Traversing Ambiguities

Traversing Ambiguities is a Thesis Book produced during my year at the Rhode Island School of Design. A thesis in the field of design education, it explores the phenomenon of learning to categorize as we grow up. Believing that we are not born with biases, it explores the world of ambiguity through the lens of an endangered species, the pangolin. This little known, solitary creature, is an embodiment of ambiguity- the unrecognized, unrepresented and forgotten beings- both within and outside our species.

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We perceive the world largely through categorizations and associations. We distill
people, objects and entities into extremes. ‘Normal’ becomes a measure of acceptable.
Reductionist definitions, force anything ambiguous or uncertain to be rejected.
Acknowledging our biases towards these misinterpreted, shunned or ignored entities, has long been overdue. In today’s world we cannot possibly continue being blind to complexity.

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Growing up we are bombarded with classifications of objects, creatures and people.
We are told to look at things in categories and measurements. We eventually develop
associations which we start viewing as objective and irrefutable facts. There is something about childlike perception and the lack of immediate association that makes our world more beautiful and less absolute.

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Can designed visual education reinterpret ambiguity and embrace multiplicity? How can a designer’s perspective help scaffold these educational systems? Can we do so by looking deep within our own practice as designers, artists, scholars and educators?

The thesis explores these various questions through the perspective of a designer
and scholar. By delving into historic and current examples of association, the ideas of
interpretation and representation are discussed through the analogy of a unique creature. This learning is then applied to examples of designed visual education, leading to a trickle down effect on my personal design practice.

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The thesis advocates the use of visual narratives to help preserve or rekindle a childlike
worlview of acceptance and inclusion. Designed visual education helps us move beyond
knowing and encourages emotional investment, building deep-rooted resilience.
Design interventions, in any form are a systemic process of responsible creation, iteration and adaptation. If paired with appropriate mediums of dissemination, we could nurture the future generations to be strategic thinkers, bringing about long term impact.

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All my research and thoughts have been distilled into this hand-cut and hand-bound Thesis Book- which is an exploration in form and material narration of my learning.
This book has been supplemented with awareness mediums like a children’s picture book, art activities for student involvement, and creation of the Museum in a Box.

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