Micro-Project 2: What Is A Designer

What is the content of the work and who is creating it?

“What Is A Designer” is a crowd-sourced piece that utilises Google Slides to allow non-predetermined participants to freely express their opinion of what a designer does.

Here we see a wide variety of definitions, in terms of content and visual style


Where does this work take place?

This work technically resides online, but theoretically it takes place within campus and possibly extends off-campus, within Singapore.


How does this work involve social interaction?

social interaction is defined as an exchange between two or more individuals, essentially a building block of society. The medium of Google Slides allow participants to freely view others’ contributions, thereby allowing for a certain aspect of influencing their preconceived opinion before the fact. Participants are encouraged to freely express their opinion on their own terms, choosing their font, pictures etc. Interestingly, there is quite a wide gamut of tastes as seen from the contributions; classy, goofy, artistic, simplistic, retro etc.


How is your crowd-sourced project different from one that is created by a single artist/creator?

The content of the piece is a highly-opinionated piece that requires input from others, therefore crowd-sourced participation is an essential element. A collaborative piece as such highlights the nature of the Internet as a highly flexible medium. Traditionally, the Internet was conceived as a means of exchanging information. With the advent of social platforms, e-commerce, blogs, web apps etc, the Internet has gained the ability to support collaboration and interaction across the world in unprecedented ways.

Here, through the simplistic use of a highly sophisticated tool like Google Slides, collaborators are empowered to co-create a piece of work in near real-time(something considered ‘futuristic’ just a decade ago) in an almost uninhibited manner(fonts, pictures, video or audio).

‘Art’ or, for that matter, any piece of work, no longer has to be a solo endeavour. Through platforms like DeviantArt, Behance, ArtStation and many others, art has turned ‘collaborative’. These platforms facilitate ‘exchange’ of ideas, through inspiration and derivation. The pastiche nature of art has been elevated like never before since the birth of the Internet. Arguably, a crowd-sourced project like this is definitely achievable pre-Internet. However, there is a lack of immediacy, directness and freedom of expression when conducted face-to-face. In the digital age, there is increasing value in numbers, speed and breadth. Crowd-sourcing via the Internet allows an artist to invite the world, all at once, to participate.

Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece

“Cut Piece” (’65) by Yoko Ono for “INSTRUCTIVE AUTO-DESTRUCTION” by Anthony Cox in “Art and Artists”, August, 1966

How does it change the viewer’s relationship to the work?

In “Cut Piece”, viewers were invited to participate and profoundly shape the final outcome of an ‘artwork’ in a very direct manner. The complexity and implications of the piece were radical and groundbreaking as the artist has dedicated her body as the subject. Traditionally, when a viewer interacts with a piece of work, the nature of the interaction reflects the viewer’s state of mind in terms of aesthetic, mood etc. However, in “Cut Piece”, the viewer’s interactions signified much more. It was a manifestation of his/her desires; the uninhibited nature of one’s self. In the collective form, the total effect of viewers’ actions portrayed a certain sense of the anarchy and primal, chaotic nature of the human psyche. Such an effect would be hard to achieve with an inanimate subject in the same rein. The fact that there are real tangible stakes(the well-being of another person) involved in the process and outcome of the piece, brings out other aspects like societal inhibitions and collective psychological behaviours of its participants. In essence, it’s a social, science and art experiment all at the same time; ‘speaking your mind’ in the utmost sense.


How does it alter the way an artist or designer create the work, when there is an interactive component?

The work becomes much more experiential for the viewer, and the outcomes are indefinitely varied with each iteration. The process takes center stage, and the result may or may not become inconsequential. There is a shared sense of deeper meaning being derived; shared because each participant’s actions influences the one that comes after, and deeper meaning as there are layered meanings accumulated as the work progresses. The artist cedes much control to chaos, and the typical process is turned on its head. Here, the artist decides the starting variables and allows the process to occur organically. There is no inkling of what might happen and what the end result resembles. Interestingly, a simple parable of such a mechanism in the real world would be a presidential election(subject). The candidates(variables) are shortlisted, and the people(participants) vote accordingly to their judgement(emotion/logic). The results(final outcome) can be pretty arbitrary and unexpected, yet it reflects the collective wisdom and perceptions of the society in question.


A derivative of this seminal piece was Marina Abramović’s Rhythm 0(1974). Here, Marina altered the variables, by placing 72 objects on a table for her participants to use. There were ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ objects, allowing her viewers to perform good or detrimental acts. The narrative here is further intensified, as the objects reminded the participants that they could either do good or evil. The emphasis on moral choices is central to the eventual outcome. It became potently clear that the reminder was inconsequential. Most people were inherently ‘savage’ by nature.


On a lighter note, interaction can be employed as a way of facilitating dialogue(verbal and otherwise) between artist, viewers and society. As such, the artist ‘designs’ the central idea and interactions as perimeters, and presents it as a live petri dish, after which, may decide to perform an interpretation on the outcome(s). The exploration happens on a participatory level, as opposed to the traditional singular point of view.

Micro-Project 1 – Creating the Third Space.

Why did you choose this space or object to photograph?

This series of 3 pictures are meant to depict feelings as a city dweller. On my way to ADM, I will pass by this area of NTU that features an impressive collection of trees that makes it seem as if one was walking through a great forest. Then as we enter ADM premises, we are confronted with cold, hard concrete and metal. It seems as if technological progress has ushered us metaphorically into the ‘stone age’, as opposed to a reality where humans blend technology seamlessly into the complexities of the natural world.


What are some of the characteristics of this alternative virtual space you had created collectively?

Even though we students hang out in groups, the day-to-day ADM experience is still a deeply personal one. We see and respond to our environment according to our personalities and perceptions. This alternative virtual space has indirectly distilled our individual experiences into a collective consciousness of sorts. Even though the images are disparate in content, seen as a whole, it somewhat delivers the quintessence of an ADM student’s daily life. The medium of instagram also makes participants less conscious and more willing to share highly personal insights, making the virtual space more successful than the real world in terms of facilitating openness amongst participants.


Under what circumstance will this alternative virtual space change?

There are several ways in which this space could change. A physical, literal change in the environment is the most straightforward example. Objects could wear and tear, be replaced, added or modified. A change in the participants’ worldview could also change the imagery they choose to capture to fit new perceptions. A different set of participants will surely influence the ‘collective consciousness’ depicted as well.


How does this project relate to what we discussed in the lecture regarding co-creation, the concept of Do-It-Youself (DIY), Do-It-With-Others (DIWO)?

This project shows how DIWO shapes the end result at a very fundamental level. DIWO promotes spontaneity and endless variation due to the chaotic nature of different combinations of participants, coupled with their state of mind at that moment in time. There is also the element of a cascading effect, where what one participant does indirectly affects another’s actions, further increasing possible permutations. The beauty of such an approach is that participants enjoy a tremendously rich, highly personalised and one-of-a-kind collective experience. A project that utilises DIWO will invariably never achieve the same result twice.