My 5 on 5 project experience
A ‘Five on Five Project’ is when a person does 5 projects in 5 days without overlapping them, which means you take up one project a day and finish it within that one day. If you cannot finish the project in a day, you need to leave it and move on to the next one. There is no wrong way to do this project and no rule to follow except the one-day-one-project rule. For my projects, I decided to focus on topics, which are personal to me. I wanted to dab on my experiences and feelings, and pour the outcome on my work.
When I first came to New York City I was fascinated by the subway as it was my first time ever to use one. I started noticing all the small details about a subway experience, such as, people talk a lot during the day and not as much during the night time and it is okay to walk up to anyone and ask for direction (half of the time they don’t know the answer). I was surprised by the subway culture and how open it was. I remember traveling in a bus in a different state, and it was almost rude to even answer a call because it will disturb other people. Due to this fascination I decided to do my Day 1 project on it.
I travelled in the subway multiple times in different hours of the day and decided to document everything that people talk about and how loud they are. For example if a person is really loud, I would give them a score of 5 and conversations which happened softly would get a score of 2. After noting down all the sentences and scores, I made a word cloud (http://www.wordclouds.com/) out of them by turning the volume score into frequency.
From this observation I concluded that people are more energetic and willing to get involved in a conversation during the day versus night time. They are also very loud while talking and talk about food, clothes, wine and laugh a lot. During night time, they are usually tired and talk about the long day they had or how bad New York is (a lot of negative topic).
On the second day I was wondering about identity as a crucial part of our lives and we often get judged by people on our identity based on the kind of clothes we are wearing, the kind of hair we have, skin tone or even accents. So I decided to do a second social research on my second day about identity of people that I meet in the subway.
During my journey in the subway, I took some papers and a pencil with me. I made portraits of people who I found interesting and wrote down my assumptions on them. For example, for the first portrait, I assumed the girl is half Arab and half American. She is from New York, goes to a University and in Marketing major. After finishing my sketch, I went to her and started a conversation and asked if my assumptions were right or wrong. This project encouraged me to talk to people and learn more about the community around me. I realized how misleading it can be to judge someone’s identity based on what we see with our naked eyes.
On the third day, I get a call from my mother and she was asking me about my housing situation, if I learnt how to cook, if I am behaving decently and the list goes on. Her conversations with me everyday inspired me to do my third project on Social Expectation from a Woman. I do not mean to offend anyone by this project, it is my own thought process and my experience with the society.
As a Bengali woman, the society expects us to be the best of bests. They want us to be highly educated, we should know how to sing, dance (good at art in general), how to cook (if not then who will feed the future husband), know about the world as much as possible, capable of bringing a child into the world (as soon as possible after marriage), know how to raise and educate a child, take care of the house (cleaning, washing, shopping, accounting, you name it, we need to know it), definitely need to be religious and practice daily, be pure and youthful as a lotus (sign of beauty), have thick long black hair and last but not the least, we are not expected to raise our voice against violence because sometimes it is good stay quiet as it maintains the peace. Below is a sketch that I created to show what I think the society expect from us.
For my fourth day, I wanted to do something very special and serious. I was going through my Facebook and I was suddenly reminded of a friend who committed suicide due to depression. I started thinking about mental health issues and how important it is in our lives, but it has always been overlooked. For this project I decided to experiment with typography and how words can make a person feel someone else’s pain. I picked three mental illness that some of my closest people are going through and made awareness posters out of them. The idea of the poster is to make a person feel how a mental illness patient feels through words and typography.
I have been dancing all my life because I think it lets you be yourself and helps you release all the negative energy inside you. I have done different forms of indian dance but I have never tried any western dance style. So when I moved to New York I started taking Contemporary Dance classes. I had assumed that it would be easy for me to learn but I realized the footwork is very different than any indian form. So I decided to experiment with Bollywood and contemporary dance footwork and create a visual of how different they are.
So I covered my floor with plastic papers and put art papers on the floor as a stage for me to dance. The blue footprints are contemporary dance and the red ones are Bollywood. From this experiment I realized contemporary has a heavier footwork than Bollywood. Bollywood has a lot of hand gesture and usually on fast music but contemporary dance has strong and heavy footwork, which is very evident from the visual.
I personally loved the process of forcing the creative juice out of myself. The constraints forces a person to think outside the box. It is a great exercise for designers to practice creativity. The project does not have to be 5 on 5, it can be more or less. It is also a very good way of learning new skills fast.