MAPPING TRANSITIONS & BORDER CROSSINGS

Idea Generation, Design Iterations, Prototyping, Peer critiques, Self Evaluation

THE ESSENCE OF THE PROJECT

What are transition spaces? What does it mean to cross a border? How can we capture the intellectual and emotional quality of such experiences? These questions are at the center of the three projects in this course, explored through a range of design and research methods including individual impressions, scientific, ethnographic and dialogue methods. We will focus on individual impressions and experiences of specific transitions as seen from multiple perspectives.​

IDEA GENERATION

  • Traveling - we noticed the cultural diversity of our group and wanted to map our personal experiences of immigration and travel. However, we didn’t choose this because it restrains our minds to a physical map - not much room for exploration because of instinctive cognitive association

  • The process of cooking - the flow of creating a dish (Stress levels or speed) or even difference in ingredients across cuisines.  Didn’t want to confine ourselves to the literal meaning of “cooking”. Since we wanted to convey an "experience" we decided everyone from the group must have personally experienced the transition to capture it aptly (I don't cook much)

  • From isolation to acculturation over time - once you get to know to a culture, how it opens up your mind. 

  • Languages - the transition over a lifetime to assimilation of languages and expanding realms of knowledge in this field. We decided 

  • The transition of mood/atmosphere when one listens to music 

  • The types of sleep, from stage 1 to REM sleep

During the idea generation process, we came together and brainstormed our mutual experiences that we all went through to find common ground - we wanted to visually depict an experience that derived from past experience in order to visually capture the full essence based on understanding. We quickly arrived at our final decision to depict acculturation once you understand a language- an important transition that we mutually faced at at least one point in our lives as foreigners to a country trying to fit in. I think the main reason for our quick decision was that we assumed the idea didn’t matter as much as the actual visual representations we would actually go on to make. 

PREPARATION FOR DAY 1

To prepare for the first critique, I created three drawings (2nd row). I used typeface to represent my personal experience in learning the language (e.g. repetition indicates confusion, thickness indicates frustration). In the second, the radial theme outward personified the expansion of knowledge through the assimilation of new languages. Finally, the starts from the inside (with the first language I learned) and then expanded outwards - with the content of the boxes indicating the language I learnt at each new stage. However, upon critique, some questions raised were: Is learning a language like a square box? How did I feel in the process? How did the languages overlap in the learning process? 

THE "AHA" MOMENT

1. After presenting our first round, me and another teammate realized we took the idea of “language” literally as opposed to conceptually. This made it harder to visually delineate the theme of transitions as it was taken at face value.  Instead of showing the transition of the language I learnt, I need to convey its abstraction - focus on how I felt or how the transition affected me/produced some sort of outcome.

 

2. The theme of “transition” wasn’t apparent. It was apparent to me once I explained it however, wasn’t directly conveyed through the art itself.

 

3. Another issue raised was how to maintain a sense of uniformity across group members. In order to solve this issue, we discussed as a group that we would pick a feature and iterate with that underlying mutual theme. In our case, the lines and connections was the end result of our transition as it was a symbolic representation of “Connectivity”.  

 

In order to go further in the project, I realized the importance of iteration and brainstorming. I came to these drawings without much thought and understanding of the task at hand. Watching the teacher critique others’ work in class helped me understand my scope for improvement. Hence, I decided to brainstorm, pick a few, and then iterate based on ideas and common themes I found best captured “transition and border crossing”. 

TYING THE THREE TOGETHER

The purpose of this meeting was to collaborate and identify an element of uniformity that could unite the individual pieces into one strong piece for the next critique. We noticed that a common theme was the lines, and decided to pick pieces from our drafts that incorporated these lines.

Collaboration with other teammates 

WHAT DID THE CLASS THINK?

My piece

Getting feedback from other members of the class

We found that getting feedback from the class was very useful. The overall feedback was positive. Aditya stated "I like the idea that learning a language opens up ideas." One important tip for improvement was "Show how individual languages are connected or how learning them allows for interconnectedness in the future." Right now, my piece leads into some ambiguous space however, it would be better to show how the languages open up to a sense of interconnectedness. Maybe instead, create a circular structure so that the lines connect sometime in the future. Likes the hierarchical nature moving from left to right - the 'transitional element' is apparent. That transition could be better depicted in the second drawing.​

WHY GO DIGITAL?

The literal transition of acculturation through language proficiency. Zooming into each individual piece reveals at the cognitive, interpersonal and intercultural transition that this literal transition allows for. On a more literal level, the lines signify connections and a linear transgression. The deeper meaning lies in what the lines connect and how they connect to show ones internal transition (depicting the neuro-plasticity of the brain) and external transition in the interpersonal relationships and new networks of communities built on a larger scale.

THE FINAL IDEA

A theme we mutually agreed on was depicting the literal transition of acculturation through language proficiency. Zooming into each individual piece reveals the cognitive, interpersonal and intercultural transition under the context of language assimilation. On a more literal level, the lines signify connections, either those manifested in relationships or in neural networks that are physically built in the learning process. The deeper meaning lies in what the lines connect and how they connect to show one's internal transition (depicting the neuro-plasticity of the brain) and external transition in the interpersonal relationships and new networks of communities built on a larger scale.

OK... BUT WHAT ABOUT MY PIECE?

Zoomed Out

My individual, final piece as several layers to it. From a farther lens, the lines and nodes model neural networks and, more specifically, the process of Long Term Potentiation, strengthening of synapses based on recent patterns of activity- a neural explanation of the mental assimilation when learning a new language (or concept in general). 

From Left to Right

The element of 'transition' naturally guides the reader from the left to right, by creating a singular isolated "source point" on the left that maps towards a larger network of lines and dots, delineating the state of isolation that I felt by being restricted to solely one language. As I progress into a deeper understanding of the language (Shown through the transition of writing basic greetings in that language itself), I begin to reach a new network consisting of an amalgamation of new languages, academic knowledge and empathy through experience. When I connect to a larger network and community (the radial connections) that tie in elements of education and experience (labeled around the graph). The reader's eyes are then guided inwards towards the central point where "Hello World" is stated, accentuating the start and end point- from start to finish of this transition.

The "Hello World"

The placement of this point is crucial. When we compare "English" to "Hello World", the distinction represents isolation vs. a sense of community, one sided knowledge vs. a multidimensional perspective, concrete vs. abstract thinking, and basic knowledge of a language vs. the ability to reach out to a wider networks of individuals.

Why is the central around "Hello World" less crowded?

The central area doesn't have set of densely interconnected set of lines- Initially, the lines conveyed the use of cognitive ability as a tool to understand language. However, as you transition, you learn to use language as a tool to connect to the world around you.

 

The words in the center

The meanings of those words are “love” “respect” “understanding” which all come, not only through understanding a language, but by immersing in the culture and understanding the other aspects (e.g. history, art, entertainment, etc). The terms transform from English to basic greetings in the language itself (Showing the baby steps of learning the basics of a language) that then transform into a network of information - passion for that languages allows human to put pieces together, connect with different aspects of a culture, and the individual nodes (the people) and eventually be able to understand a culture’s values and concepts through the lens of that culture (hence, written in that foreign language)

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