I found the best way to learn is via experiential learning. While you can read the book, study the theory, and even do the paper calculations, drawings, 3d models, and animations, there is the reality that the design has to be fabricated. In the past three years, I have spent loads of time with CNC, and am looking for computerized milling – but that seems complicated unless I simply go to Chicago and lock myself into the ONE make space that seems really well done in the world.
When I mention “solutions looking for problems” with what I do. It comes from all the time we had to build our own tools to get an idea into reality simply. Mind you, the world has changed dramatically in that the digital age, you really don’t need to know the old school ways and techniques of the analog world. A good example is when photoshop. I started years ago with version 1.5. I think it was 7 floppy disks. At that time, the internet was still $3 an hour, and there were special interest groups of nerds around the world that would all try to figure out how to do things. Usually, it was several steps of illogical “workarounds” that you would learn via trial and error. These solutions were not in the manuals.
Today, Photoshop is fantastic at what it can do. The sad part is that the market doesn’t take the time to learn how much it can do, and sends out really crappy fakes and faux images. To anyone that knows how to use the software, it makes you go back to the core, “just take good photos in the first place.” but with digital cameras, you don’t need to know how to take good photos anymore.
Sorry, I digressed again. The example mentioned above is how it all worked with making prototypes from sketches, designs, 3d models, and animations. My engineer Jim and I would literally create our own vacuum forming, slower speed lathes, electronics, lasers, and a long list of stuff – all to be able to make the actual product. I call these tools. The reality was I could not afford the commercial factory tools of the day, and the switch between analog vs. digital was a great time to be learning, as you had to know both sides of the creation and work path.
Today, I was working with a sculpture which has a god given talent and gift to take a lump of clay and create an amazing and beautiful sculpt. this skill is odd in that in the 3d world, I can make you a perfect scan/3dmodel/3dprinted object, and it looks “lifeless.”
That is the problem with the current design fabrication. I LOVE that you can cut anything to 1/1000 of an inch tolerance and everything is square with CNC. I LOVE that I can create an idea and shape with minimal mess and effort. But it is almost too pure and nice. If modern-day fabrication were blues music, it sure would sound like merde. As it is the imperfection in live performance with the blues that give it the life and soul of the genre.
I guess that is my frustration a bit today. While I do love you can take chips and program them to do pretty much anything, I wonder about redundancy and power outages. People of the younger generation that never had to build or learn how things work besides opening a package and plugging It in with them, “plug and play” meeting planned obsolesce will be like mules staring at a new barn gate. “what happened to my thing? I can’t get my social media stuff!” (insert widespread panic)
The last time I was in Swiss, I got a call if I could help someone in the states. They wanted to build more of a traditional path in a world where, digitally, we manipulate the variables in room acoustics with slick feedback loops and adjustments. But a few years ago, I helped a friend build his control room, and the pure physical treatments of the space had my jaw drop, much in the way my jaw drops with the power and smaller size and higher quality acoustics of FOH concert pa’s.
The point is that these new people are caught in some strange world where they have people building things that have never done it before. Truth is that acoustics seems like some void-doo type form, as you don’t understand why all the various diffusion, bass traps, positioning, and different insulation and weight levels all come together to create a space where when you sit there, it isn’t an anechoic chamber, but a space to “hear” ALL that is coming out of the speakers. It is simply beautiful to experience, and that is what learning is really about in the experiential world.
You have to experience and live it. Not just read about it and try to imagine what the mathematics and various data sets mean in the design.
That is why I get frustrated with acoustics today. You have people that really have no clue about it wondering why it costs so much, and yet, they go to people that haven’t built it before, and they see the designs and have a wet dream of sorts by charging far more than is needed.
I guess the other part is when you have to go out and build your own tools and prototypes, you learn what things cost in time and elements. In the united states, greed has overtaken common sense and people doing a great job helping another.
That last line saddens me. We can do much better as a society. Unfortunately few want to really change. Many will talk about it, few will actually put in the effort.
The moral of the story is that if you have an idea or dream, go and try. odds are your first attempt will be far from the level you see in your mind. this is the point most give up. just keep going and over time you will be amazed what you can think, design, build, and create.