Materialising Conversation

The Locker – the useful object suggested by the class at the end of a presentation and summary of work.

Quandry and Evaluation:

Umberto Eco – semiotic value – Primary and Secondary functions  – of objects. Ability of models and drawings to communicate other, and sometimes more meaningful or personal information than the initial primary function. This opens questions to the functionality of conventional methods of representing human activity, narrative and subsequent forms of spaces through drawings alone.

I understand why the ‘Shoe’ that Chris Speed talks about, is actually no longer a shoe. To build a locker or not to build a locker. The debate on its usefulness, the form it would take it’s information qualities, such as a real life BIM model, the layering of information and working at a 1:1 scale, the real object, not a representation.

However, the richness was always in the conversations and ideas of the class that was somewhat lost or removed once a prototype had been constructed. The critique of the construction and the improvements suddenly became physical rather than imaginary discussions about what the locker represented, which was what the class suggested first.

The class jumped on the idea of the locker – it lit up their imagination becuase it represented a first home away from home, a personal place in the public realm, a place of sanctuary or private (or public) rebellion. One of the kids commented: ‘It needs to be big enough to get someone inside so bullies can shove you into them.’ This, amazingly, was met with approval by the rest of the class and so the smallest memeber was measured to determine the best size!

The romance and the imagination that a locker presented was rich. It typified the conversations and visions of pupils. They suggested the kind of lock it would have, but as long it locked it would be fine, the most important thing was that it was tall enough and it could have some method of personalising it on the front. The immaterial symbol of the locker, one of the ‘icons’ of high school, was clearly richer than its physical appearance which was secondary. It was a very lively conversation.

The excercise was an interesting personal journey, exploring the difficult juxtaposition between material and immaterial, and debating the richness and idea of building the locker and materialising the conversations. Perhaps it was best to further de-materialise the conversation? Making the locker was an exercise that was necessary to undertake in order to understand why the physicality of it was not required to understand the ‘locker’. The richness is in the stories, once they are attached to an object it is difficult to place the object and the stories at the same time, the object the stories are attached to becomes mystified. But it didn’t need to be realised to be understood as such and once it was, the mystery and richness was, perhaps, lost in its materialisation?

The best part of the locker, was the conversation and imagary it instilled, that as soon as it attempted to be materialised was lost – unless policy allowed personalisation.

The test still questioned the means of collaborative design through the recording and tagging of information at a 1:1 scale and showed improvement. The second locker was much better than the first!

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