Adulting Invention Lab
Adult Life Lab (ALL)
Henry, who has never entirely adjusted to adult life, finds company with three co-workers with the same challenges. Together, they form a 'laboratory' that invents mostly failing devices to solve their adulting problems, but all they need is one to succeed.
Adult Life Lab is both a short film and a community-based DIY filmmaking project. This film's plot is about adulting, but the bigger story is how a group of over 40 people in Turku, Finland made a film together this May 2022.
The short film involved many first-time cast and crew members and local organizations (Hacklab Turku, Ekotori, Ullrike Artisan Felt and Yarn) who partnered with film professionals to make the story come alive. ALL is live-action footage mixed with 2-D animation and archival footage from Henry's invention journal.
We are seeking funding to finish the post-production for this short film and possibly create a series of shorts around the same theme.
Examples of Footage
Example: Live-action, raw footage of story filmed in Turku, Finland in May '22.
Example: 2d paper animation and archival footage that represent Henry's invention journal.
Example: In the short, the co-workers film themselves on their cell phones to study their bad habits and hang-ups.
The Illuminative Method
Research Project, Doctoral Study
This research method emerged from my sketchbooks and evolved into a doctoral study. To read more about my academic work read here. The Illuminative method is a seven-stepped process for learners to incorporate user design, critical thinking, and strength-based methods to work together to explore, design, and test their own systems for learning.
I developed it over ten years, asking groups of people to track whenever they felt those ‘higher’ and hard-to-define sensations like synchronicity, love, wholeness, and appreciation--anything that made them feel the planet is holding itself together through that feeling.
The research hypothesizes that this is a pattern or a metaphorical illuminative system that is part of a larger ecological network or evolutionary design meant to establish homeostasis within the planet.
Meeting as groups in person, or posting online to an interactive website, adults tracked, recorded, and described in layman’s terms their everyday encounters with illumination. Illumination in this sense could be spiritual and/or secular significance.
Participants then built data files of these illuminative sensations recorded in video, text, sound bite, drawing, and/or journaling. The research became a spatial and sensory awareness activity, initiated from an appreciative foundation, which eventually lead to participants conducting informal skillshares where adults teach one another the strengths they possess when illuminated. Next, adults collectively designed new courses, programs, and products for their immediate community.
A pilot study reveals that adults yearn for opportunities to talk about illuminative moments with one another.
The Illuminative Method has been presented at the DePaul School for New Learning, Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE), ACM Creativity and Cognition Conference, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, Jossey-Bass Online Teaching and Learning Conference, and at Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINS), sponsored by Savannah College of Art and Design, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
As a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and social science researcher, I've spent over 20 years filling sketchbooks with stick-figure drawings, film scenes, research project ideas, and designs for fantastical inventions, all aimed at helping adults tackle life's challenges. My artistic practice is centered around finding creative (and often ridiculous) solutions to the complexities of adulthood, from making friends and finding love, understanding death, and managing money, to solving persistent bad habits and other behavioral complexities we find ourselves in.
My journal entries served as a blueprint for what I envisioned as Sesame Street for grown-ups, complete with scientific and behavioral guidance for navigating life and a spiritual focus on seeking universal consciousness. As a researcher and educator sifting through academic and life science advice for a living, I found 'expert' advice to be frustratingly dull, disjointed, and often ineffective. I haven't found the answers yet but art and creativity is a daily solace and a better investigative lens for the questions that are in my heart.
In my mid-40s, I slowly began to turn away from academic dreams of publishing, presenting, and teaching (which never went far in the first place). I started making short films and connected with other DIY filmmakers in Nashville. I made two documentaries about two highly creative, independent, hilarious, and bold friends (Queen of Threads and Sassy) whom I deeply admire for their ability to successfully "adult," even as they admit they're still figuring things out.
Recently, I wrote and directed a film, Adult Life Lab, about a group of friends who create a secret lab to design inventions to help them with their adulting challenges. While the film focuses on inventing, the larger theme is how a group of creatively kind people can come together and learn to solve their deepest challenges through silly yet effective inventions, leading to feelings of transcendence.
As I continue to film, I still keep a journal, seeing it as my own adulting invention lab. It's a place where I can safely dream up a world I want to live in and experiment with creative solutions to everyday challenges. With every new project, my vision evolves, but the journal remains a constant source of inspiration and innovation.