This project was about transience as a design quality, and a characteristic of constructed experiences. Materials that degrade or transform when subject to specific processes, human actions performed in space and time, fleeting impressions and transitory effects were the focus for student projects. A system is said to be in a transient state when a process variable or variables have been changed and the system has not yet reached a steady state. The time taken for a system to change from one steady state to another steady state is called
the transient time. A transient process is a process in which variables change over time. Aldo Rossi’s Teatro Del Mondo and Assemble’s recent temporary factory both represent design responses to the idea of transient experiences for cultural expression and production. Transient populations require temporary infrastructure such as the Chun Yun or Kumbh Mela festivals which provide food and shelter to their attendees on a massive scale. Finally, the transient nature of consciousness is ultimately expressed through overt actions. Reaction time provides an index of how efficiently someone receives and interprets sensory information, decides what to do based on that information, and plans and initiates an action based on that decision. Despite the drive for sustainable experiences, systems, and objects, transience, impermanence and ephemerality remain central to human experience.
Andrew Dhesi and Jazz Affleck Designed a modular sculpture system made of coloured wax. Participants were invited to construct a form together from a kit of wax parts, constrained by a set time limit for the activity. The elements were balanced together in a metal tray with an inverted spout. When time was up a heat gun started melting the wax pieces which then dripped down through the tray to make a candle. The wax kits were made with great care and attention to detail, the group found the making activity engaging and provocative as the piled up form began to melt and drip the transient nature of the system was revealed. Using wax was also a direct development from the cardboard prototype. The system could have been improved by making the tray big enough to enable more collaboration in making but given the constraints of time, space and materials this was a poetic, well devised demonstration of transience.
Ashley Zhang, Alex Taylor, and Ru Yi staged a performance involving three people blowing simultaneous bubbles. Three hoses connected to a large green bucket containing a soap and water mixture. The other end of each hose was then blown by the three project partners using human lung power. The space around the bucket was also marked out by a pattern of paper sheets. As the performers blew through their individual hoses a mass of white bubbles started slowly emerging from the bucket, eventually spilling out onto the floor. The sound of strenuous breathing was the only sound. The sense of collective physical effort towards a transient outcome was the most striking part of the work, which was effectively staged and engaged the rest of the elective members for the whole duration of the piece. One improvement would be for the performers to be positioned and dressed identically, and perhaps to amplify the breathing sound.
Tayyib Cayirli and Felix Scholder made a two channel projected video work of a woman practising a yoga sequence. On one side of the room the figure was fully visible, directly opposite the projection showed only her shadow. As the film played a montage of the yoga poses indicating the degree of change and adjustment between each sequence became discernible over time. One intention was that it would be impossible for viewers to see the two projections simultaneously, we were forced to choose between viewing the live action figure or her shadow. Another intention was to demonstrate the difficulty of repeating an exact sequence of actions in the same way every time. The installation was highly polished and presented to a high level of professional finish. One improvement here would be to separate the montage piece from the live action footage – perhaps by showing one using projection and the other using monitors.
Katrin Ho, Ruilin Quan, and Qianhui Yu designed a system to enable group marbling using a large perspex tray of oil and water into which participants dripped coloured inks and paint. The underwater drips and lines were then projected onto a hanging screen adjacent to the tray. The opportunity for collaborative playfulness was shown in the immediate comprehension about what to do and the desire for people to participate in the activity. The project team did extensive material exploration testing the idea with different liquids, inks, and paints. In the end they chose to prioritise the materials so that they could capture video footage of the sub-surface effects. This decision meant that it was not possible to use paper to lift off the surface patterns, disappointing perhaps but authentically transient.
Chanel Van Eeden, Natalia Dovhalionok, and Petra Ritzer designed and built a retro arcade game. The game involved retweeting and rapidly scrolling a live twitter feed by pressing a foot pedal whilst making a sandwich. The food was presented as cleanly cut cubes that were delivered via a set of trapdoors. These then removed the food if retweeting was not completed in the required time. Some parts of the system were hard to decipher, but the group did extremely well to make such a sophisticated and integrated arrangement of elements, all working using live data. A very ambitious undertaking. The topic of continuous partial attention where people never give their full concentration to any single task or activity is a very current concern. This project, while perhaps overly convoluted, engaged participants in a physical and mental task that taxed their abilities to concentrate.