Nonsense way of thinking

tosa lecture

Gadget OK, a device-art and japanese robot-culture symposium, took place this weekend at UCLA Design|Media Arts. With the lectures, panels, and artist presentations finished, about thirty lucky folks got to spend the afternoon with Novmichi Tosa today. He introduced the process behind some of his recent works, and then led us through a brainstorming exercise designed to produce nonsense objects.

There were 4 main steps to creating an idea using Tosa-san’s method:

  1. Write down everything you touched this morning, in order (10 things). After you finish writing down everything, write ‘nonsense’ next to it.

  2. Write something for each thing that would make it nonsensical. If you can’t think of anything that would make the thing nonsensical, put in the word of the day. Ours was ‘blue’.

  3. Combine each pair of nonsense things and write down the new image they make.

  4. Draw your final idea.

hairy dentures process

The process worked quite well for generating a range of silly possibilities, provided you were open to having silly ideas in the first place. After we went through all the steps, Tosa-san photographed everyone’s ideas and shared them with the group. I came up with a sketch for wooly, felt dentures. They give you a nice, hairy smile for greeting people. Other people’s ideas included time-travel toast, a booger-swapping machine, and an air hotel. Give it a try, and perhaps you will come up with something silly, yet worth pursuing.

documenting our work

At the end of the day, some questions arise. What would it mean to have these nonsense objects in the world? What kind of stories do they suggest, or make possible? These are questions raised not only by today’s workshop, but by much of the work presented during Gadget OK. There are so many strange new things; what are we going to do with them?

Tosa-san also runs longer workshops in Japan, with the aim of helping each participant build a nonsense object. The ginger-rifle is a nice example of how those can turn out:

2 thoughts on “Nonsense way of thinking”

  1. I think we have to think that every idea or any action we make has a sense because its only depends on our point of view, our effort always has a meaning for us, otherwise we don’t feel, we don’t need, we don’t live.
    P.S My name is Marta I want to contact with you and ask a few questions about timespentalone- I just a fan. I am from Poland…so forgive me my terrible english
    Please contact with me if you can and if you want

  2. Hi Marta,

    Approaching things with the hope of making sense is one way of going about life. By creating something nonsensical, however, we are still able to create objects with meaning. Maywa Denki’s approach is merely one of breaking out of the ordinary and reasonable. They provoke—occasionally meaningful, sometimes not—responses by creating silly objects that may not have encountered before.

    re: timespentalone, This is an okay forum for asking questions, if you have them. Otherwise, my contact information is on the info page.

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