Thursday 7 March 2013

Designing by chance … with the purple umbrella and a dice

This title would make a wonderful one for a mystery play and this TSG workshop with Matt Harris was a bit of a mystery from the beginning. Requirements: an item to de-construct, a dice and drawing materials. My chosen item was a rather beautiful, very old, silk umbrella given to me by good friend, Mary Youles.

After a lot of struggling with pliers and lethal, pointed tools, every single piece that went into the umbrella's construction, was laid out on my table like a row of surgeon’s instruments.

Arranging the components was a design task in itself. The next stage was to number each item and then to throw the dice to select just three items. These were combined in some way to form a drawing tool – we were NOT permitted to choose ‘just the right combination’! This ‘indeterminacy’ was the premise of the weekend and each stage was dictated by the throw of the dice and not personal choice. For a roomful of artists and designers this was excruciatingly painful initially until we started to ‘let go’ and accept the results of the indeterminacy of the dice. In fact, it was quite refreshing to have decisions taken away from you and to learn to ‘make do’ with whatever the dice dictated rather than perhaps making choices that were very predictable to our individual working practices.

Several drawing tools were made (dice-determining of course) and then drawings made of the item itself. These were in response to a list of words, rather than the visual object, which were drawn up before and during the deconstruction.


The dice continued to dictate decisions in further development work as we cut up drawings and re-constructed them.


A further rewarding experience was completed back home by assembling deconstructed pieces and work produced on my pin board – this time - without the use of dice.