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Experimental Design

Jana Maiworm

Jana Maiworm is a multidisciplinary designer working at the intersection of research, multi-sensory, and experimental design. Jana’s design approach is driven by her interest in the perception of sensory experiences as well as their sensory activation and exclusion. Her goal is to expand the boundaries of conceivable space to merge with their surroundings. Within these spaces, multi-sensory worlds of experience arise, liberating the mind from conventional barriers. Her works continue to straddle the border of tangible life and the void. 

Jana has a BA in integrated design, which she completed at three different European design schools: KISD in Cologne, GSA in Glasgow and Konstack in Stockholm. Since then, she has worked as a strategy and experience designer in Germany, the UK and Sweden. 

I see 

I hear 

I taste

I feel 

I touch 

… I sense, I perceive therefore I know.

I don't know what exists beyond that, what remains when everything else vanishes, when there is nothing left to perceive, or when there is nothing left to experience at all.

My work relates to sense perception as a method of explaining the world. For it is only through the senses that we can experience the world.

The resulting research project "Borderline", attempts to uncover different ways to make the unknown space of nothingness experienceable through sensory reduction or overstimulation. 

‘Borderline‘ is a research project that seeks to explore different ways to experience this unknown space of nothingness. 

A concept was developed that situates the experience of nothingness not in its opposite extreme of perception, but in the brief moment when we cross the border from one perception to the other. This allows us to have the experience of nothingness, which occurs in a brief moment when we cross the boundary of our perception. This theory led to the development of various mirror projects that represent the respective partial aspects of nothingness

Mirror Experiences:

1 - We dissolve by exploring the border

2 - We become one with the mirror by breaking the borderline

3 - We overstimulate to the peak to fall into nothingness

4 - We dissolve in taste to end up in nothing

But as soon as we attempt to hold onto or strive for these experiences, we lose them. Nothingness remains a fleeting experience that eludes closer examination. It is devoted to the moment and is determined on our ability to cross borders.

What exactly does it mean to be existent (visible) and to be non-existent (not visible)? Is it possible to perceive oneself even though there are signs that one is no longer perceptible? Is one‘s existence bound to this perception? 

When someone looks in a mirror, they see an image of themselves. If this picture vanishes from the mirror, its self perception changes. The mirror, which usually reflects everything, no longer casts the viewer.

This phenomena is investigated by means of the mirror design, which reveals this perceptual boundary until it dissolves. The mirror‘s elongated shape encourages the spectator to glance at himself as he passes. The spectator briefly „dissolves“ when their reflection disappears into the centre of the mirror. This lack of self-perception in the mirror exemplifies the moment of nothing- ness. It invites the viewer to play with the boundary between his own existence and nothingness. 

In that brief moment when the reflection is distorted and pulled into nothingness, there is a fleeting moment of stillness, of reorientation - of nothingness.

Our brain needs time to adjust, check the other senses, and ensure that one still exists despite the absence of the mirror image. 



How can we prolong this border point?

According to Nishida Kitaro a Japanese philosopher, a pure experience is one in which there is no separation between the inside and the outside, between the subject and the object. A room where there is no judgment.

When we gaze in the mirror, however, we cannot just disregard the reflection of ourselves. So it is not a question of losing the ability to see oneself, but rather of disappearing by ceasing to judge oneself. 

The Ganzfeld effect succeeds in expanding our consciousness by depriving us of stimuli (under-stimulation). However it fails to reduce us to nothingness. So what happens then if we do the reverse and continuously feed new stimuli to the eye (multiplication).

This approach is tackled with the medium of another mirror. This time the person who is walking or standing by the mirror is captured and repeatedly printed on the mirror every second. As a result, the mirror becomes covered in a vast number of overlapping reflections. As he becomes the mirror himself, looking behind the reflection and dissolving into its reproduction, the spectator is forced to adopt a new point of seeing. In a way, the spectator surrenders and is subsequently overwhelmed, conquering the extreme and discovering themselves on the other side of the mirror.


Borderline Soundtrack

Can we achieve this borderline by only reducing our sensory impressions, or can we also succeed this by multiplying sensory stimuli?

Because when there is too much of everything, we lose our ability to discern, we begin to suppress and become numb, which causes us to stop perceiving. Many would classify this experience as violent and it is. So I designed a gradual rise and controlled overstimulation that helps us to cross this extrem barrier. I divided this journey into three steps: the introduction, the dissolution and the overstimulation.

In a sound and light experiment, this understanding was put into practice. A new mirror was developed that emits light pulses synchronously with the sound experience.

In complete darkness, the spectator embarks on the immersive vivid journey into nothingness. Flashes of light tear apart the spectator's gaze into the black mirror until the light entirely envelops the viewer. 

The mirror image distorts due to the continual fluctuation between light and dark. Our eyes are unable to grasp the reflection in the mirror. Our self-perception vanishes in the interaction of seeing and hearing, and we disintegrate sensuously. Waiting for the peak to finally let us fall into nothingness.


Multi Media Installation

Can we create a dissolution in taste? 

Together with "Paul a chocolate," a chocolate praline was developed. Like the sound and light experience, the praline was divided into three sections: The introduction, the overstimulation, the dissolution.

The beautiful spherical praline reflects the purity and equilibrium that we must symbolically break through with our first bite in order to encounter nothingness. Only by breaking this borderline and biting into the praline do we transcend the border between not tasting and tasting. The taste experience begins. First, the inviting chocolate ganache spreads across your mouth. Pure richness and sweetness. The shell gently cracks apart more and more as you chew, little crystals melt, and your mouth starts to tingle. The aromas of dark chocolate and lemon flavors become more prominent over time. Up until a little spiciness from behind starts to emerge. The flavor on the tongue is gradually broken up by the introduction of Szechuan pepper. It progressively numbs the mouth and renders it tasteless. Until nothing is left.


Chocolate Praline