Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scenario Visualisation: Assignment on Composite Images and Mental Maps

Visualising the Rural Experience from the Environmental Perception visit to Hingolgadh, Bhoira and Gundala in one single half-imperial size sheet.

M P Ranjan

Image 01: DCC teachers reviewing the course strategy together and looking at books on sustainability before the class session starts on Monday.

We did not expect to see the full class on Monday since the long weekend was followed by two holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday due to Id and Holi. We therefore decided to have a lecture for those who would be present on Monday and introduce them to the idea of scenario visualization as part of the process of design and we introduced the Systems Model of the NID Way as an approach to design exploration and action. To see the model discussed in class the 4 page 1.1 mb pdf file of “Understanding Design Models” can be downloaded from here along with a paper as a 691 kb pdf file on “Drawing and Visualising Scenarios in Design” also from here. These resources will help in understanding how we use mental images to draw insights and the role that these rich external images help in forming a deep understanding of the context as well as particular items within, all in a organized pattern of relationships that eventually help produce meaning and make sense of the whole system.

Image 02: Environmental Perception course had all the Foundation students travel to the villages for a full week in the field. On their return the course teachers reviewed all the work done in the form of drawings and evaluated the student through a visible process. Each student showed their work in a compact display in the NID foyer over a three day period.

The Environmental Perception course has been part of the NID Foundation since 1976 and it has evolved over the years to help students understand the dynamics of learning from the field a number of complex attributes and relationships in a typical Indian rural setting. We have over the years used this experience to bring the fresh and intense exposure that the students have had into the Design Concepts and Concerns course as a real example to explore and examine in some detail. This scenario visualization assignment was tried out with special field visits to Calico Museum or to the city bazaar based on which the student was required to capture their full experience in a composite image that would show all the significant components of the experience as well as a scenario that was a whole image which could be appreciated at a glance. This year the students are asked to reflect on their field experience to try and fathom the visible as well as the intangible insights about design possibilities and use this reflection to build a scenario of their personal experience that can be shared with the whole class on Saturday morning.

Image 03: The DCC Black Board that shows the concepts that were explored in the class leading up to the setting of the scenario visualization assignment. The context is the DCC course areas of Roti, Kapada, Makkan, Bijlee and Rozgaar – Food, Clothing, Housing, Energy and Employment – all political issues as well as design opportunity areas for all of us.

The larger context of climate change and globalization trends brings us to the theme of this course which is to understand sustainability in the larger context as well as learn to think in terms of sustainable processes and strategies while we design for each of the pressing problems that challenge all of us in India today.

Image 04: An example of the Calico Museum visit scenario visualization (as a 14.6 mb movie) that was prepared in 1999 by Debashree as part of the DCC course. Each student had made their own version of the visit scenario and each was as different as the person who made the drawing. Debashree is seen in her picture wearing a white kurta and a polka-dot pant. This was one of the amazing expressions from that class.

Scenario visualization is a very individual form of expression and any style of drawing can be used and a wide awareness of Indian painting and drawing tradition is a useful asset in carrying out this task successfully. At the end of the Foundation programme at NID all students are usually quite fluent in drawing and visual expression and in this assignment the attempt is to be able to organize ones memories into coherent contexts and to arrange these into a composite image that can be used to tell a rich story about that particular experience. The scenario in its parts ahs rich detail and texture some of it in vivid colour and expression.

Image 05: The students who stayed back at NID sat through the three hour long discussion about scenario visualization and about the nature of design as we know it today. They shared with the teachers and the class many of their insights from the recent visit to the village.

We hope that the other students who have rushed back to meet their families will return refreshed and join the task of preparing the scenario visualization which is required to be done on half-imperial size paper set in the landscape format. Each student can make a rough sketch of the various parts of the scenario and much like a painter who makes quick sketches to shape the contours and details of a new painting, each student may need to explore both style and content on a series of doodles and then prepare the final layout of their scenario visualization on the cartridge paper for presentation to the class. The final presentation will be held in the NID foyer on Saturday 14th March 2009 at 10.00 am and some refreshments will be served. The class will meet for a lecture on scenario visualization on Thursday 12th March 2009 at 9.30 am and the following Friday can be used fully for the exploration and completion of the scenario of the village visit to Hingolgadh, Bhoira and Gundala during the Environmental Preception course last week.

M P Ranjan

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