Collecting Research / Research Collections

January - February 2022
Grad Lab Module for Graduate Media Design Practices, ArtCenter College of Design


In this module, we will collaboratively construct a “Visual Reader” through weekly exercises aimed at using collecting as a research organization framework. Research does not have to solely be text-based; our collections will comprise different materials, methods, articles, cultural artifacts, podcast episodes, social structures, jokes, intimations, hunches, distillations, etc.! At the end, our Visual Reader will live both physically and virtually, and will document our ways of working towards developing our personal research-driven design practice.

Class Links

- Reference Slides (intentionally incomplete)
- Class Figma
- Group 


Personal Introductions 

Concept & Class Introduction 
- Super Power
- Collecting Research <> Research Collections
- Visual Reader

* Short Intro from Steph
* Individual account setup
* Assignment: Create at least 3 channels comprising questions, phrases, provocations, etc. Connect resources to each channel. The channels do not have to relate to the class concept (Super Power).
* To Do: Send Steph your name so that she can add you to the group!

2. Mind Map
* In 4 separate groups, use Figjam to create a mind map based off the questions in the GoogleSlides.
* We will revisit the Mind Map throughout the module.

3. Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Carrier Bag of Fiction” (1986) 
* Read it! On your own or with a partner.
* Pick out phrases or sentences that interest you.
* Paste your selection into the class channel. 

Next Session
We will:
- review Mind Maps in a group
- discuss Le Guin’s Carrier Bag of Fiction
- answer questions 


Class To-Do’s
- Present Mind Maps (5 min total / group)
- Le Guin Review (Steph will pull out main threads)
- Reflection: What intuitions are coming through? What stops us from acting on a curiosity? intuition? etc.?
- Questions + print.arena 
- Share Exercises

1. Paul Thek’s “Teaching Notes: 4-Dimensional Design” (1978-1981)
* Read through Thek’s Teaching Notes.
* On your own, spend time answering the questions. (I recommend carving out time to go outdoors with your favorite pen and notebook to write your answers and reflections.)
* Pick one (or two!) questions and prompts listed in his work and sketch out a small, designed response inspired by the question. 

2. Revisit Mind Map with group or individually
* What do you want to add that you stopped yourself from adding before? ... add it!
* Are there interesting ideas from other classmates that feel related to yours?
* Is there a specific reference you now want to connect?
* Did anything from Thek’s questionnaire inspire you? ... find a way to add it to the mind map.  

- Continue adding your personal channels and blocks. 
- Begin to play around with creating channels that begin responding to your ideas, feelings, and interests around the concept of Super Power. 

Next Session
We will:
- discuss our answers to Thek’s Teaching Notes as a group
- share any sketches inspired by Thek’s Teaching Notes
- Look more deeply into our channels/blocks


Class To-Do’s
- Share & discuss Thek’s Teaching Notes in groups and/or one large group
- Reflect on personal interests and inclinations
- Visual Reader “editing” ideas!  

1. Begin collecting (your individual research)

“There is time enough to gather plenty of wild oats and sow them, too, and sing to little Oom, and listen to Ool’s joke, and watch newts, and still the story isn’t over. Still, there are seeds to be gathered, and room in the bag full of stars.”

- The Carrier Bag of Fiction

*Now that we’ve reflected in a group with our mind maps and taken time to reflect on our personal selves, we will now venture into our researching journey. This is a meaningful endeavour: we are taking our ideas very seriously now.

* In this process, it is important to go off on a tangent––the deeper, stranger, funnier, and more far off you go, the better. 

* What will you collect? And why? This you must answer yourself.

* Interested in a specific type of bug? Collect them and visually display them. Interested in an expression or strange turn of phrase? Analyze it, define it, re-construct it. Etc.

* The importance is to deepen a research topic by turning up the volume on collecting.

2. Individual Research Documentation on
* Use your personal accounts to display/show us the “grains” and “oats” you have collected

3. Optional: Re-read Le Guin’s The Carrier Bag of Fiction
* How is the author’s notion of collecting the same and/or different from your own processes of collecting your research?

Next Session
We will:
- present our collections
- be prepared to justify what you collected and why (e.g. what was your collecting strategy?)

Meditation Experiment

“#14 Make a wall between your hands”
from Roger-Pol Droit’s 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life 

Class To-Do’s
- Present collections in 2-3 minutes each! (Total ~50 minutes)
- Reflection: What themes for Super Powers are coming through? Which of these concepts do we want to bring into our Visual Reader? How do we add nuance to the types of things you have collected? 
- Visual Reader Sequencing Discussion: What is our organization strategy?

1. Continue collecting! 
* We aren’t done collecting!

* Challenge Time: Collect something you would not normally collect that relates to the topic. e.g. a joke, physical newspaper clippings, weird sentences, tiny sculptures, hiking paths, etc.

* Did a classmate’s collection inspire you? Connect to it via &/or add more to it.
* Did you only collect one type of thing? How do you diversify what you collect? 
* Did you turn up the volume enough on collecting? If not, how can you turn it up more?

2. Sorting & Organization on 2 Levels

“If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it's useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people , and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again-if to do that is human, if that's what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.”

- The Carrier Bag of Fiction

Individual Level
* Now that you’ve done a lot of collecting, how do you refine the “containers” that you’ve put everything in? Do you need to create more containers? Rename them? Delete some?
* A good container should always a good title. e.g. “Food” or “Travel” as titles are too general (lol) and don’t bring anything new to the table. :(
* Your containers live virtually as channels.

Group Level (for Visual Reader) 
* What are the containers we want to bring forward as a class?
* How do we “hack” the Print feature for our own sequencing? 
* What other content do we need to create and/or gather? e.g. markers, delineators, quotes, etc. 

3. Print
* Try it for fun-siez on one of your channels so that you can get a feel for it. :)   

Next Session
We will:
- decide which topics make it into our Visual Reader 
- group-ly agree on an orga strategy
- assign tasks for creating the Visual Reader


Class To-Do’s
We will hang out mostly on Figjam in order to:

- write down our collection names
- “cluster” the collections
- group-ly make some decisions
- assign tasks 

1. Work in your groups (for the Visual Reader)
* :)
* Team work is the best work!

2. Jointly present the Finalized Visual Reader :) 

Final Class!

Class To-Do’s
- Review Final Visual Reader
- Discuss strengths + weaknesses of the Visual Reader
- Visual Reader statement 
- Module Reflection

In the meantime...

1. Print Your Own Book (P.Y.O.B.)
* Does this acronym work? lol
* Print a version of the Visual Reader on your own!  
* Bind it in some way, a fun way, any way –– it cannot be loose.
* Use different colored paper if you’d like.

2. Print the Visual Reader & Display on MDP Wind Tunnel Wall
* More to come :) 

3. Visual Reader Book (TBD)
* Steph will take the lead.
* More to come :)