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Regardless of the mental exercise that a lot of these readings present, I can’t help but jump to, how is this helping me being a better designer? How is this pushing me to think of different design paradigms, etc ? (This has no real conclusion… you have been warned)

So one thing that definitely stood out was the idea of context, and how a narrative builds not only on “cultural categories, norms, and conceptual schemes”, but being part of that context, and how the lack can alter meaning making. I see this related to our previous reading on how through the narrative, the author taps into the sensorium, and tries to trigger that reaction empathically (this person feels fear, so I am feeling fear).

“In these cases, it seems to me that once one excerpts these quotations from their narrative contexts, the danger that has been building up in the story disappears, and primarily only the anomaly remains in a way which, my theory predicts, is apt to cause laughter.” (p 252, Horror and Humor)


Taking this to say, interaction design for mobile devices, where the narrative is not continuous. So when we design for the user journey we are more susceptible to the aesthetic codings we embed in the interaction, since the point of interaction might be short. Alternatively, we also have an opportunity to build that narrative in broader terms perhaps, where the journey is everyday activity.

What other paradoxes are we designing through aesthetic codings and context building in digital experiences?

Reading over some of the other posts here on Carroll’s excerpt on horror and humor, it looks like several other people also found interest in the oscillation between horror and humor. Part of what makes both genres independently so engaging in my mind is the fact that they are on the surface so diametrically opposed to one another, yet have a great deal of overlap in their triggers:

The movement from horror to humor or vice versa that strikes us as so counterintuitive, then, can be explained in terms of what horror and at least one kind of humor – namely, incongruity humor – share….On the map of mental states, horror and incongruity amusement are adjacent and partially overlapping regions. Given this affinity, movement from one to the other should not be unexpected. (Carroll, p252)

While many of the examples provided pertain to cinema, I think this relationship can also be explored in other mediums. For example, the PC game Day-Z presents a number of situations for these genres to intermingle. There are two key elements to Day-Z that allow for this intersection to occur: first, player-to-player encounters are infrequent, with wide stretches of wilderness or abandoned buildings forming much of the experience. Second, because the game is essentially every person for themselves (as a zombie-survival genre game) and death is permanent, any player encounters always carry the risk of losing potentially hours of progress.

With these two things in mind, the following video represents an example of the genres of horror and humor intersecting (the video is really dark, but stick with it):


In this clip, we can observe a player entering an abandoned building, most likely to loot for supplies. When he reaches the top floor, he spots a player wielding a fire ax, in the process of killing another player. As he flees the building, Tiny Tim’s “Dancing in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight” plays, triggered via the in-game voice-chat mechanism by the man with the axe. As our main protagonist runs, he is slowly pursued, heightening the tension and absurdity as the music continues to play. Then, when an altercation seems imminent, the offending player suddenly disappears, appearing to log off. The intention of this action seems a deliberate, trolling behavior, and the relief on our protagonist’s voice is apparent.

While there are many examples of this type of behavior in Day-Z, the fact that it is all player generated, coupled with the game’s frequent visual bugs results in a unique combination of tension and absurdity. In Day-Z, the players are both monsters and clowns, one and the same.

…the browser swallowed my blog post!

In looking for a sublet and posting a sublet on Craigslist for this coming summer, language and images are everything. Even on the listing screen, you can tell from the title whether the posting is by a spammer, a broker, or a person you might get along with. The string of <150 characters in listing titles are arranged, CAPITALIZED, misspelt., !!!*~over excited~*!!!, and less frequently from a cool, calm, normal human you’d actually like to live with.

I just engaged in my first ever posting, and I found myself looking at example postings to capture the “Craigslist Speak”. I pondered “What does asterisk surrounding a word in all caps say about me?”. There is a specific addressee, and on this low-tech, basic html site, you, as the addressor, have to adapt to the native lingo to gain attention. The site is coded in an informal format, and as an addressor, it feels like you’re supposed to use incorrect grammar and spellings to get the point across and feign importance.

The context of Craigslist is a perfect example of semitics at work. It has been a hilarious experience to code my wording to operate well in this context. Check out my posting to see how I tried to speak Craigslist:

On Friday morning I found a funny thing on Our very own Erik Stolterman’s book for quite a few pennies over what I’d seen before…


I am a little bit short on blog posts, so I am going to attempt to explain to you all how we can tell “Almond Branch Books” out of  “New Hampton, NY” didn’t read Erik’s book, because from the one chapter I have read, this is the opposite of desiderata. It should be known, before we begin, this business is either A) incredibly typo prone, as all of their books listed are several hundred dollars, B) very bad appraising books (no offense to Erik) or C) laundering funds through a phony company. (After conversations with a friend who works at HPB, it looks like C is common and unfortunately, after a book is in someone’s possession they can charge whatever they want).

Desiderata includes aesthetics, ethics, and reason, or what we intend the world to be. Almond Branch Book’s (ABB) service design model is the design I will be critiquing. The company’s “felt need” to change of the listed book price to a grossly inflated number they desire is what Stolterman and Nelson refer to as a “dead end” as opposed to “next best steps”. They have dead ended themselves away from legitimate customers and entered into what can only be assumed as illegal activities in plain sight. “That-which-is-desired” or desireata is none of their concern.

The authors of The Design Way are wise. They know “desires are not all good… Over time, we learn to discipline the negative desires and live out the positive ones.” Possibly not enough time has passed for ABB to understand the difference between negative desire and positive ones. It would be a good idea for them to open the book of which they sell.

Later in the chapter, the authors state: “A created need is an imposed desire […] It is preformed and impressed upon a person in their role as consumer or end user, through persuasion or manipulation.” ABBs service design model is a clear manipulation of the online marketplace. The need for the book is obviously not successfully imposed on consumers, however if they were a laundering front, they are intending to look as though they do good business by blending into an online marketplace. A pedestrian consumer is definitely being performed and impressed upon.

The people of ABB should reconsider their service design model and actually get into an honest business. Hey, maybe they could actually sell books. As Stolterman and Nelson state: “…rather than allow our various problems to run our lives, we would be wise to approach the world from a design perspective and look to our desiderata for direction in our approach to intentional change.” The path to legitimacy is possible. If they desire to make more money than booksellers, they should look at their desire to make money and design an ethical  solution to their problem.

Here is the seller’ s page: Also, it should be known that is much like Amazon, individual sellers manage their own pages. I happen to love HPB stores and this post should not be mistaken as a stab at them as a business.

Firstly, this Dunne and Raby piece was a fantastic overview of conceptual design as a whole. From the reason to being to the call to action at the end. I, for one, had a lot of fun looking into the aforementioned projects in varying fields. I love art and clever thought, as most do… but I found myself really caught up at the end of the chapter about the costs to create such work, both as it relates to money and time. This is not something that was lost on D&R and they stressed this, but I had lots of thoughts on the topic and want to trace through some examples that came to mind.

They touched a lot on markets of the varying design arenas driving demand for design that gets made, which makes sense. More specifically, in architecture, the conceptual “House IV” by  Peter Eisenmen was only brought off paper by a wealthy fan of his work. The home was unsuitable in many respects, much like Frank Gehry’s work, but both architect’s visions were “brought off paper” (again and again) because of an appreciation of their domain and funding. Later, D&R mention Marcel Wander’s oversized objects that hinted at the future of design “until they were cut short by the global financial crash”. They touch on the bounds or industrial design, explaining that conceptual work only gets done by students, who have not matured as designers.

To add to this, I thought of the success of Warhol’s work in the 1960’s Post War America, or what is known as the “longest uninterrupted period of economic expansion in history” [source]. A more contemporary example of this is The Hirst Index, an infograhpic comparing the sale of Damien Hirst’s artwork to stock market values (by one of my favorite graphic designers, Kelli Anderson). The result of this is no surprise, aside from the shocking dollar amounts! I also thought about Alex Bogusky, of the ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Bogusky left his namesake to work on & FearLess Revolution. His goal is to start a consumer revolution, or, in his words: ” to provide more transparency, more collaboration, more democracy, and ultimately more value.” Bugesky’s ventures are “conceptual” [or maybe “edgy”.. i don’t know] in part, and commendable in my book, but how convenient that funding these ventures was not an issue for someone with their name on a door of a well known firm.

This is a total ramble. I’m not worked up, but I more so confronting my own insecurities in the arena of “conceptual design”.  As a student, it is obvious that my point of view on design and it’s possibilities/ethical concerns/future implications are much in development. I wonder though… while I am interested in Dunne & Raby’s CTA, if I could be held accountable. I, along with my peers are in a position to go out in the world, get jobs, and the odds are in favor of us getting a little caught up in life, bills, family, and so on. Neither course is more important course than the other in the end. I know it comes down to personal values and potentially, a calling(?). What we occupy ourselves with is a choice, and I think it would be daunting to have something to say and need to find money, something like “the artworld” support/ a venue, and time.  I’m looking at it all from a very big picture, meta point of view (without a specific goal in mind), but I just found that I was really intimidated at the end of this article.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… this is a huge mountain, I don’t know the way up, some people seem to have a gondola pass, but I don’t know if I will want to embark at all when it is within reach.


I am, admittedly, only half way into the reading, but I thought of something I saw today.

“Dumb Starbucks”, a Starbucks parody, opened up today in Los Feliz today. They are operating their business as “art” and people are confused. A friend drove by and vouched for how long the lines are.

“A barrista who identified herself as Amber said she recently found the job online and was interviewed briefly by a man whose name she doesn’t recall. Asked whether the store was some kind of artistic statement, she responded, ‘I don’t know. What is art? Maybe serving coffee is art.'” (Source


So, is it art or not art? What would Danto say? What would Warhol say? If they were in LA, would they go?


In the comments section of this video, YouTube user Bridget Orozco states,

[H]ow is using the flood tool painting? I’m classically trained in analog and digital mediums but f*** did I have to learn things like anatomy and color theory, composition among a billion things. I never liked this guy’s craft required no talent.. notice I call it a craft not an art, and not even a good craft.

Maybe this is part II of my previous post, but this video and the comment, I think, go hand in hand with Arthur Danto’s book chapter, The Philosopher as Andy Warhol.  The comment above is a firm example, shown by Danto, “…to the very art that Warhol’s critics saw as mindless and meretricious.”  While the critics are having an easy time saying what they believe is art, I do not believe they are creating a supporting argument as to why this is not art.  As we see in the video above, Andy just sits there and clicks a few buttons in order to create a portrait.  Sure it appears to be very easy and as if anyone can do it, in fact this could go with the fact that he was not the one creating every piece of work that went out with his name on it.  He created the work through his factory artists, which is how he was able to champion the idea of mass produced art.  Was your Marilyn Monroe silkscreen made specifically by Andy Warhol and him alone? Probably not, but it was created in the process that he saw what art could be.

Maybe Warhol’s factory process was in fact a way for him to challenge what people wanted to view as art and if that is the case, he definitely succeeded well up until his death in 1987.  However, Danto states on page 69 that Warhol’s artwork had little do to with the pretensions of the artworld  and I disagree with that statement.  I think a lot of Warhol’s artwork had a lot to do with with the pretensions of the artworld, due to the fact that we are still having this debate today.  Andy said anything and everything can be art, but what I have heard no one dispute, is that there is an artist behind the design of the Brillo Box, the Campbell’s Tomato Soup Can, or an image painted using the Commodore Amiga.  These designs facilitated Andy Warhol’s artwork and made us realize that an artist is always working behind the scenes.

Do objects even exist, that is, as an object-in-itself? Or, is everything out there part of a perceptual world, and not actually part of a world that ‘exists’? When I see a green shirt, is it really ‘green’? Or am I simply perceiving something, then projecting what I understand as ‘greenness’ to the shirt? Do objects even have inherent qualities, or are all qualities given to the objects through our sensory engagements with them? This is a rant in question form, but I really just want to throw out some questions for everyone. I think these questions highlight the power and place of our perceptual faculties and how we make sense of the world.

So this is going to be my crazy post of the semester. But this is honestly how this paper made sense to me when I read it. Also this gives me an opportunity to talk about movies, since I love them so much!

So back story, I think Inception is a movie about movie making. I will explain it a little later, but I highly recommend you reading this blog, since they explain it better than me.  What you may be asking is why the hell am I making a comparison between Inception and Aesthetics? It’s because, I believe the way Inception shows how the dream world is made, is how Folkmann expects us to use aesthetics to design.

Since we talked about writing structure today, here is mine:

1. Inception is about movie making

2. The similarities to Folkmann and Aesthetics.

3. Why it matters to us Designers

Inception is about movie making

I know the movie is about dreams within dreams and what not, but think of a dream as a movie. Think of yourself as Fischer (someone being brought into the dream world or watching a movie). When you are watching a movie (hopefully a good movie), you live in it. You suspend your disbelief and enjoy the experience. Whether it is a movie about Aliens, zombies or having sex in the city a second time. It’s when you step back out into the real world when you start really thinking about how bizarre the world you just witnessed was. They mention this in the movie “Well, dreams, they feel real while we’re in them right? Its only when we wake up then we realize that something was actually strange.”  Why am I talking about this? Because I think in this movie, there are several moments when you see a design process in action (when they are planning about the dream worlds). More importantly you see them take a user (Fischer) and navigate the built experiences. Their designs fail, they improvise, they work with what Fischer brings with him (his experiences represented  as his subconscious). So just keep this metaphor in mind as I try to explain Folkmann through the inception is a movie lens.

The similarities to Folkmann and Aesthetics!

For me, Folkmanns big claim was that Aesthetics is more than color and physical form. “…aesthetics is not just a question of appearance but also of epistemology and of organizing our relation to the world “. The point being, we can use aesthetics in design to create more meaningful experiences.

Now we have argued about the previous readings and how they have ignored the users. It was all about the Designers and the way they design and their design thinking. But in this paper, Folkmann says:

design is not the expression of a lone artist but rather the result of complex                               commercial and societal process

This to me is not only talking about the different stakeholders but what they bring with them as part of their experience. That is what I think he means by societal process. The values, meanings and judgements that are passed on to us through the society.

In Inception, the subject’s subconscious is essentially the values, meanings and judgements. In the second dream phase (the hotel) we even see the user interacting with his subconscious. The designers (Leonardo and the crew) did not design the subconscious, they had no idea how his subconscious was going to react. The user brought it into the design, and his own feelings defined how the rest of the experience was going to be. All the designers did was plant a seed or in our language plant an idea using aesthetics. The designers set up an environment (much like a museum), and gave an initial direction, the user himself started filling in the rest of the gaps and defined his own understanding and reality.

3. Why it matters to us designers

I don’t want to repeat what Jeff said, but I kind of have to. I think this paper defines Aesthetics as a tool. A tool to really look at everything with a critical eye. Kind of what Marty says in IDP. What does the world look like from that corner? how about the other corner? I also love this paper because it recognizes people as more than just action and reaction and talks about the importance of culture and their background.

What do you guys think? Does my Inception Analogy make sense? Why do you think this paper is important?