Week 1 Journal (2nd March - 9th March)
On Thursday in the lecture, I was introduced to the concepts of design thinking and user experience (UX) design, which could be described as designing something with the end user in mind. In class, we used a practical exercise with Canva to experiment with creating digital objects / artifacts around the Powerhouse Museum's Recollect exhibition.
I was also encouraged to start this journal. I have split it into five (5) sections for each week, to help with structuring my thoughts. The sections are Concepts, Feelings, Resources, Tools, and Actions.
I felt fairly nervous about the themed portfolio assessment piece, as I don't have previous design experience. I found a lot of the language in the lecture was completely new to me, and was occasionally confused.
During the exercise, I felt as if I wasn't yet familiar enough with the problem (participation in recollect) to come up with an answer (engaging digital objects). I thought about trying to personalise the theme of the collection in a few different ways, including the progress (or lack thereof) in women's healthcare; contraception, abortions, and hysteria. I pictured a 1920s speculum. I theorised that adapting the theme to my personal experiences would inspire me to create more relevant and honest content.
I spent a large portion of the class time examining old, copyright-free medical images on Flickr Commons in addition to the images provided by the client. Here are three examples of images I found, collected toward an aesthetic focus on past and progress:
These images are scans of old medical textbooks. I especially liked the old, papery feel of them contrasting with the clean white background of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Watched Design & Thinking documentary on Youtube. Got about three-quarters through it before switching it off -- I felt like there were some good ideas but it was mostly self-congratulatory rubbish. I made special note of one of the subjects who had several tactics to help 'shake up' ideas in a room. The tactic I want to take with me into this project (and maybe others) is asking everyone to get up and sit in a different chair during a session.
I struggled with the awkward sizing options and other limitations of Canva. This is because my experiences with Photoshop have created certain expectations of what I am able to manipulate, and how. I eventually switched back to Photoshop to work on a composite image based on the ribcage pictured above.
I found it moderately difficult to connect with the tool and theme in the first workshop, but produced an object and posted it onto Twitter. Here is a copy:
The problem(s) with this object are the text on the left is hard to read when it is placed in a Twitter feed context, and does not adequately balance the brighter colour on the right. It also lacks a strong emotional throughline to its subject, although could be taken as part of a 'teaser' campaign. It feels directionless / opaque in its intent.
The positive aspect(s) of this object are that it clearly links back to the Recollect exhibition and, more subtly, the Powerhouse Museum. An attempt at observing the rule of thirds has been made.
I proposed a new theme that related to my volunteer work as a committee member of Victoria University Pride, the peak representative for students at the university who identify as LGBTQIA+. We had been discussing a campaign around all-gender bathrooms for a few months, with no tangible actions being put into place.
On Sunday 5th March, I received a response from unit coordinator Natasha Dwyer that my proposed change of portfolio theme was approved. Here is an excerpt from the email I sent that outlined some of the benefits and problems with the new theme:
- Design work used in an actual campaign with real client and stakeholders
- Subject matter & outcomes personally important (motivation to do well!)
- Subject matter too 'political'
- No formal brief at present
- Not sure what type of data will be available to visualise
I used social media to mobilise other members and run two brainstorming / community consultation sessions. The first ran from 12:30pm- 2pm on Saturday 4th March, and the second ran from 1pm-2pm on Monday 6th March.
The individuals consulted included Mikhaila Hargraves, Vice-President; Cameron McInnes, Gender Diverse Officer; Jaxson Benjamin, Education Officer; Jennifer Sultana and Hayley Philip, Volunteer Officers; Jason Lie, Secretary; and Eve Geyer, community member.
The results of these discussions highlighted two distinct emotional perspectives on the campaign and portfolio.
1. A neutral, logical and/or celebratory theme that included the current all-gender bathroom on Footscray Park campus and highlighted its benefits, an absence of negative incidents, and supported by direct action centred on the physical space of that bathroom.
2. An urgent call-to-action focused on preventing violence, highlighting the pressing issue of safety and the daily anxiety of transgender individuals using public bathrooms.
The second perspective had a much stronger emotional 'pull', and was recommended by both of the transgender individuals who were consulted. I think objects from this perspective are likely to be personal objects (as described in Simon 2010, p. 130) for transgender individuals only, and potentially provocative objects for others.
I have not decided how prominent I want either perspective to be, and how the target audience (currently loosely defined as 'Victoria University students' across age, location and sexuality) might most be compelled to support changes.
Next week's action will include drafting a brief for this new theme and choosing a prevalent emotional tone that will drive the design process.