Reading Response #2 to Artful Design • Chapter 2: “Designing Expressive Toys”

Sami Wurm

Oct. 8th, 2022

Music 256A / CS476a, Stanford University

Reading Response: Designing for Peace


From this week's reading, I'd like to respond to Artful Design Principle 2.5, which states:


Principle 2.5: Design With Technology To TRANSCEND Technology


All of the other principles of this chapter, to me, relate to this message. They state that technology should insite: delight, play, calm, and a release of inhibitions. All of these feelings allow us to escape ourselves, our worries, and our lives.

In class, we talked about how we want to feel as people living in ‘these times.’ For me, the first feeling that came to mind was Safe. I want to feel safe. I want to feel seen/heard/understood/not alone. I want to feel calm. I want to feel play and delight. I think that the desire to feel all of these things is common, especially as a person living in These Times, because so much play, calm, stability and normalcy has been taken away.

I believe that these feelings, and the human desire to experience them, unite us all and allow us to transcend our individualism. It is beautiful to me when technology emphasizes unity and allows us to transcend ourselves, like in the Ocarina game where you can see everyone playing around the world. I especially loved the quote from the soldier who said: “[The ocarina app] is my peace on earth. I am currently deployed in Iraq, and hell on earth is an everyday occurrence. The few nights I have off I am deeply engaged in this app. The globe feature that lets you hear everybody else in the world playing is the most calming art I have ever been introduced to. It brings the entire world together without politics or war. It is the exact opposite of my life” (page 86). If I can build something that provides even one person peace throughout their hardships in this life (which is so hard), that would be success to me.

Furthermore, I feel that this transcendence is the goal of all music (and all art), not just of technology or music technology. When we were all talking about pieces of art that were a 10/10 for us in class, we spoke about movies/tv shows/songs/games that make us feel seen and feel alive. My 10/10 piece of art, the song Drew Barrymore by SZA, makes me feel so understood and so validated in my feelings no matter what I am going through. Something about it speaks to me personally and allows me to transcend myself and the feeling that I, as an adult, have to go through this life alone. I think this experience for me is similar to the experience Ge talks about in “The Idyllic Video Game Sublime '' when he says that the place he discovered in Assassin's Creed left him with a feeling of profound calm and peace that he wishes for his family. A feeling so comforting that he did not want to leave. 

It is helpful for me to keep this goal in mind while making new music or technology to remember what I am doing it all for. Furthermore, this idea of transcendence helps when trying to implement the other principles in this chapter of ‘Taking Advantage of Physicality,’ ‘Designing Inside-Out,’ and ‘Allowing Function to Follow Form.’ It is much easier to start an idea based on form, aesthetics, and the positive physical and emotional effects that I want it to evoke when I know what form and which emotions I am trying to bring out. Then, when I know what I want my creation to embody emotionally, I can play with function, body, and how it tangibly shows up in the world until I know that it feels right to me.