Field Experiments
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By Paul Marcus Fuog

In 2013 I travelled to Bali, Indonesia on a research and making project with Benjamin Harrison Bryant and Karim Charlebois-Zariffa. From June – September 2013, we set up a studio and home in Lodtunduh, a farming community situated on the outskirts of Ubud.

Here we collaborated together and conducted daily experiments in stone masonry, woodcarving, batik, painting, basket weaving and kite making with a community of local craftspeople.

The expedition resulted in the making of more than 100 conceptual objects that challenged the traditional notion of the souvenir. We explored the re-assemblage of cultural craft objects in a tourist-driven economy and examined the influence of transnational exchange in the making process, proposing how a souvenir can manifest and encourage cross-cultural learning and understanding.

Outcomes from Field Experiments Indonesia have since been presented in New York, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, London and Tokyo. The goal is to bring new credence to the concept of ‘Made in Bali’ highlighting the skill and ingenuity of the Balinese people and to foster a renewed appreciation for Balinese craft and culture. Our hope is to inspire a more responsible traveller, one that has a deeper thirst to interact with the Balinese people and their culture, ultimately creating a new platform for the economy of Balinese craft makers that extends well beyond the life of this project.

I Am the City
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By Paul Marcus Fuog

In June 2015, my experimental design collective, Field Experiments, was invited to Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles to run a week long workshop as a part of their annual design week.

Their brief for us was to develop a workshop that facilitated the creation of ideas and work based on the students relationship to a city (real or imagined).

Randy’s Donuts, Inglewood

Our workshop was designed to be a momentary study of Inglewood (where Otis is situated) through its parts and people. The working process of the workshop was drawn from the Field Experiments method of observation, play, making, communication and presentation.

Students were required to explore the streets of Inglewood. Observation of their surrounding environment and everyday Inglewood life was the method of design research and the springboard for creation. Students were required to document aspects of interest through all modes available including sound recordings, video recordings, collection of ephemera, photography, sketching. They shared their findings with each other via flash presentations discussing how their observations told a story of Inglewood; its people, culture, history, industry and geography.

Using these observations as a catalyst, students were then required to create a souvenir–a small one-off memento of Inglewood. The souvenir did not necessarily need to be a newly made object, it could be a collected or appropriated item. The idea was to challenge the traditional notion of the souvenir and present a new opportunity for what a souvenir could be–exploring how objects can be embedded with a place and narrative.

The project culminated in a pop-up souvenir store. Students were required to conceptualize, design and build a presentation format to display their souvenirs. They needed to think about the full experience including branding, signage and communications. On the final day their souvenirs were installed and the shop was temporarily opened.

The workshop encouraged students to use design and making as a tool for understanding people and place. A key goal was to tell stories and narratives through objects, using them as a way of understanding our surrounding environment.

A Good Listener
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By Paul Marcus Fuog

As a child I would often find my mum doodling while talking on the phone. Notepads, scraps of paper, napkins and other surfaces were covered in scribbles. They were elaborate, intricate and beautiful, but completely nonsensical. I’ve always assumed that her drawings were an act of boredom and a sign she had lost interest in the conversation–a behaviour that put her listening skills into question.

Fast forward some 30 years and I find myself researching doodling for a project and I’m starting to reconsider my assumptions. Columnist Sue Shellenbarger, in an article written for the Wall Street, writes that ‘recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused.’

Fix and Make holding page

Perhaps my mum’s seemingly absent-minded scribbles were a sign of engagement or at least an attempt to remain engaged. According to a 2009 study in applied cognitive psychology, people who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later. The study suggests that doodling not only helps you remain focused but it also helps you retain information and recall it later. So, it appears my mum was not a terrible listener. She was in fact a good listener demonstrated by the shitstorm of doodles all over the side table where our phone sat.

So when you’re in your next meeting or conversation and you feel yourself drifting off whip out your tool and doodle.

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