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My Right Brain Journey Surviving Covid-19 Lockdown - Marlene Halim

The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was cancelled on March 13, 2020. When that happened, I was doing a Zumba class at MSAC where the actual Grand Prix was located. As it happened, I predicted that things were getting very serious. My prediction was right, after that weekend most things started to close its door one by one. It was justified either by business decision or government decision. That day, I regretted my decision from a week beforehand, a decision to continue the design class at Torrens University. The following week, my class was also got cancelled along with everything else.

By March 20, the decision was to move the class into online environment. There was so much confusion, loss of thoughts and emotional roller coaster as people started to lose jobs because of business closing. My business also needed to “Stay Calm and Keep Calm” as things got very unpredictable.

Then it began, the period of people “staying at home” and “working from home”. Thanks to online platform, some of group activities and communications can be continued online. Some survives with this method and find it refreshing, some just could not handle it and quit their jobs, and some are indifferent.

I personally found it very challenging in the beginning, but slowly as I adapted to it, I started to accept it. Maybe this is a little glimpse of the future. The future of technology where people can do their work or activities from wherever they are. The future of Artificial Intelligence and robots and drones and surveillance camera. An exciting era for someone who loves advancement and technology and a scary era for someone like me who loves nature and people’s connection.

Then I found myself expressing my thoughts and feelings in my design class, the class which I regretted to be involved with.

I supposed to make a Tableau Vivant image and chose a historical era for this project. But I was naughty. I chose a future period instead. I asked the lecturer whether I’m allowed to do a Vision Board using a futuristic era and she said yes. My heart leaped and my mind was overjoyed. Honestly, that was the point of my decision to continue the class. It was because I can build a Vision Board, something that I have always wanted to do but the idea was just sitting at the back of my mind. But now, how am I going to build this on my own? I’m not good with doing things online, being alone and not interacting with people. The idea of taking the class was to be with people, not to be by myself and still having to do the project by myself like this.

I was scared that I couldn’t do it and not being able to survive the class in this condition. I found it hard to find motivation in the beginning.

However, as a lot of things started to move online, I also started to accept any invitation online with the hope to just be able to connect with others and not feeling alone.

This online activities through Zoom or Webinar had helped me to go through this “stay at home” time. I started to schedule my days with online activities, whether it is listening to Webinar talk on certain topic, schedule meeting activities or even a Zoom karaoke session or dance session. Eventually many activities that I had done in groups previously still could be done through online method without having to leave home. Very interesting time. I was grateful that at least this is happening now, not 10 or 15 years ago when the internet was not this advance.

From there, I was able to survive. I was able to continue my study and did my project through online student mentor help and every other support provided by the university online. There was one time that I even received a call from the college’s coach just to check on me. I found that very nice and extremely helpful for someone who live alone like me. As I chatted with her and talked about the loneliness concern, she suggested to connect with family and friends through a video call. I tried that and it worked! It felt totally different connecting with someone just by video call since you can see them and feel their energy!

I started to be able to focus on my project, and here is the result of my final project: (See image at the top)

It is about a futuristic era. In this futuristic concept, the story is about how we, as humans, are being controlled by the future technology and this technology would be our world. The Matrix background represents the world of Artificial Intelligence. Me sitting inside the Giant Phone symbolised that I live in the digital world which is a virtual world that can project a virtual reality. The Robot Hand represents the power of Robot in the future in the automation world. Finally, the Drone represents that in the AI world, the world is watching us through the drone.

On my personal reflection, I have learned tremendously from this project and how resilient and adaptable a human can be during challenging time. It can either make us or break us.

In this design project, the real challenges started to come when I started to compose a new image. With very limited software knowledge I had to quickly learn Adobe Photoshop software’s function within a short period of time to be able to create the images I wanted. The next challenges came in the initial remaking process when I had to imitate my futuristic image with real limited resources at home.

I faced the challenges by thinking deeper and more creatively. I started to observe items and things that I have at home and paid more attention closely. As my mind wondered, I found things at home that I can use as elements for the project.

What I learned from the design project was how far I can go with my creative thinking. I learned that when I pushed myself to think and look further, I could find things (even with Covid-19 limitation) that I could use for the project. It could be tough in the beginning, but it is achievable. I am grateful that I can learn so much during this challenging time. Furthermore, I also realised that the class became one of the things that had helped me during this time. My regret had turned into my gratitude.

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