Thesis update – 2.25.18
After having the flu for the past week, I hit the ground running on my functional prototype. I made lots of progress on its development and got quite a bit of feedback, which I can break down mainly into Concept and Content.
Simplification continues to play an important role. I was previously told to take my concept in its most stripped-down form, and explode it. This proved to be great practice for composing my Minimum Viable Product, which consisted of only what was needed to communicate the concept on a foundational level. Establishing a title (Matrix Pix), along with a four-word elevator pitch (“Learn Math Making Images”) provides a mantra to follow in my thesis’s reduction. In a personal parallel, I’ve become inspired to also “strip down” in my day-to-day living. I donated a large portion of my wardrobe, threw out old makeup, etc.
Another important aspect that helped in my thesis’s simplification was the feedback of others. Technically, one does not need the to understand the needs and concerns of others in order to make a thing, and have it exist in the world. However, I feel to be a fully informed designer (especially of a design that involve interaction), user feedback becomes essential to making a thing. It is unfortunate that in previous classes, it was always encouraged to practice user testing outside of class time (which I’m assuming was due to lack of time or understanding of its importance). The feedback I received from my classmates this week on my rough prototypes and MVP was extremely valuable, and the collaboration moves my project miles ahead.
Lastly, I learned what a ‘one sheet’ was, and its purpose. I like the idea of eventually choosing a beautiful picture to represent my project, whether it be a screenshot or a logo.
I built a rough online prototype with several functionalities and interactions. The feedback I received is that it wasn’t going to be fun enough to engage kids who regularly play games like Minecraft or LEGO Mindstorms. Admittedly, these still seem like pretty large and intimidating precedents to step to. However finding ways to make my prototype less boring was a challenge I was more than willing to accept.
I went back to paper prototyping, where I revisited the existing functionalities and interactions like manipulating the numbers in a 3×3 matrix, and watching the image become manipulated in real time. There was a clear misunderstanding between why the numbers where changing, and what was changing in the image. How can this complexity be illustrated?
I decided to use numeric operations as how “modes” and “actions” might be applied to a drawing tool. Different operations may be applied to the numbers, rather than blindly changing their values. This proved to be a huge breakthrough even for my own understanding of the image manipulation process I am attempting to illustrate.
So for my MVP, we cycled through critiques with three classmates. Matrix Pix was reviewed by Tyler, Solenne, and Emre. The group had similar things to say, but Tyler gave me the strongest feedback, which I vigorously wrote down and outlined into my schedule for the week.
He asked great questions like, “If the matrix isn’t in RGB Mode, what mode is it in?” This is something I had yet to define. He also wondered about the possible approaches to choosing the initial image and sharing the final. For the show, he suggested something printable like a polaroid that people can take away with them. I am beginning research on the best quality/fastest printers to purchase for this purpose. I’m planning on using the Parsons Student Senate Art Fund to supplement the cost. For the starting image, I could take the photo-booth idea further and activate my computer’s webcam, which users could capture an image of themselves to use for the image manipulation process. Another cool idea is to embed a google image search functionality so there becomes endless customization. Again, the others had similar questions but it was great to hear that patterns emerged, that could be addressed.
As for research, I got a few books this week. After seeing its appearance on a friend’s Instagram and viewing Hockney’s show at the Met, I got David Hockney and Marvin Gayford’s History of Pictures from NYU’s Bobst library. I liked the beginning and the end, but overall was craving much more contemporary examples of images throughout history. It focused mostly on the history of art from a Western perspective; starting with cave drawings, transitioning quickly into a good three fourths of the book discussing renaissance paintings; abruptly ending with the development of photography, cinema, and both men’s final thoughts on the future of picture-making technologies. I got much more context on contemporary image-making from taking Jeffrey Scudder’s class entitled Digital Painting.
I am also excited about Kandinsky’s Point and Line to Plane, which I ordered from Amazon this week! I feel this one ties in nicely with my current challenge of illustrating concepts that are not innately visual, such as a dance, emotion or abstract mathematical idea.
Hockney, David, and Martin Gayford. A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen. Thames & Hudson Limited, 2016.
Just Another System. Instagram, photographed by Jeffrey Scudder. 2017, www.instagram.com/justanothersystem.
Kandinsky, Wassily, and Hilla Rebay. Point and line to plane. Courier Corporation, 1947.