A new Dimension!

Being a part of the college workshop after a much chaotic, busy and workaholic routine, I felt refreshed and I realized that all of a sudden my outlook towards what I was a part of has changed. While being a part of the seminar in which Tahireh displayed her works in the form of a presentation, I could feel how happy I was. This happiness was not because I was a little relaxed but this happiness was due to a new dimension that was added to my practice that day. The one that I realized after being there.

 I joined work to extend my practice towards a more practical world because I was a little dissatisfied about the extent of practicality that was there in my earlier research project – What is a living room. I wanted to go beyond and see how practical my topic for developing a futuristic design of a residence was. I wanted to know the implications of the current design trends and thoughts followed by the architects and designers practically.

 In the next reflection I would probably talk more about my experience at work but for now that feeling of refreshment! I realized that being in a company, although the practical aspects have taken a toll but I was completely cut off from the thought process or design thinking aspect. Everything to me appeared very superficial. I had just two things in mind – either people really only care about making business or maybe I am too slow for generating ideas.

 Being a part of the Wednesday workshop on 24th July, 2013, I was blown off by the extent of thought process applied to produce the works that Tahirey had produced. It was for me inspirational – the way she simply caught hold of the electro magnet and ran behind it until she could come up with something. Instantly I realized that yes one needs time to come up with something innovative and it is not merely some minute’s affair.

Another thing that inspired me yet again were Albert Einstein’s words – “You have to stay with a problem for long to have a solution out of it”. Tahirey kept on repeating these words which definitely were true in its sense and were ringing in my head that I have heard these somewhere. I ultimately recalled where I have read it. The whole workshop was magical for me.

I could easily connect with the material that was given to us for producing an artwork. It was so colorful and mesmerizing. The task given to us of bringing out one of our memories to portray our own self made me think in this other direction as well – that design thinking is the most important aspect of developing anything innovative. The purest thing is produced when you think yourself. It occurred to me that only by thinking about my memories, the smallest of elements linked to my smallest of memories, and by staying with that one thing for long, I can produce marvelous ideas and works. Further, by staying with them longer, I can also come up with the ways of how to bring my idea alive and how to spread it across the world. This discovery was indeed blissful.

 I realized, that I no longer was thinking about why do I have to do this, what is it that I am going to gain from this workshop, it is nowhere related to my field my practicality or subjectivity. I was happy about this. I was simply taking in what was being given out there with a joyful attitude. I also confronted that this feeling was mainly because I was gleeful to have this amalgamation of acquiring practical knowledge outside and design thinking and development inside of Srishti.

I am happy because the decision that I took after a lot of thought and baffle proved out to be working for me. The act of reflecting on what I went through in the seminar and workshop is further adding up to my happiness because I am again realizing the extent and scope of work that has to be done by generating new ideas – limitless!

Research through Artistic Practices: An Insight!

‘Research through Artistic Practices’ – while working through this course, I was completely unaware of the fact that I was learning to research through certain artistic practices. I only thought of it as a medium of exploring different materials to find the interest of one’s own self. Frankly speaking, when our faculty, Rakhi, used to ask us to go beyond and explore, I hardly understood the exact meaning of what she was trying to tell until our last class, where bingo! I knew exactly what we were doing in this course. Suddenly each and every word that Rakhi spoke throughout the course, rang like a bell in my head, made absolute sense to me and I now know, what we had been doing could reach to a greater level but I then only felt, ‘I wish I could discover this earlier’.

Quite a few things happened in the last class and the week before, that suddenly triggered in me the idea behind Research through Artistic Practices.

First of all, I realized the importance of concept in any work. This was partly because of Rakhi’s teachings and partly because of a friend’s words that I came across while in a serious conversation with her. The line that I remember is, “Without a concept, your work would just add on to the heap of products in the market. A strong concept leads to form the identity of the product and the individual”.

Secondly, while discussing the text of Michel Foucault in class namely “What is an Author?, our discussion reached to a point where Rakhi was talking about tracing back the history of the works we were doing currently. She talked about researching through whatever has been done. While listening to her carefully, I gazed at her and suddenly my mind started wandering around and telling again and again, “Ok! It is fine that we know the history, it is good to discover how things have been worked on in the past and the extent to which the work has been carried forward. Ok! Fine it is that we research through all this. But…But…why do we need to look into the history at all?“…although now I was hearing Rakhi, my mind was simply occupied with this thought and spoke again and again…”Why is it that important? What if we do not see anything in the past? How did the first artists on earth start working without having anything in hand to look at?”

Now, after serious conflict between my listening and thinking muscles, I could not resist but asked this question to Rakhi – after all, why is it necessary at all to trace back history.

What Rakhi told me imbibed in me the importance of the artistic history in terms of tracing back its cultural importance and having an identity of the work itself.

A couple of Rakhi’s words galvanized me, “If I look at any piece of art and could link it to something that brings out the identity of it or shows something about its cultural background, only then I can term it as ‘work’ otherwise it just a hobby inspired activity“.

The last class of Research through Artistic Practices inspired me to work in a particular direction by giving in 100 per cent importance to it and by researching through the artworks and works that have been done until now.

Well, after this class, whatever I was developing in clay felt so dis-satisfactory. I had started working on a model of a chair that was designed by me in under graduation. I remember, when I told Rakhi what I was doing, she had asked me about the details of its history of research. That time, I couldn’t understand what exactly she was asking for. But now as I have understood it well, I have started researching on the extent of work done in clay in furniture and architecture architecture.

Although it feels pointless at the moment for developing that chair, but I have decide that I will complete it and after my research, go on developing a different work with an all new insight. This would instill in me the sense of self-satisfaction and I will be able to spot the difference in the quality of work and the impression of it on my audience.

As I have worked in clay before elementarily, it was not very difficult for me to handle the material but what I came across now and found interesting was the freedom of expression through form with this material. Clay is the best material to express through form.

The stop motion animation film, ‘Food’ by Jan Svanmajer, shown to us during a class, redefined for me one, the extent of using clay as a form and two, conceptualization. 

I feel that I have learned a big lesson towards the end of this course which is actually beneficial.

 

Initial Clay exploration

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QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS…..an approach towards developing a new insight…!

When I started with this course, it was absolutely hazy for me to see the reasons for learning the methods of research.

I was not at all able to connect the reasons to our course. We soon got linked to a government school which was mainly for the students coming from the families below the poverty line. We visited the school a couple of times before we had to choose and finalize our research questions. I chose to research on “Relationships at School”. My research question was framed like this – “What kind of relationships are formed among the students and in between the students and the teachers at school?” I felt that researching relationships was important because it helps in knowing what helps a teacher or a student react in a particular way (negative or positive), how they work together, how they store or share things. All this leads to the formation of a better education system. Also, all this was important for me because I was carrying out this research with a thought of developing a space for carrying out various activities and studies at a school. an

Before going out to the school for observations, we ready the texts from Paulo Freire and Gandhi’s Nai Talim to have a better understanding of the scholl and its traditional way of working and the view points of the different writers.

Every week, we visited the school, met the children, spoke to them and made various observations with the help of our various senses. We observed with eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the brain.

We made the field notes for keeping the observations collectively. After we had a little understanding of the school and its curriculum, we further disaggregated our research questions into various fragments that would lead us to the answer of the main question. These were the sub questions.

We further simplified our research by building mind maps or affinity diagrams that exactly pointed towards those aspects of research that were important for getting the answers to the sub question.

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After coming to the main points of the main question, we built our research plan, which was a document that included the sub-questions, the number of interviews that were to be taken for carrying out our research, the focus groups that were to be performed for getting the answers indirectly from the people of the school.

When we had finally prepared our research plans, we went back to look at the works and studies that have already been performed on the chosen topics. I chose to read – Exploring the bias: Gender and Stereotyping in Secondary Schools by Elspeth Page and Jyothsna Jha, Attachment theory and the teacher-student relationship by Philip Riley and Social Life in School by Peter Blatchford for knowing what had already been said about the relationships at school at various levels.

We further made the interview guides for interviewing the teachers and the students on the key points. We recorded the interview and later prepared the transcripts of all the interviews that were taken for our better understanding of their idea and thoughts.

Finally, when we had all the data in hand – the field notes of various days, the interview transcripts, the readings and their specific points and the data of the focus groups, it was time to analyse the data. It was time to come up with the basic analysis and taking any one observation further so that it adds to the information on that topic.

I analyzed the data and concluded that “Although the students are very friendly among themselves at school, they tend to develop misunderstanding if confronted by their own friends against their wrong actions” and “The student-teacher bond, although formal is very strong but the generation gap between the students and the teachers at school adds to the ambiguity of understanding relations at school“.

I am still thinking about that small point that I can take further and make a statement which adds to the existing theories of relationships at school.

After completing the research, we put up an exhibition at the school where we displayed the key points of observations and conclusions of our research. The management and faculty appreciated our effort and were looking forward to the changes that could be made to improve the school that were shown in our research reports.

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By the end of the course,I was very much capable of answering my own question of ‘What is the importance of research methods and why this course’. I discovered that for carrying out any new discovery, or for building anything new, it is very important to know what has been done already and how do the people and the things around you behave.

The complete methodology of defining the topic and question of interest, then dis-aggregating it for better understanding, then observing the elements related to the sub-topics, reading and viewing existing material, talking and listening to the people’s point of view and finally analysing the data, leads to a new discovery. It struck to me that this is what I was looking forward to do further – to have my own new ideas and methods of design. The process has finally defined the approach to carry on my desire of innovation in design further.