I was stuck with the jar of questions as I considered it a somehow finished project (which, by itself it probably was, a tiny one) and didn’t know how to push it forward. So I went back a step and looked back at my keywords which I had also narrowed down for the performance in case I wanted/needed to say something. Using the keywords to re–identify the questions and in order to get me back on track with my project, I then added fitting paragraphs to questions that might help identify the subtle meanings of the questions and help reading between the lines of the collection. I then combined the paragraphs with the questions on small cards while compiling a long text at the same time with the paragraphs. I wanted these small cards to be like friendly reminders for myself or maybe other people of my values in design. When I presented these drafts for cards in the interim crit, the other students and Paulus did not agree with me wanting to keep them small little objects to carry around. They found the paragraphs which I added way too much useful for not being shouted out, especially because of the written brutal honesty of which I wasn’t aware and which probably only reflects my personal honesty and direct way (at least to the people that I know well, again we are going back to the personal communication issues that I have which becomes visible through this project more and more). It was during this crit that they started drifting to weird solutions and possible projections for this content. There were more obvious solutions like big posters. but also the suggestion to yell the manifesto into uni as it should be useful for every student at CSM, especially right before the degree show. Finding the posters less interesting and the yelling/shouting more (and with that I mean a lot lot lot more) difficult for myself and more unexpected coming from me, I decided to work towards that direction, continuing in the forced rail, but this time as in forced helping/listening/creating a positive impact in a negative environment that yelling/shouting often comes from. I re and overworked the paragraphs–text and went to the recording studios to start slow with the yelling and to see how I could interpret it in a spoken/soundbased way rather than a visual solution. I spent a good part of the friday in the studio argumenting, speaking, shouting and singing at an imaginary person that I am trying to help and giving advice for guidelines of how to work (now that I am writing this I don’t like the sound of it, seeming like pretentiously telling people how to live their lives as if I have all the solutions). While these paragraphs were originally written to work in separated circumstances, some of the transitions turn into awkward repetitions of terms. While shouting into the microphone, my words were accompanied with a lot of big articulation which I did not capture or document in any way though and I am now wondering if they need to be included. The recordings seem very desperate to me and I still am not comfortable with people listening to them as I don’t find the content brilliant or that useful to someone other than myself, which was confirmed by Rebecca said during our FYD meeting yesterday: ‘there are a lot of clichés’. But most of the people listening to it seem more interested in the layering and the contradicting aspect of advice through attacking rather than the content. I spent yesterday morning reflecting on my project and the more I look into it the less I feel comfortable talking or sharing it as it gets more and more personal and I feel like I am exposing myself even though a lot of listeners don’t know what I am connecting this with (or maybe not yet) I know that I do. I get the impression of needing to explain myself in order for someone to be able to understand the concept or aim of my statements and that I have to take a few selfish (design) decisions in this project.

Having an aim or direction is just so much more difficult out of an editorial graphic design environment into self–directed open projects. Even though the openness is probably more the problem.
I know that the content that I have for this Manifesto is relevant to myself. I am not sure if I have to make the content easily reachable, as I myself am not comfortable in talking about myself. I am always eager to help people out when they are stuck, however personal and communication boundaries from myself often keep me from giving advice, which reflects in the way I have presented the content. Yet I don’t know if this is a strong enough aim to justify my concept of layering and the need to interact and make a move to see (or hear) the advice, in a random order to create the effect of something unexpected like an oracle which can help you push your project further or into different directions. I think I am not taking the recording as a final outcome because it is too passive and I want it to be more interactive and involving the user, even though it does need an active and conscious listener in order to really listen to and understand the content. The aim of my project is creating something that needs attention and digging and getting involved by being consciously aware of your past, present and future actions to create an impact on a person’s design process and/or living conditions in an active, not passive way, if that can be an aim. Now I need to make this sentence shorter: am I aiming to create an experience that needs active investigation and leads to aware self–reflection of personal actions and moves?


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