what’s the big idea?

as part of my studies in communication design and dynamic media at The Dynamic Media institute at MassArt in Boston i spent the best part of the first year in the program exploring and rediscovering a lot of subject matter i am particularly passionate about … the second semester included a continuation of The DMI’s ‘Design Seminar’ … and in this course my classmates and i got to use mindmapping, automatic writing and other techniques to delve into the realms we might consider as the focus for our eventual thesis work in design

the program is utterly amazing … and i highly recommend anyone that is truly interested in current trends in technology, communication, expressive arts and creativity and the future of humanity come to the program and at least audit a course … i’m sure that if you stop in you will witness something that you may not find anywhere else in the world … an international and interdisciplinary union of personality and expertise all brought together for the sole purpose of contributing to the future … contributing to the future of design thought and media experience

of course, this is not an advertisement for the program … i am just excited about the coursework and it is only through my own participation that i bumped across this theory … the theory that serves as the primary focus of this post

and that focus, my friends, is the concept of Total eXperience Design

so, for now … more digression and background on my studies … only a slight delay ( be patient ), i promise

back to Design Seminar 2 … as part of the coursework w/ DS2 the entire class participated in a community blog to explore areas of interest and help each of us discover our passions in this space … w/ each new blogPost, students were then expected to make comments on each other’s writings … and the funny thing that came out of that particular part of the exercise, at least for me, was each comment i posted, each attempt i made to give my own perspective to someone else’s perspective … each comment seemed to help both parties involved … commenting helped me deepen and clarify my own thoughts as well as offer up some valuable thought and consideration for my classmate … a truly valuable and unique exercise in community, thinking and sharing

the results of my second semester … well, i developed a preliminary thesis proposal … or i almost developed a preliminary thesis proposal … i think that my final ( or nearFinal ) presentation just put a LOT of ideas ‘out there’ … i was concerned about the loss of texture as we move from media in realSpace into increasingly more virtual expressive spaces …

i also seemed very curious about the areas between each artform or each realm of design communication ( some might call these channels ) and i called this betweenSpace

translation, as somewhat related to the loss of texture through virtualization, but more importantly, literal translation and the gigantic and ofttimes humorous, disservice word-to-word machine-like translation can do for language, this was also important to me and my thesis … you cannot truly translate a poem, right? something gets lost … either the rhythm, the nonsense, some of the meaning, i mean … there are good translations of a poem on the page, i’m sure … but no matter what it seems we lose something along the way ( and that might be poetic texture ) … i would advocate for interpretation over translation any day a the week …watching the TED Talk by Evelyn Glennie ‘How to listen to music with your whole body’ incredibly demonstrates, at one point, the important human difference between translation and interpretation … i hope to promote interpretation and to ridicule mere, robotic translation through some of my work

and i also knew that i was interested in doing unusual things with technology … that i wanted to create experiences that would make people question things or wonder if the experience they just had could even have been real

in some of my last slides … the last points of my final presentation summarized the key points in my areas of interest … and in the mix was the term ‘cyberSurreal’ … the professor leading the class ( and the program ) Jan Kubasiewicz asked if the term fvthe viion was my own invention, and frankly, i am not sure where it came from ( i had, in fact, just invented this term as i frequently mash words together w/ a little camelCasing due to my exposure and practice with code ), but as soon as he began to ask everything seemed to make sense

i think i needed to give myself permission … it took me a year to unwind from the kind of corporate containership my professional existence shackled to me for years … i have had to live as a man in pieces for more than a decade … someone that needed to, for survival in an office ( of all places ) setting, someone that needed to sequester huge chunks of important stuff away because the establishment, the cSuite, whatever you want to call it, finds the real me ( the entire bag of thought ) a little too scary for the workplace … i don’t know, it could be my own doing really … i could be assuming that the whole package is ‘too much’ for the workplace … but i don’t think i imposed these silos upon myself … this siloing …

so it took me a year to admit to myself i was interested in cyberSurrealism … the extension of the original movement of Surrealism and all of its predecessing and postdecessing movements back and forth, into and out of the virutal and actual systems we all must live with, in, around … with at least part of cyberSurrealism i want to explore life as a living prototype … a sort of found prototype … as a performer ( and as a world citizen that needs to live in this world we were given … this hand-me-down world ) i will become a sort of usability practitioner of the world and its many systems as a found, living prototype … and from here on in it is my job to test the system and find ways to improve it

a more grand way of saying this is … through the international movement of cyberSurrealism i will act as a usability practitioner to test the world as a found, living prototype and then find areas of potential improvement and suggest ways to change the world … i hope to suggest unusual ways of solving huge problems by looking at things from a slightly different angle ( as influenced by our ‘Murray’ project in Design Studio 2 with Joseph Quackenbush,see the New Yorker article ‘Million Dollar Murray’ by Malcolm ‘Tipping Point’ Gladwell ) or by using the betweenSpace as a place of leverage … and, from a more Surreal standpoint and one that may be more literary or poetic, i am seeking poetic justice in the world through my research, prototyping and exploration of these concepts … i hope to live my life as much like a poem personified as Billy Barnum does … to seek those moments of poetry that cannot be merely translated or explained but can only be appreciated through living, through witnessing, through direct experience of that poetic moment

and that lead us to Total eXperience Design

i have many theories brewing about this topic of Total eXperience Design … i heard an excellent recent talk about multi-channel marketing campaigns, which seems to potentially be one flavor of what i am proposing to the world … but TXD is a bit different, especially when looked at through the lens of cyberSurrealism

based on Wagner’s concepts of gesamtkunstwerk or ‘The Total Artwork’ … Total eXperience Design would take a user-centered set of considerations ( maybe even a UCD approach, but it might depend on the piece ) to design everything … the entire experience … to take all sense into consideration … to take the temporal nature of the particular piece into consideration … to think about the impression the piece leaves w/ the listener | viewer | participant … the TXD aftertaste, if you will … and to think about the artifacts or take-aways that both the user and the world will have following the existence of the TXD piece in question or on display

how many times … how many times have i been to a performance, seen incredible work, live sound and theatricality … event-based experience … and then, in the end, the piece unintentionally ( without TXD consideration ) lives on only in the mind ( and conversation ) of the audience … in other words, adequate and important documentation and deliverables were never considered … the focus is so much on getting up on stage, using this or that technology, wearing this or that article of clothing, and yet there is no video or audio capture of the event to help the people of the future ( or even of the present ) understand or see the vision you created

dimif this were intentionally part of the plan, cool … not a big deal to document a rock show, perhaps … and that is fine … we can’t have a screenCapture of every single moment in lifenow, can we?

but we should at least, as artists and designers, consider the afterlife of a project or event … is there an item we would want to give the viewer | participant to help them better understand the intended meaning of the piece? to understand it after the show, after the opening? or to maybe read a year from now and in deeper yet delayed reflection suddenly understand the work in a different light?

or maybe it is what it is and that’s that … that would be fine as well … just be considerate … consider the audience, the participant, the viewer, the user, the audience … and think about what you would want them to say, how you want them to talk about your work, how you hope they understand and speak about the content from a variety of levels

but we can think about TXD as gesamtkunstwerk augmented by the latest art and technology movements

TXD = g+DM ( gesamtkunstwerk + dynamic media )

these are my preliminary ideas about Total eXperience Design