Project 3: Reflection

[post class presentation-discussion]

Actual learning and outcome compared to projected learning/outcome:

  • designed a system surrounding the food, instead of stopping at the packets
  • explored the concept of facade as well as the initial exploration of stripping down the idea of food and eating.
  • explored the idea of a ‘ceremony’ of eating and considering it being as, if not more important than the actual food.
  • I didn’t explore interaction with others as much in this project, they’re not talking to people through the screen on their tray, but instead, the focus was on how the screen shaped the eating experience. The assumption is that they are interacting with the huge screen surrounding their walls to talk to others.

Plans for moving forward:

I would want to explore interaction with others. I may take the project out of this future room I have created and in the present. People are aware of their habits of checking phones at tables and dinners. Will it help to have it happen surreptitiously? Black Mirror explores that by having screens placed directly into the eyes of the people. But what if it’s non-invasive. What if the screen is disguised as the fork.

Another way to bring in interaction with others is through re-imagining the room. How will people be positioned in their rooms for ideal ‘viewing’ of the world?

Precedents I found when considering these ideas:

This product shows how such products can have too much control. The device refuses to deliver the juice if the product has expired, even if the consumer acknowledges the expiration and wants to proceed:

^This is also an idea I would like to explore. The loss of agency people will have in this kind of world.

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Project 3: Finalisation, Feedback, Refinement

I experimented with different dimenisons, placements and colors of the tray. I knew I wanted to stick to black and white, to retain the ‘clinical’ feel that I was inspired by:


The final design of the tray had places for the food and drink packets, a scent sensor at the bottom, a screen, cup and stirring rod. The nutrient and scent was in the buffalo wings, which when poured into the sensor would trigger aromas and a looping video of delicious looking wings on the screen. The Pina Colada drink had all the flavor and nutrients and pouring that into the water to drink it would complete the eating experience.

Got feedback:

  • overcomplicating design with the explanation of scent sensors
  • simply include scan areas and let the tray speak for itself
  • emphasise facade of eating with plate-like designs (donut?)
  • Re-introduce idea of eating sludge-food, to emphasize nature of food in this world.
  • Simulate eating.

Changes I needed to make:

  • Handles too big, tray too wide
  • no need for stirring rod? replace with spoon?
  • Scent and flavour would be together.

I decided to use the more basic precedent of instant foods:

The ‘nutrition’ is in the noodles, whereas the scent and flavours are in the packets that come within

It can be argued that the visuals are on the covers of the packets themselves, as the actual noodles look nowhere near as good:

I reimagined the tray to continue having the screen, but with an actual ‘plate’ (a hollow torus that has been sliced from the top)  that will contain the nutrient-rich sludge—providing the function of the noodles.


^3D software helped me get the shape and size of the tray and the torus just right, because it needed to fit snugly after printing.


^Going through the 3D printing process made me realise the composition was wrong and the drink should be on the left if the spoon is to be ‘set’ on the right.

Next I had to redesign the packages. They were no longer simply dissolving, but needed to fulfill the function of getting scanned, to get the videos to play.


^experimenting with type and QR code layout.

When it came to actually creating the packets, the QR codes took away from the futuristic look. I experimented with a different kind of plastic, but it still didn’t work:
^ The third packet was an experimentation with a different filling substance.

At the end of it, I omitted QR codes, relying on research that explained there were now scanners that could simply scan logos of products to get the product details. (http://www.waspbarcode.com/buzz/future-barcodes/).


^ final set.


^I also created a set of 6 drinks. I made the food and drinks international cuisine, as the future will most likely be diverse. And although nutrients would be covered by food, having drinks was necessary for the facade of a meal.


It was surprisingly difficult to find a good quality video of food from a top angle, despite Buzzfeed Tasty.

Project 3: Objectives, Outcomes and Precedents

Designing how and what people will eat in their rooms

Objectives:

  • create the design of the packaging that is self-contained
  • learn how the presentation of food impacts us
  • creating sense of human touch without it

Outcomes:

  • I expect people to see the convenience of the food
  • The food will look very detached from real food (pastes and liquids—food stripped to essentials)
  • The packaging will be attractive.

Got inspired by different areas of pop culture and design, particularly ‘soylent’. Soylent is mentioned in pop culture, but is also a real existing product.
Three bottles of Soylent Cafe. Coffiest, Vanilla and Chai.

I did some research on packaging and found ones that resonated with my project:

^ I could use the minimal color schemes and typefaces. What seemed most relevant was how ‘packets’ looked like they were packed for individual use, or single use, which isn’t very sustainable but looks very futuristic. Will sustainability be a concern, or even considered in this pod-world?

 


^I liked this design the most. The transparent and translucent package and sheets that need to be peeled away create a very clinical, pre-planned feel. The circular boxes look a lot like petri dishes, as if the person eating this lives in—or belongs in—a laboratory.

PepsiCO introduced this in 2018:

 

 

 

 

Is it necessary? No. The taste? Reviewers say it’s like any other drink. Does it look fun/cool to use? Depends on the person, but that’s the biggest appeal, not the actual drink.

 

 

 

 

 

Started to consider the nature of ‘facade‘-reconnecting with focus on social media and current technologies. My main visual precedent was Buzzfeed Tasty (because of their choice of framing and shooting angle), although photographing and obsessing over the look of food is evident all over social media:

 

 

 

First thing on my Instagram feed:

Pictures that I took myself:


Did these taste as good as they looked? Definitely not. The weird carrot colored drink was awful and the brownies in the last picture were burnt. Did I tell people that? No. Why ruin the mirage?

Black Mirror addresses this is the episode Nosedive:

^ Lacie bites very particularly into the cookie to literally compose her ‘candid’ photograph’—she proceeds to spit the cookie out as she doesn’t really want to eat it.

I later found this randomly:

 

 

 

^ I knew that I could use the same design, of soluble individually packed products as part of the food packaging.

Found these later:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/10/wikicells_monosol_startups_hope_edible_packaging_will_reduce_food_related_waste_.html

I bought different kinds of plastic and packages and experimented with different shapes of sealing them:

^ Silver plastic didn’t look as appealing and teabags were not contained and dusted their contents everywhere. The look of gel-like substance (in this case shower gel) looked most ‘futuristic’


^experiments with different combinations of type, color and material. Hair gel was the best, pseudo-food. It appealed to some like the recent Tidepod trend


During my process I again thought about Buzzfeed Tasty and realised simply creating the little packets wasn’t enough to design the food.

Food is changing to become more and more about the experience than the actual taste as I had already noted:

And while I wanted to strip food down to it’s basic chemical components and flavors, I knew I needed to replace it with an ‘experience’. I found precedent like this, where the product was not amazing, but it was more about the show:

 

 

 

 

 

I also looked back at visual precedents that I had found:

These tray-like designs gave the feeling of faux-luxuriance which I wanted to capture.

Another reason behind designing food trays is that they can also be linked to food that is delivered in asylum’s or prisons, basically areas of containment.


^experimenting with placement of ‘cutlery’ and food.

 

Project 2: Finalisation, Feedback, Refinement

[All  mentioned precedents are explained in detail in the precedent review post]


Initial screen design (retirement age group):

 

I sampled colours and looked at visual identity samples of projects that looked futuristic. A common thread was a dark base colour and blues, greens and purples.

Here I considered whether to give people the option of choosing to do a task or not. Eventually, instead of eliminating the options completely, if users opted out, they would suffer penalties. I later looked at what those penalties would be.

^ This was the screen for people that would have retired and no longer need to study or work. The layout is built on the idea that there is constant distraction and fractured attention [need source], when using screens. I wasn’t satisfied with the way the layout appeared. I shifted my focus on people in the education stage.

This decision was channeled by the fact that it would have the most functions necessary to get my concept across. People in the employee stage might have more menu items for their jobs, but explaining the job menu isn’t necessary for showing how a pod-person is interacting with screen on a usual basis. Whereas, babies and retired people would have less functions available to them.

Focus on student screen (education age group):

I considered this penalty, but it didn’t seem too impactful. I considered linking this to a future project, where I design the way these people eat food. The penalty would be related to the number or type of food items they receive. The idea is that the sceen is in control of even basic things, and everything is reduced to points, this concept was the basis of the Black Mirror episode I watched as precedent.

[change of interaction button]

[This precedent is mentioned in detail in the precedent review post]
Not satisfied with my initial sketch of the way the rotary menu and then subcategory appeared (popping out and then sliding up from the bottom of the screen), I did further research on interface design for large screens, especially those done by companies that are ahead in the industry, like LG and Samsung. I looked particularly into how they designed their smartTVs.

Feedback and decisions:
The main concern was the use of Black Mirror. My intention to parody the way we watch these episodes in the present wasn’t clear, so I needed a different approach. Considering the age groups and how I wanted the entertainment of the people regulated, it felt suitable to have something very basic level for this age group. I chose Tom and Jerry as it doesn’t even require dialogue. The idea was that entertainment has been reduced to brainless slapstick or visual humor, like many vines and memes [need sources] of today. 

The other issue was that as someone viewing this for the first time, especially if they haven’t looked closely at other projects, my entire idea isn’t clear from just the visuals. I didn’t want to have subtitles as it would distract from the main visuals. A voiceover made a lot of sense, and linked to my previous interest in creating a PSA (when I wanted to make a PSA for why total surveillance is good for the people). In this kind of world, it makes sense to have propaganda like ‘infomercials’ to tell the people how good their life is. I was probably led to this conclusion through my readings on 1984, Brave New World, and other similar precedents.

[Precedents are mentioned in detail in the precedent review post]

This is the final draft for the voiceover. The tone of voice was the kind of light, airy/positive, voices of infomercials or advertisements [need source]:

  • We live in a world brimming with opportunity.
  • No one leaves their assigned quarters, nobody has to.
  • The screens in each room provide a more than sufficient window to the world.

[cartoon]

  • Here’s a view of the screen in Hana’s room.
  • She’s watching quality content that’s most beneficial and stimulating for the ages of 6 to 18, her occupation group.

[hana time to continue bio]

  • She’s just received a reminder to start studying today’s lesson. Like everyone else, she took an aptitude test at the age of 6.
  • Since she’s  best suited for a medical career, all her lessons are automatically selected and geared towards that.
  • Though the screen allows us to meet and bond with family and friends, any interruptions to lessons are logically met with penalties.
  • This could mean diluted flavours in the next food capsule, or a reduction in the number of capsules delivered to your room.
  • Of course, Hana has ultimate control. By accepting a penalty, she can accept an incoming call, or resume the channel. Whatever she wants to prioritise she can.
  • Now we can work, travel, and create families all through the screen.
  • At the end of the day, it’s about freedom and happiness.
  • Live life through the screen, witness astounding vistas, and never get bored.

Word, Sentence, Paragraph (#4)

Real Simulations/  Artificial reality/ Rendered reality

Creating hypothetical scenarios set in the near future to comment on issues about social media, human interaction and existence, sparking insightful conversations.

The average consumer doesn’t think much about the products and technologies that are researched and developed for them. They only start becoming aware once they have become a common part of life. Yet so many of these products have shaped the way humans live and interact with each other and their environment, case in point, social media. It makes contacting people easier but has impacted our ability to communicate with those around us. I want to comment on relevant situations of today by progressing them as hypothetical situations set in the near future. What will happen if direct contact with another human being is rendered completely unnecessary—perhaps a waste of time? Can social media facades take over our reality? These scenarios become necessary to discuss at a time when there is backlash against the technologies that were meant to revolutionize our lives. Testing these hypothetical scenarios through visual narratives should spark valuable conversations about the decisions we make in our present.

Food…but Fancy.

Moodboard

I really liked the way I worked during this project. What made a huge difference was using the transferring technique and working with type on transparency sheets. It was like composing on the computer, but in real life.  I learned a bunch of new tricks and techniques with this project.

For example:

Top: transfer using blending marker. Bottom: Transfer using nail polish remover plus marker on edges. Using a combination of both got me a well saturated image (polish remover) as well as with crisp details (marker)

 

I also experimented with scanning, and how different options when scanning can result in very different results. I ended using the regular 24-bit scans, because of the details and richness in colors:

24-bit color (what I used)

color smoothing

24-bit color

color smoothing

24-bit color

color smoothing

grayscale – halftone

black and white

Not only did this project help me practise working with my hands again, but my choice of topic was very fun for me. Creating a persona that I related to helped make a lot of my design choices. It also opened me up to shifting my topic, by thinking about what someone like me would be interested in seeing and doing. I tried out making jelly spheres/strawberry and banana caviar/ as a side experiment:


They were surprisingly successful, but ended up not making it into my zine. The reasoning behind this was also related to my persona. I thought about students like me, and how making simple foods for us/me is difficult or took time. That made my zine shift from an information book, to a mixture of entertaining foods, as well as the useful recipes part.

printed on transparency

transferred type

Finally, the composition of the final piece was very similar to working on inDesign. I had to test different typefaces and effects as always. What I found hard/inconvenient was having to keep on print different sizes of images, to test how it would look on the page. While working, resizing the image would be faster, easier on screen. But this way, it was better to be able to see the actual way the images would look, instead of having to test print.

This project didn’t really make me lean towards one way of working over the other. Both have their pros and cons. What I realised is that a balance of both would work for me better. Maybe collaging by hand, but resizing and composing on screen. Test prints are something that have to be done during both ways. It most likely would depend on project to project.

What was difficult was the alignment of crossovers by hand, since I really wanted to align some type across a spread. I ended up testing out registrations and stapling a certain way, to have the type be slightly off, but not so much that it’s illegible. What was also good to know—even though it was subconscious initially—was that I had kept a sense of narrative throughout the zine, despite it never being explicitly discussed (it should be obvious from the course’s name, but still).

Pop-up book Reflection: mother turned the radio to NPR

I knew I would enjoy creating pop-up books when I saw the lightsabers pop out.

I chose the 2003 disintegration of the shuttle Columbia as the news event I wanted to work with. I remember teachers discussing it while I was in school. Finding a poem (written by a teenager that heard what happened on the radio)—and then transcriptions of actual conversations that took place between NASA and the shuttle—inspired me to design a book that presented both, to narrate the event with the technical and emotional complexity and nuances of the chaotic day retained.

The system I created was:
Rick Husband – 20cm, Communications 9cm, Cain 8cm, Kling 6cm, Technician 4cm, Ground Control 2cm—all on vertically popping, black paper — A condensed, medium, techy-looking typeface— for all the actual conversations.

The poem was in a contained black frame, always on the white spread, stuck flat — rounded, regular typeface.

 

I enjoyed making pop-ups. But the mechanics were harder and more complex than I had imagined. One of the bigger challenges was not figuring out the mechanics, but figuring out how to get the mechanics just right that it fit big enough for all the type to be legible, but small enough that it didn’t peak out of the edges of the closed book.

This was hardest on my favourite spread:

^ rotating mechanics. The paper would be too thin, or the strip would be too long, or too short. I went through way too many versions of this one. The pull strip had initially been glued too far down from the pivot/hub. This meant that:
a) The strip needed to be LONGER—so that more of the circle would be pulled out through the slit (revealing the type)
b
) the height of the overall piece needed to be TALLER.
c) This was a major problem since I could have neither of those things—the strip needed to be small enough that it fit inside the width of one page, and short since it needed to be exactly 9cm tall.

It all came down to finding a sort of equilibrium length of strip and distance from the hub (even where the slots were located in relation was very important. It’s no joke when they call it paper ‘engineering’.


Fixing the mechanics was all fine and dandy, but then I couldn’t stick it flat against the v angled pop up…the mechanics wouldn’t work. So then I had to re-adjust the distances and measurements to ensure that there was enough distance between the pop up the vertical base it was being stuck to—BUT that that distance was small enough that it also didn’t peak out the edges…

Painful balancing of lengths was another main point I learned.

Now imagine two days after finally figuring out those mechanics and getting it perfect, it starts to act wonky. The words refused to get pulled out completely. Or once the pull strip was pulled out, it wouldn’t go back into the closed position. The problem was the whit bit:


I
t might have gotten weak from all the movement, and the flap that was supposed to remain semi-folded, kept opening up. (above). I couldn’t just stick it down, because that was the area the arm moved in.


^tried to use some awkward mechanics to keep it down from the sides, extended the length of the arm. That didn’t really help much. What helped was:
Narrowing the width of the arm that fit inside the white circle, and making the circle slightly bigger (that also was a big deal). The reason the flap kept rising and messing with the overall mechanics was because the arm kept getting caught on the edges of the circle, pushing it up.

Designing the pop-ups were the major learning moments of this project (also the most time-consuming and irritating).

Next came experimenting with type size and placement.

Wanting to convey more meaning with the type, I experimented with variation on a few spreads. Here the communication is failing and finally getting lost forever:

The very final step was deciding the symbol that would be the prompt for which direction to pull the tabs in:

  

^ After experimenting to link back to the buttons and mechanisms inside the aircraft, I decided on a simple arrow. The style of the buttons was inconsistent with the overall style of the book (it was too detailed/embellished).

Overall Reflection (in short):
I learned more than I had initially planned to about pop-ups. Something I wish I had known a week earlier was transferring ink onto paper (using some kind of blender)—Maha (TA) mentioned it in class today. I would have liked to try that in comparison to simply cutting and sticking the type on. So, that was one aspect I would have experimented with more if I had the time—the appearance of the type. What if I had transferred the type multiple times, making it look faded in some areas?? Faded in areas where communication was difficult?

The guy on youtube had it easy, when he demonstrated on plain sheets. Customizing all those demonstrations to be the right size and length to fit the spread while being long enough for the type  that would go on the piece, was the hard part. I learned the importance of tests, iterations, more tests. And patience.