Temporary Expert - Final Notes and Reflection

A Brief Overview of Approach

My project, or series of, for The Temporary Expert class all grew out of research into the perception of climate change on one hand, and understanding the awe experience and its impact on the human mind. As my research progressed and focused both conceptually and geographically, I identified several approaches for engaging the topic of climate change as well as ways with which to address my target audience in various ways:

  1. The rising sea levels and impact on New York City’s waterfront neighborhoods, thinking of the sea as an occupier of gentrified neighborhoods, of the future of a submerged city and the fact that this is a near-reality at 30 years away.

  2. Leveraging conformism to power, authority and office to create the illusion of government and corporate acknowledgement of climate change and explore the change in local public reaction to the idea of the “system” finally getting on board with climate change prevention.

  3. Breaking through the shelter of urban life that is, for the privileged, a (temporary) retreat from the elements and a degree of removal from the reality of climate change. Exploring how these shelters can be disrupted and how this disruption can be directly tied to climate change.

  4. Drawing clear connections between financial and geological damage to the planet, exposing Wall Street as a silent but willing accomplice that is sponsoring nearly all of the top polluters in the west.

Though these project perspectives might seem quite different to each other, they all sit squarely within the system I’ve created for understanding climate change, its perception and global-actor catalysts, their variety, if anything, was to me an indication of how rich the system canvas is for project development and ideation.

The final presentation can be found here, I can’t embed presentations in SquareSpace, sorry:

Temporary Expert Final Presentation

Reflection

Learning

The journey of The Temporary Expert has been one of constant learning, consideration and adaptation. From the fundamental introduction to systems thinking, to the socially-engaged art communication toolset, and trying to quickly understand the landscape and network in which my topics of choice reside. It’s been a thought-provoking class that is different in method and focus to any other class I’ve taken at ITP and challenged me to be critical of my assumptions, approaches, and macro and micro aspects of my project.

More specifically, I learned that everything (any topic, issue, really anything) sits squarely in a system of connection and expansive relationships to other influenced and influencing nodes, and our particular focus or perspective of a topic drawn a boundary line for what is included in our sub-system. This rather technical description of the analysis process was eye-opening for me, as it gave me a clear tool with which to question influences, expand my understanding of a topic and link together sub-topics and specific actors in search for connection and information. This proved an intuitive tool after a while, as it accommodated hunches very well, giving room for an iterative process for testing new ideas and gut feelings.

In later stages of research and development of my project I also realized that all aspects of a work are essentially parts of the system: the framing of the work, the public it aims to engage, the desired outcome it pushes toward. All should be analyzed and aligned for a work to be clearly situated and make sense, common phrases like “barking up the wrong tree” and “preaching to the choir” come to mind here, but the gist of it is that it’s easy to neglect these aspect of the project during its development and focus only on the “work itself”, leaving it weaker on the whole.

Feedback

I received feedback from friends, colleagues and guest critics on various aspects of my work but there seemed to emerge two main themes: WHO am I addressing with the work and what do you I want to work to DO.

Thinking of who I’m addressing with my work prompted me to conduct additional research on the environment in which I hope to situate my projects, study New York’s physical and socio-economical geography, inequality and power structures that are rooted in places such as Wall St., unearthing hidden connections of capital and influence to climate change and making it clear who and where I should be engaging.

The question of what I want the work to DO was more complicated and personal, and ranged from a pure desire to antagonize out of anger at the sheer blindness people seem to maintain in the wake of climate change to collaboration with local charities and NGOs that will give the audience a path to follow for continued engagement. At the moment I see my project proposal as “exposé” pieces, aiming to shed a repeated light on the perspectives and connections I have found with the hope that continuous engagement of a defined public will push for deeper engagement and longer lasting impact.

Balance

Though I tried to balance research and project work during the class, I think I did a better job developing and prototyping projects then I did actually testing them outside of my head or the ITP floor. The Temporary Expert process has been quite conducive to the development of new ideas and reshaping of projects but I did not manage to make sufficient time to implement these in actuality and test my assumptions.

I aim to follow through on my projects and I think this period of incubation is actually good and prevented me from testing overly crude or aggressive ideas, giving me time to reach a certain level of thought and consideration on all aspects of my work, and how I want it to be situated and experienced.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, I will embrace the systems approach to analyzing fields of research and building work. The structured approach to understanding and uncovering connection proved intuitive and critical at the same time, and gave me tools with which to comprehend and boundary off seemingly impossible topics such as climate change.

I also found it as a good reference to go back to during later stages of project development to check myself and how ideas evolve in my heads with the facts of my research and the critical connections I wanted to anchor my work in.