Stuart Bannocks' Protosynthesis Workshop

Design your way out of banality at Stuart Bannocks' Protosynthesis Workshop.

There's a cat that lives on my street. She can go outside whenever she likes. Sometimes I see her playing in the empty alleyway. They alleyway is not just empty, it is completely and absolutely barren. Aside from cobblestone, it contains zero mice, zero cars, zero plants, and zero other cats. Yet somehow, my neighbor's cat is most often playing around like crazy.
One time, I walked by and saw her stalking something, but I couldn't see what it was - it looked like there was nothing there. Suddenly, she lunged at the ground and then leapt in the air, clawing at a clear plastic drink straw wrapper which she had just thrown up in the sky.
She had just invented a bird.

Stuart Bannocks and his collaborators have created a low-tech rapid prototyping workshop for curator Daniel Charny's Mestakes and Manifestos gallery at the Anti Design Festival. It invokes something of the inventive spirit of my neighbor's cat.

Visitors are presented with a blank cardboard box and a pile of black vinyl stickers. From these basic supplies, they can prototype any product they want. Sounds wonderfully open.

But it is a challenge to invent something from nothing. We live in a material-rich world. Cardboard is great, but we are not used to being stuck with it. We go to art shops that are full of variety, colour, texture, function, weight. Stripped of our material comforts, we are challenged to get a spark of inspiration anyway.

Don't expect to get any easy ideas from the stickers either. Stuart calls the stickers "components", although they're mostly random and unrelated. They are things like triangles, warnings, gears, brains, DNA strands - the narrative thread is really nonexistant. You have to design your own way out of banality, calling on whatever mental tools you can find, from cleverness to hybridizing to rudeness.

Pictures of the finished products appear online on Stuart's flickr photostream, and you can see a huge mix of results. (A selection copied below) Some managed to make a point, many struggled. I haven't attempted it myself - it seems daunting. If I go, I'm taking the cat with me for support.

1 comment:

  1. You're such a good writer Jen, that cat's story !!! moved me
    (violin) (tear)