Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DEGREE PROJECT | Interactive Information Design Inspiration

After arriving at a clear direction for my project I have developed a sitemap and have begun to plot out scenarios that exploit the different elements of the system. I've also spent some time gather inspiration for how things may appear; how information is displayed and interacted with.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

SPATIAL | P2: The Poetic — Monument to Kansas City

This monument aims to reflect, illustrate, and provoke the real culture of Kansas City; portraying the Midwestern metropolitan city as an innovative and progressive one, dispelling the frequent misconception that Kansas City is nothing more than a 'Cowtown'. The innovative and progressive nature of Kansas City dates all the way back to its incorporation, beginning in the heart of the West Bottoms and spreading to areas such as the Crossroads and the Country Club Plaza. Inspiring individuals such as Walt Disney, J.C. Hall, and William Rockhill Nelson that put Kansas City on the map.

Conceptually the monument revolves around the idea of commemorating the past with the present, and demonstrating this progression and innovation through subtle means. A doorway, or threshold was chosen to symbolize this forward movement, a right of passage to the Midwest and Kansas City's unique culture. The poetics of this monument are not only established in the structure itself but also through a shadow on the opposite side of the threshold, subtly hinting at the existence of an open door provoking intrigue and wonderment. At the foot of the doorway also resides a specific textual experience pertaining to the particular commemoration of Kansas City; in this case TWA Headquarters. As an individual passes through they are greeted with recollecting sound, texture, and words invoking the innovative and progressive nature of the true Kansas City throughout the decades. And ideally these structures could appear throughout KC in other significant areas acting as markers of innovative history both past and present.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

DEGREE PROJECT | System Development + Interaction

Over the past several weeks, with Spring Break in the mix, I have began to heavily consider interaction and how the user might work through this system. Most of these thoughts began with revisiting the sitemap, looking at areas that overlap or have potential of being combined in addition to how the system breaks down. From other areas developed such as using 'vitals' that are informed by the individual's physical exam as a driver for the system; making comparisons and prompting new results and improvement.

In developing this unique strategy I have presented the idea of utilizing 'friendly competition' as the driver for motivational appeal and pushing improvement in problematic areas of their personal health. With this idea I hope to develop social interaction as well, working with this competitive aspect and creating health awareness as an engaging topic through such an approach.

Developing the initial interaction began to give form to how each of these elements interact with the individual. Experimenting with what information is displayed, how it might be displayed, and what is communicated to the user.

At this point there are many different ideas beginning to surface and putting focus on interactive experiments should help to further streamline the interaction to better suite the individual with the main goal in mind. Aiming to empower the user through a non-evasive tool that give them the knowledge and power to positively effect their health and ultimately their lifestyle. However, with all of these ideas floating around it has been somewhat difficult in trying to slim them down to where they can have the most effectiveness.

I feel the structure will play a large role in how the system develops as I want to break free of the intimidation factor that most medical information carries; putting it in layman's terms that are easy to understand and easy to use.

After making some explorations of interactivity I found myself somewhat losing sight of the ultimate goal and how I am going to portray it in an engaging and dynamic way. Refocus began on the notion of taking advantage of and further facilitating the patient/doctor relationship; creating a unique strategy that takes advantage of this relationship. I am creating a platform to discuss, document, and create effective plans of action; it facilitates documentation and personal empowerment versus verbal discussion.

The essence of the project aims towards tracking, recording, and improving health through the duration of a year between physical exams; giving a personal platform provoking responsibility of one's health.

With this refocus I began to flesh out the elements of interaction at a more specific level as well as beginning to speculate with technology and the unique interactions it may provide.

– heart-rate monitor
– stress level indicator
– 'health number' – overall health
– barcode scanner / fruit stickers – food diary
– photograph – social sharing
– 'places' – check-in, local partners
– 'tag' – send challenges/trends to friends

Now that I have defined potential elements and their values I have started to wireframe interactive scenarios. With these scenarios I have taken into consideration offline needs that could be better facilitated by this platform, finding the ultimate goal of tracking and improving one's lifestyle.

goals Young adults take responsibility/action for their own health; facilitate empowerment.
Improve patient/doctor relationship; communication.

From these wireframes I pushed the idea a step further and have considered giving the medical information a backseat while the front-end is presented with challenges, and the ability to track and document. This approach gives a bit more simplicity to the system and takes a step in the right direction in regards to making the information less intimidating.

Track = follow progress throughout the year between exams & observe patterns through multiple years.
Document = ability to complete and store family history & document notes, questions and concerns for your next doctors visit.
Challenge = action plans to improve personal health and lifestyle.

DEGREE PROJECT | Revised Timeline

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SPATIAL | P2: The Poetic — Location + Context

After spending a class period with the brilliant Keetra Dean Dixon last week some great ideas emerged from my research and I was able to nail down how I am going to capture, commemorate, and communicate the culture of Kansas City. As mentioned in a previous post, the monument will commemorate the culture of Kansas City in a way that dispels myths and hearsay of it being a 'cow town' being nothing more than an isolated, small, and rather unsophisticated city. I based this direction upon my own realization of Kansas City when I moved here, and i have also sought inspiration in Norman Rockwell's painting, The Spirit of Kansas City. Aiming to portray Kansas City as a sophisticated, independent, and progressive gateway to the mid-west; empowering minds and inspiring great endeavors.

Essentially, the direction I am pursuing revolved around these expectations of KC and the true discoveries the lay underneath the surface; more or less, the 'diamond in the rough'. I feel that for these discoveries to be made, the audience needs to be prompted with some sort of provoking structure, this is where the idea utilizing doorways came in. Using the doorways and a nondescript way to frame particular areas of interest; framing discoveries and creating unexpected moments that may otherwise be overlooked. The door acts as a threshold, moving from one dimension to the next, a right of passage that could symbolically act as the 'before and after'. I found in also interesting to see how this idea could be expanded to that of a doorbell, doormat, or peep-hole —several of these ideas may work in provoking other senses such as auditory in addition to sight and touch.

Considering that commemorating all of Kansas City in this way would prove to be a large task, I have decided to focus of 5 unique elements that, I feel, have made KC what it is today.

01. Walt Disney & Laugh-O-Gram studios — Marks the start to the career of a very ambitious and successful individual; although finding financial troubles with Laugh-O-Gram, it was the launchpad for his many successes in the movie industry's capital city.

02. J.C. Nichols & the Country Club Plaza — Modeled after the city Seville, Spain, Nichols developed the Country Club Plaza that is well known for beautiful Ward Parkway. At it's inception the Plaza was the world's first shopping center designed specifically to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

03. TWA Corporate Headquarters — Because of Kansas City's central location; in it's hay-day, Transcontinental & Western Airlines (Trans World Airlines) established KC as the hub of national aviation.

04. West Bottoms — Referred to the beginnings of Kansas City as the establishment of industry and the railroad anchored KC and it's development for the years to come; the first Union Station was also build here to accommodate the centrality of the rail systems.

05. 'The City of Fountains' — Kansas City is home to over 200 fountains, only second to Italy and Rome; serving a practical purpose implemented by the Humane Society to provide clean water to unfortunate women and animals.

Playing with this idea of KC being somewhat of a 'diamond in the rough' and dispelling these expectations with discoveries I began playing with these name pairings...

'Diamond in the Rough'
'Spirit of Kansas City'
'Gateway to the World' (TWA)
'Paris of the Plains' (prohibition)
'Cow Town'
'Heat of America'

Perspective; related to the future
View; outlook
Angle/aspect/frame of reference
Brink; dawn, frontier
Corridor; portal; avenue
Discovery Point; uncover;
Framing discoveries; perspectives; doors of opportunity
Unexpected moments

It would also be interesting working with the juxtaposition of the 'cow town' image and the true image of industry, inspiration, and independence.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SPATIAL | P2: The Poetic — Kansas City

'Crossroads of the Country'— (1865) The Missouri Pacific Railroad reached Kansas City at this time and over the next 30–40 years KC became the second largest train center in the U.S. next to Chicago. By 1914,Union Station located in the West Bottoms became outdated and was built in its current location.

'Cow Town'—(1871) Due to their locality to the trains, stockyards in the West Bottoms were increasing at a dramatic rate, and once again became second to Chicago. In 1899, the American Hereford Association hosted a cattle judging contest that later became known as the American Royal; however the stockyards were destroyed in the Great Flood of 1951 and never really recovered.

'The Pendergast Era' —(1890s–1940) Influenced the colorful flourishing of the city; the Country Club Plaza, Ward Parkway, TWA, Negro League, jazz, bbq, stockyards and train stations...

'Crossroads of the World' — Between the 1930s and 1970s Kansas City was in a stage of great progression; with the Presidency of hometown Harry Truman followed by Dwight Eisenhower. The powerhouse of the time was TWA, making Kansas City the hub of national aviation and with the established headquarters the city's plan was to make KC the gateway to the world; the dream fell short with the demise of TWA.

'Flood of 1951' — The devastation of the flood left many areas of the city in decay with very little momentum to recover; prior to this in 1950, KC attempted to break free from its 'cow town' perception by reshaping focus from rail travel to the competition happening in the automobile and jet travel industries. This gave way for a great demise of stockyards and rail yards that were considered 2nd only to Chicago.

TWA —Charles Lindbergh helped lure the newly created Transcontinental & Western Airline to locate its corporate headquarters in Kansas City because of the city's central location; was known as the hub of national aviation.

The City of Fountains — KC has over 200 fountains, 2ND to only Italy and Rome
"more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome"


Walt Disney — Took weekend classes at KCAI, and is said to have been inspired to create Mickey Mouse after seeing one in his office, and developed his first animation at Laugh-o-gram Studios in KC.

J.C. HallFounded Hallmark Cards

William T. Kemper —Influential financial endeavors including Kemper Arena and the Kemper Museum.

William Rockhill Nelson — Founded the KC Star; and later left provisions for his house to be torn down to build the Nelson Atkins Museum after his death.

J.C. Nichols — Planned the upscale 'Country Club District' later known as the Country Club Plaza and Ward Parkway. The Plaza is the world's first shopping center specifically designed to accomodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

These personalities represent opportunity in a new land, they capitalized on what wasn't there, a blank slate, and took advantage of resources they had available to them. An idea behind Westward Expansion is economy and the development of one's own resources and I think this expansion is very clearly exemplified through these signification people, their contributions, and Kansas City. 

– 18TH & Vine
– KC Monarchs (Negro League Baseball)
– Kansas City Jazz
– KC-style BBQ
– Westport— 'Where the West begun'

'Heart of America'
'Jazz capital of the world'
'BBQ capital of the world'
'Paris of the Plains'
'Gateway to the world'

Kansas City, music, cuisine, industry & transportation *only 2ND to Chicago...

We hold the Midwestern ideal of independence, hard-working, bold, innovative.

Kansas City Public Library

Monday, March 7, 2011

SPATIAL | P2: The Poetic — A New Direction

"This is the story of a courageous city fighting back after a terrible blow by a giant flood," Hall told Rockwell. "This is a story of a big man rolling up his sleeves and going to work — without whimpering and crying."

Today provided a bit of insight into my 'monumental' project, and clarified my struggle with trying to define and justify culture while embodying Kansas City. The focus now shifts to culture on a broader sense, what makes Kansas City, Kansas City? What is the motivation, why are we here, what brought us here and what is the overall attitude? We hold the Midwestern ideal of independence, hard-working, bold, innovative. This may be how we are seen by each other seeing that we live here; however, how is KC perceived by those on the outside, in Manhattan or San Francisco?

So, the new direction will focus, similarly to Norman Rockwell and John Atherton's Spirit of Kansas City, on illustrating our Midwestern spirit; dispelling the myths of how Kansas City is perceived by the outside world as being anything but independent, innovative, bold, and progressive. Imagery of the more obvious such as jazz, bbq, urban/rural, and perhaps the less obvious, city of fountains, the Crossroads, performing/visual arts, etc.

This focus is on the larger community; how KC has been re-purposed and revitalized as well as looking at its historical context and all the elements that make KC desirable and unique. In this case I will be able to take advantage of strong symbolism, possibly working with the idea that KC is/was the gateway to the West...

More research to come...

SPATIAL | P2: The Poetic — Culture Is...

So, in working through the initial brainstorm and conceptualization process of this project, I have continually asked myself 'what is culture' and impartiucular 'what is it to Kansas City'? I have found myself spending the weekend going back and fourth between concept ideas and questioning whether they capture a valuable portion of KC culture or whether the idea is somewhat arbitrary and does not lend itself to any real purpose.

I have been really inspired by Mya Lin's work so I have really been pushing myself to make deeper connections within the concept; finding something that has potential to resonate with the viewer and leave a lasting impression. This is what is so inspiring about Lin's work is everything she takes into consideration, from the environment it is placed in, to what the viewer takes away with them when they leave, to the significance of every element and how each interacts with each's incredible.

behaviors, beliefs, characteristics of a particular social, ethical, or age group...

values of people

ideas, arts + sciences, conventions, customs, civilization, lifestyles, mores, way of life, traditions

a particular form or stage of civilization

the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively

the attitudes and behavior characteristics of a social group

the arts; intellectual achievement

After additional brainstorming and further consideration of the meaning of culture, I have decided that the most sound direction to move into is that of the Crossroads and First Fridays, emphasizing the idea of celebrating art and the district itself.

The most informing research came from the Crossroads Arts District website as they immediately greet you with a welcome, describing the unique experience of the Crossroads. The most resonating mentions were that of the 'eclectic enclave of boutique shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, creative businesses, studios, and art galleries...' which I found quite intriguing as it reveals the true locality of the Crossroads and it's uniqueness amongst other settings. Further justifying this point is the fact that the Crossroads District is a neighborhood, it is a place for work, creativity, and living.

The Crossroads is a very vibrant and diverse community that welcomes and attracts people from all different walks of life, that is most notably reflected in the artistic expression seen in the area. I felt that this area best expresses culture in KC because it is one-of-a-kind, there are no two alike. It's diversity is not only expressed by the people but also by its tenants; whether they are more traditional such as galleries, studios, storefronts, and restaurants, or more innovative such as design studios, architectural firms, or advertising agencies.

In what I have gathered so far, thoughts about my concept are to embrace the celebration of art and community with perhaps the reference to First Fridays, and embrace this idea of locality and uniqueness. I am also very drawn to the diversity factor; how there is a culmination of traditional more innovative artistic expression.

The most captivating idea I pulled from this is the idea of letting the 'sidewalks be your guide...' in the sense that their is no right or wrong, this neighborhood is organic yet dynamic in nature. It also gives this sort of wandering experience; the fact that their is no spatial way-finding system adds to the more traditional side of the experience and the expressiveness and interpretive nature of art in general...more to come soon!

01. Vibrant, diverse community
02.Traditional vs. Innovative artistic expression
03. Local, one-of-a-kind
04. Celebration of culture; First Fridays