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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Brenda Laurel, “Design Improvisation” from Design Research

We see that context creates some common performative (and experiential) threads.

The observation leads to notice how a person interacts with a situated context and to design objects and experiences that enable people to perform themselves somewhat differently in those same situations-with greater pleasure, ease or agency.

The well-known James-Lange Theory of Emotion would predict that if we can mimic a person’s physical postures, facial expressions and expressive gestures, we can invoke physiological reactions in our own bodies that map to the subject’s emotional states.

The idea of “informance” is an understanding of performance ethnography as a tool for design research.

In performance ethnography, the “lines” form what the subject actually said during the event being studied.

The final improvisation allows the designer to explore the design solution in all sensory and cognitive modalities.

While the actor uses empathy to perform dramatic characters in scripted situations, the designer uses empathy to perform design solutions that are drawn from deep identification with real, individual people in specific situated contexts in the real world.

More to the point is the sort of flattening that comes from being reduced to a role that does not admit of such natural characteristics as curiosity, the desire for freedom or the ability to exercise creativity and self-expression.


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