RESEARCH INTEREST “Understanding Media” is not only the job for media industry insiders. The more I get involved and developed in studies and practices of design,media and communication, the more I am aware of my desire for creating a more approachable, understandable, and interactive media environment for the public. When I finished my bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication from Tsinghua University, the media world in my eyes was still a myth. The idea of “Understanding Media” first came to me during my exchange in University of Toronto when I did my research on Marshall McLuhan under the guidance of professor Derrick DeKerckhove. Marshall McLuhan and Lev Manovich opened my eyes to the world of new media studies. After a six month’s internship in Thomson Reuters Beijing head office where I got my first glance of a professional media organization and developed my first “understanding of media” (factual, data-based, simple, and total responsibility for public), I took up a master course in critical writing in Art&Design in Royal College of Art (London), where I gathered the artistic, aesthetic, and creative understanding of media from the readings of classic criticism theorists including Roland Barthes, David Foster Wallace and Walter Benjamin, to the practices of critical writing on different media platforms. My undergraduate academic experience equipped me with curiosity in media as well as fundamental knowledge of journalism skills and communication theories, the fulltime internship in Thomson Reuters ignited my strong interest in factual journalism and data, whilst Royal College of Art gave me a chance to re-think media and communication in a critical context, to combine my previous knowledge with new technologies, to observe design process, and more significantly, to develop my ambition of a new understanding of media: a media environment where communication is smooth and effective,information is presented in multiple creative ways, public can not only access, engage, contribute to, but also maximize their creativity and take the initials within this environment. To narrow it down, I want to create a media tool that is less information/communication hierarchical and more open to public knowledge and curiosity. Portable, efficient, and open. My major research interest lies in the following aspects: 1. The dynamics between form and function, data and narrative. 2. The concept of “open source experience design”. My professional experience in multiple media organizations (Thomson Reuters, Disegno Magazine, ELLE Decoration, China Youth Daily) provides me with a chance to ob-
serve how content and format are generated, designed, balanced and presented in different possible ways, and how the dynamics between form and function drives forward each stage of media practice, from editorial decision to content presentation. Visual, audio, online forms and offline events - the media environment we’re living in today is much more curatorial and multi-facet than ever, thus the dynamics between form and function, data and narrative becomes more obvious, relevant, and inspiring. In Royal College of Art, I participated in two school-wide interdisciplinary projects, both of which inspired me in the idea of generating a “form-function” and “data-narrative” balanced media environment for the public. Plausible Worlds (Collaboration between Critical Writing & Design Interaction Students) and Critical Visualization. Plausible Worlds attempt to sketch designs or scenarios in which the conditions of life have been altered in some fashion. By imagining the ’rules‚ or conventions which order our lives were different, or past events had taken a different course, we designed a ‘plausible world’ based on historical facts and one single alteration of it. The project gave me the idea of designing narrative, interactive scenarios that could be expanded from a single spot into a tangible environment. What used to be absurdity can turn out to be plausibility by fully approachable public experience and ultra-media immersion. The project leads to the idea of “open source experience design”. The concept of “open source experience design” also comes from my collaboration with Ryan Cockerham, a master student from Royal College of Music. We have created a variety of projects that a user can shape and contribute the outlook of the projects themselves without the need of advanced technical training. We started with the concept of “We” – the public, the community, the “everybody”. The WE-BOX project allows the residents of any city, town or communal area to capture panoramic, undisturbed imagery and sound of the people, landscape and man-made constructions that influence their daily lives. The WE-TRACK is both a sonic and visual representation of daily activities within one of London’s most creative academic infrastructures – University of Arts London. A ‘Citizens’ Symphony’ and an online visualization of the architecture traffic will be generated via a system based on motion sensors installed in designated institutions with processing/MAX patches. Meanwhile, the critical visualization project, under the guidance of researcher Karin von Ompteda, is an immersion into data visualization as a critical design practice. My group explored the World Values Survey and designed an installation that demonstrates social class, generosity and environmental awareness from selected countries in the world. With plans to exhibit in 2013, the installation challenges people’s common sense of volume and gravity and inspires people to think about environment facts critically via their exploration of data. The workshop then lead me to the topic of my final project in Royal College of Art: a critical study on the future of information visualization. I have been writing on the forthcoming book: Information in Style. The book launch will be accompanied with an exhibition in Beijing or Taipei. To sum up, my current understanding of media is that media is user experience, and it could be designed in a both aesthetic and functional way.