Written in January 2016 as part of an application package for the Imperial College London / Royal College of Art – Global Innovation Design Programme
5 words: Design systems to harness serendipity.
I aspire to help build the first equitable, sustainable and meaningful iteration of the Common Dream. The social and technical innovations needed to continually achieve and re-achieve this goal must be informed not by inward focus, but by globalism and plurality. By continuing to learn more about the breadth of the ways of others, and by deepening self-knowledge, we can connect disparate ideas to create local innovations that will have transcultural utility. My ideal is that if the 20th century was the century of the self, the 21st will be the century of us all. In my media and creative life, I would consider myself to be an interdisciplinary collaborative conceptual artist.
What this translates to as the “area of expertise” that I am cultivating is really three fold: connecting&educating, designing&nudging, managing&directing. I believe that these themes show up consistently in my portfolio.
Connecting&educating just means helping to bring the right people together at the right time and also enabling powers within others by sparking enlightenment or empowerment. This skillset becomes evident with Expo Calgary 2164, and becomes more refined with Never Events & iExpress. I had a rude awakening to cross-cultural understanding with Kirloskar, but refined my skills with deep listening with Aboriginal people and communities in designing Canoe. Also, I was recently made aware that previous introductions I made have spurred 2 projects: DIRTT has been contracted by Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School for greenfield interior design. And, Imagination 150 (a group I worked closely with on Canoe) is working with a full-year Knowledge Integration design course to create new methods of grassroots engagement.
Designing&nudging is rooted in my belief that the synthetic world is inherently rhetorical and value laden. I hope to create interventions or innovations that help create positive consequences. This is true with the various proposals done for the companies I worked for. I am very proud in an inverse way for the proposal I made for PRGT, as I believe in fair individual choice and in fighting climate change. I have already been accepted and deferred University College London’s MSc. in Cognitive and Decision Science, which would push me down the nudging path further.
Managing&directing is my intention to be able to pull off ambitious projects through my own ideating and collaboration with others. Canoe, Rethinking Economics Canada and the Liberation of Red Square are the chief examples.
I temper all three with a burgeoning theoretical and practical understanding of the potentially far reaching implications of “unintended consequences”. Nassim Taleb’s concept of antifragility has recentered my worldview in the past year: its influence is central to both my interpretation of the work of others, and is increasingly apparent in my work.
The most important insight I gained from living in the startup/technological hotbed of Kitchener-Waterloo for university is: social structures and social technologies are as potentially malleable and ripe for innovation as physical technologies. Yes, there is a spectrum between social and physical technologies, but what I mean is all social technologies (communications systems, governments, education, health, customs protocol) were either intentionally or emergently designed. Creative, and non-drastic, interventions can be made to create better outcomes. Exploring possible leverage points is central to my most recent work, and will increasingly be to my future work. I think this can be explored in my are and design.
I want to be at the vanguard of what I call the “next generation of visionary persuaders”. The first generation was that of Edward Bernays (my deepest anti-role model) and the Mad Men. They used Freudian and crowd psychology to design interventions to expand the consumer society, sell often harmful products and limit freedoms. Our generation, I believe, can use the design process and advances in cognitive and complexity sciences to create socio-technical innovations that help solve the problems of today in a palatable way.
If there is a thesis to this portfolio it is to identify that there is overall a strong vision and capacity for globalism and design alongside moderate technical skills. Holistically, I hope it shows that there is very high potential for me to build skills and meet others to create innovations worth more than the sum of their parts. Collaborative activities will connect me to people with complementary skills spanning design, engineering, and business – the possibilities are so exciting! I already have a proven track record of collaboration, and I hope my eclecticism and general creativity shows I am a great fit.
My focus over the past few years as been more towards design and research, but at heart I identify as an artist in terms of my creative temperament and approach. I intend to continue a lifelong multi-media, conceptual (performance, business as art, digital) and drawing practice.
One of my passions is to integrate my research in cognitive science, economics, environmental science, philosophy, and information science deeply into my art work in order to explore the sciences from a unique angle. Art fascinates me as a way to synthesize sense out of sensation and complexity.
For inspiration, I am particularly drawn to the conceptual work of Canadians like Ken Lum, Douglas Coupland and Bruce McCall, particularly how they use humour and absurdity to address a range of issues. Interactive fictional landscape is also an area of interest for me. In particular I am influenced by the worlds created for Rockstar Game’s Red Dead Redemption, as well as Bethesda’s Fallout 3.
So, this is all what I want to be and do. I am currently working on a multimedia-performance-sculptural project. I am a student of the Global Design Innovation Design Program at Imperial College London, Royal College of Art, Tsinghua University, and Nanyang Technological University in 2017-2019. I am also applying to other doctoral programs in the philosophy and science of information.