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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

Portable Effects: A Survey of Nomadic Design Practice
Rachel Strickland

Everybody is a designer in everyday life. Yet we share no common vocabulary for describing everyday design practice, and few would even claim to have a coherent method for pursuing it.Through glimpses into human mobile nature, Portable Effects is an interactive video exploration which prompts each of us to consider the design motives and methods that underlie our daily transactions with ordinary objects.

People's selection and arrangement of the things they take with them - in handbags, pockets, briefcases, backpacks, etc.-form the context of the investigation. Between setting forth in the morning and returning home at night, each person lives nomadically for several hours a day. You can't take everything with you - neither in your backpack nor in your head. Identifying essentials,figuring out how to contain, arrange and keep track of them as you go are instances of design thinking. Understanding the properties and consequences of portability is a way to grasp principles that underlie the transferability of knowledge from one domain to another. A purse is a physical container, a changing array of interrelated functions, a prosthesis for memory, a haptic "user interface", an information system.The life-size lessons of purse design and pocket organization may be adapted to larger and more complex 3-dimensional problems that frame our ephemeral earthly experience.
The Portable Effects project was initiated in 1989 by architect/videographer Rachel Strickland and educator Doreen Nelson, with the support of Apple Computer. In 1993 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a grant to seed the development of an interactive video database for introducing principles of design practice through the Portable Effects material. The work has unfolded since then under the direction of Rachel Strickland, as a research project of Interval Research Corporation, with the collaboration of the Exploratorium.