Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role playing a blind person?
The room was pitch black. The last time I experienced darkness like that was in Batu Caves in Malaysia but that was with some light still. When I first entered the room of total darkness, I felt like I could not breathe for a few seconds because my brain was not used to not being able to see while having to navigate my way through. It was in an instant that I realised how much I have relied on my sense of sight. I felt helpless as I walked throughout the tour as I had to rely more heavily on my other senses which I realised was sadly, not that good either.
What really hit me was when we had to cross the road without our sight, something I never took notice of. I had no awareness of how far the other end of the crossroad was and how long I had to cross which made me panic. Then, I knew I really take for granted my eyesight as I would always use my phone while crossing roads.
I have always known of the existence and struggles of the blind community but never have I thought to experience or empathise with them. I always just thought “Oh, blind people cannot see” but never have I gone beyond to think that the simplest daily activities are struggles to complete due to their blindness. Yet, struggling was not the case for our lovely tour guide. I found it heartwarming to know that she finds the beauty in being blind. Most of what she shared with us were positive experiences which made me realise that we should really be more grateful.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role-playing?
Being able to experience first-hand and empathise to thoroughly understand and uncover the needs of the target audience
Create more bespoke products that tackles more specific issues through better understanding
Create better user experience
Be more aware of things you would not have taken note of before without role-playing and later doing a more extensive research
Clear doubts and assumptions on the matter of research
Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and definition of design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?
Role-playing allows one to fully immerse in the certain experience which I believe design can only go so far to do so. Design more so communicates a message but not so much, the experience. Again, role-playing creates empathy to allow the audience to understand more deeply, the issue at hand.
In a fast-paced country, it is no surprise that the social cohesion between neighbours in Singapore is not very strong. Everyone is too caught up with getting by their days that they overlook the importance of getting to know neighbours, people who are physically closest to them, second to their family members. This is my topic of biggest interest as I would like to explore creative ways to solve this seemingly small but important and relatable issue and bring light to it.
Singapore has seemingly lost its ‘kampung spirit’ where neighbours would visit and interact with one another on the daily. Children playing with one another while conversations brewing between the adults were the norm. According to a study by HDB and the National University of Singapore Centre of Sustainable Asian Cities and Sociology department, interactions between residents today are ‘incidental and minimal‘. It goes as far as a smile or a hi only when they run into one another. Otherwise, everyone is behind closed doors.
This stems from the pride of being independent in today’s modern society. As such, no extra efforts are put in to getting to know neighbours that do not value-add to personal lives on the surface level. In fact, neighbours, being people living in the closest proximity to you, are likely to be of big help in emergency situations. Knowing your neighbours would be good for the sake of safety and security.
In a survey of 2,200 residents in five HDB towns, they were asked to score their frequency of interactions with neighbours, from a score of one (never) to five (daily). Overall, they ranked “exchange of greetings/ small talk” as the most frequent activity, with a mean score of 3.47. Safekeeping of house keys and borrowing and lending household items ranked the lowest at 1.11 and 1.25 respectively.
Undoubtedly, there have been efforts to counter the issue such as the Good Neighbour Movement:
In this project, I would like to adapt some of the current measures taken to improve the social cohesion while also tackling it in a creative viewpoint. This lack of interaction between neighbours proves to be a problem and I would like to create means that become catalysts for a heightened social cohesion in Singapore neighbourhoods.
My main target audience would be adults who I believe are largely the victims of the lack of social cohesion between them and their neighbours. In the busy school and work lifestyles, they do not see the importance of getting to know their neighbours but instead rush for their precious and minimal private hours. They put up a sub-concious barrier without realisation and eventually becomes a norm. Besides that, adults could also be a leading example of better neighbourhood bonds as their children would mirror their actions which would later follow them in life.
Sensing Punggol by Spang & Lei
Sensing Punggol is a collaborative artwork between residents in Punggol. They were from neighbourhood environmental data collected by Punggol residents of all ages. The data sculptures allow you to discover hidden life stories behind sensor data such as air particulate-matter levels, sound levels, and UV levels, as a way of quantifying the relationships between humans and their environment across a period of time. I believe it is a fresh and creative way to present connections in neighbourhoods that is interactive and suitable for all ages. It really targets the interaction between neighbours when they interact with the artwork collectively.
HDB Community Week 2019 Poster
The poster is very clear in presenting the available activities throughout the community week and has very simple and concise illustrations. The connecting lines helps my eyes move throughout the poster which makes it easy to digest. However, I feel like the colours used could be improved as it looks quite dull and not exciting.
Kejiranan by Toby Tan
This project involves residents from different neighbourhoods in Punggol coming together to repaint their neighbourhood basketball court. I believe that this project directly improves the issue at hand, being social cohesion between neighbours. It involves neighbours of all ages painting, which is a job anyone can partake in. I commend the inclusivity of this innovative and meaningful project.