1. About Things

To understand the “artificial” let’s begin with the simplest definition and before expanding upon it.

The artificial is that which is not natural

While the definition addresses how the artificial consists of the technology we create and the systems we make alongside them, it is limited by the way it sets the artificial as a contrast to what is natural. Part of what is natural to humans is the way we make tools and shape our surroundings. What is artificial has become what is natural to us. We live in a world in which the artificial shapes nature and nature in turn shapes the artificial. From this expanded definition of the artificial we can begin to see why Design is so critical.

The artificial is everywhere and serves as the interface in which we interact with the world. Design is the creation of the artificial and as a result Design is everywhere and influences everything. Design cannot be taken lightly. You cannot just think about whether something can be made or how to make it, but you also need to think critically about whether it should be made. As a Designer, you must also learn to be critical of the artificial that already exists. Be mindful of the way the artificial influences culture. For example, as convenient as Uber is we need to think critically about the system they establish and the influence it has on people. While it provides convenience to some people, it creates a disadvantage economy for the drivers who are taken advantage due to loopholes in labor laws.

As a Designer we have to understand that what is already Designed is difficult to change. The artificial systems are difficult to shift and shape. The influences of what we make have wider reach than we expect and deeper influence than we anticipate. Before we learn how to Design the artificial it would be prudent to develop the habits of a Designer in observing the artificial.

Take a camera and try to document the artificial. Think beyond just individual physical objects and try to consider systems and environments as well. How does the artificial influence you?

One last note on the artificial is the importance to of being optimistic about the artificial. The artificial is a manifestation of an idea and the exploration of the possibilities. As difficult as it is at times the artificial can always be redesigned and reimagined. To be optimistic is to be critical. Being critical is to be optimistic enough to believe that the artificial can always be Designed more thoughtfully and with better consideration of whether how something should be made.

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