Between the Lines: an Experience Design Focuses on Language

Guo, Su
Palmer, Fleur
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Master of Design
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Auckland University of Technology

‘The reality of language dominates daily human awareness and communication, but we are not usually aware of the fact that even language is grounded in embodied metaphors, images and neural representations.’ (Pallasmaa, 2011, p10)

My experimentation focuses on a Chinese pop song, and the creativity offered by the lyrics, and the feelings which appear when I am attached to a particular song. Through experiments with atmosphere, light, materials, metaphors and spatial experience, I explore not only the space between the lines evoked by the lyrics but also the moment of in-betweenness created by a metaphorical interpretation of different languages. The project responds to an idea of experiencing a threshold, such as that which exists in an underground abandoned toilet located in Auckland city, where people can come to experience the metaphors behind one language and the complex spaces created by emotional lyrics.

Language is the key to passing on information; language is a threshold that can bring one closer to another space. It creates images in our mind. I always wonder how certain words or sentences can have a sudden, deep, impact on our mind, the language not only bringing us to another space, but also creating a vivid spatial experience in the air. Metaphors and images within languages create a space of atmosphere. This leads to deeper thoughts about imagination and the meaning evoked by the lyrics.

This thesis is a question-based design research project. ‘Heuristic inquiry’ and ‘autoethnography’ are my key methodological approaches. The project is realised by ideas drawn from multiple influences. The practice work has been carried out through several iterative stages: from a conceptual understanding of the lyrics, to deeper research on thresholds, and conceptual and physical tests on atmosphere, realised as a physical installation within the abandoned public toilet.

Metaphorial , Threshold , Atmosphere , In-betweenness , Poetic , Instability
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