Refining the Foundations

...and breathe. Finding myself with surplus headspace (following the conclusion of my Playces exhibition at Art on the Hill this weekend) has meant I’ve finally been getting to the bottom of the WHY, WHAT, and HOW for my praxis for multimodal creativity. First, let's deal with the WHY - why do I want to create this 'praxis'? What on earth has motivated me to take this path?! (A path which is almost definitely riddled with pitfalls and snares...) Well, my very first post in this thread circled a lot of my motivational reasoning, but up until now, this has existed as a cacophony of personal anecdotal experience and observations from my time working within the arts and new media. As a starting point that’s all very well and good, but it absolutely needs firming up before I proceed and begin to assemble something. So, after sitting down with the best damn cuppa tea I’d ever had (possible exaggeration, but heyyyy... it's my first day off in a long time) I began with a deep clean of my recent streams of consciousness on this matter, and after much scrubbing, for me, my core reasoning for this endeavor came down to three things:

1). I want to provide myself with structured ideas that will better inform my own creative practice. (To stimulate my professional development)

2). Create something that contributes towards the normalisation of the role of the Generalist. (A public-facing resource)

3). Contribute to the spotlighting of multi-sensory design within art and new media. (Tastemaking within the industry)

With this, I now know with confidence exactly why I want to develop this praxis. These 3 points also start to signpost the types of individuals that my work will be relevant to (this, however, being something I will be digging into via some business model avenues in my other areas of study).

Next up, the WHAT - at the top level, I know that my praxis is going to be a collection of ideas; empirically informed suggestions that highlight the ‘things to consider’ when working on multi-modal creative outputs. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been jumping between a variety of terms to signpost this: Praxis. Toolkit. Book. Framework. Paper. Instructional video. Talk. Rosetta flipping stone... I guess this shows at present that although I know loosely what it is, I don’t currently know what format it will take, and... I’m not sure I’m able to answer this just yet. But inspired by my cleanup on WHY I’m doing this, it’s dawning on me that a praxis on multimodal creativity needs to be at least somewhat... multimodal?

Not quiiiiiite like the Felixsapian smell-books from Red Dwarf (oooooooh, deep cut)...

...but in all seriousness, it sort of feels like it's going to be tricky to convey some of the ideas that emerge for my multimodal toolkit through the written word alone. However, I’ll leave a pin in this for now and return in due course. It’s just not quite time for me to explore formatting yet...

Next up (and well into my second cup of tea) it was time to put my own practice through the pressure washer. It’s taken me years to define it, and even now, how I do so is far from perfect. However, the common thread I've now identified that runs through all of the creative disciplines I actively maintain and operate within (i.e. music and sound production, illustration, design, animation, coding) is interactive experience design. Any time I find myself creating works with 2 or more distinct disciplines or modalities involved, it is always because the work in question, or project, is focused on interactive experiences.

...and with this second level of cleansing, my thinking and direction for this project are feeing even clearer. My sensory praxis will aim to span different modalities in a bid to inform and empower creatives who find themselves climbing over the barriers between specialism:

This praxis is for illustrators who are finding themselves working within app development.

This praxis is for musicians who find themselves working within video game design.

This praxis is for videographers who are looking to explore gamification.

This praxis is for dancers creating choreography matched to coloured lighting sequences.

This praxis is (in three words) for experience design.

Our senses are our way of experiencing. The creative outputs that my praxis will aim to inform are all experiences:

Reactive artifacts.

Interactive media.

Procedural soundtracks.

Non-passive performances.

And the list goes on...

With this, I feel that the foundations are now beginning to set. Once they have dried, next week I will begin to explore the HOW - how am I going to assemble and present methods and approaches within my praxis and what with they consist of?

On that front, here's my plan - I will develop 3 multimodal creative experiments, each existing as a discrete piece of work that will enable me to explore a variety of modalities, in various combinations, and at various resolutions. Each of these projects will take into consideration the elements put forward in the 3 questions I had identified at the conclusion of my previous 5 week plan (i.e. modal combination, resolution, and spatialisation). The multimodal experiments I currently aim to develop in the coming weeks are as follows:

1). The AV Drum Kit: a project exploring the relationship between sound emitters and reactive visuals.

2). The Audio Puzzle: a project exploring sound, interaction, spatialisation, and gamification.

3). Tasting Notes: a project exploring the impact of smell and taste in multimedia design. (i.e. comparing chemical senses in relation to light/mechanical senses)

Each of these experiments will help me identify what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to cross-sensory relationships within interactive experience design for new media. Which modalities need coverage? ...and at what resolution? Decisions on this will be informed by 3rd party feedback and reflections of each of these multi-sensory media experiments. I will also conduct some outward-facing research to expand on my awareness of people and ideas within fields of sensory and disciplinary study before I undertake each of these experiments, which should help me calibrate new ways of tackling these experiments outside of my current habits and skillsets. In an act of honing in on my focus even further, the results of both of these endeavors will help me begin to structure the ideas that will go into the praxis. Okay... so the last cup is now empty, and the teapot has dried up, but my mind is now clearer and focused - it's time to get back into the lab and get making.

Copyright © Leigh Davies 2020