In this 7-week workshop we will uncover aspects of Bennington, perform research, tell stories, and design booklets using the familiar form of the field guide. A field guide is a manual used to identify things (birds, trees, minerals and more) in their natural environment. It follows certain rules, such as an identification system, a grammar, a map, and a how-to use section. All of these structured “conventions” are designed to encourage participation. Because its form is recognizable, one can employ the field guide format to do all kinds of things in the world. For instance, there are field guides to civic participation, stereotypical high school types, and artisanal cheese.
With the Bennington campus and/or the town as our “field,” students will individually identify, design (or create) and produce a printed field guide to a system that is present in this environment. Focuses could include campus waste, town heroes, local ghosts, the library and more. As a group, these guides will form a collection of uniquely expressive, artistic approaches to the idea of “field guide,” while following tight constraints. In addition, students will observe participants using their field guides, and conduct public tours. In order to enlist a public, students must answer a fundamental question about participatory design: “What do you want your field guide to DO?”
Class final: Students will user test their field guides on the campus and in the area. Final printed guides will be submitted to the Crossett library. Learning outcomes: Students will be introduced to systems thinking, constraint-based design, semiotics, and participatory design, and will conduct research, play-testing, zine production, interface and graphic design.