May 06, 2014

Making Mistakes, Making Progress


After falling behind in architecture school, I find myself excessively self-conscious and overthinking things with each step I take designing or doing any task for that matter. It is not bad to edit your work and be self critical. However, it can be your downfall and get you nowhere when done excessively. I am happy to be getting out of my comfort zone starting my second level class of improv. I've been told the biggest pitfall in improv is to actually overthink and judge yourself. That’s right, I have to un-learn the negative habits I have acquired in design school and I am trying to find the balance of both extremes.


(Cover image: I remember just saying to myself "f**k it" for one of my final studio projects. I was open to exploring...some of the explorations might have seem unnecessary...but it informed my design at the end, it explored a good or bad idea)

While it is good to be critical of one’s work and reflecting on your progress, it is bad when it becomes debilitating – that was my setback as a design student. I set up these high expectations in my head and I would choke and not deliver. My nerves would get the best of me. This is true for perfectionists who are that idealize the end result, but are too worried to get it wrong to the point they are not doing anything at all. The same can go into improvisational theatre. The players walk into a scene and no-one knows what will happen. I’m learning that even if there is an uncertainty on how the scene will unfold, you have to throw in information and accept what your players pass to you. You have to respond by making proactive choices in a scene and start engaging with the scene to spark momentum and add detail the story.

This week, my instructor just did an exercise that proved his point that once we start worrying, over thinking, and guessing to be right, the improviser begins to stumble and fail hard. I think about this as one who is forcing a design to get something out for the sake of it, or the student that wants that “perfect” design that they lose focus on the design process to explore ideas. you begin with making assumptions to get reaction and feedback, you need to focus on listening to your scene players and respond freely back. Guessing and over thinking actually hindered getting the correct answer.  



The game was simple, similar to some of the Whose Line is it Anyways Games. In this video above, the single looking for the bachelor is throwing random detailed questions to get the clues from the other contestants. By carefully listening, he can direct the second round of questions more specific to get the answer correctly.

One of the themes I have covered here in the Underdog Architecture Students Blog is to just start somewhere, anywhere if you’re stuck in any given a design problem in studio. It is hard to be comfortable in making mistakes, but that’s the only to get a design rolling. Just like in any improv scene, a design project begins with no information until we begin filling the blanks through iteration and play. The only way to create opportunity is by making decisions and playing by those decisions.  It is only by making a series of decisions and mistakes when you a design solution suddenly appears out of thin air. 


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