Blog Reflection – week 4: Empathy and defamiliarisation

Briefly reflect on the lessons learnt from each exercise.

Reflective listening

Reflective listening is would suggest is active listening, that is, the process of uncovering information as it is being discussed. It is an organic experience, where, having some key points to discuss, the listener is an active part of the conversation. The conversation able to segue into previously unforeseen areas as new insights are revealed. Empathy with the speaker is important in this process, making them feel comfortable in revealing insights which are personal in nature. 

Defamiliarisation of everyday reality

In viewing the two videos – firstly of watching a train depart, followed by another arriving from the opposite direction, I thought to myself how odd that the person filming the experience did not linger of the spectacular view of Circular Quay, but rather, the mundanity of commuters and day trippers getting off and on a train, momentarily lingering to take in that view.

I am reminded of the Lumière Brother’s famous 1895 film L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat. A film which, in its day evoked horror from the audience as they were confronted by a train moving toward them as if about the crash through the wall, as they had never experienced a projected moving image before.

The sequence of the bus journey also narrowed in its vision of a single view down to the front of the bus, rather than take in the passing scenery.

Both experiences reminded me of the fleeting nature of experience, many such passionless moments soon to be lost without trace.

In this instance the defamiliarisation is about experiencing through the senses of someone else, who acts and behaves quite differently to ourselves and has their own way of experiencing a space and moment.

Experience modelling

In this experience, removing the clarity of vision and having to move through an environment with reduced vision, I was interested in how I firstly needed to impart my own prior experiences of the environmental space to ‘fill in the missing pieces’ like giving myself clues in able to move with some confidence. But the more I moved with the reduced vision, the more I relied on my other senses which were not affected, to compensate for the disability.

The act of putting oneself in the ‘shoes’ of the intended user, we are brought into their world and can use this experience to shape possible directions and approaches if we were to design or create something for this particular demographic.