So this one is not actually related with the readings in Jeff’s class, it’s for the readings in Erik’s Experience Design. But I do think the issue matters here, so I take a risk to post it here.
It’s a reading from Csikszentmilhalyi and Robinson, called The Major Dimensions of the Aesthetic Experience. I enjoyed this reading so much because it is clearly structured and tells a lot of things about design and methodology. (I can see the use of personal narrative in the reading, and how to analyze the outcome.) In the part that authors were talking about the intellectual dimension of aesthetic experience, it quoted something from one of the interviewees:
But to proceed from that to a deeper understanding of technique, of the intellect behind the work of art, is for the most part learned. So awe is a more general response, but to really have the object hold for long periods of time, that’s more a learned thing. You only see what you are taught to see. You have to be taught to see a certain amount before you can go from that and develop a more sustained and creative process of seeing.
At first, I really doubted this quote a lot, because I believe even if people are not educated, they still have the right/ability to gain some aesthetic experience. But then the authors wrote something about another interviewee, which was an experience that the interviewee firstly didn’t like a piece of art at all, but after doing some background research related with that piece, she did start to love the piece. This sounds reasonable and familiar to me. I remembered Jeff has talked in class about the first post I wrote here. If I have gained some background knowledge with that piece of sculpture, will I still dislike it so much? Will I start being attracted by it? I really don’t know.
And this makes me think about something much deeper. Since I’m a Chinese whose hometown is actually in one of the provinces in central China, a place that is not rich nor developed at all, I always think about the effect of technology that brings to the people who can barely gain any decent food or clothes. From the newspaper I can see, people in these areas are so intrigued by television and computer (if they have any). I don’t believe they have ever experienced internet, even if it’s 21st century now. What’s the impact of technology on them? People always talk about that designers should change how people think, and in criticism’s point of view, designers should even “educate” people, so that people can perceive and understand technology/new designs better, as the previous paragraphs say: you only see what you are taught to see.
But, do we have the right to do so? For myself, every time I go back to my hometown, I just feel ashamed to use my Samsung Galaxy phone in front of my relatives. While people are equal, why can’t they experience the convenience of technology? Why are they still struggling to get enough food and clothes? Under this condition, I believe talking about technology and design sounds so arrogant.
This question has haunted me for a long time, and I don’t expect to get any answer in near future, no until I’m empathetic enough.