Probing and Blitzing

Tuesday 15 of November 2022

When we pay attention we can discover more than what we normally see. I think we are blinded by some kind of functional fixedness regarding the natural operations of our day-to-day life. We live in an information-saturated world where our brain requires us to focus on some details to process the important things that keep us out of danger (for example; not getting run over by a car). It’s a process of complexity reduction.

Another important thing I noticed is that once we observe something is very easy to observe it again. It seems that something in our brain is being unlocked so now it’s free to wander around new areas. We are very limited beings and we can only see one part at a time. Every one of those parts is infinite in complexity and when we dig deep down on any of these parts it expands, or maybe we are the ones that expand.

The way to look at things transforms them.

“Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

The Matrix

Short Exercises

Brainstorming

For this exercise, I chose different problems and tried different approaches to get some ideas. Here are the examples of the problems:

1 – How do we update the software (website particularly) of the organization

This is a problem that we were having for a long time. Our website kept crashing and we weren’t able to update anything since our website was very old.

We identified that the main problem was the server. So there were 3 ideas that we implemented from this exercise. We hired independent IT persons, migrated to AWS and move the website to a new server.

This worked perfectly since not many people at work know how to programme or fix issues on the website. We moved it, making it look the same but with a very strong foundation underneath.

2 – How can we keep up with the times as an art school?

We are currently working on the rebranding of the National Art School. One of the problems that we are facing is that even though we are one of the best art schools in Australia, we might not be perceived as being in “the 21st century.”

The problem changed from transforming ourselves into a “21st-century art school” to being “unapologetically analog.” We realized that there are countless benefits to using your hands to create something.

We can be a new art school without losing who we are.

3 – How can we deal with the burnout of our staff?

This is the most complex of all the issues mentioned because it deals with an individual’s journey. After COVID, we experienced a large number of resignations. This has left all the departments at serious risk of burnout.

There was a clear hierarchy that was overwritten by the immediate need of the work ahead (exhibition, students, art prizes, events, etc.). A good idea would be to give more autonomy to each department to hire freelance workers for specific projects. We have applied these ideas from time to time.

30 Circles

Have you ever seen those kinds of generals that have so many medals that make no sense at all? I used all the circles to create that kind of image.

“Me and my classmates at the MCISI when it’s time to evaluate each other”

There was not much diversity in the circles, since they were all part of one. For me, it was a funny idea to look at all the circles as one. I don’t know if I broke the rules (I also cheated by using another sheet of paper on the back).

I didn’t assume the rules were strict, so I just went for it.

A couple of key insights: there is some kind of fixedness when approaching this exercise. We tend to think that we have to “colour inside the lines”. Why do we have to do anything with the circles? Maybe the requirement is a bit deeper, maybe is about making use of the whole rather that the part.

A feeling that arise when doing this exercise was an exhilarating rush to come up with ideas. I didn’t start straight away. I looked back and moved the paper for about 30 seconds. As you can see the circles are not very recognizable one by one (just like the medals on those generals). Maybe sometimes we need to look at things from different perspectives before trying to find a solution.

Renku

The most interesting part of this exercise was how your brain sometimes tries hard to make relations between every paragraph. Let’s say you are writing about “food” and in the third paragraph you talk about “the sun” it seems that your brain tries to connect them in some way and make sense of them.

One other interesting was how hard it got up to some point. When you focus your attention on a specific subject, and it’s your turn to write, the first impulse will be to continue what others have written.

Again, overcoming the “default” mode seems to be the practice.


Long Exercise

Sensing

I went on a date with every sense for an hour. I timed it with my phone, and if I couldn’t concentrate I would try again. I tried different environments that I thought would be better for each sense.

1 – Sound

The trees sound like waves on the sea sometimes.
There is a tv in the distance, I can hear some words but cannot identify them.
The horrible sound of a car driving by.
Planes are very loud, but I hardly ever notice it.
I can hear and understand the word on tv now. The more I pay attention.
Birds have a very good rhythm.
Trees are getting louder. But I think is because I’m listening.
I can hear my breathing.
The tv is now very clear and very loud. I don’t like it.
I can hear the ferry getting to the wharf.
The tv sound comes from the left side.
The outside sounds come from the right side.
The backyard sounds beautiful.
My neighbour decided to start cutting the grass.
There are brief moments of silence.

2 – Sight

Pick 5 colours: Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and Violet.

Red (very frequent)
There are some red berries on the tree. They look delicious.
I see some red books, from Lonely Planet.
Red shoes, for like parties.
There’s a red candle.
Red toys. And even the windows are wood, there’s a lot of red there.
Red makes me feel like moving.
And it’s warm.
It feels strong.

Blue (frequent)
Blue shoes on the shelf.
So many blue books about trips to Europe.
There are blue cosmetics and deodorants.
Blue stones, lapiz lazuli and aquamarine.
My phone is blue.
The sky on my window, on this sunny day.
A picture of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.
Blue feels calmer and more trustworthy.

Yellow (less frequent):
Most of the shoes on the shelf are yellow, like ochre.
Never noticed how many perfumes are yellow.
A lot of yellow berries on the tree. They look not ready.
Wood is yellow when the sun touches it.
Yellow toys, and golden toys.
Gold jewellery shines with the sun.
Post-it notes. The incense sticks.
Yellow feel calm, warm and holy.

Green (very frequent):
Most of the backyard is green.
Leaves, plants, stems, grass and a parakeet.
There are green books about hiking on the table.
Green towels in the bathroom.
A lot of green in the pictures from our trips.
Green shoes, again.
Green feels colder than yellow but more robust.
Green makes me want to be in nature.

Purple (less frequent):
The sunset sky has a lot of purple on it.
There are some flowers in the backyard.
Some gemstones, amethyst and another one.
One book is on the shelf.
A small part in other books.
The purple on the sky makes me feel good and connected to it.
A llama was painted in Peru.
Not very common, and hard to find.

3 – Touch

I started touching my face. Every morning I feel soft after showering and shaving, fresh, and young. That changes during the night, I’m more spiky, rugged, and oily. I feel better in the morning, in a sense of how I think I’m perceived. I guess that is why bars are dark.

My clothes. They are soft on the top and they go tougher on the legs, and very rigid on the feet. I think I feel safer this way. I could be without a shirt, but my legs sometimes need more coverage to feel safe. Walking without shows might be the unsafest way to walk. The closer to the floor the tougher.

Every day in the morning I get a coffee. There is a place that servers it too hot, so I have to wait a bit. There is another that is good, but it’s one degree too cold, and it gets d very fast. I have more trust in the one a bit too hot. I feel it’s more valuable because it will last longer. It is an interesting illusion.

The road to work feels very sharp. The steel on the ferry, the rugged plastic handles on the bus, the cold poles on the street, the glass doors, the steel fences. It’s hard and cold. It feels unstable. I feel it mostly with my feet, but sometimes with my hands. I try to avoid touching most things on the street.

At home everything is softer, even wood feels softer. You enter and take off your shoes to feel the soft welcome of the carpet. Then the couch is soft and comfy. I feel safe and welcomed. The books are soft too, the pages are slightly more rugged than the cover. And the bedsheets are the softest of them all.

4 – Taste and Smell

Disclaimer: This is my weakest sense at the moment. I had a sinus infection that has removed a big part of how I perceive smells and flavours.

The sea smells like peace. I come from a place with no sea, so I don’t have any childhood associations other than visiting some places once in a while. The smell of the sea in the morning feels like a rebirth, a new beginning and it’s very linked to my first experiences in Sydney. Smells like another kind of life.

The city smells a lot like plastic smoke. The city of Santiago smells more like gasoline and woodfire. Here in Sydney, it smells more like a shy cigarette. It’s a very tense smell that doesn’t want to smell like it does. It’s very different once you get in the water. That smell is very strong, and nothing can compete with it.

When I get to Greenwich, it smells like nature. There are a lot of trees and bushes. And the wind is very strong these days. There are a lot of jasmine and other flowers that smell sweet. It’s a very fresh sensation. It’s very easy to take a deep breath, in contrast to the city, where you can never do that.

The food smells interesting here. I feel that the Asian influence is a very big part of the appetite that produces on me walking outside of a pho place. Pub food smells old sometimes to me. Beer makes my tongue salivate, like Pavlov’s dog. Salad smells healthy, and Maccas smells like a treat with a downside.