If wishes were fishes, the sea would be full.
In one of my classes at SAIC, we talked about how Fear and Desire play into the design process, and about how we encounter they shape our experiences, particularly in the Urban Built Environment. The culminating project for that class was to create an object or process that would shape the interactions of people in the city using the tension between what we Desire and what we Fear.
My project was a meditation on how alienated and uncomfortable it can feel to walk around in a city, like Chicago, which doesn’t have prolific park benches because they can allow homeless people or other transients to occupy space. The side effect is that neither can people who are walking through the city sit down and enjoy the wonders of urban living.
It was a modular garment that could serve as a jacket, an umbrella, or a geodesic-dome tent depending on how many people or pieces you had with you. It required no carrying case, since it was itself a wearable object, but would allow the wearer to create a sacred nest in the heart of the city by encouraging interaction with other people, and allowing the wearer to build a refuge using his clothing.
In Europe, there are more benches, and there are pedestrian pathways where people picnic. One of the projects that I considered while living in Spain was to photograph and interview people sitting on different park benches. In the end I was both too busy and too shy, but maybe one day I’ll go back and do it. Though at this point someone made a movie with a similar theme, so maybe it isn’t such an original idea anymore. But putting together a book of photos and stories might have some strengths of its own that wouldn’t be the same as the cinematic version.
Meandering along, today during my morning perusal of various internet founts, I discovered a modern convenience which pushes and pulls along that interface between fear and desire. It is a map-app called Serendipitor. In it you ask for directions to someplace and at each turn it gives you a task to do which makes your walk more interesting by forcing you to interact with people or go off your usual beaten path to see a different street going the long way.
All of this talk about fear and desire has sprung forth from a realization I had the other day while talking about what I want and running smack into a barrier: at the moment I have a lot of real fears and not many tangible desires. It makes decision-making very difficult.
It’s time to give what I want some more tangible form, so today I’m meditating on some concrete things to wish for.