My Second BCI Session – Finding Functions
Updated: Sep 4
09/02/2021 – My Backyard in Portland, OR
For my second session, I thought it could be interesting to choose a drastically different time of day so I sat in the same place, but late at night. The air was crisp, with the promise of fall, as if summer was already behind us.
Focus & Intent
This time, I contemplated how "these three functions," which I interpreted as being/contemplating/imagining, were performed by organism around me. I thought about their strategies and their relationship to design solutions.
Sitting and being this second time felt much easier to settle into. Since it was late at night, I had nothing left to accomplish in the day and I felt a sense of release and relief sitting alone with nature. I smelled a light sweet smoke as if a neighbor had lit a wood stove to heat their house on this chilly night. I immediately began to focus on my own breath and felt the cold air fill my lungs as my shoulders adjusted and my belly expanded. The first sounds to catch my attention were man made noises. Multiple airplanes passed overhead, cars rushed down larger roads just outside my neighborhood, brakes squealed, and a train horn sounded long and slow unlike before. Even at this time, birds were chatty and a scamper of claws passed along the back wood fence.
Opening my eyes in this dark environment called attention to the patterns of light and shapes of plant silhouettes. By limiting, but not eliminating my sense of sight, I had a new perspective of my surroundings. Looking up at the stars, I felt so small in the grand scheme of the natural world. Physical touch also felt heightened as I became very aware of the rough texture of the grass that I sat on. Walking around, I noticed for the first time that my cactus flower put itself to bed and closed up for the night. Organisms at my natural spot could “be” by finding their own moments of stillness as they assessed their senses and monitored cues from their environment that might alert them of danger, food, or shelter and prompt immediate action. They could “contemplate” as they consider their current circumstance and plan ahead for their future needs. This may look like the squirrels that carry off plums and bury them in my front garden, hoping to store them for a later meal. I’d like to think the organisms “imagine” as I’ve watched them play. My dog Rennie, who often occupies the backyard, will suddenly get the zoomies where he’ll run, frolic, jump and bound from end to end, perhaps engaging with an imaginary playmate.
I can imagine monitoring cues from my environment to direct what my next design should address. The critters react to the most pressing issue as it's presented by their assessment of external signals, and I bet if design followed this strategy, we would have a lot more design working toward saving our planet from the devastating climate crisis. Contemplating by means of planning ahead and conserving current resources for the future could show up in a design as circular manufacturing processes. We could take the abundance of material we have now and plan to use it in the future because we could sustain the life of the material to continue serving us beyond just the present moment. Using imaginative play as the basis for design could produce innovative solutions that may be otherwise ruled out by logic and reason.