10/31 Further Research: Data and Inspiration

We canceled our plans for a field trip around Pittsburgh yesterday due to rain–we anticipated that people wouldn’t be outdoors and lingering in public spaces, which is what we’re mainly interested in observing. We plan to head downtown tonight to see what public spaces are like during rush hour in the central business district. In the meantime, we individually continued to do research and collect ideas based on the ideas and inspirations we’ve already had. My two main spaces of research were in data about Pittsburgh and inspirations from other projects.

Data about Pittsburgh

For our last communication design studio project, we’re working on visualizing data. Stacie Rohrbach, our professor for that course, emailed out some links where we might find good data for the project. Among the links were two sites focused on Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas: PGHSnap and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center. Depending on what we decide to pursue, these datasets may prove to be helpful in deciding, for example, the location of our project and the populations that may be reached.

Inspiration from Other Projects & Media

Forced From Home, an outdoor exhibition created by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF), was in Pittsburgh over the weekend. It “popped up” in Schenley Plaza for five days and welcomed visitors in hour-long guided tours of seven interactive stations. They told the stories of just a few of 65 million displaced people around the world today and helped us become a little bit more aware of their experiences.

Photos from Forced From Home

One project that I came across in a class last year was Welcomesburg, a project by Transdisciplinary Design students at Parsons that explored how an intervention might ease tensions due to gentrification. While this is probably much too big in scope, we might be able to pull inspiration from components of their process or outputs.

Candy Chang’s work centers around participatory public art pieces as well, which is not only a great design research method but can be an intervention in itself. Her work continues to be inspirational to me in its inclusiveness.

L: Confessions installed in a mall, Center: Neighborland public board R: results from Neighborland collected in an online portal showing support for possible interventions

I also found Ali Momeni’s Kickstarter page for the Manual of Urban Projection (which exists both as a print book and a free digital PDF) while perusing the work of designers working in urban spaces. He’s actually a professor at CMU working in hybrid instruments, expanded theater, and urban interventions; perhaps we’d be able to meet with him to discuss our project ideas. His work also led me to the Center for Urban Intervention Research within the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts, which could be a great resource for us.

Ali Momeni’s Statuevision

Lastly, one of my friends did a social innovation project during his time at IIT that uses some participatory-public art-interventions as design research methods called the Good News Engine that we could pull inspiration from.

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