Unit 2: Future of the Mind – Grid Cells Interaction

I was keen to explore how the grid cell pattern, once ‘unveiled’ within the world, might disrupt people’s movement. I was also eager to understand the nature of future as unknown, and something we can only imperfectly plan for.

In order to capture this, I decided to ‘disrupt’ space that is usually transitory in nature, and might see a more predictable mode of transport across it. I laid out a grid of post-it notes on the floor of a corridor in the Art school, choosing intentionally one that is a little unusual, for having uneven floor, a partitioning rail, and small staircase, as well as obstacles such as a fire extinguisher.

Participants were first asked to plan their route across the grid on an exercise sheet I provided. I intentionally did not provide a scale or inform them of the side of the grid they would enter first, or reveal the location of the grid within real space. Once they had drawn this, I brought them to the end of the corridor where they would approach the space and let them do so unassisted.

Example of instructions and planned grid interaction
Video of participants engaging with the grid space

Following their interaction, I asked them to record the route they had taken in interacting with the grid.

Here we can see the participant varied their route quite a bit on interacting with the space itself.

It was interesting to see the participants engaging with the grid space, several of them adopted a less-natural gait in order to more precisely recite the route they had planned, and we saw their arms being used for balance and to help navigate obstacles. It could be interesting to reenact these movements once decontextualised by the grid/this particular space. Several participants walked on tiptoe in order to avoid stepping on the post-it notes.

An unexpected observation was the change in participants’ mental states throughout the exercise. There was a certain nervousness and confusion when first being instructed on the task, and uncertainty in the chosen route. Some expressed some frustration on discovering the grid was unlike the space as they had imagined. There was a general sense of focus and concentration during the task, followed by a sense of achievement and enjoyment on completion of it. If I were to repeat this I think I would seek to find a way to record this change in mental state more fully, as this anxious anticipation could be a natural state of future thinking.

It would be interesting to do a similar exercise using a much larger space, and/or to repeat the exercise with participants who have more expertise in gesture and movement, e.g. dancers. I enjoyed when there were two participants engaging at once, and having multiple agents seeking to complete their routes at the same time could be interesting in itself.

Typography: my work

In this workshop, we were introduced to the Adobe InDesign app, taught several basic functions within the app, completing various exercises to put these to practice, and then finally asked to create several typographical representations of a word given to us from a hat.

I found this brief especially interesting to read and so think I would like to explore typography in greater depth.

We were instructed to use Helvetica as a neutral font type, and asked to choose a letter to experiment with. I chose a capital R as I thought it had an interesting variety of form to play round with (straight, curved and wiggly).

First we experimented with duplicating and transforming the letter in dimension and orientation. Then too with opacity and layering. What’s interesting here (which I have only just noticed) is that unintentionally I arranged the page in the shape of the R I was using..!

Then, we experimented with colour fills, as well as gradients, and outlines with varying thickness and pattern.

Here, by masking certain elements of the letter by drawing a shape over it, we experimented with deconstructing the letters and marrying them to create new letters or abstractions. I enjoyed this especially, and testing how far the letter could be pushed and still recognised.

I was given the word ‘error’ to portray through type. This word for me has connotations of machinery and computing, as it’s synonymous with ‘error messaging’ in applications and computer systems. As such I knew I wanted my typograms to play on this.

I began by writing this as one word, and sought to experiment with one of the outlining functions which makes the edges angular/squared – to increase it’s artificiality. I arbitrarily drastically increased the size of this outline and it created an unforeseen interesting result, whereby it was obliterating the word itself. I liked the effect it gives, a bit like someone has viciously markered a piece of paper. Over the top of this, I included a small ‘error’ in a typeface that evokes typewriter or mechanical writing as a footnote of sorts. I chose a contrasting yellow to have this stand out, but also give a sense of alarm. Interestingly, when printed the strength of the black ink behind this yellow note means the type is almost imperceptible.

For my next page, I wanted to experiment instead with each letter in isolation. I chose to continue with the yellow/black palette for this piece as well. I knew I wanted to mix up the sizing, typeface and capitalisation of the letters to disrupt the reading of the word. I deconstructed my capital E which I find interesting since it remains identifiable despite the middle and bottom horizontal lines being disjointed.

The fact I had three rs in my word was interesting, since I had been working with this earlier. I chose to still have one capital R here but I enjoyed exploring the lower case r in this instance – particularly when duplicating and varying the opacity and making this overlap. This reminded me of an error that used to happen with Windows OS and that was featured in the opening credits of the IT Crowd tv show (which again reinforced this connotation of error).

For the O, I wanted to again play with the outlining feature, and again using an oversized one, I achieved an interesting effect which effectively multiplied the letter itself. By scaling this up and tilting it I realised it looked a little like the iconic Vertigo poster, and I liked the additional meaning this could convey, alongside the repeating r, of you falling into an endless error. I backgrounded this to highlight that sense of falling into it. [Here again, the vortex is appearing as a motif!]

I further subverted this work by ‘accidentally’ leaving one of the InDesign function windows on top of the design and screengrabbing it to create a further page – in a postmodern sort of way.

I also enjoyed seeing this message at the bottom of the application window and thought it could in itself ironically imply a paradox of both being and not being an error.

I enjoyed this 1/2 day workshop greatly, and would like to work to extend it as suggested at the end of the brief.