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The phenomenology of getting used to the new: Some thoughts on memory, perception, numbing and the Zen-view

By Michael Hohl


In this text I set out to reflect on the relationship between human perception and the usability of some designed artefacts. Beginning with own observations the text looks at the relationship between two phenomena: The ease with which we perceptually desensitise to conditions of our environment such as designed artefacts, and secondly, the designerly dilemma of innovative artefacts, that create an undeserved sense of trust that may result in unintended effects. It shows how these two phenomena are intrinsically linked to what the neuro-sciences describe as learning. Subsequently the text will look at several strategies that aim at preventing this type of adaptation. The text concludes with an example of a semantic designerly mapping that sustains the experience of initial surprise and prevents the effect of numbing. The paper argues that designers could benefit from a better understanding of the dynamics of human perception in order to inform design research methods and design education to consider these perceptual processes. The primary goal of this text is to create a debate around these phenomena and show their relevance to design problems

Topics: NC, QA75
Publisher: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:9039

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