Slavi Kaloferov

Digital Psychogeography


Brief

Design a journey that leads from the inner world to the outer world or vice versa

Teammates

Kye Li, Rebecca Hodge, Roshni Suri 

Timeframe

23 – 27.01.2023

Development

Research

While practising Derive we attempted to immerse ourselves in Hackney Marshes, which we had to incorporate into our final outcome. At first glance, the cold day made the place appear uninteresting, but in hindsight, there was a lot we could pick on.

Map of our walk applying Derive (wondering) in Hackey Marshes.
Wandering in Hackney Marshes. Photo credit: Roshni Suri.
Water filtering bed
Pond near the filtering bed. Photo credit: Rebecca Hodges.
Getting textures from the place. Photo credit: Roshni Suri.
Kye’s and Slavi’s notes of gut feeling of surfaces and sounds.
Nature’s Throne sculpture at Hackney Marshes.

To progress faster in our project we could have:

  • Focused on the recurring themes and connections between objects in the place;
  • Consider different perspectives, such as non-human ones, to experience the place in unique ways;
  • Became fascinated by a unique object from Hackney Marshes and expanded on it.

In retrospect, instead of trying to encompass the entire place in our experience, especially in a short project, we should have filtered to what makes us excited about the place and that single meaningful insight from our primary research and developed our outcome around it.

Balancing Idea and Making: Overcoming Creative Blocks in Team Projects

The team was reluctant to start making (in the broadest sense) things just because we did not have a clear idea, a concurrent issue in my past projects.

Team discussing initial brainstorming ideas. Photo credit: Roshni Suri.
Initial round of the team’s ideas for a psychogeographical walk.
Second round of the team’s ideas for a psychogeographical walk
Concept for linking major life events with emotions through a thread and walking in space. Credit for the sketch: Rebecca Hodges.
Final round of the team’s ideas for a psychogeographical walk.

My observations so far are that the materials used will ultimately impact the final outcome, and ideas often emerge from the creative process of making where unexpected discoveries happen.

Having something to be able to look from the side and get feedback is critical in helping to refine the idea, as it provides a sense of how what message is being received and where it can be pushed.

There are benefits to exploring a breadth of ideas through sketching, just as we did. However, there was a moment when the team hit a plateau of diminishing returns and time efficiency and motivation significantly dropped.

At that moment, we needed change but I still find it hard what exercise to pick in order to lead the team through the creative block.

Balancing Abstraction and Authenticity in design

We attempted to extract the essence of Hackney Marshes and incorporate it into our design but struggled to maintain a connection with the place while avoiding mere replication.

Writing words on paper to be cut. The words were collected from a questionnaire we ran about emotions around big life events. Photo credit: Author.
Preparing the assets for our physical prototype. Photo credit: Kye Li.
Assembling the different strings of emotions. Photo credit: Author.
Detail from the strings of positive emotions for the physical prototype. Photo credit: Rebecca Hodge.
Assembling the physical prototype, “Filter of emotions.” Photo credit: Author.
“Filter of emotions” prototype. Photo credit: Author.
User testing the prototype. Photo credit: Kye Li.

The Concept

Faced with limited time and negative feedback on initial ideas such as exploring the layers of history or nature engulfing and purifying, my team decided to shift its focus to nostalgia and how the peaceful atmosphere of Hackney Marshes elicits personal memories and a break from the busy city life through personally written poems and performance. 

Feedback

Using audio from our sound recordings at Hackney Marshes would have strengthened our “prototype” and show the connection to the place. We could have linked specific landmarks from the sight more consciously to our moments of memories and emotions, adding more depth to the experience.

Reflection

The brief presented a significant challenge for our team as it asked us to, first, deviate from our conventional ways of thinking of designing functional products and design a unique and imaginative approach to creating an experience of abstract things.

I am grateful for the experience and the valuable lessons I learned from this project.