Toward "presence" in design
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In an essay entitled, "Theatrical Design and the Experience of Objects," the author, Clive Dilnot, succinctly discusses two qualities which appear simultaneously in varying proportions in most objects; "Presentness" and "Presence." The term "Presentness" refers to the condition of the object as pure, autonomous, and almost self-acting or self-referential. "Presence" on the other hand, is a quality which causes the beholder to be aware of himself or herself as subject, rather than focusing on the product as object. "Presentness" deals with the experience of the object on its terms, while "Presence" is significant for how it enables users to experience themselves using the object. It is in search of "Presence" that I create my current design work. I grow increasingly cognizant of the remarkable emphasis that our society places on the rational and quantifiable while down-playing the intuitive and immeasurable. The abstract minimalist aesthetics of Modernism has contributed to this condition through its approach to technology. Most objects of our current environments are cold symbols of an old ideal, and they hold us ever in abeyance. I find the resultant imbalance of rational and intuitive disquieting, and strive in my work to play one against the other in an effort to even the odds. The focus of my graduate work has been an investigation in possible enhancement of the human experience of an object through careful consideration and design of the moment of interface. I consciously utilize mechanical and electronic devices and technology, symbolic of the rational and technological realms of science and industry, as my vehicle to foster the creation of experiences and interfaces which are primarily intuitive in nature. I do this intentionally, hoping through juxtaposition to call attention to and to elevate the level of value placed on the intuitive. Throughout my process, I continually allow my decisions to be navigated by recognition of two distinct audiences this work is hoped to encounter: the interacting participant, and the non-interacting audience who perceives the object and its implied participant. My true intention in designing this work is not to create a marketable product, but to create a polemic within design circles and to a larger audience, raising questions about what the nature and focus of the design of objects in general can be.
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