Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CCDN 231: Final Pictures, Videos & Rationale

So, the experiments are finished, the photos are taken, and the videos have been filmed. Here they all are, as well as my rationale at the bottom.

Experiment 1 - Blunt Knife

Experiment 2 - Wooden Knife

Experiment 3 - No Tools

The experiments I created focused on the everyday experience of chopping onions. Narrowing the options down, I chose to focus on my experiment involving chopping the onions with no tools at all. The experiment removed order from an everyday activity and placed the subject outside of their immediate comfort zone, creating a unique experience that allowed for a different set of observations. The experiment was simple. The subject had to chop the onion however they wanted, with only their bare hands as tools. The feeling and mood I sought to create was one of wartime austerity where the subject would “rue her inability to perform simple domestic functions; she is an obvious citizen of a world finally dismantled of by the social and economic effects of war.” (Adolph, 2008) I made the decision to remove tools so as to make the task as difficult as possible, constraining the subject but also encouraging them to let their creativity flourish in solving the problem.

Initially, I found the subject was frustrated at the difficulty in attempting something that had previously always been accomplished with a tool. However, eventually this gave way to an unexpected shift. The subject began to revel in the task, as despite the difficulty, the banality of the task coupled with the fact that there was a definite goal in sight caused the subject to enjoy the novelty of the experience. This appears paradoxical, as I intended the task to be banally simple and frustrating in a negative way. However, Just states with respect to Raymond Carvers minimalist short stories that “the author shows that the aesthetic effect of these techniques (utilizing simplistic, unstylised and clumsy situations) is a paradoxical coexistence of heightened realism and a blankness of meaning.”(2008) This shift in perception for the subject altered the path I had intended the feeling of austerity to take. The removal of the tool and simplicity of the task allowed the subject to viscerally experience the onion and enjoy the pure sensory engagement. This subversion of austerity as something that could be enjoyed rather than abhorred led me to investigate the current cultural implications of austerity and how it connects to stylishly minimalist sentiments. Ultimately I discovered we enjoy the novel experience of simplicity, even if the task ends up being far more difficult. This faux simplicity masks our overindulgence and complex existences. (Busch, 2007) The experience that I created was both simple and complex, but provided an advanced array of sensory inputs and outputs, allowing the subject to enjoy the banal austerity of the task.

I chose the experiment initially for the wrong reasons, but the real interest in this particular experiment became apparent quickly. It led me down the philosophical rabbit hole of austerity and enjoyment through removing the thought aspect of an activity and focusing purely on the sensory experience. And that is what really created an intensely personal experience for the subject.

Adolph, A. (2008). Austerity, Consumption, and Postwar Gender Disruption in Mollie Panter-Downes's "One Fine Day". Journal Of Modern Literature, 31(8), 18-35.

Attfield, J. (2000). Wild Things. London: Berg.

Busch, A. (2007, July/August). Excess Disguised as Less. Print Magazine, N/A.

Gambrel C. G. & Cafaro, P. (2009). The Virtue of Simplicity. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, N/A. doi: 10.1007/s10806-009-9187-0

Just, D. (2008). Is Less More? A Reinvention of Realism in Raymond Carver's Minimalist Short Story. Critique, 49(3), 303-317,333. Retrieved from

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