Setting the Stage
In my final year of Secondary School, I did my CAPE exams in Visual Art, Environmental Science and Computer Science. I go back to this time because I had to choose. I had to choose what to study at University. I found each subject equally fulfilling and wanted to pursue all three. However, this triad of competencies didn't neatly fit into any career path or course description I could find at the time.
In the end, I'm not sure my eventual choice of Visual Art was entirely conscious nor particularly well calculated. As far as I could tell, it was the only discipline where I could combine my interest in art and the natural sciences, with my curiosity about information, technology and data.
I completed my first two years of university in Barbados. At the end of my first year, I had to choose my area of specialization given the varied and multifaced options of Fine Art...or Graphic Design.🤔
Typography was interesting and I found the challenge of using opposing concepts to communicate new ideas engaging. But the conversations around design in Barbados were woefully shallow at the time.
Still an avid environmentalist, I'd just spent a semester trying to reconcile technology with nature. I broke them down into smaller parts both conceptually and physically and then attempted to combine and rebuild them, using ecological sucession as a metaphor for regrowth.
It was a type of intellectual heavy lifting that I'd never done before. I'd been given the space to explore ideas freely with amazing instructors who didn't give me answers but asked many, many questions. I had to think critically and discover and read through dense academic papers all by myself. While this wasn't my greatest work it was the most fulfilling. It set the foundation for everything I've created since. I learned how to think and I became addicted to thinking and trying to make sense of the world around me.
To spend the rest of my college years making logos, posters and brochures seemed particularly quaint by comparison.
The Plot Thickens and Conflict Arises
A year later, I was accepted into the Fine Art program at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. I was excited to move to a new country and learn new things. I was exposed to parts of academia I'd never heard of before. But I felt boxed in, boxed into one way of thinking that I only managed to escape in the final year of my final semester. For the first three, I tried to reconcile what was being taught, with the views I'd spent the two previous years forming. At the time, I couldn't always articulate what the conflict was, but I felt it.
I found my lifelines in art history, where I wrote about technology at the intersection of art and design and new media courses like the Meanings of New Technologies and Creative Electronics and Robotics. My previously mediocre coding skills were worsened by years of neglect–I was always better at the theoretical side of Computer Science anyway– but by engaging with logical, technological processes I was beginning to feel whole again.
On my way to Resolution
I started to ditch the fine art talks for the interactive design and new media speakers. They spoke about the ethics of artificial intelligence, the future of advertising, augmented reality, they were imagining the future of humans and technology's place within that future. They touched on many of the themes I was exploring in my own work. There was this reversal, where the discipline that bored me in one country engaged my now obsessive need to understand the world and those around me.
But I only had one semester left and I couldn't switch majors because I didn't have the right pre-requisites. 😞😔😫😭
My final project was a return to my origins: a more sophisticated take, on where it all began.
Part 2 - Coming Soon