Peek into the Rabbithole

Audrey Xu
Audrey Xu
My work explores and dissects dichotomies within a social and environmental context using 3D rendered digital artwork and 3D printed toys. I use playful and obvious imagery to remind the viewer of a world outside of rigid binaries and categorizations by creating a speculative world where categorizations still exist but redefining the way they are used by actively blurring boundaries. I create specific personas and places that highlight not only the gradient in between the black and white but also the both, neither and other in this future-centric world.
Thesis Faculty
Ayodamola Okuseinde
Ernesto Klar
Melanie Crean

Binary thinking is a system of thought that largely perceives things, ideas, people in dichotomous terms (e.g. good/bad, black/white, right/wrong). We think in binaries because we want certainty. The sheer amount of information that is presented in front of us can be overwhelming, so we gravitate towards binary thinking because of the speed and ease to lump things into preconceived boxes. Full-spectrum thinking is recognizing not only the gradient in between but also the both, the other and the neither that oftentimes goes forgotten and unnoticed. We can use it as a tool to start to see things with more clarity and more accurately to a VUCA reality. Binary thinking simplifies the complexities that exist as it is not always either/or, and ignores the subtleties and nuances within the grey area. By challenging this frame of mind, we allow for a more nuanced perspective that more accurately reflects the intricate world around us, considering the both, the grey area in the middle, the neither and the other. Full-spectrum thinking is a tool that can help us focus on how things are connected rather than differentiate. We often live heedless of the power and control of the way we think affecting our mental well-being and our views of people, ideologies, categories etc.

Peek into the Rabbithole is a 3D printed miniature set consisting of one character, one monument and one environment each using an interpretation of Yin & Yang as a representational model. The goal of this project is to encourage and facilitate discussion internally and externally by challenging commonplace binary thinking and to introduce full-spectrum thinking by acting as a physical reminder of the cyclical, interconnected and transformative nature of Yin & Yang that actively exists all around us and within ourselves. By presenting something tangible to see, feel and play with allows for an interactive cue to rewire and make new habits to better view this nuanced life with more clarity and less certainty. The differing forms of each component is meant to further emphasize the complexities we often fail to acknowledge. This project is not meant to encourage completely disregarding thinking in polarities but rather dissect and reconfigure the way we use them. Thinking in dichotomies is an analytical process which can bring knowledge and detail, but full-spectrum thinking brings context and perspective. Leveraging and balancing both types of thinking is what this project aims to promote.

Order: Justy & Chaos: Moony
(interplay between binaries, digitally rendered)

Justy a native Ant, was born into a life of working within the justice system: Humanity’s Ultimate Order. Contrary to its superorganism instincts of harmoniously and fluently working towards a common goal, Justy has to work within humanity’s bounds where all people do not want and think towards a unified ideal, chaos, and conflict is inevitably going to emerge. Even at its extreme, there is chaos.

Moony representing chaos, was born as the Galilean Moons of Jupiter. They are an example of Chaos Theory: IN SHORT, within seemingly noisy and chaotic complex systems, there are fundamental patterns. It is the moons’ chaotic, unpredictable, orbits that keep them from crashing into each other or rejecting from orbit altogether. The network of veins emerging on Moony’s figure is an instance of fractals. Seemingly chaotic, it is just the same pattern repeating itself. Even at its extreme, order is foundational.

(inbetween, render first, print + painted second)

The monument uses the Igneous/Sedimentary binary to illustrate and ground this idea of the grey area in the middle to apply to more abstract binaries like pride/humility for example. I’m looking specifically at the sediment stage where the igneous rock is impacted by weathering and erosion to turn into little pieces of sediment before it’s compacted into sedimentary rock. This monument would act as a reminder to take the time before pre-maturely deciding if something/person/experience is for ex. good/bad, being comfortable and okay with the grey area, having more clarity within the nuances of the grey area that isn't an extreme absolute.

(both, print+assembled+painted)

Typically in western thought, nature and culture are dichotomous terms, where humans are not an inherent part of nature because of qualities like self-consciousness. The alienation from true nature has created a disconnect and is highly disastrous as judging by the current environmental crisis. I started looking into Earthships, developed by architect Michael Reynolds which can be completely self-sufficient homes built with natural and repurposed materials that create a natural heating and cooling system. There are designed spaces to grow your own food, contained sewage treatment system that is filtered through plants for reuse. I wanted to use Earthships as a representation of a reimagined culture with nature.

I LIVE IN A CAT! narrates a speculative future where nature and culture meet and work symbiotically through Earthship living. The house is literally in the shape of a cat, having obvious symbols can aid in recognizing the both that can also exist, as well as how
interconnected binary thinking is with a lot of these massive threatening global problems.