XIAOYU ZHANG - Xiaoyu Zhang

Xiaoyu Zhang

Love’s Phoenix

MA Design Critical Practice

Love, arguably, is what makes us human. Love is ineffably complex, diverse and obscure. In almost every regard it defies definition, record, analysis and ultimately representation. There is always a gap between the cleaned and polished representation and the messy, confused love played out in real time in the real world. But this does not stop us trying to overcome the gap; some of the greatest works of literature, art and music are attempts to do just this. Love is embodied in various representations for diverse practices – to imagine, woo, record, entertain, teach etc..
With just a touch of irony this project uses Robert Sternberg’s ‘Triangular Theory of Love’ (with its three building blocks of intimacy, passion and commitment) and the eight forms of love he derives from combinations of these (non-love, liking, infatuation and fatuous, romantic, empty, companionate and consummate love) to act as framework for the eventual design. Through ‘best of’ lists (from various publications) and, subsequent selection of work from research participants, examples of poems, movie scenes and music lyrics were compiled for each of the eight categories. These selections were analysed through pata-scientific methods of discourse and conversation analysis. From all of this a workbook was designed which drew on this analysis. The workbook encourages users to build their own representations – poems, conversations and lyrics out of the ashes of the analysis of the selected representations and hold what they produce up to their own real world experiences of love.