Cheryl Akner Koler
When I teach I explore ways to add new knowledge to the field of applied aesthetics by questioning the long-standing hierarchy in the field of aesthetics which prioritizes visual perception and excluded or downplays the 'proximity' sense of haptics, smell, taste, and movement.
The illustrated model to the right shows the proximity senses outlined in green, which start at the top with the icon of the hand for haptic/tactile and continues downward to movement / presence ending in the base at smell and taste. This model is one of the results of the artistic research project HAPTICA.
My work at Konstfack, University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden involves teaching at the Bachelors and Masters level.
At the master's level, I conduct labs and workshops that concern my research in haptic attributes such as air flow, temperature, vibration, texture, substance, weight, proportion, contour and, grip. (see research for more information about Haptics.
I also support students in developing Aesthetic Labs as a method to explore their exam projects. This method was initially developed in my Ph.D. thesis; Form & Formlessness.
Bachelors Program at Konstfack
Foundation form and space
In recent years I have transformed the way I teach the foundation course in 3-D form and space for Industrial design students, by introducing organic materials in the first introduction week. This brings the culinary arts into our studios where materials, color, texture, pattern, smell, and taster are inherent in each exercise. We work with plating, table setting, and hospitality. As the course progresses I return to the clay studio to learn about law-bound geometric form and the crafting skills needed in developing prototypes through the forgiving process. Shifting between organic living materials and industrial design materials offers a unique way to bring aesthetic abstractions and sculptural procedures into a more sensuous, embodied, and engaging world.
These abstract studies are then applied in a formgiving project that explores the development of gestalt. Through a tight interaction with Rune Monö's semiotic approach, now taught by Anna Thies, we have created a product design course that supports co-creation methods for the development of a holistic gestalt that includes aesthetic expression and aesthetic communication .
My interests are also in interactive technology with a particular interest in vibrotactile actuators and playful robots. We have just started a pop-up Interactive studio at Konstfack that is integrated in the 3-D printing lab.
My first book presents a taxonomy of form and space; Three dimensional visual analysis of how to develop 3-D compositions by exploring aesthetic abstractions through four categories:
1. Elements and their properties
2. Movement and forces
This book is published as a paper in my thesis Form & Formlessness pages 95-165.
My motivation to write this book was to support the active 3-D formgiving process with a drive to create a holistic gestalt. All the models that demonstrated the different compositional concepts were created by students through haptic sculptural crafting and model making traditions.
The spatial qualities of a form were also studied by rotating the composition on a sculpture turntable to support the development of all-around sensory imagery that captured how form and spatial qualities are interdependent in a composition.
The model Evolution of Form was developed through a participatory inquiry process with ID students to broaden their understanding of the organizing capacity of 3-D form. During the course, students do practical experiments that strengthen their ability to work with and discern form/ space relationships / organizational frameworks. The course also exposes them to ways that support co-creation without losing individual sensitivities and intentions.
See Roots for the background of Rowena Reed Kostellow who was may teaching and mentor.
Through a guest professorship (2009-2012) in Örebro University's Campus Grythyttan, School of hospitality, culinary arts and meal science, I worked to include the senses of haptics, smell, and taste. Through that experience recently introduced organic food materials in many of my courses to expand the sensorium.