Friday, September 5, 2014

Students lead the way

When the potency of youth, and experiences of mentors join forces exciting things happen. We could discuss at length the philosophical significance of intergenerational cooperation and interstructural integration, but there is no need for that. This issue of Aktualno 2.0 presents all of it in a story.  Faculties and universities, open doors to let in the spirit of innovation ecosystems and let different fields of knowledge be joined into a new, systemic whole. This is a story about people who have done so in spite of having to overcome the shadows of obsolete, and archaic approaches, and having to work on the fringes of daily public focus.To inspire us all.

The legendary Star Wars saga, praised so often for its innovativeness, is returning to the cinemas. But even before it does, here, in Slovenia, we will be able to see an alternative version of the seventh chapter. Students of several faculties of the University in Ljubljana joined forces under the mentorship of prof. Dr. Or Ettlinger form the Faculty of Architecture to jointly create new worlds and their version of the next instalment of Star Wars.

Photo: Working team
Source: Sašo Jakljevič

This is the fourth project developed under the wing of the Creativity Studio for Experimental Projects at the Faculty of Architecture, which is aimed at introducing architecture students to the creative process and the methodology of idea development. The core aim of these projects is to establish a supporting environment for students to enhance their creative skills and gain the confidence necessary to be able to take on architectural challenges. Developing inspiring projects is an important part of this process as the challenges in themselves stimulate imagination, and furthermore, the students would not be able to take them on individually.

How did you come to the idea for the Project?
doc. dr. Or Ettlinger: 
In 2013, when Disney acquired Lucas Film and announced a new Star Wars film, I immediate knew that "this was it". We decided Star Wars would be the theme of our next project. Due to the broad scope of the project, we invited students from several faculties from the different fields required and the project was underway.

What sort of planning did the project require?
doc. dr. Or Ettlinger:
Since we have already been conducting such projects for several years, we were already confident about the process itself. Therefore, we left some aspects open and we did not define the final product in the initial stage. I knew that the outcome should be something that clearly represents the results of the creative process and provides the audience with a vision how the film would look if we were its creators. The format of the presentation was left open, just as its content. The initial idea was to film a trailer, but since students from the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television were unfortunately not participating we had to adapt quickly. Many ideas came from the students. Usually, I have my own vision, but I believe that students should be able to develop their own ideas. This is essentially what I try to teach them. To be confident in their own creativity instead of following the task outline to the letter. Thus, we arrived to the idea for a storyboard/comic book, which from our initial experimentation with the story developed into a complete narrative, although that was not our initial intention.

Photo: Creating
Source: Sašo Jakljevič

Could you give us a sense of how the entire project was conducted, please?
Sašo Jakljevič:
During the first semester, we were essentially preparing ourselves for the creative process and exploring the sources of our ideas. Working in groups, we analysed the historical periods and development of the film with respect to science fiction, studied of the Star Wars films, worlds and main characters. Thus, we placed ourselves into the saga's universe and determined which ideas belong into it, meanwhile learning about each other and seeing who can collaborate most productively, and in which group compositions collaboration was less effective. Based on this, we determined the optimal design teams.

During the second semester, we developed the story, which defined the planets and parts of the universe where it took place. Simultaneously with the development of the narrative, we were also designing the worlds, their inhabitants, architecture and technology and the two aspects thus complemented each other. The final stage of the project was the production phase, during which the final sketches, 3D models, posters, sculptures, costumes and drawings were created, i.e. the works that were eventually exhibited and included in our book.

The project involved 16 students from 5 faculties, who were the core of the team throughout the year, and approximately 17 others who in different ways and scope assisted us at various stages of the project and helped us bring it to a successful result. Naturally, this would not have been possible without the help of three assistant professors and prof. Dr. Or Ettlinger who taught us and steered us through the creative process, while at the same time letting us as much freedom as possible.

Photo: Project team
Source: Sašo Jakljevič
What is next?
doc. dr. Or Ettlinger: We are not sure yet about how to proceed, but we already have ideas on how to develop the project even further. The years of experience acquired through these experimental projects and the lessons on how to conduct them have let us establish a system that works. Therefore, a possible direction for these projects within the scope of the educational programme of the Faculty of Architecture would be to continue and expand them by also involving other professional fields, from biology to engineering. The other direction we are also exploring is to continue such projects outside the educational environment by forming a sort of think tank that could take on such challenges for the production industries. A combination of both might also be interesting; however, nothing has been decided yet, so follow our progress and see what happens for yourself.

Photo: Working team
Source: Sašo Jakljevič

Where can we see your work?
Sašo Jakljevič:
We are planning another exhibition in mid-September of 2014 at the new Faculty of Computer and Information Science's building and possibly an appearance at the  "On the Edge of the Invisible" fantasy and sci-fi convention in Ljubljana.
You can view some of the images from our previous exhibit and some of the designs on our Facebook page ( ). We are currently also constructing a website for the project (, which will be available soon.

Photo: "The cover" of Star Wars
Source: Sašo Jakljevič

A few quotes:

"This was a great year, one of the most productive and informative years of my studies at the Faculty and I would recommend participating in a project like this one to anyone". - Gašper Habjanič

I"t was interesting to observe how different professional fields approach things differently, but also similarly as the designing process was the same for everyone, yet each professional field also introduced something inherently theirs". - Gašper Habjanič

"The final week was brutal, too little sleep, and too much work, but we somehow managed to organise ourselves and finish the project". - Neja Kaligaro

Thank you for an insight into this unique, daring, exciting, and comprehensive, project. We hope it will inspire new endeavours and encourage everyone to support such projects even more.

Oj, Violeta

How can we cooperate
Where can we meet globally?
  • Next BIN dogodek: BIN@SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom, 3rd - 5th November 2014
Interesting links

1 comment:

Dora Ali said...

informative post!!