Digital design

Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to carry on when things feel so wrong. Without my girl here there’s a big gap in my life. However for her I’d like to write a few things down so when I see her again she can read a little and perhaps know more about my work. This is not a sign that I am ok. It is merely a means to keep going for her.

Web design and gaming was always part of my life. It’s just that I never noticed – until I re-found design later on through my research into gaming. In China gaming is a particularly serious craft and with Manga and animation a huge industry I’ve followed the development, albeit from a distance.

From Snake to Pac Man, Tetris, SQ, Super Mario and Prince of Persia I played many different games. I’ve worked through various simulation games from aircraft and rally car driving – my favourite being F1 where you could choose the track and driver. I played 4D too. This fascinated me – however I focused less on winning the race and more on the potential to build the tracks. I enjoyed the design – but what really interested me was how it was possible to view the other car from a different angle; in hindsight I suppose it was a type of choreography, which I suppose is how people might look at town planning or architecture.

I remember Rivern and Myst. These I played minimally since I never quite understood the purpose and I found the lack of character development limiting. However, the graphics were unique for that time. The landscaping and visual effects – lighting and sound were of an unusually high quality. I worked through Wiki’s, Encyclopedias, talk rooms – before social media such as Facebook and Twitter. And before mobile phones were developing apps.

I developed a website early – around the age of 17. Back then that was unusual. However, it was simply a means to document my work – a further two versions later, a great deal of hard work, I rebuilt again and developed this site. Now blogs and Vlogs are trendy – but for many years there just were not the options for communicating with others in that way.

As my photography and graphic work developed – partly due to the need to archive the work and partly as my research moved towards digital media, sports analysis with an emphasis on movement and garment design –

My word of caution.

From an early age I was always interested in psychology. Age 17 I was asked to research a project for my A-Levels – I could choose the subject. I chose the effect of music on driving habits – how different styles of music might impact on how people drive and if that might impact on criminal behaviour. On a very small level I found a slight significant outcome suggesting that this was true – at least within the study we completed.

Strangely, I’ve returned to psychology – since my research focused on sports and performance development. I was interested in developing a more detailed understanding of why and how the drawings I created related to the performances and if there might be an sub-conscious or unconscious response that resulted in a type of empathy with the performer. Therefore making it easier to collaborate with them through mark making. At a time when eye-contact/gaze and audience studies were also developing it seemed a relevant development, especially with my research moving towards sport, exercise and health. The first drawing I made and that beun my research was a simple start – a sketch during which I couldn’t get the angles of the body quite right and therefore needed to adjust my own body to try to clarify how to improve the work. Since then I’ve always wondered if there might be a connection between how the performer feels when moving on a stage and how the designer feels when drawing that movement – whether it might be possible, as many a sports person might report, that the use of imagery enables an internal response – that then connects the body of the drawer to the imagined movement, to the observed movement and therefore to the performer themselves. It is fairly well established that elite athletes use music and this type of imagined re-working of a movement to enhance performance. The use of music and imagery is well reported so it seems likely that drawing – and the use of imagery during the drawing process – have the potential to affect and influence the drawing and the body of the drawer. Which is why the emphasis in my research is placed on the connection between the hand and the paper as opposed to digital drawing.

That’s not to say that digital drawing is not relevant – but given the possibility for such empathetic responses the possibility of theatre materials used within gaming is one that I am cautious about. Saying that I have many positive things to say about the use of such elements within digital design. I can not fully explain the reasoning for developing avatars with such satisfaction. Character and costume design is of course a primary interest but beyond this was the interest in the movement and how digital design could enable a more detailed explanation of how the fabric would move on the body.

Drawings

Working on placing shapes and lines together – layers and composition.

Design style and working drawings

Lecoq understood that his training in performance could enhance his understanding of how other performers might learn. I would have to agree. 20 years of sports practice is inevitably reflected in my design/research work – whether I choose to embody/use it or not. This is probably why I will always do both – because the two are inextricably linked for me in a way that will always make me see things a bit differently. Designers bring different styles and approaches to the table – that’s important because different performances require different things, different teams work with different skill sets and designers certainly don’t need to have training in both areas. However, it certainly explains why I was never quite comfortable with the interactions between performers and designers – who used a shared, yet contradictory language that could aid collaboration yet also create numerous problems. On the one hand this knowledge helped, on another it became quite difficult. I understood training and performing as someone who did both – but had no appropriate structure through which to apply this knowledge within a design process. My research has been a journey in understanding, developing and working through a structure that explored, investigated and made visible this language. On a basic level, in sport, movement simply has to be understood better – performance development is the goal. Training in sport meant I looked at things in a different way – I saw movement first or at least at the same time as the clothes that were worn. That interested me.

Visual mapping – much like brain storming or word clouds. Designers often use this approach (see mood boards and pin boards – and the development of digital approaches such as pin-it.

Artists often use thumb nail sketches to develop ideas – these images are thumb-nails – the smaller version of a bigger visual idea… this approach enables a visual record, on a small scale – of a thought process; a way of organising ideas. In this case to better understand the way in which a designer might approach their work. So much information is developed during the research process, and so many connections are made between different ideas it can sometimes get overwhelming. This visual approach enables a re-tracing of these connections.

Iterative tracings

Finding ways in which the betwixt and between moments within the formation of different sets of knowledges involved in working with the moving body can be slowed down, extended and compared…

'There are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words.' - Doris Humphrey.