When I started my journey at UW Bothell, I was intimidated by research and inquiry as learning goals. I felt like there wasn’t a bridge between the academic side of me, who was passionate about research questions, methods, and sources, and the creative side of me that loved organic exploration. But as I delved into research and inquiry via an interdisciplinary lens, I was opened to a world where research became more than long-form papers, but images, art, and design. Projects such as “Kaleidoscope of Abstraction”, a gif and flarf poetry piece surrounding remix art culture, and a Community-Based Learning and Research project involving the experience design of the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, were two major influences of this journey.
In “Kaleidoscope of Abstraction” I explored research, inquiry, and conversation via Remix Culture. Remix culture is built on the work of others, and its core method is to iterate work via transformation into a new medium or form. I wanted to add more to the conversation but struggled with the question I wanted to ask. Speaking with my Professor, they suggested I research other artists, such as Christian Marclay and his piece “The Clock” and Aaron Valdez and his piece “Dissolve” as a means of inspiration. As I looked into these pieces, I found my creativity kick into overdrive. It was the first moment I saw myself as an artist with the ability to further the legacies that the artist that inspired me had started. It forced me to ask questions surrounding ownership, contributing to the debates surrounding ownership and intellectual property. I saw that the more I participated in these conversations, the more I began to position my work and think of its legacy.
Reflecting on the impact that research could have on inspiration, I saw an opportunity to go beyond normal design research within my Community-Based Learning and Research course surrounding design. On top of conducting ethnographic research, (conducting surveys, taking notes, and coding) I pushed my practice as a human-centered designer and used co-design to facilitate ideas for my design from the museum staff. This allowed me to position my work within the literature of human-centered design, and add to the conversation around the participation of the people within the design process. I saw our work as an extension of not only our relationship with our community partner but an extension of interdisciplinary research. The resulting report created an experience of our research, rather than a static presentation. It left the museum feeling inspired by where they could take their visitor experience, and left me feeling like I had an impact on my community and the field of design.
In the end, my journey through my coursework has allowed me to see research and inquiry beyond stagnant papers. Being able to see research as part of a journey, and not a destination within a project has allowed me to breathe life into the interdisciplinary nature of my perspective. The questions that began as starting points for projects, became pivotal ideas within my creative process, pushing me to see my work not only as extending research but the conversation of art and design.
Raymond, Rachel “Imagine Children’s Museum, IMD Research Team.” BIMD 481 Researching Design Contexts, Dr. Mark Chen. Autumn 2019.
Raymond, Rachel “Kaleidoscope of Abstraction Gif Tumblr.” BISIA 340. The Art of the Remix. Joe Mitilus. Autumn 2018.