Bootcamp Week 2: Intensity Rising


After the weekend post-week 1 of bootcamp I actually had moments on the subway where I questioned whether or not I wanted to do design. Whether I was capable of getting through three weeks of this commitment and dedication. I was scared because I enjoyed having a break from classes during the weekend so much. Yet on Monday I walked in, saw my fellow classmates, was greeted by my teachers, and got back to working I affirmed my passion.

Lesson 1: Questioning your Decisions is Healthy

I think some of my healthiest decisions I have come to a conclusion with were a result of me questioning something I thought I was 100% committed to. Whether that decision ended in me changing my mind, or simply strengthening my decision through affirmation, it typically has helped give me insight into more. There have been two instances of this over the course of week two. The first was after the first week of bootcamp, returning for the second week. It was really tough coming back because it has been an entirely different experience from anything I have been apart of. I was so ready to come to parsons and give it all the energy I had. I wanted to run my soul into the ground if it meant learning as much as I could. But that isn’t a healthy mindset to have with anything, everything should be a conscious decision or else it really isn’t much of a decision at all. My mind hasn’t changed about being a part of the MFADT program, but I have questioned the things that I like/dislike, and the ways that I would like to see change in the future.

The other big decision that I had to confront this past week was the idea for my final project.

Lesson 2: If You Short-Circuit, Rewind

Since the end of the first week I had come up with the idea that I wanted to do for my final project. I wanted to iterate on an idea I had over the summer to come out as queer by using simple geometry and web design. As the second week went by I worked really hard on researching and iterating on the ideas that I had. However, when the Friday crits came around I wasn’t prepared for taking full criticism for the project. My queer experience is a very personal one, it is one of the biggest emotional journeys I have made in my life. So when I took criticism for this project I felt very emotional, almost attacked in some ways. This was an expression of my personal experience and it felt like I was being told it wasn’t enough.

And it wasn’t honestly. My experience can still be valid, and my design can be improved upon at the same time. I think that is the most important lesson that I am taking away from this all. I am learning how to better explain my experiences, and design my art so they express my ideas. I’m not writing papers on theory anymore. I’m directly talking to people about my ideas, and designing works for them to understand them through.

That Sunday I went and read an article about queerness and failure suggested by one of my crits. I felt like I couldn’t continue with my project after reading. The paper discussed how hurtful failure was for many members of the queer community and how games just reinforce that pain in ways. It also reminded me of the many ways which games train our minds to fit into systems of capital more smoothly. Immanent Blocks felt like it was just forcing that pain onto fellow members of my community, and that really felt bad. I don’t want to make something that hurts the people that have supported me through my experiences. I want to support them, help them, fight for them. I wanted this project to be a part of that. So I was stumped.

I messaged some of my peers and mentors asking for advice. I felt defeated. Like I was set on a one way ticket towards my idea, then it crashed and derailed. However, after some replies I looked at my project and realized that I needed to take a step back and continue forward. I had to reaffirm that this was my experience and I have good intent to create something to educate. So if I iterate and prototype in a good form, I can eventually create something that achieves my goal.

Lesson 3: Speculative & Critical Design

In design class we learned about different forms of design and one form that specifically stood out to me was Speculative and Critical Design. In the past two years my entire goal has been to think about the ways that we have normalized our interactions with objects and routines. When we watched Dunne & Raby’s video I was immediately interested and wondered what else I could learn about the subject. That night I went home and removed my Physical Computation course and switched into Speculative Design for Design Fiction. I am excited because one of the things that I was worried about with my time as an MFADT student was that I would limit my thinking too much towards games because I have so much interest in them. But now, speculative design has given me a new way to look at design.

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