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Major Project #1 - initial research

So, it is finally time to do the final project on the (BA) User Experience Design course at LCC. I had a lot of thinking over the beginning of the term about what I want to do, but I never could decide on one topic or a medium I wanted to use. I really wanted this project to be a great piece of work in my portfolio that will help me to land my first junior position job. I knew, that I wanted to focus more on the graphic design aspect of my practice, so my initial idea was to do something in branding, illustration or maybe product design.

The first thing I focused on was the topic of synesthesia as it is very interesting how people perceive the world in different ways. I know, there are many projects on this subject that exist already and this is why it was only the starting point for me. I wanted to explore how the brain works in terms of senses and how people can see the world in a 'different' way (when something 'not normal' is normal for others).

Even though synesthesia is such a broad disease and it is divided into many types, I focused on the two most popular ones: grapheme-color synesthesia (individual letters of the alphabet and numbers are "shaded" or "tinged" with color) and chromesthesia (the association of sounds with colors). What is really interesting is the fact that two individuals having the same type of synesthesia still can associate different colors with different sounds of the letter. Synesthesia is not the same for everyone - it different from an individual to the individual.

I got really interested in how synesthesia can influence art and creativity and turns out, that many currently popular pop-stars have synesthesia or at least they experience synesthetic-experiences. One of the most popular ones is Billie Eilish, Lorde or even Kanye West. This one quote I found that Lorde said in one of the interviews with the New York Times caught my eye as it's really interesting and surreal how some people can simply 'paint a song'.

"From the moment I start something, I can see the finished song, even if it's far-off and foggy." As she works on a piece, she strives to fill in the best hues as the musical image evolves into a concrete creation, she told the Times. "It's about getting the actual thing to sound like what I've been seeing," she said.

This idea of visualizing music brought me to Melissa McCracken, an artist, and synesthete who translates her favorite songs into abstract paintings. In one of the interviews, she mentioned that one time she tried a simple experiment, she listened to the same song with one of the other synesthetes and they both painted it and the results were completely different. Her work is softer and it focused on colors whereas the other person translated the sounds into more geometric visualization. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the results of this experiment anywhere online.

During one of the workshops we had, we were supposed to create a presentation on our coursemate's topic od research, and one of the people had to do the same on ours. My topic was picked by Winona, who took an interesting approach and analyzed the opposite of synesthesia - alexithymia (the lack of emotion). This made to realize that I don't want to focus strictly on synesthesia as a way of perceiving the world, but I want to take a step further and try to understand the broader meaning of experiencing the world. I know that this topic hardly tangible and it's hard to define, but I really like the abstractness of it.

Having picked the direction my research will go and taking into consideration my last project which was based on text-games from the 80s (MUDs), I decided that I wanted to dive into this medium further and I started exploring my options in terms of creating a game.

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