At this year’s SXSW Festival, frog explored this question and others in a series of on-site “provocation rooms.” Each room focused on the power of provocation to stimulate thought.
Nothing lasts forever, especially in a rapidly changing business landscape. And when it comes to acting on creativity, timing is everything. In the ‘Room of Urgency,’ frog hosts invited guests to tap into AI to generate ideas fast.
The Room of Urgency was divided into two zones in order to explore the idea of ephemerality. This is how it worked:
This exercise was profound because it upended the norm, which is—or was—reliance on the designer as maker. Traditionally, design professionals were the ones who created imagery or a manifestation of an idea or concept. But with tools like Midjourney, now AI can quickly manifest ideas, signaling a new way of doing business with design.
Getting Down to Business With the Ephemeral
Phrases entered into Midjourney by one zone were unseen by the opposing zone. This meant that recipients of an image in either zone could only depend on interpretation gleaned from memory and personal knowledge to guess correctly. They also had to rely on an image that potentially deviated from the original idea, or from their own personal interpretation.
For example, if the prompt is the idiom “the grass is always greener on the other side,” AI might generate an image that’s a few steps removed from that. If someone were to enter a more specific prompt, such as “blades of grass with a fence down the middle—green on one side brown on the other,” the user might get something closer to what was intended. But the tool is going to interpret the prompt in its own way. Yet even with commonly used phrases, the team said it was sometimes challenging for people to enter prompts to create something that could be easily understood and communicated.
The team set out to activate different senses and memory, since memory is something we all have access to within our business context. The goal was to place everyone on an even playing field. The frog team wasn’t asking people to make anything, instead they were asking people to use the tool to pull from memory, as things are ephemeral and fleeting.
A Captivating First Experience with AI Imagery
The makers of The Room of Urgency intended for the room to be accessible to people who are not tech savvy, who are not designers and who do not have prior experience with AI software. For many, it was a captivating first experience with AI-generated imagery. People who didn’t know about an AI tool like Midjourney or hadn’t been exposed to it, had the opportunity to enjoy this novel, weird, unexpected and exciting experience.
AI is changing the way business operates. AI tools like Midjourney, ChatGPT and others are simplifying many processes. These game-changing technologies are set to alter the reality of the designer, asking them to redefine and fully express their added value in this new paradigm.
As individuals navigate the dubious elements present within this landscape, people are asking questions they never asked before. These are questions like:
We’re All Authors
From a business perspective, it’s important that people with varying degrees of exposure understand how AI might change their business activities, even if interacting directly with AI isn’t part of their day-to-day. The Room of Urgency also revealed what people have available at their fingertips for use right now. Designers, providing added value, are authors, but not necessarily the only ones.
Coming up with prompts for AI tools puts people in a designer mindset. It becomes about pushing things forward, creating something new and experiencing the dopamine hits that come from innovation.
This is what we do at frog to deliver excellent results to our clients—we keep pushing things. The Room of Urgency reminds us that even with constraints like the ephemeral, we can push to generate greatness.
This was the second in a series of five blog posts that explore the power of provocation, inspired by frog’s presence at SXSW 2023. Check out the first article in the provocation room series, The Room of Nothing, where we’re urged to quiet our minds and bring brilliance. Please drop by again to learn about how provocations can inspire and shape the creative process. Take a peek into the electrifying atmosphere within frog’s innovative provocation spaces in a short video below.
Also written by Hunter Long, frog alum