Nicolas Rader 12.07.04
As an architecture student we are trained to have little to no personal attachment to our projects. To be personallyemotionallyinvested in every project would mean devastation every studio class. Even though criticism offered by professors is to improve the project and the ideas behind it commonly we will find that our work is not up to par and must be mutated into an unrecognizable successor. The final project/product is even commonly questioned by the jury bringing doubt to our minds of its feasibility, credibility, capability, and spatial qualities. A personal investment creates vulnerability to depression.
Therefore, the initial thought of this project was somewhat troubling to me. I, among a small group of colleagues, had to create a symbolic, personal object. Could I do this genuinely? How do I make something that is symbolic? Am I willing to allow vulnerability within myself? How will the group dynamic play into these ideas/feelings? More specifically, what in the world could this object be? Can I really impose a symbolic object on someone?
A digression to the project...
AThe premise of this project was interesting in itself to me. I had never worked with a community in such a strict sense before, let alone providing them with a symbolic object. Instantly I wanted to address the complacency or the political correctness of the world. I wanted the project to invoke thought and action. To me political correctness has allowed people to lack not only morals or ethics, but also opinion and individuality; political correctness does not equal acceptance or politeness as commonly argued. While a month long, $150 budget project could not address this in its entirety the project took a focus on ethics: selfish vs. selfless. To me the object is important because it can start an internal dialogue questioning generosity or selfishness. "Do I keep the money and the object? The object? Both? Neither?" Their decision is not only based on what they think but also their consideration of the intent of them receiving the object. It forces them to think not only about themselves and what they want, but also what others want or need. More and more I am questioning my own intentions, decisions, generosity, and selfish/selflessness.
Returning to the initial discussion, the personal intent of the project set, I leap to the production of the objects. The production took twice as long as expected and became a hands-on process. Although rapid prototyping was used to create the mock-ups and molds for the final product, the majority of the work was post-processing. Very quickly I fell into my role for the group as the plexi-glass tab remover, pigment adder, top cutter, and bill folder. I had personally discovered my technique, the technique, for each task. Each of the 100 similar objects had my own energy into them, my own ideas of production. Serial production seemed to even enhance the feeling of ownership because my thoughts were now involved in a large number, a prominent number, not just one. They became symbolic to me of my thought and effort, I (We) had genuinely created a symbolic object, regardless of its success or failure inside the List Gallery. My personal investment then created vulnerability which showed within me when I hesitated to give away ALL the objects. I even insisted on taking an extra 2 hours to make an extra batch so I would have two to keep, comfortingly another group member had insisted on the same. Inadvertently I had just fallen subject to our entire intent; will people be selfish with these objects, the money, both, or neither? Fortunately since I am a creator I was able to be both selfish and generous, giving away all the objects and keeping two extras for myself. Could this be a new form of ethics, or does it show weakness, selfishness, and ungenuine giving? As for the group dynamic, there seemed to be a modest camaraderie because of the intense hours needed to complete the production. Because of this camaraderie I was able to openly express my desire and attachment to these objects.
In the end I had created a genuine, personal, symbolic object, the exact thing that I have been taught to avoid. It still remains, will others be able to avoid its questions or will they avoid its personal imposition?