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1st draft thesis pitch

Clearly articulated concept

I'm creating an experience of misunderstanding in order to explore how human misunderstands the world and each other. By encountering confusion, discomfort or conflict, I want my audience to acknowledge the inevitability of misunderstanding and to rethink of the role of misunderstanding in our day-to-day communication and perception.

Your research so far

My interest in misunderstanding partly comes from the implicit Chinese culture in which I was growing up. Direct expression of feeling can be awkward in East Asian culture, and we are so used to taking hints and reading between the lines. Even though sometimes communication could be inefficient, unclear or exhausting, we still appreciate this art of subtlety. Aside from my own cultural background, the recent world crises has also inspired me to think a lot. Understanding seems impossible to be achieved in front of crucial challenges. The world is both connected and divided more than ever before. Is communication failing? Is it really possible for people to really understand each other, especially across cultural borders?

I started from finding a way to create a universal empathy, and tried to research on nonverbal communication as is transcends language thus crosses some cultural barriers. Psychology and phenomenology have a lot to do with my topic. I'm trying to understand how people communicate, how is misunderstanding formed, and how our body perceives the world scientifically and intuitively.


In prototype 1 I transform verbal representation(slogan in Chinese) into graphical language, in order to explore the meaning of misunderstanding and the open interpretation created by nonverbal communication.

In the next prototype I was inspired by the 4 sides model of communication and borrowed a visual element from the metaphor "4 beaks and 4 ears" as a visual representation of communication. I created beak masks that look absurd but eye-catching. It's a more literal visual translation of communication/misunderstanding and I envisioned that I could use this metaphorical form and expand on that to make more powerful art, like what Nick Cave did in his Soundsuits.

(New prototype to be updated next week. Just put up a rough sketch here as placeholder.)

Where you are now

I've been doing a lot of readings on misunderstanding, nonverbal communication, phenomenology and perception. I want to study more on how our body perceive the world and learn from great artist(specifically those in light-space movement) of how to design an experience for sensation. I'm still trying to find a way to visualize and materialize the concept of misunderstanding and communication, and trying to make them address on interpersonal relationship rather than pure visual perceptions. I will also start making physical prototypes since I envision my final output to be a physical installation.

By the end of the semester, what are your goals?

I want to build a working prototype on site, whether the real site for display or one for testing. Either full size or in a smaller scale, I want this prototype to be ready for "user testing" and gather some feedback from real audience. I need to decide the site at least by November, and keep testing the mockups from next week. I have another class Light Space Art, and hopefully I will use that class as a chance to explore the physical installation and keep perfecting the concept and the form.

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