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//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////>>> DESIGN EXPLORATION & EXPERIMENTATION ‘12 FINAL REFLECTION


Aalto University School of Arts, Design & Architecture

ACTION PAINTING WAGON Maarten den Breeijen Design Exploration & Experimentation ‘12 AALTO University of Arts, Design & Architecture, FINLAND


The Action Painting Wagon is a result of the course Design Exploration and Experimentation ‘12 at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in collaboration with the city of Espoo and the World Design Capital organization. The resulting artefacts are exhibited in Design Museo Helsinki and WeeGee house Espoo. I will present the process and outcomes of my project in a chronological order.


INDEX WEEK 1 | GETTING IN.....................................................6 WEEK 2 | IMPRESSIONS....................................................8 WEEK 3 | HAPPINESS.....................................................16 WEEK 4 | STORYTELLING..................................................24 WEEK 5 | DECISIONS.....................................................30 WEEK 6 | OVERWHELMING STUFF............................................38 WEEK 7 | NO WAY BACK...................................................46 WEEK 8 | FINE RESULTS..................................................52


The den Breeijen family. This was kind of what I told about them during the first presentation: SISTER




Hippy. Baggy clothes

Supervisor retirement

Does something

Nearly as tall as

and hemp orange

home. Likes to paint

technical with lamp

father. Weird haircut.

dreadlocks. Studies

and sings in a choir.

development at a big

Likes to draw. Pianist

Social Science. Works

I made up the dog

Dutch multinational.

and music lover. I

in a second hand

(the potato with four

He is two meters tall,

kind of forgot what

clothing store.

matches attached

which is quite tall I

the straw is doing

to it) to make the

think. Likes to make


presentation more

photo’s if he has some

interesting. My mum is

free time.

allergic to dogs.


‘GETTING IN’ WEEK 1. MY SECOND WEEK IN FINLAND. I ARRIVED AS AN EXCHANGE STUDENT FROM INDUSTRIAL DESIGN DELFT IN THE BEGINNING OF JANUARY. I FOUND OUT THAT ALL REGISTRATIONS FOR COURSES ARE CLOSED, SINCE ENROLLMENT WAS ALREADY POSSIBLE IN DECEMBER FOR DEGREE STUDENTS. I MANAGED TO GET IN THE COURSE DESIGN EXPLORATION AND EXPERIMENTATION. It was a confusing week. Second week in Finland. The study coordinator from the Industrial Design department wants me to follow some strategic design project, but I kindly refused. All other courses have no available space for me. Registration for the Design Exploration & Experimentation course is also closed, but I decided to give it a try and prepared myself for the first assignment. The theme of the course is ‘Family’ and the first assignment was simply to tell something about your own family. In stead of making

the usual Powerpoint presentation, I performed a strange little play. Kitchen utensils represented different family members and empty beer cans represented different family friends. The teachers liked it and to my great joy I have somehow managed to get myself a place in the course. The whole next week is reserved for an excursion to a national park in Espoo, called Nuuksio. Mean idea of the excursion is to get inspiration for a personal, family related project. Reflections have to be written every week in order to stimulate the creative process. <<< 7



A few minutes before the

week. I found it difficult to

the visitors of the museum.

opening of the exhibition

update the tree as I was very

Opening up the process might be

in Design Museo. The idea is

uncertain about the project and

interesting for the visitors,

that every student has his own

the direction it was going.

but for me it felt like an

black string and that he or

I felt like I should put

extra pressure to produce nice

she updates the process every

something nice on the wall for

results during the process.

I thought the nature of Finland would turn me into a lonely hermit. But it didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even the nature that left the biggest impression. It were the people and the warm welcome I felt that impressed me the most. I have never experienced such a personal approach in any other class or course. Or it could be the fact that I have just arrived in Finland and that I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have many friends yet.

When I tried to get into the course, I had the feeling that it might turn out to become something really important to me. I decided to give everything I had, right from the start. To do as much as I can. To try new things without fear. As a result I did a couple of performances, which I had never done before. I want to use this period to find out what kind of designer I want to become. Do I even 9



want to become a designer? I know that I want to be a creator, I just don’t know yet what kind of creator. And now I have been given this opportunity to create in an almost absolute freedom and with two guaranteed exhibitions attached to it. It creates a huge pressure to perform. I realize now that I shouldn’t try too hard. I should have confidence in myself. As long as I have the feeling that I got the most result out of the process, I don’t care too much about the outcomes. It will hopefully bring me one step further in my quest. I started to think a lot about the topic ‘family’. What does family mean to me? I could not come up with a clear definition. There is nothing in your genes that says what is family and what is not. The term ‘family’ is a cultural phenomena, different for every human being. I think also that one’s childhood is very important in developing this different views on family. I consider my childhood to be a happy one. As a child I moved several times together with my parents and sister. I have been to three primary schools, two high schools and three universities. My parents and sister were the only stable factor. Friends still come and go. Some friends stay. It has made me a stronger person. I don’t get really attached to houses or places, my home is where I am at the moment. Life has always been good to me and I have never been really unhappy. Sometimes I secretly wish that life wouldn’t have

been so easy. I could have used the misfortune to become a really motivated designer, artist or musician. To get rid of all the doubts I have in my life. The presentation given by the Child Welfare during the stay in Nuuksio, was a real eye-opener. I have the chance to do a project with children who did not have such a happy childhood as mine. I exchanged contact info with Riikka Laitinen. She is a social worker in Espoo. I sent this email; Dear Riikaa, Thank you so much that you were prepared to help me out. I still don’t know where this project will be going to, but I hope we can work out something. I just know that I want to tell a positive story, how sad however some of the children’s stories may be. I have a great opportunity to do something good. I started wondering about the children themselves, I don’t want to benefit from their lives. Would they want their stories in any form to be in a museum? How would that make them feel. What about their parents. It is a complicated case. I have to be honest in saying that I have never have worked with kids and that I have no idea how to deal with their privacy. Maybe it is better to get ‘inspired’ by the stories that were told during the presentation in Nuuksio and to compare it to my own family life in some way. On the other hand I think it would be really

interesting to actually do some kind of project together with the children. I got the impression that some of the kids were really creative and maybe some of them want to become artists, designers or musicians. Maybe I could translate some of their drawings or dreams in actual artefacts. It might inspire them to keep hope and never to stop dreaming about the future. I would really like your professional opinion on this matter. I understand that I am asking quite a lot from you, maybe it would be possible to come to your office in Espoo? Whatever suits best for you, any time would be good for me. If not, I hope you have time to answer this e-mail.  kind regards, Maarten den Breeijen Digging deeper into the whirlpool of thoughts, ideas and memories, I found another reason for this interest in social work. I have always been more interested in the work of my father. He has a technical background and

thinks very logical. I have a huge interest in the field of technology and philosophy, but my thinking is however more intuitively. More like my mother’s thinking. Her parents owned a big youth hostel and in a later period a home for mentally handicapped people. My mother grew up in this environment and nowadays she works in a retirement home, organising activities. My sister has always been more interested in this direction and studies social sciences. I think this contrast between the social, intuitive side and the technical, logical side, could be very interesting for further investigation. Hopefully these contrasts will show in my final artefacts. My parents are coming to Helsinki in the first week of April. They will celebrate their 25th anniversary here with me and my sister. They are very curious to see the exhibition in which I participate. Hopefully they will see how I have grown this period and that my interests may have changed. I still have no idea were this will lead to, but I am looking forward.<<<



The beautiful frozen lake behind the cottage. Most striking about the nature was the total silence and the almost total absence of color. Both were new to me.

We just arrived at the cottage in Nuuksio. The informal approach of the teachers towards the students was also quite new to me. I liked it. 12

The photo wall next to the process tree was also updated weekly. It was weird to see such a big picture of myself on a wall of a museum.

My first update on the process tree. As the process tree was meant mainly for the visitors of the museum, I figured I could use their help. Unfortunately, they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t call me. 13

WEEK 2 Sketchbook


I bought this booklet in the

Some thoughts for the first

Some artists that came up

Gallen-Kallela museum in


in my mind for no apparent

Helsinki. I used it during the


entire course to write down my thoughts and to make some sketches.

Some more thoughts for the

‘I want to give a POSITIVE

I watched ‘De Helaasheid der

first reflection.

message to people. Don’t know


really what.’ 13-year-old Gunther Strobbe grows up surrounded by alcohol, trash and his completely useless father and uncles. Slowly but surely, he’s being prepared for the same hapless life. Can he defy his destiny?

‘I know nothing about kids.’

‘Designers as social workers?’

I had the idea to create some sort of alter ego on the

‘I don’t have that much social

stories from Child Welfare and


make some artefacts for this alter ego.

‘I know nothing about dealing with privacy’ ‘I have no concrete plans’ ‘GREAT PLAN’



Photographer: Krista Kosonen

The second presentation I gave

was that I somehow wanted to

started to wonder whether I

during the course. There were

show what was going on in my

owned a computer or not. The

so many new impressions, that

mind. This idea was translated

presentation went pretty well.

I found it hard to translate

quite literally into a series

I am glad there are still

this into a presentation. The

of pictures showing my skull

courses where students I can

idea behind the presentation

from the inside. Some people

try out new things.


‘HAPPINESS’ WEEK 3. EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HAPPINESS. RIIKKA FROM CHILD WELFARE IS EAGER ON DOING A PROJECT WITH ME. I DID SOME FREEHAND DRAWING, WHICH I HAVEN’T DONE IN YEARS, RELATED TO HAPPY MEMORIES. DURING AN OPEN EVENT IN DESIGN MUSEO, I ASKED THE VISITORS TO DO THE SAME. The presentations by the other students and the comments on my own presentation left me for a second time dazzled and confused. As I had mainly focused on the Child Welfare service, other people had found inspiration in different directions that were all very interesting. For a second, I started to doubt the project I wanted to do with the Child Welfare. There are so many uncertainties involved with it and I felt like I was not yet experienced enough to deal with such a meaningful project. An email from Riikka helped regaining my self-confidence. She was very positive about the possibilities and eager to work on the project. I decided to take a step back and reorganize my thoughts. I found one overlapping theme in all the visits in Espoo, a theme which also emerged in the presentations of the other students and in my first reflection. This theme was happiness. It seemed to me that most of the projects focused mainly on the physical and mental health of people, the so called ‘wellbeing’. Wellbeing is in my opinion a more scientific look on happiness. It tries to increase happiness by improving the external conditions of life. During the presentations there were quite some people who questioned whether the improvement of wellbeing contributed to the happiness of people. I think this is very hard to say. Improving

the external conditions can make it possible to experience more happiness, but happiness must always come from within. I started to investigate the subject of happiness more closely. I found endless lists and instructions on how to be happy. I stated in the first reflection that I considered myself to be a happy person. At some point I just felt like drawing about it. I had not done freehand drawing in years. I decided to listen to my intuition and I started to draw obsessively on a role of paper I found in a waste container at school. The first thing that came up to me was a big Buddha. After that I just added some drawings of objects that were on my desk. Later I realized that they were all somehow happy memories, from childhood to very recent. Every night I added some new memories. I think I saw it as a somewhat artistic research project and maybe also some kind of therapy. I noticed that whenever I started drawing I became very calm and concentrated. Although the drawing will never be finished, I could already see some connections in the memories I had drawn on the piece of paper. Most striking to me was that quite some memories were related to objects or products. It seemed like I had connected a lot of emotion to these products and the drawing of it recalled these emotions. This could be an interesting starting point. What if I would start to design 17



the other way around? To design something that provokes people to start living happily, something that evokes happiness or questions it. The assignment Simo gave to us provided me with fresh and useful input. I started to think about an artist that somehow matched with my way of thinking and the new way of presenting I had been trying out. The first thing that came up in my mind was the Norwegian/Danish artistic duo Elmgreen & Dragset. Throughout their career they had redefined the way in which art was presented and experienced. I remembered how their exhibition in Rotterdam, the One and the Many, had left a deep impression on me. It was a thrilling and surrealistic combination of art, architecture and performance, which I had never experienced before. I see Elmgreen & Dragset as the providers of a story that has to be made up by the audience itself and which evokes the audience to come out of their comfort zone. It made me think of my own project. I should try not only to focus on presenting a nice looking object in a museum, but think of the entire experience. This could lead to something temporary, even something outside of the museum. At the open day in the Design Museo we did a somewhat similar project related to my drawing project. It consisted of about 50 small used objects in which the visitors could place family related memories. It was a big success. For me it was not so much the actual

memories they put in that interested me as was the way the people interacted with the installation. Some people even left some of their own objects with a personal story. It seemed I was not the only one who had a strong connection between objects and memories. Furthermore I felt really at ease in the museum, working there and explaining what we are doing to the visitors. I also had invited Riikka to come. The first thing she did, was giving me a huge bag with candy. She was really interested in my personal life and my love for music. She also told some impressive stories about her own life and the amazing work she has done with troubled children all around the world. We both seemed to be confident that something good would come out of the project, although it still is very uncertain what it will be. To give me some inspiration, Riikka told me to look at the Finnish photographer Miina Savolainen. Minna Savolainen has made a book called; the Loveliest Girl in the World. ’The Loveliest Girl in the World is a community art project undertaken by photographer, art and social educator Miina Savolainen with ten girls from Hyvönen Children’s Home. It has taken almost a decade to complete. The project is based on the idea of “empowerment” and the belief that everyone has the right to feel unique and special.’ (

My little drawing on happy memories.

Although I don’t have the time to do such a large and meaningful project, I like the concept of ‘empowerment’. I think that art, music and design can have the same philosophy behind it. Riikka will try to arrange a series of meetings in the 6th week of the course in which we will do some creative session with the children. I am confident I can use the outcomes of these sessions in some way in my own project, but I realized again what a huge challenge this

would be for me. The children could be aged from 2 to 18 and sometimes their parents would be invited too. On top of that I would need to find somebody that is willing and available to translate for me. I still have the feeling of confusion I had in the beginning of this course. I feel like I should give something in return, but I don’t know yet what. On the other hand I think this project is already growing in some kind of direction. I am still looking forward.<<<


WEEK 3 A visitor is writing down a memory to put in one of the different objects in the process room of the Design Museo. The goal of the installation was to involve the visitors of the Design Museo in our creative process. The memories can be used for personal projects or as a more general source of inspiration.

Photographer: Milla Toukari



WEEK 3 Sketchbook


An idea I had for the open

Other ideas for the open day:

We had to read some scientific article, but I kind of forgot

day in Design Museo. Visitors could write down their

Leaving messages behind in

thoughts on stickers and place

empty bottles

what it was about.

them somewhere on the wall. Combination of different objects to leave memories behind

I started to search on

‘I want to make something

Maybe I can design something

internet how I could be happy.


that evokes happiness.

the kids and not something ABOUT the kids.’


Some more inspirational

I don’t want to make a

research on how to be happy.

visualization of happiness,

I read somewhere that

but it could be something that

happiness is contagious

actually evokes happiness.



Photoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s from

Inspiring furniture I saw at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, designed by Beril Cicek. These are the prototypes she has been working on with her entire family for over a year. 24

‘STORYTELLING’ WEEK 4. LAST WEEK WAS ABOUT OBJECTS AND HAPPINESS. THIS WEEK IS ABOUT HOW OBJECTS CAN TELL STORIES. NOT ONLY OBJECTS. MUSIC EMERGED AS A THEME. MUSIC IS VERY CLOSE TO ME AND MAYBE I CAN USE MUSIC TO TELL SOMETHING ABOUT HAPPINESS. MY THOUGHTS ARE STILL PRETTY ABSTRACT IN THIS STAGE. Reading through my earlier reflections, I noticed that ‘music’ was a topic that was always somehow subconsciously present in my writing. Instead of saying: ‘I think that design can have the same philosophy behind it ‘(talking about empowerment) I said ‘I think that art, music and design can have the same philosophy behind it.’ This got me thinking. Music has always been around me and I will always surround myself with music. A natural feel for music is something that

is universal for every human being, independently from age, gender and nationality. Analysing my drawings on happy memories, I saw that I had drawn a big headphone above the head of the Buddha. Next to it, I had written the following sentence; ‘Just walking around with my favourite music on my headphones, nothing on my mind.’ Music can make me truly happy, not only making music myself but also listening to the music of others. It gets me in a state of mind in which I find myself free of worries. At the Stockholm Furniture Fair I had hoped to find heaps of 25



inspiration, but I was quite disappointed. At some point, I was even planning to leave the fair. Until I walked into the Greenhouse, a place for young designers and students. It was the only place where I felt at ease and it was here that I saw some truly inspiring designs. One of them was a series of wood and woollen furniture pieces called Ull, by a young Turkish designer named Beril Cicek. I found her designs highly poetic and different from any other piece of furniture I had seen so far. It was the story behind the furniture however, that struck me the most. Beril Cicek told me that she and her whole family had worked for over a year on the prototypes, hand knitting the fabric of every one of them. I told her that she was very lucky to have such a devoted family. Knowing this amazing story made me appreciate the design considerably more. In the spirit of Miina Savoilanen I also want to tell positive stories about special and unique people. Instead of using photography as a medium however, I might want to use sounds and music as a way of self-expression. If I would be able to let other people be touched by the stories as I was touched by the story of Beril Cicek, I would be glad. Maybe I can create some sort of happy memory for the children of the Child Welfare using music as a medium. The first idea I had within this theme was to create some sort of music boxes for the children. They would be able to choose their favourite

song which would be stored in the music box forever. Another version was to make some sort of jukebox, only playing their favourite songs. The jukebox could be placed anywhere, in a museum or on the street. Whenever somebody played their music, he or she would think about the kids. To know that somebody would want their voices to be heard might be something really valuable. I really liked this kind of ideas, but viewed from a practical side it might be more difficult. To use existing songs, would give troubles with the rights of the composer. And it might not be so challenging from a designer point of view. Another idea I had was to make some sort of ambient sound collage for every child. The children could collect music and sounds in their house or during the creative sessions. I could turn it into songs, maybe with some help of more experienced musicians. Together these songs would form a very special album. To experiment a bit, I tried to make some sort of sound collage myself. I borrowed a recorder to collect familiar sounds around me. Combined with some of my own music, I made a short sound collage. I was happy with the result, but I was not really satisfied. I think it should be more conceptual, more than an album with songs and I would really like to make something physical. On the other hand, I think this idea is very simple and powerful. From a practical point of view, this might also be a very difficult project.

To collect all this samples from the children and to make it into songs in such a short time could be an impossible challenge. I have the feeling that I am on the right track and going in a clear direction. However, I might want to continue in a more conceptual way. A project I found really inspiring was Bartholomaus Traubeck’s installation called ‘years’. Through a modified record player he could translate the year rings of tree slices into beautiful classical music. It is a simple and powerful idea, and I liked the fluent integration of high tech and low tech into a poetic sounding installation. Another project that struck me, was ‘The Disintegration Loops’ by William Basinski. ‘During the summer of 2001, Basinski set about

transferring a series of 20year-old tape loops he’d had in storage to a digital file format, and was startled when this act of preservation began to devour the tapes he was saving. As they played, flakes of magnetic material were scraped away by the reader head, wiping out portions of the music and changing the character and sound of the loops as they progressed, the recording process playing an inadvertent witness to the destruction of Basinski’s old music.’ ( It is a beautiful and sad idea of the process being able to alter music, until it has completely destroyed it. I don’t really know how I can integrate this into my project, but I have a positive feeling about the direction it is going and will keep looking forward.<<<


WEEK 4 Sketchbook


I researched the artist

I tried to create order in the

duo Elmgreen & Dragset and

choas. I failed.

Same attempt.

thought about how I could do a presentation about them. And some other thoughts on the theme of music that emerged.

Maybe I can create some sort


One of my favorite websites;

of happiness therapy tool kit.


La Blogotheque,


A take away show

And I made this picture of a


weird dog.


Famous bands play acoustically


without any audience in the


streets of Paris and other




I went to Kiasma, the modern

Matthew Herbert made a

art museum of Helsinki in

very experimental album

search for inspiration. There

from recorded sounds of

Old objects carry stories with

was an exhibition called Thank

one pig.

them, which new objects don’t

you for the Music. It was not really helpful.


have. What if designers would

I don’t know how this is

also design the story for new

related to my project, but


I like it. Other thougt; To make a musical self portrait in sound. But how to make this visually attractive in an artefact?


First sketch, going in the

to produce paintings. The

microphone of which I can make

direction of a final concept.

children can choose their own

some sort of translation into

The idea is to make some sort

favorite colors and produce

speaker vibration. Or I can use

of construction for a speaker

a painting themselves. I am

different kinds of music to

and amplifier, which uses the

not sure about the input yet.

experiment with. Hopefully, I

vibration of the speaker cone

Maybe the children can use

will find out this week.


‘DECISIONS’ WEEK 5. THE WEEK OF DECISIONS. I ONLY HAVE THREE WEEKS LEFT TO MAKE WHATEVER I WANT TO MAKE. I KNOW I WANT TO COMBINE SOUND AND IMAGE IN SOME WAY. I DECIDED TO USE PAINT TO VISUALIZE WORKING WITH THE MUSIC. NEXT WEEK I WILL HAVE A SERIES OF CREATIVE SESSIONS WITH DIFFERENT CHILDREN, SO I SHOULD HAVE SOMETHING I CAN WORK WITH. The process of making sound portraits and presenting them proved to be a good starting point for what might end up to be my final concept. From the last presentation I got two useful comments and both were about the sound portraits. One comment was about the general atmosphere of the portraits. They were said to be rather sinister and depressing. It had never been my intention to make something depressing, but it was however quite true. Especially in relationship to the children of the Child Welfare,

this would be the opposite of what I want to achieve. The other comment was in the form of a short film called ‘Music for one apartment and six drummers’. Watching the film brought to my attention that I had not yet thought about how image and sound can work together. I went to Kiasma to see ‘The murder of Crows’, a large sound installation consisting of around 100 speakers. It was quite similar to my initial idea of telling a story through sounds and confirmed the usefulness of the two comments. The sounds of the installation were dreamy and dark, 31



just as my sound portraits. I watched as a mother entered the room of the installation with her little daughter. As I was really sucked into the installation, enjoying the intense sounds, I saw that the little girl was rather scared and nearly had to cry. The installation also confirmed for me that I wanted to go in a different direction. I had to think of something to make my concept visually more attractive. I could never come near this level of professionalism if I was to make something using just sound. I started to think of ways to combine sound and images, while keeping the concept behind the sound portraits. Jackson Pollock and his drippings came to my mind. There is a very strong rhythm in his paintings and I seem to remember that he often listened to music while painting. It could be interesting to translate this theme in some installation that uses sound as input to produce abstract paintings as a visual output. This could also be more interesting for the children to do, as the outcome would be visible straight away. To achieve this translation from sound to paint, I can use old speakers on top of which paint can be poured. Vibration in the speaker cone will cause the paint to jump up and down. The jumping paint hits the canvas and thus creates a painting. Which colours to use would be free up to the creator of the canvas. In two tutoring sessions, I told my ideas to

Maarit and Simo. Both were enthusiastic about my plans and gave useful feedback that opened up to new directions. From the personal session with Maarit, I learned that I can use the project also towards the staff of the Child Welfare and not only the children themselves. I could also involve the parents. It would be interesting to see the difference in the paintings. It is also a possibility to continue the project after the end of this course and maybe give weekly workshops in the museum. From the personal session with Simo, I learned that I should also look at the more practical side of the concept. If I want to do a long term project, the installation has to keep working. This might prove to be difficult, as the paint will probably will damage the working mechanism of the speaker. Simo also encouraged me to look in new directions within the same theme. There are many different ways in which music and visuals can work together, this does not necessarily have to involve paint. There are, for example also other types of liquids that may have interesting results. I bought two old 100W speakers at the recycling centre. I decided not to buy an amplifier, which meant that I was not yet able to experiment with sound and paint. Instead, I tried to simulate the vibration of the speakers myself using paper plates and I started to experiment with possible set-ups and different paint

mixtures. I learned that the viscosity of the paint mixture is quite important. If the paint is too thick, it will not jump from the paper. It is however hard to tell whether working with the actual speaker will give the same results. I am quite sure though that I need some loud bass sounds to achieve the jumping of the paint. I also realised that the result does not necessarily have to be a painting. It might as well be a piece of clothing for example, something that actually can be used. I experimented a bit on an old t-shirt, but I was not really satisfied with the results. And I was still not sure about which input to use and whether the installation will be going to work as I had planned. The issue of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;what input to use and how to get fine resultsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; continued to haunt me. If I want people to use their own voice or music, it might be so that there is not enough bass to let paint jump up. To use voice is probably the easiest way of creating an input, but does it make sense in this context to use voice? I want the outcome to be something personal, not something which is the result of random words or shouting. To use music will probably give much more powerful results as everyone has its own unique taste for music. I could ask for a piece of music which has a special

meaning for the children. Combined with the choice of the different colours of paint, it will give a unique and special portrait. For the exhibition, I could have a couple of paintings hanging behind the installation, with accompanying headphones. The song from which the painting was created can be heard on the headphones, adding to the effect of the paintings. I realise that the experimenting with the speaker and the outcome of the creative sessions next week may have a great impact on this concept. So much in fact, that I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even say that this will be the final concept, as the outcomes may change my perception on things completely. I have to stay open minded to new input. Next week, I will have two creative sessions together with Riikka. On Tuesday 9-year old Iida will come with her father and on Wednesday 7-year old Elias and a 2-year old Sanni will come with their mother. The sessions will probably be held in the workshop room of the Design Museo. I want to use the sessions to see how Riikka works, and to see if the kids are interested in music and art. I would like to know their favorite colors, their special songs, and everything else. The sessions might become quite intense for me, as I have never worked with children. I am however, looking forward to it.<<<



The two old 100W speakers I bought at the recycling centre. Experimenting with the setup of the speakers and the different mixtures of paint. Just to get my hands dirty.

I had not yet dared to spend most of the budget on an amplifier, so I thought of ways I could simulate the working of the speaker cone. 34

Shaking the plate I tried to get the paint to jump up. It was kind of amateurish, but at least I started on something.

I tried to hit the paper with paint from underneath, just as in the set-up I had imagined. For now I am happy with the result, but I know that it needs a lot of improvement. 35

WEEK 5 Sketchbook


Comment from Simo during a

An idea to make some sort of

I was worried that the plan


megaphone installation that

with the children might not

plays the sound portraits

work after all and tried to

somewhere in the city.

think of ways to translate the

‘Be rough, it’s about the idea. Don’t make it too

idea of the project without


the ‘use’ of children.

A weird idea to walk around

Some more thoughts about this

The first sketch of what might

with some sort of camera,

weird idea.

end up to be my final concept.

sound installation. I have to

I had been thinking of making

honest in saying that I don’t

the musical portait more

exactly remember what this

visually attractive.

idea was about.

It is of course inspirated by

Comments from Maarit:

the action painting of Jackson Pollock

An idea for the exhibition. I could have the machine and

‘What is the input?

above the machine a couple

You can use other colors

of paintings made by the

Maybe you can also make


portraits from the social workers’


Photographer: Krista Kosonen


I finally bought the amplifier,


It was kind of similar


I placed the paper

so I was able to start

to the setup I created last

directly on top of the speaker,

experimenting with the ‘real

week when I didn’t had the

as can be seen in the picture

thing’. I covered up the

amplifier yet. I held an

on the left. The speaker

speaker with some plastic and

empty paper above the speaker

underneath the paper makes the

started to play different types

to ‘catch’ the paint. After

whole paper vibrate accordingly

of music. I was so happy when

this, I flipped the paper 180

to the music. This looked much

everything worked as planned!

degrees to let the paint dry.

cooler. I think children will

The paint jumped up beautifully

The results didn’t look so

like it way better if they

depending on the loudness of

good as I expected. It was

can actually see the paint

the music and the thickness

also quite difficult to make

move directly on the painting.

of the paint. I tried out

a decent painting, because I

Next step is to translate this

two different ways to create

couldn’t see what was happening

process into some form which


underneath the paper.

can be used by children. 39


Photographer: Krista Kosonen

Both the children and me worked on the same painting. I acted more as a session leader and helped the children with adding and mixing the paint.

The painting produced after nearly two hours of painting. The children did not want to stop at all, which I took as a compliment. 40

I showed the different setups I had worked with to the teachers. They suggested that I should do a tryout with some ‘normal’ children, before taking it to the children from Child Welfare. At first I was kind of sceptic towards it, as I was not sure what I wanted to find out. Krista convinced me it was a good idea and that these kind of tryouts often produce unexpected results. I figured out it was a good to actually start working with children, as I had never done this before. Krista suggested that her son could come. Also Emmi, a fellow student, offered that her son could come to the workshop. I prepared the setup and bought some sweet stuff to give to the children. The actual workshop went really well. At first the children were a bit shy, as can be expected when exposed to a strange room and new people. I showed them how the speaker worked and how the vibration can cause the paint to up. Luckily, they got very excited and we painted for almost two hours non-stop. I acted as a kind of color-DJ and tried out how different music and different colors had an effect on the children. I had hoped that the children would have some favorite music, but they didn’t really have an interest in the music. They were much more interested in how the speaker worked, mixing the paint and playing with the paint on top of the paper. Overall I would say that the music definitely had a positive influence on the experience, but it was

different than I had expected. Important points I found out: Creating something together is received as positive. The children can work on different levels and access the painting from different angles. Working with children is more exhausting and unpredictable than I had expected. The music level that was needed to get the desired ‘jumping’ effect, was too loud for the children. I will try to take all these point into consideration for the next workshop with the children from Child Welfare.

My tryout project was also placed on the blog of 365 wellbeing and received positive comments from around the world (that’s what I heard at least).



For some reason I took the speaker out of the speaker box and made some paintings with it. I liked the combination of the randomness of the dots and the clearly visible circle, creating order.

Photographer: Kalya Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donoghue

On this picture can be seen how the speaker makes the paint jump up. The bass sounds are also less loud in this setup, because the speaker box is missing. Still, the vibration is equally strong. 42

After the workshop I stayed

with the children from Child

‘Best day of the winter

a little longer at school,

Welfare. I had managed to


thinking about other ways

make a reservation for the

to create a painting with

workshop room in Design Museo

‘I will remember this art-day

sounds. I was still not really

and recreated the setup I had

for the rest of her life.’

satisfied with the end result.

been working with in this room

I took out the speaker from the

(as can be seen in the picture

box and placed it on a piece of


paper on the floor. The music

would cause the paint to jump

the actual sessions with the

around the speaker, creating a

children. Milla, whom had been

sort of chaotic circle. I added

translating all the previous

It made a big impression on

new colors from time to time,

emails from Riikka for me, was

me and it felt really good

to create different paintings.

also presented to translate

that I was able to make some

Taking the speaker from the

from Finnish to English

children happy. I think it

speaker had also another

whenever necessary and she also

would be interesting to develop

advantage. The bass sounds were

participated in the workshop.

a piece of furniture that

less loud to the ear, but the

I painted with Iida, Sanni

would facilitate these kind

vibration of the speaker cone

and Ilias in two different

of painting sessions. In this

was still the same.

sessions. It was really

way, I could actually make

I was quite happy with

Now it was time for

‘The best thing in the world.’ ‘Maarten en Milla are wonderful!’

impressive to work with the

something which can be used by

the new way of painting I had

children. Unfortunately, I was

the children and hopefully make

come up with. I also liked the

not allowed to make photos of

them forget everyday sorrows

paintings I could create with

the children. These were some

for a little while.

it. The next step was to take

of the responses I recieved

this setup to the workshop

from the children: 43

WEEK 6 Sketchbook


Comment from Simo;

I had to think of the Blue Man

An idea to connect the

Group. They also have some

speakers to an overhead

Keep it working on a long

acts with music and paint.

projector. The sound will


Main difference with my idea

cause the paint on top of the

Speakers are quite fragile.

is that the children would be

speaker to vibrate and a video

part of the creative process

clip can be made.

Idea for the exhibition:

and not just watch other people performing.

A couple of paintings with accompanying headphones which play the music that created the painting.

‘What do I want to get from


‘What if I make a series of

the creative sessions with the


tools to make contemporary



I want to know what music

Or at for the least the

means to them.

children I am going to do a

The focus should be on the

Do they have favorite music?

project with.’

children. It must also be

What are their favorite

something fun to do for them.’

colors? Would they want their work to be somehow in a museum? What if they don’t care at all?’

This was a bit of a chaotic

An idea for a more artistic

Some questions more questions

sketch, but I was thinking

setup in the museum. But I

that popped up in my mind to

of different tools to make

don’t know how relate this to

ask the children;

abstract paintings with

‘family’ and the children.

‘Do they like to paint?


Do they paint often? How does your ideal painting room look like? Does it have music? Or is it silent? What colors?’




I first experimented with

In another setup, I placed two

The concept of the first

a free standing speaker on

speakers in a fixed position.

workshop was much stronger.

ground level. It would be easy

It created a stereo painting of

for the children to reach and

the music. In general I was not

This concept might be boring

they could place the speaker

really convinced by the whole

for the children as their input

wherever they would want and

concept. I talked to Maarit and

is limited.

put paint on top of them. The

Krista about it. I also talked

resulting paintings would look like they photo on the left.

with Simo. Both tutor sessions

The end results (paintings)

had similar outcomes:

will all look the similar.



The role of paper is a standard size used in most painting classes. The width of the table will be so that I can use these paper roles.

Photographer: Pierre Buttin

Clips to attach the paper to the table.


I started working on the final setup. I tried to take the comments of tutor sessions into account as I realized that the concept of the first workshop was much stronger. In the end I created a big table: On the floor level there is room for all sorts of equipment necessary for painting. There is also space for the amplifier and a laptop to play different musical experiments. On the higher level there is room for the actual painting. Speakers are integrated in the table top. A role of paper is placed on one corner of the table, so the paper can be rolled on top of the speakers. The paper vibrates with the speaker when music is played.

The idea of the table is that it also can be moved, making it more flexible. I thought of two handles on one side and two wheels on the other side. There is only thing I am still not sure about. The table is now too high for the children, so I will have to think of something so the children can reach the table. Reason for the high table top is that I want to work with the children on the same level, so that we are equals in the painting session. Finally, I was satisfied with the setup. Last thing I did was to take all the rough measurements so I already have something to work with when I enter the woodworkshop next week.




Iidaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite colors

Sketch with the free hanging

Same idea, different angle.


speakers above the painting.

Some sort of system to transport the paint through


different hoses.

Light blue Turquoise Black Thought also about where to put this huge table during the exhibition; Maybe in the foyer of the museum..

Another sketch.

Thinking about all the

The rough dimensions I got

equipment I would need to

from the final setup.

Thinking about how to put

have to facilitate a painting

multiple speakers in the table

session with music.


Another sketch.

A first idea for the final

Another sketch.

reflection; I wanted to Thinking about how to put

make a big painting as final

multiple speakers in the table

reflection. Did not do it.




Prepared only with a rough

numbered them in the right

could reach the table. I made

sketch of what I wanted to

order. I glued the frame

two strong benches with a

make, I went to the wood

together. I also mounted four

different height and size. In

workshop. Luckily, the people

wheels to the table, turning

this way kids could stand or

working there were really

it into a sort of wagon. I

sit on the furniture as they

helpful to me. I found some

had figured out that it was

wanted. At last, I made a hole

leftover wood that I was

easier than having two wheels

in the table for the speaker.

allowed to use. My goal was not

and two handles, as was my

I had only one speaker left,

to make a fancy looking design

plan before. When I finished

as the other had died during

piece. It had to be functional.

the table, I started thinking

the numerous experiments.

First, I prepared the

about additional furniture

Unfortunately, I had no budget

construction of the beams and

for the children so they

left to buy extra speakers. 53


Photographer: Theresa Kunze

I had prepared two steady cameraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. I also reserved an extra handheld camera. I wanted to make sure I had enought data to edit the video. In the end, I only used the video from one camera. 54

The next step was to make the video. I was not allowed to film the children from Child Welfare, so I asked Krista again if she would like to come with her son. Also two friends of Krista were willing to come with their daughters. I also asked some friends to take photos and to shoot video with the handheld camera of the event. I was quite nervous about the fact that so many people were doing all this for me. Luckily, the children liked the painting wagon a lot. After the session even some of the furniture was painted. I collected all the material from the cameras and started editing the video.

Photographer: Kalya Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donoghue






The Action Painting Wagon in Design Museo. It had become quite dirty during the video session, so it looked like it had been used intensively. I also displayed some of the dirty clothes of the kids.

The video can be seen on an old laptop. The sound can be heard on the headphones. I am happy I made it, because it makes the project a lot clearer to the visitors. 58

The reason for making the video was to explain my project to the visitors of the exhibition. I could not be there all time to give a demonstration, so the video would do the rest for me. I was however disappointed that I could not use the wagon at all in the museum, which meant I could not do any more painting sessions with the children. But it made sense, since the wagon was surrounded with fragile art pieces from the other students. We were also asked to explain our project in a single sentence. I first had to think of a name. I decided to give it the most descriptive name I could think of and thought of a few words to explain my project:

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ACTION PAINTING WAGONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; The Action Painting Wagon brings joy to experimental painting sessions with children by combining painting with music. The paper is placed on top of a speaker, which is placed in the center of the tabletop. Different musical experiments can be carried out, which will cause the painting to vibrate accordingly to the intensity of the sound waves. The design is developed together with children from Child Welfare Espoo, Finland. (The children on the video are from befriended families)




I am really content with what I have achieved during this course. I received an unique chance to explore myself as a designer and as a human being. In the beginning of the course I wrote that I want to find out during this course what kind of designer I want to become. I think this is exactly what I have done. Not that I know now, but at least I have the feeling I am getting there. I would like to end this reflection with a list of some things I did in this course, which I had never experienced before: Acting out during weird presentations Use writing to create order in my thoughts To work on an individual project, but never received so much help before from others Painted (on music) with children Made a table and two benches from scratch in three days Worked in and around a museum with an exhibition as result Made somebody I did not know truly happy




11.4.2012 //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Action Painting Wagon  

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