Monday, January 23, 2017

Making the invisible visible

Here's a post from one of my student groups in response to today's lab.

When we started the lab, we weren’t sure which structure to create, but we soon gathered some inspiration from google, by searching the suggested images and creating our own shapes.  We started by - incorrectly - creating a voluminous structure that was tall and random. We switched gears to make the structure the size of our lab table, and all of the patterns that emerged in our tall structure were spread before our eyes. To elaborate on our process, we worked independently for 5 minutes or so at a time, and then we would attach our shapes together, to create a larger, planar surface. Each shape wasn’t much on its own, just a few sticks put together, however, together they formed a planar surface that I personally believe resembled hills and valleys. In other words, we took invisible shapes and put them together to form one large, visible shape.

Creating this structure helped us conceptualize how easy it is for things to become invisible behind something that is visible. As the structure began to form and as it grew in dimension, we noticed that the outer surface became easier to visualize. We also noticed that the smaller pieces of the zometools appeared to be more invisible as the larger pieces began to form around the perimeter of the shape.

Expanding on how our structure relates back to our topic, in our lab, we created a planar surface using relatively basic tools. Just looking at the tools, pre-stucture, you don’t see a cohesive shape, you see only sticks and balls. However, after spending an hour attaching the tools, we, in essence, created something visible from something invisible. We created a tangible object, which resembled a flat, planar surface, out of isolated sticks and balls, thus creating something from nothing.


However, I realized that after creating something visible, there’s no way to expect the same perception from everyone. Just because you’ve created something that can be seen, doesn’t mean that everyone will see the same thing; thus, arises the concept of “what happens when something is seen”. I believe that when something is seen, everyone perceives it differently, which allows creativity and intellectual stimulation. Furthermore, I would argue that visibility/invisibility depends largely on perception. For instance, I believe that by creating a planar surface out of basic tools, we created visibility from invisibility. However, some may argue that sticks and balls have their own cohesive shape, so all we did was transform what was already visible into a different visible shape. So, because visibility depends on perception, some people will see something where others don’t, and vice versa. Continuing with this theme, I believe that when something is invisible, it is more or less hidden only by a feeling of functional fixedness, or a reluctance to look outside our comfort zone. For those who see something in anything and everything, then nothing is invisible to them, because they are able to create something out of nothing. But for those who look at an object, and see only what that object is supposed to be, then to them, the entire potential of the object is invisible, as they see only what they want to/are used to seeing.


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