Breathing Color and Seeing Ghost

I meant to share a reflection on two exhibits that I feel relevant to the general discussion on fixation research. I was so happy to see “Breathing Color” in Design Museum before I left London. We often take colors for granted and forget there are all kinds of different greens, blacks, etc. It becomes inspiring when you can read and re-read a color!

That’s how I like the way Hella Jongerius (as a dual role of designer and artist) designed the research to capture the essence of colors and materials according to the different phases of the day. She had a minimal intervention of “recording the changing of the light” through a simple device, so-called “color catcher.” Each new folding and bending produce new shades/tones when they fall on the color catchers.

The other exhibit I popped in to see was Vikings in Museum of Nature and Science in Denver. I usually have low expectations about the general representation of physical objects. Here I was very impressed with how the exhibit designer visualized and explained things around something is not even there, since so many materials, including wood, deteriorate in time.

Particularly one compelling display is called “Ghost Ship,” which I thought is a clever and elegant solution (at least for a short-term period of time) to the “archaeologist’s frustration.” They built a “sculpture” using rivets from an authentic burial ship, dangling from strings to mark the position and create the shape of a vessel. Visitors can get the idea of the structure, even with the actual vessel is missing.

Thinking of the “color catchers” in London and the “hanging boat” in Denver, they are not unlike cognitive devices for discovery and invention. It’s a big challenge to visualize something that lasts a very short time or doesn’t exist anymore. That sounds like an inspiration. 😉 Scientific shreds of evidence require imagination. Back to the fixation discussion, I’m wondering how we can visualize those reflections/fixations captured during or after the design process as a journey (i.e. like turns and landmarks on the map), so we become more aware of where we were and what the world might be.

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