michael felix is an exceptional human being, storyteller, and keen observer of the world around. his enthusiasm for the natural order of things, organic architecture and the wide range of tools at his fingertips has generated a variety of compelling and curious works. have you heard? and have you seen? such heart. such humor. such sincerity. he is currently a professor of industrial and interaction design at SCAD. we think he has some lucky students. -kelli
i. Instrument, Utensil, Implement, Machine, or Apparatus? which? why? where? if you had to choose just one preindustrial tool, which would it be?
it’s difficult to choose just one, because all of these feel like states rather than separate entities with clearly-defined boundaries. for example, i’ve seen the same object become an instrument to one person and an implement to another. like watching a child play with a complex device meant for grown-ups, to them its function might be something completely different than its designated purpose.
through form and behavior, objects speak, shapeshifting from utensil to machine to apparatus – altogether dependent on context, communication and empathy. generally, if i’m honest and the tool is honest, together we can form a deep relationship and accomplish many things. some of them become good friends, others not so much.
i am inclined to choose a knife for its versatility, but not just any knife. perhaps a rock, carefully selected from a creekside or riverbed – one that fits perfectly in my hand with a sharp edge that was diligently chipped away in a process that took some time; might have even cut myself a few times accidentally as i learn just the right way to hold it.
ii. creativity has been redefined throughout the ages. our most modern tends to focus on process, placement, person, and output (or product). do you find your abilities within this realm of definition or do you see outside influences, such as divine inspiration, muses, daemons, or forces of nature as factors?
there is a drive to make that is impossible to smother. as a child i manifested this desire by drawing things, hitting buttons on computers, and building contraptions, doing whatever felt fun and interesting. growing older, i’ve become more cognizant of the rules, processes, methodologies and protocols associated with making, sometimes getting stalled by trying to do them a fashionable fashion. i often grow nostalgic for that childlike naivety, but i find whenever i pay attention to deep feeling and become hyper-aware of my surroundings i am confronted with the most humbling discoveries.
rising to and maintaining this level is tricky. there’s a lot of noise, and it takes on many forms. you have to do a lot more listening than speaking. there’s a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty. processes for creating environments and situations that might be conducive for this type of understanding exist, but i’ve found no sure-fire strategy, it’s different every time. i’ve had more success in places where trees outnumber people.
iii. sound energy is the form of energy associated with the vibration or disturbance of matter. work, a form of energy, is force times distance. in living organisms, energy is stored as polysaccharides. common terms referring to such magical energy include mana, numen, chi or kundalini. how do you derive energy? how would you define your own personal energy?
i absorb tiny bits and pieces of the environments i explore, soaking in sounds and light and feeling. there’s a lot of listening and collecting and taking everything in altogether at once. letting the osmosis happen until i’ve mindmelded with everything around me and can act as part of my environment rather than myself. a lot of ideas will resolve in this space, some stick to you others fall through. there’s much experimenting, trying, failure, learning.