Ethan Tsang

My research-based practice investigates the technological and post-traumatic subjectivities that coalescence at design’s entwinement with technology. Design’s inherent concern with experience has seen design discourse intertwine exponentially with contemporary technology culture, where the idea of design itself has been augmented, redefined and reasserted into an array of conceptual frameworks which disseminate the common processes and methods associated with design. Instead, my project returns to the fundamental indeterminacy of the design process, leaning on the conceptual frameworks of The Wicked Problem and Medium Design to explore a design approach which focuses on the dispositional quality and the zones that intersect with my own subjectivity.

In exploring my own subjectivity, I have channeled the displacement experienced in my own process of individuation in relation to contemporary technology culture to explore the ways design have shaped – and continue to shape – culture as such. Revealed was a sublimated idea of design which fails to consider the design process as an active mediative process, and subsequently, the design medium or the design artefact which, in some regards, has been designed into passivity. An example is the recent designerly obsession with artifice and attention, where the information age shifts the bottleneck of experience to a limited capacity of attention to the now unlimited information, leading technological designers to develop an objective of attention manipulation – as exemplified in the rise of the User Experience discourse.

My Virtual Exhibition draws upon The Interface as a mediative technological framework, posing the medium (of the exhibition) as an active technological artefact which elicits meaning-making that extends out from the design process as well as the meaning-making that occurs within interaction as a visitor or user. The exhibition features works that are central to this enquiry into post-traumatic and technological subjectivities, where socio-historical systems intersect with contemporary technology systems and are ultimately questioned under the terms of individuation. Featured are the emoji-like forms and self-portrait works that have manifested from the questions of subjectivity assertion: “A bumpy smile drawn in the embrace of the gestural indeterminacy of the line tool reflects my own hesitation of subjectivity, betraying an internal struggle to maintain and project positivity in the face of contemporary technological culture. The maladjusted oval eyes coloured in a black fill call upon the animated eye as the locus of emotion, and as such; an ambigiously and digitally perfect assertion of technologically sublimated emotion, reminiscent of Shigetaka Kurita’s 1999 emoji language.”

The most immersive works are the 0.001 line works within the pdf, where the impossible line (0.001 line weight) is pitted against the ubiquitous Graphical User Interface (GUI). Multiplication of the 0.001 line elicited rendering errors, formatting flaws and regular freezes, revealing an instability of artifice, and zooming in and out of the exported renderings sees different grids, blots, patterns appear, with the “line-shape” only appearing once you reach maximum zoom. At question are the active qualities of the medium, the instabilities of artifice and the illustrated threshold of artificial relativity.

You can grab your ticket off my shelf and attend here:

View Journal (on issuu)