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SPECULATING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF MY DA EXPERIENCE

Project Overview

I worked on two projects, the Digital Artefact Centre (DAC) and Plant Parent this semester. Due to personal issues, I struggled with producing content and maintaining an online presence, so both projects gained little traction. Instead, I want to imagine Plant Corner – a project where I could utilise the time and resources put into Plant Parent but instead produce VR, AR and other content revolving around future technologies.

The DAC

The DAC was proposed as an archive of past DAs, serving as a source of inspiration for UOW students doing DA subjects. Moving beyond this, it would show companies the type of work students produce and promote the degree. I was in charge of ‘direction and delivery’, managing the overall aesthetics of the project.

My DAC role
DAC overall mood board
DAC collection mood board
DAC collaboration mood board

 While I started out with a lot of motivation for this project, our team struggled to find times to meet online or in person, and I quickly became overwhelmed with coordinating the project. While working on this project, I learnt the importance of having a cohesive idea or aesthetic uniting a DA – rather than trying to tie too many different ideas together. 

DAC varying personas

Plant Parent

Plant Parent was a project that grew from the enjoyment I found in keeping and caring for my plants. While it was initially based around the idea of plants as a form of self-care, I struggled to justify this to myself as a social utility. Instead, I aimed my project at university students with limited space for plant care, wanting to work on DIY solutions and simplified plant care.

Plant Parent Pinterest board
generated by NightCafe

I did a lot of what I wanted for the project – including growing my plant collection and taking over the family balcony with plants, herbs and vegetables – but none of this progress got posted online as it didn’t match my proposed frame. I realised the importance of resonating with and connecting to your project – if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then you aren’t going to feel motivated to make content.

Updating my plants

Producing a lot of this content also felt very forced, as opposed to the organic nature of plants and plant care. Stopping to take aesthetic videos, overthinking the angle and lighting sucked the joy from this project. Since I no longer resonated with this project, I soon lost interest.

Empty socials; Instagram, Twitter & TikTok

Plant Corner

Plant Corner focuses on the idea of plant care as a form of self-care – it produces immersive VR, AR and video content that allows people to take a break from work. I want to use design fiction to speculate the type of content I could’ve produced with the use of future technologies, as well as the resulting feedback loops.

Plant Corner would utilise visual cameras, allowing content to be captured from a first-person perspective – giving a more realistic experience while also making content creation quicker. The project also uses AR technology to allow people to view the ‘plant corner’ in their own living or workspace. Finally, it generates daily VR content showing the plant’s growth, allowing viewers to experience their own plant journey in real time. The project also includes collaboration with other content creators, as well as friends and family as content could be produced using their gardens.

‘design fiction plant corner’ generated by DreamStudio
‘augmented reality plant care’ generated by DreamStudio
‘design fiction plant corner realism’ generated by DALL-E

Content generation begins with a deep dive into the niche. Everyday plant care is filmed and edited to suit the needs of varying platforms; it is then posted using hashtag generators to find the best audience. Next, I would interact with followers, tweaking the type of content generated based on user feedback.

‘VR plat care’ generated by DALLE
Speculative thinking manifesto – Dunne & Raby A/B

Design fiction is based on prototyping and promotes the idea of a diegetic prototype – an object that participates in and evokes a narrative based on the future the content generators want to work towards. This reflects the DA creation process as we prototype and ideate content based on a certain frame or point of view we are studying. Through speculating and ideating Plant Corner I discovered the significance of the design fiction process and think I have a better understanding when it comes to producing and structuring DAs.

Framing my DA experience

The DAC leaned into cyberpunk, and while we tried to incorporate other frames and ways of viewing the project, the prevalence of cyberpunk in the BCM aesthetic was overwhelming. This dystopian viewpoint hindered our aims to create a positive impact.

‘cyberpunk’ generated by DALLE

With Plant Parent I wanted to focus on cottagecore as a key aesthetic, balancing the romantic elements of the style with practicality. It is obvious that a more in-depth focus on cottagecore or even an exploration of solarpunk would’ve been more appropriate and may have motivated me in creating content for the project. 

I was too focused on making Plant Parent practical, and in doing so forwent the ideologies of cottagecore to focus on it only as an aesthetic I could use to draw in viewers. Cottagecore promotes an idealised, nature-focused world where new communities can be formed by marginalised groups – if I had instead focused on this aspect of the genre PlantParent could’ve become a safe place to promote LGBTQIA+ content in a unique context.

via Twitter
cottagecore aesthetic‘ and ‘solarpunk aesthetic‘ generated by DALL-E
Howls moving castle made solarpunk

Solarpunk promotes sustainability, something I personally am working towards by growing my own herbs and vegetables alongside other plants. Considering Plant Parent through a solarpunk perspective would’ve allowed me to focus on these aspects of the project, exploring sustainable options like vertical gardens. Since one of the main requirements of solarpunk is user-friendliness, an interesting aspect to consider would be sustainability with a university lifestyle and budget – utilising a green aesthetic more authentically.

The driving force for Plant Corner is design fiction. Design fiction is a type of speculative design that allows new perspectives to be explored – ultimately acting as a catalyst for refining the relationship with reality. To create a project using design fiction you must first speculate on the fictional world this creation would exist in. While design fiction usually works towards utopian living, I wanted to consider how a future entrenched in liquid labour would influence Plant Corner. 

Liquid labour is the transformation of the workforce from full-time employment to a liquid workforce based on a gig economy as opposed to stable forms of employment. It has led to difficulty in maintaining a balance between work and life as people are expected to be always online and always available. Here society moves beyond clock time to focus on event and network time. In this context Plant Corner gains more significance as its AR and VR capabilities allow for on-the-go self-care – users can have a break wherever they are, be it in a small apartment building or in their office break room. 

‘losing work life balance’ via DreamStudio
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