Early Self Inclined Motivations
In my research question - how can materiality enhance the end user experience - two terms jumped to my attention immediately.
1) Materiality - 'What is real?', in essence, encapsulates a serious debate in a wider philosophical context. It may be a simpler affair in search for logic when considering products of nature, we are most capable if fact, of describing the material components of all we come into contact with. For example, microscopes illuminate the size of life thus providing exposition (or demystification) – or further still – electron microscopes. Our material interaction with the leaf for example, we can trace the veins of light green with our eyes, rotate the leaf to any axis we please – and see how the light chooses to reflect, also we spot new textures visibly appear when holding the leaf overhead, in the light from the sun. The electron microscope foregoes such superlatives. The electromagnetic spectrum is far reaching beyond our comprehension (the largest radio wave peaks excide the height of Jupiter), the electromagnetic microscope can see the invisible – or more accurately – material smaller in diameter of light protons themselves. The scientists behind the optics (optics, perhaps underselling such an engineering feat), see a representation of form, that simply cannot be seen, yet it’s existence warrants the continuing strive to see further scientifically. What is happening? Perhaps we, as such bright curious beings find it impossible to be happy with simply holding the leaf into the sun. Of course, we know what the green is, what the cells do... It’s just the idea of arriving to a solution that answers a much more deeply personal connected question, of why?
Here’s the twist!
Apply such musings of material philosophy to, well – material artefacts, or madethings, then the endless cycle of arriving at endless whys?That begins to end, interestingly. If I were to construct an origami crane, and handed to another student, then they could begin the process of evaluation by carefully unfolding my creation. Each intricate fold is traceable back to the creator, the recipient of the paper gift, could begin to question the folds, and such evaluation could lead to truths. “This is folded, to make the shape of a beak’. Why? Well, I wanted it to look like a beak of course.
Many say that design is an extension of human interaction, and that good design embodies good traits in humanity. For the purpose of maintaining the speculative mind-set needed to engage with such mythical abstract concepts – it becomes crucial to pester the materiality of art, music and writings.
The wonderful, sympathetically designed GYENNO, a spoon designed for those who have life debilitating tremors/Parkinson’s disease, allows user to take part normally in the act of eating. Despite violent shaking, the design of the GYENNO handle soaks in the constant shaking. You may call this a good example of a designed artefact embodying good human traits. It is an expression of sympathy; a rebellion of suffering.
Place the GYENNO under the electron microscope, yes you can see all the atoms and atomic structure, and no, still no answer as to why they appear in such a fashion. But – in another thrilling twist – we have no businesses contemplating such speculation (UNLIKE the analysis of the leaf) someone made the spoon, they had a reason or multiple inclinations. The material nature of the object on a molecular scale is suddenly irrelevant.
The answer leaps at us when we see the practical use of the artefact and the goodness it provides.