Making meaning from speakers

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To begin, I think that we can all take something from each of the speakers, regardless of our background or interest area, but as I need to choose 3, and talk about their direct influence on my work, I think Sam Gould, Micheal Sommers and Janaki Ranpuri are currently among those that I have used quotes or concepts from this semester.

Sam Goulds characterization of public art as a space for communication has really helped me to move outside of my previous understanding of public art. I think that definition alone has been popping up in my daily conversation at least twice a week, since this talk. Part of the reason would be my involvement in a project to help discuss and facilitate community identity for a new suburban development. We are looking at art as a way to have the types of conversations that the developers are looking to have, in order to allow community members to influence and feel belonging to the community, rather than using brand messaging to tell them what the identity is, and force them to participate or not.

Additionally, Sam's comments during the discussion of our work in the atrium regarding the use of a recognizable framework to allow people to access the work, not only reinforces a lot of the theory I discussed last semester in a game design theory class, but helped me to extend those theories outside of that realm. Though I had talked about dealing with what I was calling composite spaces, I found that having that discussion would require much more infrastructure than I could consider ephemeral. Sam's comments helped me to identify some ideas that participants would understand with little instruction or infrastructure, for a piece that would exist only temporarily. I think I was looking for something with a much lighter footprint, both physically and cognitively, and Sam's discussion helped me to re-frame what I understood as public art and execute something that would be accessible.

Micheal Sommer's talk was not only energetic, but presented some new ideas on anthropomorphizing objects, which is an interest area of mine. I think that when you can identify the personality an object has, that can help inform the design of the object or experience, and Micheal's discussion of giving objects life was right in that vein. Even in the week since that talk, I have found myself discussing anthropomorphism with my students in one of the classes I assist in teaching, who have been having trouble creating original facial and body feature for toy monsters they are designing. I had been telling them all spring semester to think about what attitude their toy would have and how that ornery-ness or shyness could influence the types of features it possesses and the way that it moves or operates. Micheal's exercises have given me a whole new way to talk about that process and show people how to think about giving objects life.

Similiarly, I also take some new ideas about anthropomorphism from Janaki's discussion and the stop motion video of the tea cup and assorted items that climbed into it. I think examining the way puppeteers and animators not only make the objects move, but the way they give them personality is very connected designing user experiences. I don't think we can continue to have object and experiences driven by the raw technology, and endowing these objects with personalities and attitudes might be one way to allow humans to connect with the objects that populate our daily life.

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