Wood is Not an Aesthetic

Neither is metal. Go deeper.

I saw some excellent expressions of aesthetics in presentations yesterday, and I also saw students struggling to commit to, let alone express an aesthetic.

Wood and metal are merely materials. Once formed, all artifacts have an aesthetic. Aesthetics bring meaning to the artifact, and this can work on many levels.

What does the treatment of the wood, of the metal say? What does it feel like to touch, to view? Does it say ‘this is made of wood because wood is cheap and within my skill set to work with?’, or could it say ‘this is made of wood so that the swirls of the grain contrast with the abrupt edge, and thus represent life meeting death’? What is the message you want to express? How you make your artifact conveys meaning. You must take control of that message. Every student in the class can do this regardless of your skill set. 1) Don’t discount the skills your teammates can bring to your project. 2) There is no penalty for failure in achieving an aesthetic, only a penalty for failing to try. Communication is the key.

You don’t have to invent an aesthetic (although you are welcome to!). Feel free to use an historic or contemporary one. Research the meanings that the aesthetic can represent. But don’t use a default. Make a conscious choice. Think about it. Write down your thoughts: articulate it. Enact it to the best of your ability.

I also want you to push your podmates on this. Ask them what they are trying to say; learn from how they respond. If they (or you, if you are presenting) don’t know, try suggesting messages. What do you get from the artifact, from the aesthetic? Does it remind you of anything? Does it evoke any feelings, any thoughts? If not, that is an important message too.

I will be happy to help you think through your aesthetic. Sign up for a session here!

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