My mind is positively fizzing.
After some professional soul searching, a full-scale public arts project, some research into sensory modalities, and a collection of experimental new media projects, I've finally arrived at some pivotal decisions on the nature of my praxis for multimodal creativity.
The last few weeks have been a revealing time. I went into each of my multimodal experiments expecting to learn more about the interplay of our senses within the configuration of new media artifacts and experiences, and in the end, I learned about so much more that surrounds this. To be a 'sensemancer' requires more than a knowledge of our primary senses, but an awareness of the scenarios and environments in which they can be situated, the resolutions at which they can be experienced, the objectives they are trying to support, and the messages they are trying to convey.
From a translation of interdisciplinary language to mindful decisions on spatialisation and temporality, the granular components that have emerged throughout the final run of experiments that form this research and development process can be summarised with 5 core categories. These are:
1). Mapping the Senses.
2). Translating Terminology.
3). Achieving Your Objective.
4). Identifying Relevent Skills.
5). Challenging Questions.
It turns out, that for my workflow, it's a consideration of these 5 things that drive the planning and design of any interdisciplinary/multimodal project, artifact, or experience that I undertake as a professional. So, these are the core areas my praxis for multimodal creativity needs to chart. Now... a few months ago, about halfway through this research and development process, I put a pin in something - what format should my multimodal praxis take on? This 'praxis'. This 'resource'. This 'book'. This 'thing'. It has been described using a wide everchanging nomenclature throughout the duration of the research and development process (hey, all part of feeling this out right?!). Well... it's finally time to make the intangible, tangible by committing to a suitable format for this resource. With the emergence of these 5 core categories that I've identified above, I've finally come to a decision on this. Influenced by the structural nature of the new media experiments and the ingredients they brought to the surface, I have decided that my resource for multimodal creativity will take on the form of - a deck of cards.
Yes. Cards. ...and I feel very strongly that this is a fitting format that is well suited to the nature of this resource. Let me explain why... Cards allow my resource to take on a modular nature, which means that it can be used in different ways and different configurations. This allows it to be useful in a wide variety of scenarios (i.e. from moodboarding new ideas in your personal studio, to large-scale project planning meetings) and also, by a wide variety of individuals (i.e. from makers and independent creative professionals, to creative teams and cultural organisations). Allowing this resource to exist as a deck of cards can avoid the trap of generating a linear, preachy scripture, and instead allows me to create something that can be sequenced at the hands of the people who are asking the questions (i.e. here are your options, here's how they connect, now how are you going to utilise them?) It leaves the configuration of any new media project in the hands of the maker, so instead of telling you how to do it, it makes you aware of what you may need to consider. It merely raises the awareness of the wider landscape, with each card signposting discrete elemental ingredients that can be excavated, refined, and utilised by makers from any background. Spread them across a table, draw the connections between various ingredients, challenge your initial ideas, and ultimately transform the way you realise your project, and for the better. In the purest sense, the format of cards allows this resource to become a multimodal toolkit for multimodal creativity. It's expandable, modular, and can even be described as playful! ...so this is what I'm going to run with. To conclude this phase, I will now establish the identity of this resource, develop its brand identify, generate a name for this product, and establish the core 'target audience-friendly' message via the creation of a public-facing website that marks the formal announcement of this upcoming product. ...and I already have some rather fitting ideas for this:
This marks the end of the establishing phase for my toolkit for multimodal creativity... but the journey is just beginning. Once I have firmed up the public-facing identify for this resource, a period of field testing will begin. Early editions of the card deck will emerge in coming months and I intend to test this with the following target users:
A). Myself - WHY? To see if these cards enable me to make more coordinated, informed decisions on the design of my independent projects.
B). Independent practitioners: WHY? This is the core/primary target audience for this resource! Does it work for individuals with a similar professional profile as myself? C). A cultural organisation: WHY? Well, does this resource work for organisations who operate with a centralised mission and an established team of makers and creatives? D). HE students: WHY? I'd like to find out if this resource can be useful to undergraduates, within arts and media schools, who are at the early stages of their careers within the creative and media industries. E). A hobbyist: WHY? In an effort to find the outer boundary of my target audience, I would like to see if the resource is accessible to the 'casual maker' market. Individuals who sit outside of the professional creative spheres (e.g. people who sew, people who are making music in their garage, side-hustle Etsy merchants, etc) ...and only then will I be able to really start shaping this deck of cards - beyond my recent experiments of which I (for the most part) played puppet master, and into the hands of people who it's targeted at, and fully at the mercy of the environments I want it to find its way into. All of this, and much more to come! But as I close this door on this initial phase, I have to say... one of the most exciting prospects of working on the creation of these cards is that after many years of dealing with the painful tidal forces of being a creative generalist; many years dancing between the specialist disciplines and making sense of my own professional identity within this landscape; at the end of it all, in my pocket, I'll be carrying around all of the noise and complexity of my professional experiences, condensed, refined, and simplified, in the form of a deck of cards that will ultimately help me navigate every future creative endeavor I undertake - with clarity and confidence. It really does feel like, eventually, it'll all end up making a little more... sense.