20 November 2008

Research Process 20.11.08

These images reflect a thought process. I am looking at how a "village" can be involved in the creation of their own communication tools. With difficult issues like climate change, how can someone aware of the related problems create a meaningful message that will help a community move toward a healthier and sustained life? Using my experience in Rwanda as the backdrop, I want to see if visual communication design tools can assist in the development of understanding where the content is inherently difficult information. Ideas that have surfaced by others in the field are the use of probes (Bill Gaver) and the concept of co-creation (as being discussed by Liz Sanders). These approaches could serve as methodologies that would create a non-verbal outcome while empowering the ideas of those who often don't have a voice (or technology).

Much of the research I come across has situated itself in a context of a Western or European arena. Conversely, projects that the industrial design community have attempted (Design for the other 90%, as a case study) seem to touch on these ideas in an attempt to take design tools and apply them to contexts outside our own (some successfully and others less so).

Ultimately, in anything cross-cultural, there are nuances (some big and some small) that impact these endeavours. The most significant and obvious is a shared language. This is where a new depth of understanding about visual representations become valuable. Other areas that emerge include identity, power and politics. While I can't address all of these in one thesis, I am aware of their impact on the tools I am aiming to create in order to involve those on the periphery the opportunity to understand how they might come up with ideas for their own concerns/circumstances.

I am investigating how designers in other countries, where the rural poor are significant members of a population, are using their skills to engage with meaningful experiences that help to shape difficult information into something accessible. From their research, I hope to see how this idea could be applied in contexts where a government is seeking to communicate policies but perhaps without success.

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