Work “Back and Forth”

When I was developing design concepts in grad school, my advisor David Morgan encouraged me to work “back and forth” between drawing and building physical models. The big challenge in creativity is to stay fluid, to not get stuck or hung up on one idea. Moving back and forth between 2D drawing and 3D building encourages fluidity.

Since then I’ve worked in a lot of different media – on themes that were loosely related but it never occurred to me to do this with intention on a particular project until now. (As an aside, this is evidence that student evaluations are bullshit. So many lessons are learned years after the class is over).

There’s a theory in sustainability research that you can only get so far reading or writing or talking about an idea. The theory  claims that in order to learn something, you have to do it. Of course, this is the same theory that project-based learning is based on.

So I’m walking the talk again and it feels great. I’m doing stuff that up until recently I was only reading and writing about: I’m designing a board game to understand theories of collective mind and value exchange; I’m creating musical exercises to understand theories about group harmony and resonance; I’m building an art installation to understand theories about iteration and feedback in the design process.

I’m feeling fluidity of mind. But now that I think about it, it probably has less to do with the “back and forth” and more to do with the working. If you work back and forth, you’re always working and obsessing on interesting problems from multiple perspectives.

David Morgan, you tricked me! And I’m so grateful.

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