I said ‘don’t make the lamp, be good to yourself’. And I saw the color rise to your face. I had hurt you. And my first instinct was to sit down and write you a letter to say – that wasn’t what I meant. That wasn’t it at all. But as I had said come and see me Wednesday, I had to wait. Wednesday came and went and I didn’t see any of you from that table. So now I am feeling terrible. And so this letter.
But this isn’t the first time we have had a run in. Its happened once before in a similar fashion early in the semester. And there have been other small run ins. And it has just all added up. What is going on? So here goes – I will try and think through my hands.
You said early in the semester you will do the competitions – and I asked how. You said you had already started doing sea art and would continue in that vein. And you are right – anyone can do competitions. But the ‘way of work’ they deploy would be learned in different contexts. You can be an engineer, a CAD operator or an artist – and still be able to do the competition. You can also be a designer and do the competition. You can think, sketch, paint, model and make. And it would appear that these skills would allow you to do whatever you need to do. In your blog I have seen a display of awesome skills, especially your CAD – and have no doubt you can do anything you wish.
But on another side you opted to come into the Corporation Game. And at some stage came into design school too. Why, I ask myself, would someone so accomplished, wish to study design? There may be any number of reasons – but let me look at three: (a) to get accredited/ validated/ to get the certificate (but you are not one of those), (b) to learn about design to become a designer and (c) learn new ways of doing (thinking and solving problems). I think you may be right in your goal being (b). But this fraction of the 1st year studio was set up differently – it wasn’t about design or learning about design. That was the other fractions – restaurant and sports. This fraction has no content. This fraction is about ‘ways’ of doing. This fraction makes serious thinking a game. This fraction is about you – and your transformation, in eight different axes. This fraction is about RISK – it is about putting yourself out there and trying new things. This fraction is about letting go of your ways (just till the end of the semester, and then you can revert to old ways and say ‘this is not good enough’) just to try new ways.
But how do I say that to you? To any of you?
I am a teacher. I see you working – and I say try this. Years ago I saw a video on Navratilova training. She watched videos of herself playing – hour after hour. And worked with her coach to change her actions: her movements and strokes – constantly tweaking, improving, trying. And she was a champion. So are you. But you can do more – and you need to let me in.
The paper lantern is the supreme provocation. You cannot do it with your left brain. I have said this again and again. It is a project – and a pure one at that. It privileges experimentation. And the ability to do it again and again. It privileges the eye, the play of light, the texture, the technique. It privileges the development of technology: anara’s experimentation with layers, pieces – bens experimentation with stitching – and kellys waffle textures. And you need to do this – (and it is not too late) – to get your hands dirty, to get down and do – and silence your left brian. You need to set up the situation for magic to happen. And you need to court failure – you need to set up situations which will fail. You need to do so that you can destroy what you do. You need to forget aboutthe end – and slowly, slowly beging to enjoy the journey. ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Nowhere’. Then why? Because it is the journey, the way, LIFE, living and not the end (that is the epitaph).
You can do a fantastic lantern in CAD. But that is not the point. And so I said to you – ‘just leave it, don’t push yourself’. And that is what I was saying.
I was also saying ‘the learning is not in the object’ – it is in the process. And you have to let go of something – for a while – to be able to pick up the new.
Dumbledore in Harry Potter has a bowl into which he puts his thoughts. He has lived for many hundred years and needs to periodically empty his brain to make space for the new. I do not ask for you to empty anything. But I ask you to try another way. And look not at the end (that does not matter) but at the journey. This is the way of the backpacker: to privilege the journey and the long treks into the marginal and poorer areas. While the stereotypical Japanese/American tourist privileges the destination and the tourist hot spots, and the showing of videos and pics when hey get home.
Come and talk to me. And I am sorry. But it isn’t easy for me. I need all the help I can get.