19 January 2001 designing and film-making

12:10: Outdoor cafe. Sunny windy morning. Thoughts about designing... and top-down/bottom-up (or from inner view to outer - and from outer to inner)...

Is it that those of us who like deliberate chance etc. resist top-down (as over-control or even fascism) whereas those who like certainty etc. resist bottom-up (as chaos which threatens their social and mental balance)?

Yes, I think so - and there is much to say about this... But instead of theorising any further I would like to find ways to realise and to integrate these opposed ways in practice... How? (see handwritten notes made while walking here*)...

This calls for a social designing in which each of these psychological types is enabled to experience and to enjoy and to combine both ways. (For either can result in good designs and each may in practice involve a hidden but insufficient presence of the other?)

Possibly my thoughts on film directing** show it to be thefield in which to test and develop this?

At a nearby table a man in doubt speaks of the many considerations affecting the decision to have a child (or not to) while at another table a man (acceptingly) talks (child language) with the children he already has. Both are middle-aged.

It's getting windy. Time to walk on.

* I paused while walking to make brief notes on paper while standing up... I see now that they call for a widened designing in which both top-down and bottom-up ways become necessary parts of the whole, a new whole or a wider process of designing (more sensitive to 'everyone') in which both psychological types find it possible to stop fearing either loss of control, or too much of it, and to trust in a widened (and more collective) process... this still-too-brief description conceals rather than reveals a newer way of designing that I feel can yet be put together from the as yet unsuccessful attempts to connect design theory with practice.

** My thoughts on film-directing (perhaps the most collective of design processes but as yet the most prone to single-minded autocratic control?) may indeed be relevant to this aspiration to combine mind-centeredness with letting-go, central authority with decentral listening...

...my 'central' thought about this is that while a film is being made there is an enormous gulf between the physical view of all that is visible and audible in the studio (or on the location) and the conceptual view of what may be extracted from this confusion and be experienced in the cinema or in front of the tv. I imagine that this conceptual view may consist of say 1 or 2 percent of the whole film-making scene while the things that are not filmed may comprise say 98 of 99 percent if it?

In the present way of film-making a single mind, that of the director, can be the only one to have complete and consistent view of the resulting images and sounds while the actors and the many kinds of technician may be unable to ignore the rest, and so have to rely utterly upon the director's instructions - which are therefore bound to take the form of commands, darling.

Is there another way? In his diary of the making of Beauty and the Beast: diary of a film,(translated by Ronald Duncan, Dover Publicaations, New York 1972) Jean Cocteau describes his own way of film making - which certain actors say is pleasant for them because Cocteau gives them more scope to improvise and to control their own performances. And there are many accounts of more authoritarian film-directing which resemble puppeteering as being the surer way of securing economic success under present circumstances.

...so now, having re-opened this door to whatever may be possible and necessary (and good!) in the future of designing, what do I see and what can I attempt?...

...my first guess (or 'quick design', or 'meta-design') is to re-describe the making of a film, a film of the future of modern life, as is suggested in what I wrote long ago of 'experimental city'*** - and, in the course of writing that, to attempt a practical answer to this question, a practical outcome to these thoughts. Yes!

*** 'Utopia and Numeroso', in my book designing designing, adt press/ Phaidon Press London, 1991, (previously published as Essays in Design by John Wiley and Sons, Chichester and New York 1984) pages 327 to 335.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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