This project involved a variety of prototypes which were smaller installations created and launched over the course of the semester to give us feedback for our final creation. Due to the variety of ideas we had after ideating, we felt the best way to get responses was to prototype each idea. The actual prototyping was sporadic in that they all were a bit different, but again, were created with the idea of how individuals feel a sense of belonging. We experimented with different materials, forms of installations both large and small, as well as slightly hidden and straightforward in the open. Another theme of prototyping we dealt with throughout the semester was how we wanted to show belonging and get participation. We wanted community involvement, hence the variety of prototypes, but we also didn’t want to be shoving our project into people’s faces. To prototype well, we tried all forms but found the best prototypes to be those stumbled upon and those that made people think. By prototyping, we learned a lot about the community we live in as well as how belonging can be perceived by a variety of individuals.
Our first prototype set was shown at Fall Festival in the middle of October, where we had a design thinking booth and displayed our first two interactive prototypes: a web and a weaving loom. Both of these prototypes involved string, a material that had transformed into a central theme for our project. Our conversations around connectivity and belonging would always go back to this idea that there is a thread that connects us all. We started to think about our ancestors and the women in our lives. How do we feel connected to our grandmothers, mothers and aunts? How can we reclaim this idea of femininity? These two prototypes responded to these questions in different ways, and you can read more about the web prototype and the weaving loom here.
Presenting at Fall Fest was a great opportunity to present our project to Smith students and their parents, as it was Parent’s Weekend. We received great feedback, and liked the venue because we were able to both explain why we were prototyping our project and observe how user’s interacted with it. Moving forward, we split into two groups and used these previous prototypes to go through another iterative cycle. One group, comprised of Bailey, Natasha, Shira, Laura, Cindy, and Maia, prototyped to inspire, and their process can be found here. The other group, comprised of Amanda, Claudia, Jackie, and Grace, prototyped to learn, and their process can be found here. Because of the election changing our project so abruptly, both of these prototypes were completed as concepts rather than tested.
The election gave our group a platform to invite members of the Smith community to share their feelings. On the day after the election, boxes were put out where people could write down their emotions anonymously. These notes were later turned into a part of our final prototype. Two other initiatives created by Bailey and Natasha let people sort out their emotions and attempted to provide students with a pick-me-up. Read more about Dear World and Cloudy Day here.
Our desire to create an outlet for students to share their emotions became the goal of our final prototype. We thought back to our interview with Dwight Hamilton and thought that creating an art festival for student orgs and individual students to express their feelings would be fitting for Smith students. As a final prototype, we created a small scale version of our festival called Smith ReAct- from advertising to implementation. We transformed our individual ideas over the course of the semester into interactive art booths that the community could help create. Check out Smith ReAct and our individual projects here.