Exploring the Wild and Weird on Vancouver Island with Design Inquiry

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Research, Travel

 

Traveling to West Bamfield on Vancouver Island is no easy feat. The trip took two days, but well worth the journey. After flying into Vancouver on Friday evening, I met up with my robot-making design collaborator, Rebecca Tegtmeyer, and we took the Skytrain downtown to our hotel. Nick Liadis, a fellow Design Inquiry (DI)-er, met up with us Saturday afternoon (from Pittsburg), and the three of us caught the bus from downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay to catch the BC Ferry to the island. We arrived on the east coast of the Island in Nanaimo. We were picked up at the port and driven to Port Alberni by our fellow DI hosts, Emily Luce and Rod Sayers who offered us a place to stay the night before we could make the last leg over to the west coast of the island. That evening, we were also joined by DI-ers, Dagmar Dahle, Hester Jiskoot, Lewis Nicholson, and Gwen MacGregor. The next morning, we all took the Frances Barkley from Port Alberni to West Bamfield.

We arrived in West Bamfield on Sunday afternoon.

We presented our research to DI-ers and shared the development of our collaborative drawing robot that fosters remote making in the physical space. We frame the work by thinking about how technology can act as a mediator between collaborators who work in remote locations, and further, if we were completed limited to technical tools, how could remote collaborators make physical artifacts together in real-time situations. Look for a future article post, where I will include some updated imagery, learnings, and outcomes of this research. 

On the island, and as a way to contribute to the discussions of the wild and weird, we thought it would be interesting to explore collaborative work mediated by nature. As it was the first time Rebecca and I actually met in person (we have been working remotely since 2013), we planned to work on site together and think about ways that nature might play a role in our collaborative design making activities. Our inquiries that led the making activities were: How can we speculate on ways to collaborate without technology? and How can nature be a mediator in our collaborations?

See also an article on Design Inquiry’s website.

We experimented with making our own ink and paper from found berries and pulp on the island. Rebecca explored photo manipulation from natural compositions found in the sand. I explored screen-printing by sewing natural found objects to paper.

For our main project, we created a (very lo-res) wind drawing machine that we set up on the shore of Brady Beach by the DI house. We hung mark-making tools from a tree above and allowed the wind to move the markers around on the fabric canvas that lay below. The wind drawing machine sat out at the beach for about 3 days.

During the week, we also participated in other DI-ers making activities.

And, we spent a lot of time on the shore. The landscape of the Pacific Northwest is stunning; we saw numerous orca whales, eagles, and wolves along the coast throughout the week.

Many thanks to my fellow DI’ers: Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Nick Liadis, Emily Luce, Rod Sayers, Dagmar Dahle, Hester Jiskoot, Lewis Nicholson, Gwen MacGregor, Anthony Hawley, and Tawney Lem. It was an incredibly memorable week; I feel so lucky to be part of the DI family and I hope to see you all soon.

 

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