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Emergent Identity: about

What's it all about?

This site chronicles my MFA thesis entitled, “Emergent Identity.” It serves not only as a portal for my thoughts, but also a collection site for all things emergent. As I’ve been immersed in my creative process, I’ve naturally becomed obsessed with emergence as it exists in daily life, imagery, and cultural trends. This site helps me to keep track of all these bits and pieces of emergence. In the header, you see my own definitions of emergence (posted via Twitter), followed by a collection of my own photographs (hosted on Flickr) and a wide sampling of emergence found online (noted in my bookmarks). As I add to each of these separate portals, this site is updated and constantly in flux; in essence, this site is an emergent piece as well.

In brief, emergence centers around the ability for small, local actions to produce a large, comprehensive result. My fascination with emergence started when I began to notice trends both in design and in the broader cultural sense for products, services, or systems to be run by a collective of unrelated individuals. Wikipedia and delicious are two common examples in which the crowd becomes the expert; the system self-regulates in a way that makes it arguably smarter than if a collective of self-appointed experts had created it. Solutions such as these are incredibly relevant in an age where sustainability is key– their inherent adaptability allows for multiple uses, quick changes, and seamless upgrades.

My process
My processAs a designer, I find that using emergence to guide my process allows for my role as expert to remain relevant and my goal of ‘engaging’ audiences to be more fully realized. My design process includes building adaptable structures that engage the group of individuals that it seeks to serve. In terms of identity formation, this is particularly important; representing a group of people can only be done if it involves a thorough understanding of the group. However, too often design processes only engage certain individuals or the group on a superficial level or post-design formation. I argue that we can gain control by giving some of it up in the beginning; we can reassert our professional skills by giving people the power to represent themselves and then responding accordingly.

Other emergent pieces
While developing and refining my thoughts and thesis proposal, I embarked upon many assignments with this ‘emergent identity’ process in mind.

MFA Thesis Project
What the ifNow it’s finally time to create the epitome of all emergent pieces. The process has been a long time coming, but finally combines all of my interests and goals into a project that I hope will have a lasting (or at the very least momentary) impact on the community it is involving– the University of Minnesota College of Design. The piece, entitled “What the if…” is a two-week long interactive installation in McNeal Hall (the St. Paul campus of the College of Design) that focuses on using pre-existing tools and palettes to create new palettes for discussion, and ultimately, representation of the group.

Read the current proposal (.pdf) >

Launch project website >