A Chaos System

“… scientists problem-solve by analysis, whereas designers problem-solve by synthesis.” —Nigel Cross, Designerly Ways of Knowing

“There is no reason to fear chaos: it is our name for another form of order: that which we see as yet only in part.” —J. Chris Jones, Essays in Design

These two quotes strike me as particularly apt as I begin to develop my own processes and ideation that will lead me towards my Thesis. While I disagree with thinking about design as a “problem,” I do think that the idea of synthesis as design process is well stated. I have often said that what I do as a designer is translate non-visual content into interesting visual stuff. I could also say that I synthesize many things like content, form, typography, images, ideas, metaphors, concepts, and so on into visual things. Synthesis as a process of combination, manipulation and translation is an interesting notion.

There is also an idea of synthesis as the process of combination of the above things into a system. We often think of systems as ordered, regularized frameworks. Systems find a way to force accessibility and analysis from disparate elements. I am now beginning to consider systems as something less logical than that. What of chaos? Jones suggests that even chaos is a system, just one that we do not yet understand. How could I begin to use a “chaos system” as a part of my process? Synthesis and chaos can begun to inform my ideation in a way that may liberate me from rigidity, but also provide me with a ground to stand on as I explore these ideas.

(below: stills from an experimental film by Stan Brackhage)