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Midterm notes (Revised 1st draft thesis pitch)

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Clearly articulated concept I'm creating a physical installation that produces an experience of misunderstanding.

By encountering confusion, discomfort or conflict, I want my audience to acknowledge the inevitability of misunderstanding and to rethink the role of it in our day-to-day communication. Furthermore, this experience aims to foster a greater inter-personal and cross-cultural understanding and empathy. Your research so far

Motivated by a desire to create positive change in the world through the vehicles of compassion and empathy, I draw from my own experiences within a cross-cultural communications context. As an international student, I was confronted with culturally specific perceptions and the ways in which differing perceptions can create various forms of disconnect. I want to create a work which speaks to the inevitability of misperception and the impact of culturally specific perception which leads to confusion, conflict, or discomfort. I want to reveal how perception can be widened to achieve common understanding which creates greater cross-cultural and interpersonal empathy. I started from finding a way to create a universal empathy, and tried to research on nonverbal communication as is transcends language thus crosses 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. Prototypes For my first take on prototyping, my approach was to keep the layout and overall style of a Chinese wall slogan, and used graphical elements as content. By using this “language” that everyone understands, or in another way no one understands, I want to examine the possibility of associating nonverbal information with past experience and learnt knowledge. This approach both contrasts and transforms between verbal and nonverbal communication, and gives back the power to the viewer for open interpretations.

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. As a body part for speaking and sending information, a beak is a clear representation for communication. And because the bird language spoken by a beak isn’t commonly understood by humans, it also implies misunderstanding.

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.

My latest prototype uses the moon as a universally recognizable but also culturally specific icon to create a conversation. By playing with light, material and spacial properties, I created a duality in the characteristics of the moons and a gesture of reconciliation.

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 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 address more on interpersonal relationship rather than individual visual perceptions. I will also keep 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. Hopefully I will use my Light-Space Art class as a chance to explore the physical installation and keep perfecting the concept and the form.

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