Propagating Puzzle

Material manfuctured by bees, edible water bottle, cellulose fiber clothing and mushroom packaging. The future is falling back into the hands of the creator – Nature.

*cue the drama*

*kill the drama*

Speculating on an alternate future where, instead of relying on materials derived from unsustainable petrochemical industries or land needed for food, we decided to rethink the traditional system of manufacturing and making by putting the power in the hands of nature. In a closed loop system, synthetically engineered organisms will ferment or reproduce materials, directly forming into finished products without any chemical dyes or finishes and zero waste. If we were to talk about microorganism grown materials, the potential of it in improving health and well-being alone is already a broad topic to cover.  Let me quickly spit out the potential developments across the board: interactive and environmental responsive (air, temperature, light, touch, behaviour and mood), self-healing ability (healthcare, possibly curing cancer, infrastructure and longer product life cycles), second skin (fashion, healthcare and well-being, new materials for architecture), and creating art (possibly curing cancer too! Check it out here if you don’t believe me). To help you understand how can biomaterial be made, simply mix a living cell with minerals or nutrients and place it under a suitable growing condition. The rest of it is the works of nature and many trials in the ingredient and condition variations whilst the process of understanding its unpredictable results.

I am aware that we ought to scale down to a specific aspiration as soon as possible as I believe dwelling in the goalless stage for too long will cause the team to wander off in their own direction like sheep without the shepherd dog. It was delightful to see the team established without a leader so that everyone can play an equal role (especially when working in a collaborative manner). However at times, I noticed that the team was unsure of what they are doing and began to seek for some guidance and assurance. I then step in and lead the team by coming up with a clear and structured programme to proceed.

10720961_10152270264586191_783900288_nWith the diagram above, we managed to put together a Prezi presentation online. I thought what a great teamwork we had despite a few of the teammates expressed their disinterest as for the researched topic is rather dry and involves complicated science studies. (What I observed is the team definitely has a certain level of curiosity and fascination, but there is no drive to demystify. Perhaps this is the reason why our informal presentation is poor. I will talk about that in a second) How can I help to inject enthusiasm to the team? To give a light at the end of the tunnel, I shared my research on how we can realistically produce a vegetable fibre fabric ourselves for the final presentation by culturing yeast.

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Alright, I am not going to hide my shame any longer. Our presentation was cut short at discoursing the potentials of biomaterial, losing the opportunity to share the rest of our research and progress. Feeling disappointed, the other groups had a very loose presentation timeframe whereas we faced a shockingly strict 10 minutes rule. As I reflect on this unfortunate event, what went wrong? Were our points covered too far-fetched and not what the tutor expected? Was our intro not attention-grabbing enough? Was the flow of presentation a tad too dull and inconsistent? Would have the tutors ran out of patience waiting for us to set up the projectors, hence feeling our presentation seems longer?

At this point, you may be wondering that the teamwork methodologies I mentioned earlier are great and yet why did we still screw up in the end? Unbelievably, the reason is we took the informal presentation too easily, we never did a run through of the presentation or cared to plan it properly. We have actually neglected this crucial step! OH. Crap! I finally also understood that a mutually shared vision is SUPER-DUPER vital for the development of a group project as well as fostering accountability in each members to take ownership of the project. If not, the group will otherwise be producing incoherent works, the one who is passionate will do a huge amount of work; the one who lacks of interest will only lend half of his or her effort. If a group comes together without a unified output, then it defeats the purpose of collaboration.

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An interesting point is brought up by tutor Clinton at the end of all presentations as a general feedback that a lot of us tend to use the context of craft and technology too loosely. David, another tutor, echoed Clinton by saying that there is always a tension between progress and tradition. It is always challenging and exciting to find a measurable balance between forward and now. How I see contemporary environment and objects is that both craft and technology should be fused seamlessly as one. Holistically. Not two different elements. Craft is a humanistic touch in creation and making something which represents conscience, emotion, conscious intention, environment and culture. As compelling as it can be, technology on the other hand is best served as an addition feature or support in aiding, simplifying or improving ‘craft’making.

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