“Design is the craft of visualising concrete solutions that serve human needs and goals within certain constraints

Often we work with a blank canvas and accordingly to the design brief, it changes constantly before reaching the “end product”. Often, we have to work with knowledge from both science and art as well, it is almost impossible to do it without one. Also, whenever we create something or craft something out, we have to take in mind its purpose, what it is being used for, who it is being created for? With these in mind, we can then effective reach our target audiences. Within certain constraints suggests that is no such thing as unconstrained design which is true in the reality we live in. There is no way one can create something without any constraints such as time, money, materials. 

“Goal-directed design” was also mentioned in this reading – principles, patterns, process & practices. Principles being guidelines for creating good solutions under specific circumstances but what is appropriate to one context may not apply to another. Patterns are types of solutions that tend to be useful for certain classes of problems. Process are the steps and techniques involved in planning and conducting design research, using it to develop personas, scenarios, and requirements, then using those to develop and iterate a design solution.


This framework is very effective and one that I had found myself employing unconsciously all the time where first i think planning it well is very important before diving straight into the making the work. Also, we have to research on existing or similar ideas out there to learn as well as avoid certain things. We then make prototypes to test out our ideas. While testing, we often also find ourselves re-defining and defining before we finally reach to the end result that we want.

Under modelling, it was interesting that she mentioned the importance of “personas” – user archetypes that help you make design decisions and communicate your rationale. Often times we lose sight of who we are the target audiences due to more ambitious idea where we want to include all and everyone (which is actually impossible as everyone is different and you just can’t please all). Hence I think it is really important to stick to those “personas” and focus on them only to truly be designing for those user archetypes.

However no matter designing for anything, I think the having a goal-directed design way of approach can be a useful guide and backbone. Planning and thinking about the “personas” are the two main factors that I feel is of the most importance. This is not to say the other factors are not, but just simply by having a good and concise plan, we can design more effectively and efficiently while always thinking about the “personas” helps ground us to our objectives.


Question 1: Goal-directed design or human-centered design? Can it be a combination?

Question 2:  Are there situations where goal-directed design can be actually be a not so good way to go for product and service design? What can applied then if so?

Cinerama exhibition at SAM 8Q: Scanning by Amy Lee Stanford


Analysis & Review

When entering Cinerama exhibition in Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at 8Q, the artworks displayed gave the feeling that they were depictions of individual artists’ memories in their own context. One artwork that could have easily went unnoticed was ‘Scanning’ created by Amy Lee Stanford. Upon entering a dark corridor at the corner of a room on the fourth level, visitors would be greeted by a silent video art of scribbled papers being scanned from the top view perspective of the artist. Such angle of the camera invites Museum visitors to analyze and feel the emotions that were scribbled hurriedly on the papers.

At the first impression, ‘Scanning’ gave off a mundane feeling. Questions started to pop in my head: Why did the artist chose to scan these letters repeatedly? What was the significance of this process?

With only four headsets provided by the Museum and a small bench in the middle of the space, the artwork was presented both as a one-to-many (due to the video projection on the wall) and one-to-one (due to the headset) experience. The artwork was accompanied by a photocopy machine soundscape that formed an immersive environment as visitors put the headsets on. This method reminded me of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) experience where the sound created a pleasant tingling sensation as the papers were flipped and scanned.

At the second round of viewing the artwork with explanations from the docent, ‘Scanning’ gave me another perspective, which was remembrance and reconstruction. Handwritten letters were an exchange between her Cambodian biological father and American adopted mother during the troubled times in Cambodia. They were written on onion-skin thin paper which was so fragile. Just like memories they will fade over after a period of time but to remember these memories we flip through things or go to places that trigger them. The remembrance part was the scanning of these letters where the artist goes through the constant cycle so that she will not lose the data and the memories of her parents. Reconstruction was similar to the process of forensic science where she pieces these letters to recall and archive these memories that were so precious to her.

Although the repetitive motion of the paper scanning was fast that visitors were not able to go through the content, the scribbled handwriting was sufficient to evoke a sense of sentiment being exchanged.


Artist’s Process

Known for addressing the repercussions of war, especially in Cambodia, Sanford had used common everyday objects to narrate the story of her artworks. As quoted by her, “Art can explore and express aspects of life that are extremely difficult to discuss”. In her piece “Scanning”, the simplicity of displaying, sharing and at the same time archiving the letters to the mass brought focus to something so marginal, yet so significant.

The concept drew influence from her father. She was separated from him at the age of two. Her parents were exchanging 250 letters from 1968 to 1975 before her father died in the Khmer Rouge. Sanford attempted to investigate, reconnect and piece together fragmented memories by using the letters. She wanted to present the process of searching of the past without any possible clues and no starting point. The repeated motion signified there was no beginning and ending in this process. She had performed the concept of “flashing moments” of scattered snippets for her audience to grasp as she scanned every page of the letters. The letters were projected on a monumental scale as she magnified every cease, fold and texture of the papers.

Like excavating one’s past and memories, Sanford shared her process of archiving the letters as she encouraged her audience to give thought about how war had influenced our present lives and how everyday objects taken from the past gave insights to people in the present. The artist believed that through her artwork it would evoke conversations among those who felt that the experience was a taboo matter. Through her artwork, the artist hopes to explore and express things that would be hard to talk about. As people reflect about the idea behind her artwork, she hoped that it would help them lessen their psychological trauma and provoke further conversation between people.


Cinerama exhibition at SAM 8Q: There's a word I'm trying to remember, for a feeling I'm about to have (a distracted path toward extinction)," 2016 by Korakrit Arunanondchai/Alex Gvojic.


Film Content Analysis

In Korakrit Arunanondchai’s and Alex Gvojic’s “There’s a word I’m trying to remember, for a feeling I’m about to have (a distracted path toward extinction)”, the film focuses largely on the dualities of life and death. The artists weave intertwining threads that draw comparisons between present circumstances of living and the eventual collapse of humanity’s constructed systems. A lot content is covered in the film where at times you’d see more light-hearted themes like his brother’s weddings, dinosaurs, recent technology and also darker themes but also the eventually end or extinction of everything.

“In this new digital age, even memories can be construed as yet another form of data that can be readily transmitted through a vast cyberspace.” This is an interesting that I’ve never thought about but through the subtle portrayal through the man who seems to be surrounded often with wires and technology related objects where at the end he plugs out a wire and laid still. It was as if he was “died” then and his “memories” (all the scenes we saw him in) are just transmitted to us now as we watched it.

Following the point of the eventually extinction of everything, it is not only limited to just living things but non-living things as well. It was interesting how they choose to portray this with of the popular and in technology like VR headsets and augmented reality but ever so briefly. In my opinion it felt like a play to show this “popular” and “important” things in current times would just be as if its so “non-existent” in the future.

Moving on to the two metaphors that are big pieces of the film. Why the choice of rats and serpents? I couldn’t understand that from the film so I googled on their symbolism.

Rat Symbolism

  • Survivor

This creature is an incredible survivor despite being one of the two most hunted animals of prey. Humans have condemned them for over 8 centuries. From a symbolic standpoint, this is huge. See, what really matters here is how Rats have continued to survive despite public opinion – despite the war against them.”

The phrase “despite the war against them” suggest to me in the context of the film is that they could have survived against the humans, as the stronger species according to evolution thus why the appearance of “giant rats” after humans. However in the film, the meet their end as well hence I realized the further emphasize on the point of how everything comes to extinction in the end no matter how great at surviving you are.

  • Resourceful

Rats are also known to be able to move into the corners and cracks of reality scavenging whatever they need from what the rest of the world leaves behind as useless. In this respect they are the ultimate recycler and symbolize clever re-purposing. The phrase “cracks of reality scavenging whatever they need from what the rest of the world leaves behind as useless” somehow was exactly depicted this way in the scene where you see the giant rat alone in the desolate and rundown buildings. It can also be seen searching for something and curious about what was left behind by humans. Perhaps this was also a trait that the artists wanted to embody.

In my opinion there felt like a subtle intention for contrast between humans and the giant rats in the sense of a superior vs inferior being. It is known that “rats are among the most feared, hated, and misunderstood animals on the planet.” It is also known that many tout humans as superior beings. In the film, especially during all the scenes where viewers see these particular two species together and interacting as well, it felt like the film was destroying this boundaries separating these two species and categorising them together as one and their fate is the same. It was as if there was not much difference between these two at all.

Serpent Symbolism

It is also a powerful spiritual symbol/metaphor. It can be associated with both negative(death) and positive(life), or duality.

“Serpents also carry the elixir of life and immortality…vital energy.

Vital energy is our true essence. It’s our pure and perfect spirits…the joining of our masculine and feminine energy dancing a perfect dance of harmony and balance. Once we close this gap, we will no longer have limitations or need for physical sustenance, because God’s Light will then reach us and sustain us.”


In my opinion, I think these are the total embodiment for the meaning for the “serpent dance” in the film. After finding out about these symbolism, the scenes where you see the grown man feeding wildly felt like as if he knew he would meet an end someday so he tries frantically to consume this “vital energy” or “elixir of life and immortality” so to sustain his existence. And in the scene of the above picture, he says “the joy of being a human being”, does it also reflects on the topic of how some people’s mad chase for immortality makes them lose themselves and their humanity instead?

There was also another scene where the baby is found alone and crying in the middle of where the serpent dance was which felt like a metaphor for rebirth and renewal.


Level Of Immersiveness Analysis 

This piece stood out to me amazingly well among all the ten works because of how everything was packaged together – from the film itself,the layers of meaning within it, to my interest in the Thai language and culture and understanding of the language, and to its level of immersiveness this exhibit had.

Mixed medium installation: Kudos on how the artwork was curated

Upon entering the room, one will think they’ve chanced upon a film that was a simply just playing on its own. However, as I was getting immersed in this piece, I started to draw some similarities between the motifs playing on screen and the surroundings of the room I was in. Rubbing my shoes against the floor as I felt an uneven surface, I noticed root-like structures! It was rather dark in the room but as my gaze traced the room, it dawned upon me that the entire room was curated into a mixed medium installation. This was an extra wow factor of the installation as there was commendable effort in having the objects there like the bleached denim pillow, found objects from the artists and having ‘earth’ around us. Although this was already quite a good effort, I found that this same installation was curated even more aesthetically when it was exhibited at the Berlin Biennale!

The same installation exhibited inside a boat at the Berlin Biennale

The film itself: Clever interweaving of scenes with non-linear footage but a linear narrative

It was easy to be confused by the film where there were many types of footage  – the scenes hovered between post-apocalyptic landscapes, a recent wedding of Korakit’s brother, music videos, footage of his own life events as well as a vision of the Korakit’s imagined future. Despite the difference between these clips, the artists did an extremely good job of piecing them together.  At the start, things hardly made sense as I was drawing too much focus on the visuals and not paying attention to the narration. But as I managed to capture the theme behind what the artist is trying to bring across, which was life on earth, everything started to fall into place nicely. The narration was the spine of the storyline.

Another mention: Superb art direction and emotions gottens from it

As the title of this installation goes ‘There’s a word I’m trying to remember, for a feeling I’m about to have, the main feeling I got while going through this work was ‘something I could not put a finger to’. Indeed I was feeling that throughout. This feeling was further accentuated from the cinematic scenes where a man covers himself in black liquid (interpreted as serpent’s blood) and drinks from it. A man and woman, believed to be the mother and father of Korakit also appears in an environment similar to the room we were in, were also dripping and covered in liquid. Only their eyes were seen as they glared deeply at us, audience. With the decorated room playing a huge impact at those scenes, the level of immersiveness was highly intense. It reached a point where I felt like I was the character myself in the film.

One thing that added on to why I like this piece so much was that I understood some of the parts in Thai which gave me a better understanding of what Korakit’s work. There was a scene where he said I love you in Thai when there were two people drenched in black serpent liquid standing in front of him, believed to be his parents.

The subtitle stated ‘I love you’, where it isn’t gender specific in English. However, the narration was saying Pom Ruk Ter( Male to female), which he was actually meant that he was directing to his mom. In that context, I felt like he was referring to his own mom, or mother nature as well. As a collective whole, the work provoked me a lot about life, existence, the idea of a ‘metaverse’ and how would our future really look like.


Team: Dina, Hannah, Valerie, Siewhua


I’ve read “Chapter 1 of Thoughtful Interaction Design by Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman” before during my user experience in design class but reading it again still gave me fresh and new perspectives to think about. The reading mainly talks about what makes a good design, design theory and some core concepts: interaction design, design process, design situation, and digital artifact.

21 Balançoires is an interactive installation that consists simply of swings. When in motion, each swing triggers different notes, and when used all together, the swings create a musical composition in which certain melodies emerge only through cooperation. This collaborative exercise stimulates intuitive play and experimentation amongst people of all ages and backgrounds, whether they know each other or not, and leads participants and spectators to become aware of each other, and their environment.

“An extremely fast and efficient digital artifact is hardly good design if it is not understood by its users. Outstanding user interface intelligibility is pointless if the basic functions of the artifact fail to satisfy the users’ needs.”

Just as in this work, the usage of swings is immediately understood by people of all ages since its like an everyday life kind of thing and most people would immediately be inclined to sit and swing on it. Since the work is simple for people to understand, nothing needs to be even told to them what to do because their first instincts would probably be to sit and swing. While enjoying the swing, they would also at the same time catch on to the aspect of the sounds that would be emitted due to their swinging. Hence, overall the building of it might not  be simple but to users, the user interface is easy and simple which i think is more important.

“Design theory is also knowledge focused on creating new conditions for design, different patterns of thinking and acting, new design examples, and a general understanding of the conditions for creative and innovative work.”

In the work, the concept of cooperation is explored: ”Cooperation emerges when the behaviour of each individual depends on the decisions of the rest of the group: it’s a game where, from the start, you need to adjust to the actions of others.” With these in mind, the swing is not just your everyday playground kind of swing but instead it is part of something bigger than just an individual, it is about collaboration. By only allowing each swing to trigger a different note, and when used all together, it will then create certain melodies emerge only through cooperation, it causes people to approach and use the swings different and also how their interaction with others would be, no matter stranger or known.

“Design is about shaping the world we live in by creating the conditions, opportunities, and restrictions that will make up that world. Design means that you influence people’s work, leisure, and everyday.”

Ultimately, the work allows for stimulating a sense of community and ownership of space but also a vibrant place for playing and hanging out in the middle of the city center. This would have been probably less possible without the design of this work that calls for collaboration and for people to take some time out from their busy schedules, slow down and just enjoy. Those are the opportunities created so what about the restrictions? It is simple, users are simple restricted to creating certain melodies if played by themselves, since they can only produce one sound, they would be forced to talk and interact with others to achieve whatever melodies they want. The best part is also that the melodies would change depending on how people use the swings hence, it would be almost impossible to get bored of it.

Overall, I choose this work to accompany my reading reflection because I think it is very effective in what it is designed for because of its simplicity, allowing for creativity and also a created space in a high-traffic area for interaction amongst people.