PhotoEx Meetup: The Design Process
On February 11, we held our first Photography, Expanded Meetup as a way to continue conversations around interdisciplinary collaboration and new methodologies for photographers to expand their practice. The meetup was hosted by the MFA Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons The New School for Design, bringing together photographers, technologists, journalists and media producers to discuss the role strategic design-thinking can play in photography and media projects.
Led by MFA candidates Joe Wheeler, Katie Edmunds and Sneha Srinivasan, group discussion emphasized collaborative design-led research and a systems-oriented approach to social innovation. They walked us through a cyclical design process:
Starting with discovering information through research and observation, synthesizing that information into insights and criteria for a project, ideating an intervention based on those insights and criteria, prototyping that intervention and finally revising that prototype multiple times to create an increasingly ideal manifestation of the intervention. Using a methodological design process can help test the capacities of new technologies, plan way for your audience to engage with content via social medias, and keep all members of an interdisciplinary team on the same page over the course of a collaboration.
The Parson’s team walked through a recent project to explicate how the design process can be applied to innovative collaboration. Power Dynamics is a board game intended to help audiences understand the structure of international energy consumption by prompting players to compete for resources. Running through 3 full cycles of the design process, they created a polished board game in under 48 hours despite the fact that most members of the team had never designed a game before.
After the presentation, the room opened up to discussion about the relevance of the design process for photographers and media makers and whether or not a rigidly defined process can become a hindrance to creativity, as well as the advantages and difficulties of collaboration.
Oftentimes, the reality is that time and resources are scant. The design process is regimented by steps that can occur in any given time period, enabling groups to work at an intentional and predictable pace. Setting deadlines for each phase of the project brings about reflective stopping points for teams to decide to repeat the cycle again or show the work.
Thinking collectively about the design process brought forward some important challenges of collaboration such as how terminology is used and understood in different fields. For instance, what the term “research” means is very different for a public health professional than for a designer.
The night drew to an end with an opportunity for networking, facilitated by a prototype for a socialized-name tag developed by the Parsons’ team for the event.
We look forward to continuing conversations at the next Meetup!
Power Dynamics, is currently nominated for the New Challenge to receive up to $10,000 dollars in start-up funding with open voting on Facebook.