A blog started in 2010 by designer Chris Thomas to document the process of his final year project in BA Design at Goldsmiths.
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Blasts from the Past
Category Archives: Filmings
So here is one of my final experiments, entitled “The Human Printer”. An earlier version can be seen here, where I split up sections of an image and had them drawn by 10 people to come together and complete a full print.
I decided to take the idea further and mimic more closely a printer works, dividing an image up into four colours and assigning a sort of colour layer for each one. Each participant would then be a pixel in my printer.
I made 12 stamps, each of which represented a certain size and colour of dot for its user to print. On the bottom of each stamp was a letter, which referred each person to specific points upon which to stamp and leave their mark.
The most difficult part of designing this process was choosing a suitable image to get 12 people to print.
Jimmy said to me, “it should be your face”. I said “why?” He said “because it should”.
Here’s how it went.
So I’m going to take five minutes out from intense last-week-or-so work to write a blog post. Why? Because I care about you, my loyal readers (hi mum).
So carrying on from this thing of getting people to come together for collaborative making of stuff, I was looking at the idea of using scripts, as a way of fragmenting a task amongst its “actors”. They do their bit, come together and make something. Basically. I decided to try it using sections of a visual, in this case the logo for our degree show.
I gave out these “scripts” to ten people, armed them with a sharpie marker, and thus the human printer was born.
Not bad, I reckon. Got a much more ambitious full colour version in the pipeline.
Watch this space.
So recently I’ve been making a bunch of these little films where I get some people to perform various everyday tasks – the difference being that they are forced to rely upon or co-operate with one another in order to achieve their goal.
One afternoon in the pub, Matt House suggested that he have his hair cut by a few people at once, for the sake of my project. A very noble gesture. And very brave, considering the beautiful, long flowing hair that he (used to) have.
We got three experienced (well, kind of) scissor-smiths in to do the job – Anisha, Jigna and Natalia. Once again, I filmed it and cut it down to make the viewing experience less arduous.
Were Matt’s precious long locks savagely ruined, or transformed into a wonderful new barnet? Theres only one way to find out.
There you go. A pretty stylish haircut I’d say. Not sure what to say about this one, it was just a quick video done one morning when I didn’t have too much else to do. I didn’t really design anything there. Maybe need to stop
I’m not sure if I’d personally like the three-barber experience because I hate getting my hair cut. But if you don’t mind a little bit of attention, maybe next time, do it this way.
Challenging private use and consumption of objects has been central to what I’ve been doing recently. Well, this and my secret goal in life, which I think is to make everything in the world more like Lego.
So, I reasoned, it was time to accept the inevitable and do some IKEA hacking. I took an IKEA kit, in this case a “Kullen” chest of drawers, and set about how I might fragment or rearrange it to make sociability, sharing and co-operation intrinsic to its existence.
I went through the instructions, splitting them into four separate books, each only containing a quarter of the guidelines to making the cabinet. Then I repackaged the components into four boxes, the contents each corresponding to their respective fragmented instruction manuals.
I gave these four boxes to four different people, put them in a room, set up a camera, and said go:
And there you have it – one 2-drawer KULLEN cabinet. Look at them, aren’t they proud?
I think you could call it a success. I love how they hit nails in for each other at the end – it was a change in behaviour that was not in any way dictated by the instructions, but arised as a result of the way the task was designed. Which is good.
The way the instructions were used surprised me too – much less based on a sequence and taking turns, but in a more fluid and collaborative way, bringing them all together in the middle and discussing how each stage links with another. Matt, who had the least pieces in his box and therefore the least “to do”, took the role of making the other people’s instructions make sense together. Its interesting to see how different people react to these situations.
There’s no doubt, once again, that doing this alone would be quicker – it took the guys about 40-45 minutes to finish the thing. But all this has nothing to do with efficiency. I’ll write more on this another time.
Thanks to Ben, Matt, Mikey and Zahra for so wonderfully displaying their IKEA prowess.
In a rare philosophical moment for this blog, I’m going to start this post with an old Vietnamese parable, on the nature of heaven and hell:
‘What are the differences between Heaven and Hell?’, a young Zen monk asked an aged Buddhist priest who was renowned for his wisdom.
‘There are no material differences,’ replied the old monk.
‘None at all?’ asked the puzzled young monk.
‘That’s right. Both Heaven and Hell have a spacious hall with a big pot in the center in which noodles are boiled, giving off a delicious scent,’ said the old priest. ‘The size of the huge pan, the number of people sitting around the pot and the bowl of sauce placed in front of each diner are the same in both places.’
‘The odd thing is that each diner is given a pair of meter-long chopsticks and must use them to eat the noodles.’
‘To eat the noodles, you must hold the chopsticks properly at their ends,’ the old monk told the young Zen monk.
‘In the case of Hell’s kitchen, people are always hungry because no matter how hard they try, they can’t get the noodles into their mouths,’ said the old priest.
‘But isn’t it the same case for the people in Heaven?’ the junior monk inquired.
‘No. They can eat because they each feed the person sitting opposite them at the table. That’s the difference between Heaven and Hell,’ explained the old monk.
A wonderful little story, and rather relevant to my project. Many thanks to Stuart Bannocks for sending me it.
So I decided that it would probably be quite fun to see how such a situation would work, and see if eating collaboratively really is just like heaven.
Being, as I am, a carnivorous northern englishman rather than a vietnamese monk, I use a knife and fork and eat sausages. Even chopsticks of a regular length represent a significant challenge for me. So I made some metre long knives and forks, and set out on a more “full english” approach to ancient eastern parable.
Heres an abridged video of the meal.
It was bloody good fun, I have to say. It was amazing how quickly you get used to feeding, and being fed by, someone else. The simple extension of eating tools facilitates a completely new social experience, where co-operation and sharing is necessary to getting a good meal. Just as the Buddhist priest said.
Is it heaven? Looking at the aftermath, probably not. I might look into how to refine this experience more to accommodate this behaviour – what would a collaborative-eating restaurant look like?
There’s a certain child-like nature to using these collaborative tools I’ve been creating. They require you to forget your previous privately oriented behaviour and go back to being more open and willing to share and rely on others. This is what I’m looking for.
Maybe I’m getting somewhere.
This week has been Film Week, where we have been having film workshops with Quique Corrales and Roasrio Hurtado. This culminated in the production of short films about our projects that were all shown yesterday in a design film premiere-fest.
This week has confirmed my suspicion that I’m not very good at the whole workshop thing. I like to have time to let ideas ferment and mature like a fine wine. One week workshops are a bit of a challenge for me. Note to self, need to get better at them.
After much panicking I settled on an idea that vaguely related to the whole network of objects thing that I’ve been exploring lately, which was just to get a load of string and try to connect all of the things in my room together. More than anything, I wanted to see what it would look like. I just made a simple stop motion, taking a picture everytime a new link was added to the network.
Here it is.
There are plenty of problems with it, but its alright for a day’s work. Wish I hadn’t used that shiny tape in the middle though.
Also, iMovie is so bad it makes me want to break stuff.
Anyway, feedback for the film was generally quite good, and that I should do it again but with a whole room, or even a whole house. This would make me very unpopular at home, but I might do it if I have a few days free (unlikely).
Hope you enjoyed.
Here is the original footage of my collaborative toaster in action. I was going to do a slick edit, cut the middle, add music etc. but actually, I think I prefer the raw footage. All the little conversations that go on during the middle somehow make it more compelling. Anyway, here it is:
Thanks to Matt House, Danny Morgan, Anisha Chandarana and Henry Flitton for so wonderfully contributing to this beautiful piece of toast.