— a design manifesting
by nicole killian

not really a way to design myself but i’m trying, slowly and it’s not gonna ever finish...so what kinda brief is this? manifesting . . .

every day but today — and on multiple astral planes — we are becoming, but at different stages. it happens over and over again and will continue to do so. learn the patterns so you can mutate them, jump them.

when i feel the things i feel inside my body, i know that that’s a becoming that escapes language. it’s a feeling i can’t place on a mood board. and what’s the point of a mood board anyways if my mood is constantly changing with the manic behavior of the world around me? it’s happening inside my body and that is the truth i know and must honor. i must lean into the question marks and allow those to be the answers for me. my question marks will hold my community. our collective question marks will be our security blankets, our healing tools.

crying is emotional and so is yelling. emotions gather on charm bracelets and those charms become the alphabets we use to construct language. i want the language and charge to express a range of feelings. and from these feelings a three-dimensional self emerges. this body performs and holds space and counter space and sometimes in the counter space that’s where the real work happens. caliban and the witch, federici kind of stuff. it’s ok for the work to not know what it’s doing. that will come, someday.

cultivate and tend to your garden. stop and smell the roses. text those roses to a friend. send your soviet postcards of roses to the one you love. destabilize the notion of the designer as author and start to think of yourself as the compost which let’s the roses grow. from ashes you rise and to ashes you will return. it’s a beautiful feedback loop. against audience and for community. your friends are everything. your future friends await.

allow for silence. silence is important. in silence we pause. we can hear our hearts beat. can you hear mine? i want to always hear yours. a want to allow the space to hold others. to be a room, like the quakers. allow that space to stir the spirits of those in need. and sometimes, it will be *you* who will raise up that voice. but acknowledge the space first. the voice that needs to be heard will change as the world changes. just know and feel the energy you bring to a room. does it preserve? suffocate? protect? allow? be sensitive to what you emit.

in our bodies we hold, we pack. we’ve got these gardens we tend to, these piles that get added to. how do you tend to one’s garden that isn’t yours? with care. do your research on organic matter, the lived experience of the seedling, of the tree rings. then ask the questions. hug the tree, tree hugger. let the vines cling to the walls of the trellis. stand back and marvel at nature. at its beautiful knowledge we could only dream of understanding intimately. so, we listen.

no masters, no castles. roots. no walls, just floppy grids.
cascading, floppy grids.
no more drone gaze algorithms.
you look into my eyes, and mine into yours.

what is free does not mean it offers generosity. question the giver, question what is being given, bestowed, but be ever generous.
because we need that.

i feel a transition moving in my body that won’t be contained to three rounds with feedback. time in a construct and i want deadlines to stay dead. i won’t walk that line or any line. how can we build. how can we shape the space we want to move in?

when we come into a space, what do we ask of it? what does it ask of us? how do we build the space together? pile the chairs up. sit on the floor. let the space hold you as you hold the space. how can we embrace each other without touch? we cannot just hear and see each other, but we must listen and feel and get.

it’s not enough to “think wrong” or “design wrong” or “deskill” or “unlearn” this is language of disruption and has been co-opted by neoliberal entrepreneurialism and start-up culture. once we make a new word, it will be bought and sold and put on a mood board. can we insist on body language and eye contact, our practice as contact sport.

more manifesting, less manifestos. always together.

— understand the garden you grow in —

NICOLE KILLIAN investigates how the structures of the internet, mobile messaging, and shared spaces and platforms affect contemporary interaction and shape cultural identity from a queer perspective. They are interested in the repetition, looping, and dissemination of content. They think about catnip and bird toys, scratching and the depths (or voids) of the desktop folder. Nicole is currently the co-director of the Design, Visual Communications MFA and Assistant Professor in the Department of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University and recently served as guest editor for the Walker Art Center's Soundboard and organized How Will We Queer Design Education without Compromise?