Archive for the ‘art’ Category

The diseases of Tamsin van Essen

29/10/10

Psoriasis (detail) from Tamsin van Essen’s collection “medical heirlooms”
Psoriasis (detail) from Tamsin van Essen’s collection “medical heirlooms”

The cover story in this month’s issue of Ceramic Review is about Tamsin van Essen’s work in her project “medical heirlooms”. It’s a fabulous project at the cusp of art and science, reflecting in clay various human ailments. Her idea is in the ether at the moment as I’ve seen it picked up in other craft/art disciplines (for example Laura Splan’s lacework doilies depicting the SARS, HIV, Herpes, etc. viruses)


One of Laura Splan’s 2004 freestanding computerized machine embroidered lace doilies mounted on velvet, depicting the SARS virus.

Reading the Ceramics Review article I was taken back to 2007. At work we do a lot of research about the interplay of computing, social science, and design and so every year a few of the team (myself included) try to visit as many of the degree shows as we can, plus combined shows like New Designers. Central Saint Martins is always a high-spot, and I make sure I climb the stairs to visit the work of Kathryn Hearn’s Ceramic Design BA.

Tamsin van Essen - Medical Heirlooms
My snap of Tamsin’s medical heirlooms at her degree show in Central Saint Martins in 2007

Tamsin’s work was tucked in the corner in the 2007 show, and like so much of the work coming out of the CSM Ceramic Design BA it redefined what I thought was possible at BA level, it must have given the masters students a shock! This week Graham Pullin, Jon Rogers, Richard, and I are writing up our thoughts about two years projects from Dundee design undergraduates in Microsoft’s Design Expo, and were reflecting there on how sometimes undergraduate work, when placed alongside higher level work, can really pull its weight.

The pictures taken by Tamsin of her work and used in the Ceramics Review article are amazing. She’s just finished an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection and it will be worth keeping an eye on her site to watch for forthcoming exhibitions: http://www.vanessendesign.com/

Eighteenth Century Mashups

24/04/10

"Capriccio: St Paul's and a Venetian Canal" by William Marlow
"Capriccio: St Paul’s and a Venetian Canal" by William Marlow

A while ago Kate and I were watching a TV programme on history (or was it art) looking at Londoners’ fascination with Venice. They referenced the picture above ("Capriccio: St Paul’s and a Venetian Canal" by William Marlow). It’s a mock up of what Venice might look like if St Paul’s Cathedral had been built there (or what St Paul’s Cathedral would look like if it had been built in Venice). It’s stayed with me. It’s a striking image, a well loved and well known building so successfully moved out of it’s usual context that the artist helps us to see the building afresh. I wonder two things. Firstly is this an early example of mash-ups – two unrelated media pieces (albeit a city and a piece of architecture) juxtaposed creatively. Obviously neither media encourages such reuse, and mashing them together required considerable skill, but it has something of that feel. Secondly is this idea common? Are there lots of examples of transplanted buildings?

Making Marks: Lutz Becker’s "MODERN TIMES responding to chaos" at Kettle’s Yard and the De La Warr Pavilion

09/03/10

Karoline Bröckel: Ohne Titel (Schnee) (2005)
Karoline Bröckel: Ohne Titel (Schnee) (2005)

There’s only five days left to see the exhibition put together by Lutz Becker at Kettle’s Yard called MODERN TIMES responding to chaos before it heads off to the De La Warr Pavilion. It’s a marvel: a vibrant, exciting, and exceptionally varied collection of modern (mostly abstract) drawings.

The exhibition is also a wonderful opportunity for the that’s-rubbish-anyone-could-draw-that brigade. I’ve been along three times now and each time, alongside the devoted modern art fans, there were visitors guffawing at the work. One of my favourite pieces in the exhibition, Cy Twombly’s Untitled from 1971 attracted some of that criticism. One group of young Italians were having a great time rubbishing the work. I couldn’t help feeling that although Lutz’ taste in art differed from theirs, he’d given them a fun half hour regardless!

Cy Twombly: Untitled (1970)
Cy Twombly: Untitled (1970)

For me the Twombly work shows wonderful child-like exuberance. It’s like one of those exercises artists sometimes do to overcome fear of the blank page, or calligraphers do to loosen their hands before working. Unfortunately I found out from one of the guards (guides?) that Twombly practised for ages to get the strokes just right, which lessens the piece for me. I’d prefer it were visceral and explosive to prissy and precise. There is however some beautiful precise careful work in the exhibition too. Take Katharina Hinsberg‘s piece Nulla dies sine linea 4. As with her earlier piece below, Nulla dies sine linea 4 is a stack of paper. On the first sheet Hinsberg carefully draws a straight line, with a ruler. Then she lays the second piece and carefully traces the line freehand through the paper. This gets repeated over and over again hundreds of times until, like a game of Chinese Whispers the line has drifted far from its original path.


Katharina Hinsberg: nulla dies sine linea (1999)

I said the exhibition was mostly abstract, but there were a few figurative pieces, for example Rachel Howard‘s Untitled Drawing 5 below. I was a little surprised by this. Compared to, say, Emma Dexter‘s Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing where figurative, or drawings with figurative elements, play a strong part. Similarly cartoon-like work is not represented, though I’m being unfair expecting a survey of modern drawing; the exhibition is billed as drawings and films which "explore the urge towards abstraction and its ongoing dialogue with figuration, and the conversation between the geometric and the gestural".

Rachel Howard: Untitled Drawing 5 (2007)
Rachel Howard: Untitled Drawing 5 (2007)

Several recent topics of interest for me came together in this exhibition, several that Tracey Rowledge‘s work had first got me thinking about. Stuart and I have been talking with Tracey recently about possible joint projects around the future of paper and the future of the book, so I’ve been thinking about her work a lot recently.  Rowledge is not represented in the exhibition but she easily could be. Take her recent automatic drawings done on an Crafts Council supported trip in 2008 to Disko Bay like No. 11 from Arctic Series 3 below. Tracey took paper, infused it with arctic water, and then used kid’s felt-tip pens hung under the chair in her shared cabin to record the constant rocking of the ship Cape Farewell

Tracey Rowledge: Arctic Series 3 No. 11 (2008)
Tracey Rowledge: Arctic Series 3 No. 11 (2008)

Included in the exhibition is another finespun automatic drawing, William Anastasi‘s Subway Drawing of 1967. Anastasi completes the piece by resting two pencils, one in each hand, on a piece of paper while he completed a subway journey.

William Anastasi: Subway Drawing (1993)
William Anastasi: Subway Drawing (1993)

Julije Knifer‘s piece Meander from 1982 also reminded me of Tracey’s work. Though Knifer clearly intends the work as an exercise in geometric abstraction, the thick layer of graphite could act as a mirror (were it not behind the glass of the frame) in the same way as Rowledge’s wonderful piece Notes for a Future Work: a huge graphite covered gesso board, which acted as an imperfect almost ghostly mirror in Siobhan Davies dance studio

Julije Knifer: Meander (2003)
Julije Knifer: Meander (2003)

Tracey describes her layer of graphite on a gesso ground as a "graphite drawing" but it was another term I’d heard her use that rung in my head as I walked around the exhibition: "mark making". When Tracy mentioned her fascination with mark making I could see what she meant. The painstaking work required to render a seemingly fluid abstract stroke in gold on leather on one of her book bindings is awe inspiring. And mark making is a clear theme in her fine art work too. Take, for example, the collaboration Thrown with Clare Twomey and David Clarke where lead and silver pieces by Clarke were thrown onto sheets of carbon paper laid over gesso covered paper. I assumed "mark making" was an artists’ rarefied term, and this seemed confirmed when Lutz uses the phrase in the exhibition catalogue (though I cannot find it now!). But chatting to Kate on the way home it turns out to be a commonplace term in early years provision.

For me the exhibition is at it’s best showing the diversity of abstract responses to drawing, from the process driven subtle work of Katharina Hinsberg mentioned above, through the delicate constrained Agnes Martin work mentioned below, and taking in explosively creative works like the Cy Twombly, or this Mark Tobey.

Mark Tobey: Night Celebration III (1971)
Mark Tobey: Night Celebration III (1971)

Agnes Martin: On a Clear Day (1973)

The Modern Times exhibition is also an exciting pointer to an exhibition coming up from May to July in Kettle’s Yard of Agnes Martin’s work. There’s one untitled piece of hers in the Modern Times exhibition, similar to "On a Clear Day" on the right.

[N.B. The exhibition catalogue has lovely reproductions of all the work in the exhibition, plus some interesting essays, but the exhibition web page does not. So to illustrate this blog post I’ve scowered the interweb for gallery pictures of either the works on display, or similar works often from the same series. If you click on the image it should take you through to the page I found it on.]

Extremely rude embroidery; is it a good idea?

27/01/10

Detail from Danica Maier's "Have Lunch Downtown" exhibited at the London Printworks Trust
Detail from the lacework "Having Lunch Downtown" by Danica Maier at the London Printworks Trust

Over recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in crafts traditionally considered feminine: knitting, lace-making, crochet, embroidery and things like that. Some of this renewed interest results in pretty pieces, while some takes a more ironic stance. I first encountered the latter in an exhibition called "Adam and Eve it" at the London Printworks Trust which I read about in the Observer and attended back in 2005. The exhibition contained large-scale but detailed wall mounted pornographic images made from lace (or made like lace) by artists Danica Maier and Miranda Whall (a detail from Maier’s work "Have Lunch Downtown" heads this post). Intriguing. The next time I came across this use of ironic reflection in needlework was when researching "scary wool". Two pieces of subversive cross stitch came up: "Hasty" by beefrank and "rage" by laurelann.

Hasty by beefrank on flickr 
"Hasty" by beefrank on flickr
'rage' by laurelann on flickr 
"rage" by laurelann on flickr

Although I came across theses works afresh, I think they are actually in turn quotations themselves, "hasty fellatio" being a Merlin Mann quote. But it works so well in cross stitch, the prim tone of the wording compliments the medium but confounds the meaning.

The question is where do you go from there? As us, the audience, become accustomed to seeing edgy subjects rendered into lace and cross stitch and embroidery how do artists maintain their shock value?

There seem several answers to this. One is to not bother, and many people getting into these crafts are just knitting or embroidering to produce nice work. For example I came across "Free Form embroidery on recycled silk" by davis.jacque on Jamie Chalmer‘s amazing mr x stich blog http://www.mrxstitch.com/

'Free Form embroidery on recycled silk' by davis.jacque on flickr
"Free Form embroidery on recycled silk" by davis.jacque on flickr

Jacque’s work isn’t overly cutesy, but nor is it overtly edgy or ironic, it’s just fun.

The second response to escalating audience familiarity is subtle: somehow to keep the edge but drop the irony. I’m not sure how to explain this one (or even if I’ve correctly categorised it) but a good example, again from mr x stitch’s blog, is Marty’s Fiber Musings series "Pretty Ladies in Smart Hats"

"Peaches…and cream" by Martys Fiber Musings on flickr
"Peaches…and cream" by Martys Fiber Musings on flickr

The third path, and the one that prompted this blog post, is to escalate the shock-value of the content to match the increased audience familiarity. This, I think, is a mistake, though it may still result in highly accomplished highly skilful work. The trouble is that it’s an arms race we really do not want to get into. The example that got me thinking comes from DonkeyWolf’s blog, and is the work "Cream Pie" by Ruby42

"Cream Pie" by Ruby42 on flickr
"Cream Pie" by Ruby42 on flickr

Like mr x stitch, DonkeyWolf includes ‘Not Safe for Work’ (NSFW) postings in the blog, by which they mean that the images included (should you ignore the warning and look at the NSFW posts) are not what you’d want on your screen in the office if the boss walks in. In fact, for many of the pieces covered I think they need a ‘Not Safe for work, home, or anywhere else’ warning as some of the needlework shown is extremely pornographic. Luckily Ruby42’s embroidered and cross stitch cushion has a safe side, with a recipe for cream pie on (shown above). The other side is very rude. If you’re unsure what might be on it the wikipedia disambiguation page for ‘Cream Pie’ might help, after that, if you want to see, and have no-one looking over your shoulder at your screen here’s the link to Ruby42’s picture on flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruby42/4239289319/in/set-72157616384571874/) and to donkeywolf’s post (http://donkeywolf.blogspot.com/2009/10/not-safe-for-work-swap.html) but be warned, they are extremely pornographic, despite being rendered in embroidery.

Now I may be wrong, the motivation for these NSFW needlework pieces may not be an ironic and shocking subversion of our attitudes to feminine crafts, but I think it is. And the trouble with such pieces is that what is required to shock the audience escalates out-of-hand. I think that the work often covered in mr x stitch and donkeywolf‘s blogs’ Not Safe For Work feature have already crossed the pale.

Luckily there is a fourth way: to ‘go meta’. One can become ironic about the irony itself. This is done to wonderful effect by Stitch Out Loud with her "Come closer Bob!" on flickr:


"Come closer Bob!" by Stitch Out Loud on flickr

Loving the interweb’s serendipity

27/11/08

Daniel Levitin's "This Is Your Brain On Music" published by Atlantic Books

Don’t you just love the serendipity of the web? Two things have been on my mind recently:

  1. I joined the flickr 365 Days project where members take a self portrait every day for a year. Many use it to improve their photography or photoshopping skills. I’m treating it as an exercise in archiving and self exploration and presentation (i.e. I hope my efforts will be something I can look back on in later years as an interesting journal of how my year went aged 43/44).
  2. I’ve been reading “This is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession” by Daniel Levitin that Kate got me as a birthday present. I’m enjoying it, and I really like the cover which seems to combine paint splats to symbolise creativity, plant forms to symbolise beauty, a silhouette to reference the human brain, and data visualization like arcs to symbolise algorithmic complexity. It also seems to capture one of the current visual Zeitgeists I see in lots of design work.

So I’ve been looking out for ways to algorithmically draw a similar background so that I can make one of my daily portraits a similar silhouette. So I was excited this morning when my daily flick through ffffound unearthed this great piece of generative art:

'Cyl 0149 150x100' by Marius Watz

‘Cyl 0149 150×100′ by Marius Watz which lead in turn to his two amazing blogs. The first, Art from code – Generator.x, is all about “the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design” and looks like an amazing resource of news, inspiration, and code. The second CODE & FORM: COMPUTATIONAL AESTHETICS is a blog supporting Watz’s coding and teaching activities and contains tantalising entries like this recent round up of computational typography: http://workshop.evolutionzone.com/2008/11/18/exercise-computational-typography/

Wysing’s RIBA award plaque unveiling

07/10/08

There should be a video here – but I cannot work out how to embed flickr video into wordpress.com posts :-( you can see it here though: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dumbledad/2921916171/

Just back from the unveiling at Wysing of their new RIBA award plaque. The ‘unveiling’ was done by Hugh Duberly, the Lord Lieutenant of South Cambridgeshire, which made sense as he’d done a lot personally to help Donna raise the required building funds. I put the word ‘unveiling’ in scare quotes as it wasn’t behind a curtain but behind one of Simon Woolham‘s paper interventions.

The RIBA award plaque with Simon Wooly's covering

Simon’s currently doing a paper intervention called Urban Origami whereby members of the public make origami with the supplied card and then install them in various locations (Kettle’s Yard house, the Ruskin Gallery, and Wysing, though I guess one could opt for anywhere). Then you photograph them and add them to the blog. The ‘unveiling’ involved Hugh pruning one of Simon’s paper sculptures (one a bit like an abundance of black paper eyelashes) that obscured the plaque. After that we wandered around a few of the studios and then up to Amphis, a structure for talks, screenings, etc made entirely out of found materials.

Amphis in the distance

It’s huge – and well built. Much more substantial than I’d imagined! To round the evening off I wandered into the gallery and enjoyed some large scale but delicate and detailed drawings by Anne-Mie Melis, and of course spent time chatting to the trustees, other visitors, and the wonderful people who work at Wysing.

Anne-Mie Melis drawings

Art from books as objects

11/09/08

I’ve been meaning to collate all the fantastic sculptures I’ve stumbled across recently into a blog post but now I don’t need to as Richard just shouted out this amazing post on WebUrbanist: “A Picture is Worth … 10 Brilliant Book Artists“. The strange thing is that all the art that Steve mentions in the post is mostly stuff I hadn’t seen (like the wonderful Jonathan Callan piece at the head of this post), and many of those I was going to list are not included! In fact, trawling around trying to find that picture the Jonathan Callan piece I discovered another great post by Sean Flannagan over at Deeplinking: “Book Art All-Stars“.

The only one we have in common is Brian Dettmer who did the piece above.

The beginning of something ...

So what were the pieces I was going to mention? The first one I haven’t actually seen, but Su Blackwell has some beautiful work in Craft Magazine’s July/August issue like her piece “The beginning of something …” pictured above.

Aysegul Turan - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air - Books and Magnifying Glass

Then there’s the work I have seen, much of it at this year’s Central Saint Martins MA in Communication Design degree show. For example, Aysegul Turan’s “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air” above. Though that might be cheating as it isn’t really an adaptation of an old book like the rest are. How about this one.

Haein Song - Books of the Absurd

Haein Song’s “Books of the Absurd” a wonderful playful piece which put me in mind of this work from last year’s New Designers:

Lucy Norman - book lightshade

Lucy Norman‘s book lightshade

Why can’t we take photos in galleries?

19/07/08

I don’t understand copyright laws at the best of times but I can understand why content owners are nervous about piracy. In the old days when I taped a new album from a mate onto a C90, or sat by the radio so I could record my favourite track,  the quality of the reproduction was pretty terrible. Now electronic copies of music or movies are often identical to the original media. But let’s put music and video to one side. What about art? What about textiles? What about ceramics? What about jewellery? Clearly if I take a photo of a piece of artwork at an exhibition, or a piece of jewellery at a degree show no one is ever going to mistake my photo for the original. Let’s try an experiment. Is this a photo of a Patrick Heron stained glass window or is it the real thing?

There, that was easy. So why ban photography?

I can see why one would ban flash photography – that would be very annoying for those reflecting on the pieces on display. I can also imagine that cash strapped galleries might want to charge for a photography permit – I’d pay.

I’m not saying that galleries should be forced to allow photography (though if the artwork was acquired with public money I would be tempted to force them). Clearly in a private space one has the right to prevent photos being taken. But why do it? It is frustrating for those of us who enjoy capturing things we enjoy either to help us remember them or to try and see them from some new and creative angle.

Some galleries are great – friends in New York have said that most galleries allow photography, and the V&A seems to have a wonderfully enlightened policy. But then on the other end I was amazed that several of the recent degree shows I visited banned photography. For example I loved the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design show, and put together a trip report for colleagues at work and used the report as a blog post here. I focused on the Communications Design Masters. In truth this was because I love their work, but it helped that you were allowed to take pictures. It made explaining what was hot, what was the zeitgeist, etc much much easier. I also visited the jewellery section as a colleague was interested to know what CSM students were producing (he’d enjoyed the jewellery RCA students had produced last year). So can I show him my favourite piece? Yes, here it is:

 

Well the less said about my sketching skills the better. But photographing it was a no-no:

(N.B. The jeweller, Clio Alphas, has some wonderful photos of this piece on her flickr stream if you do want to see why I liked the necklace she’d designed so much: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23358770@N05/2518700286/)

I had the same problem at the RCA show. Some designers let you take photos despite the sinage but others didn’t. This was especially frustrating in the fabrics section where I saw some great things that I’d have loved to have shared. One designer had made a fabulous fabric that combined geometric patterned thick felt with fluorescent plastic squares  matching the pattern, but slightly offset. Inevitably I’m struggling to describe the piece without a picture. The designer felt that allowing photos would enable people to steal her ideas; but I feel the buzz created by people discussing your work online far outweighs the potential for espionage.

New Designers 2008

10/07/08

This year I cannot make it to New Designers :-(

In a way it’s a good thing since I keep promising myself I’ll learn to focus, and working with Linda on our book visualization project is so exciting that I am certainly getting some of that. But the build up to New Designers has been really fun this year so I was excited. In previous years Richard, Alex, and I have been really excited about the product design work coming out from Polly Duplock, Jon Rogers, Sean Kingsley (whose sexy legs are pictured above), Andy Law, and Pete Thomas’ students on the Innovative Product Design course at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee. The student’s degree show site is still up, so you can check that out to see just how cool their work is this year. It would be hard to pick a favourite I was most looking forward to seeing again, but Andy Ross’ “Bone Project” may be the one.

Interestingly last time Richard and I were up at Dundee (for the degree show) we had a chance to see lots of the first and second year’s work so we know that the next few years will be interesting too. For example here’s a book of cut out folding picnic crockery from Jacqueline Frary.

 

Another stand I was really looking forward to seeing was the work from Brunel‘s Multimedia Technology and Design course. It’s been my final year this year as their external examiner so I had the chance to see some of the work from the students there. Again there were several I was really looking forward to seeing again. Jason Peacock‘s video to Josh Pyke’s “Fill You In” is superb, and I couldn’t wait to see how Chris Wilmot had reduced his immersive VR positioning system to fit in their stand at New Designers! But the project I was most looking forward to getting into again was Rukaya Johaadien‘s “Impressionism

Rukaya riffs off impressionism, looking in particular at their fascination with water and with how a scene changes with the passage of time, the changing of the seasons. Rukaya hacked the Wii remote and built a digital brush that paint through a video of her local canal so that future frames are revealed as the brush strokes. Beautiful work, reminiscent of Hiroshi Isii‘s I/O Brush. If you are at New Designers do hunt this project out.

There’s lots and lots more that I’d have loved to have caught up with. Anglia Ruskin’s book illustration work is always fantastic. But I started this post talking about my new found focus, so I should stop blogging and get back to visualizing books :-)

Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design: Degree Show 2008

24/06/08

We’re in degree show season again and last Monday Kevin and I went down to see the Central Saint Martin‘s work, and in particular the degree show from the MA in Communication Design.

I was a bit apprehensive about taking an afternoon out to see the show – I’d enjoyed it so much last year I thought my expectations may be too high, but I was delighted again. Here’s a brief summary of what I found.

  1. The fascination with visualization continues. I saw work visualizing body shape, books, invasions, deaths, clutter, radio transmissions, news, etc. Lot’s to pick up on for my book visualization work and Richard’s network visualization work,
  2. Some themes emerged – especially visual ones. For example there was a real tension being played out between the old and the new. For example several projects produced artificially pixelated views, while others rendered onto sheets of rusty iron.
  3. Some things were notable by their absence. There was less screen based work than last year, and hardly any ‘physical computing’. And unlike the Dundee show, where Richard and I saw several surface computing projects, I didn’t see any surface work from CSM (though there is one project by Melanie Sayer on the website that I managed to miss)

There were lots of intriguing visualizations. One of them, David Hernández Méndez‘ map of the American Invasion of Mexico, paid homage to Minard’s famous visualization of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

David Hernández Méndez - American Invasion of Mexico - Minard-esque Map on Tim's flickr

Another looked at overcrowding and household clutter in the homes of refugees before they were re-housed. It’s a lovely piece of thought provoking work, and ties in with Alex’s work on clutter, but I felt the resulting images were too neat, too designed, to adequately sum up the squalor that I think Jamie Buswell was trying to document.

Jamie Buswell - Overcrowding Study - House 2 on Tim's flickr

 

There were several works that might feed into our retired “Revealing the Invisible” theme. One that may prove particularly interesting for our thinking about radio frequency spectrum analysis was Seung-Yong Jung’s plots trying to visualize radio broadcasts across the UK showing broadcast strength and station popularity.

Seung-Yong Jung - Radio Frequency - UK Map on Tim's flickr

Seung-Yong also had some intriguing radial prints where each row of pixels was printed on a different concentric clear disk so that if one turned the disks the letters emerged and faded from legibility.

Seung-Yong Jung - Experimental Typography - Legible & Illegible Typo Using Numerous Dots on Tim's flickr

But my favourite work of revealing was from one of the Ceramics BA students, Judit Kollo. Judit had produced a wall hanging, built from textured slabs of porcelain. They looked good just as an abstract, their texture almost like a relief map.

Judit Kollo - Beauty and the Danger (light off) on Tim's flickr

But when you turned on the light behind them not only was the difference in thickness between different parts of the tiles revealed, but Judit had also drawn jellyfish on the reverse by pushing pinpricks almost through. Two of them are just about visible in this photo.

Judit Kollo - Beauty and the Danger (light on) on Tim's flickr

 

The book visualizations were interesting. One of the things Linda and I have been grappling with is how to make the visualization free-standing i.e. how do you include enough information in the design and in the key so that people can start to decode the visualization without needing the designer to explain it or without needing to read a manual. I’m not sure the ones I saw managed, though they were great in other ways.

Laura Sulivan‘s was an interesting series trying to analyse texts from the perspective of the visual principles of information design.

Laura Sullivan - Mapping Invisible Space and Evelin's embroidery beyond on Tim's flickr

I was lucky enough to be there when Ebany Spencer presented her project to the current first years. Ebany had several visualizations of the story “Flatlands” which I knew as it’s a popular short story among mathematicians. There were several innovations in Ebany’s work. She’d used a stave-like notation where each stave represented a different world in the book. She’d also printed each stave as a foldout hardback book with slots cut in the top and bottom of the pages into which the other stave-books slotted. I also loved the way she’d folded out the paper to produce some 3D in her visualization.

Ebany Spencer -  Flatland Notation System - Closeup on Tim's flickr

Ebany also had a different goal for her work and a new inspiration from the other book visualizations I’ve encountered. One of her goals was to take a strong editorial role: she seemed not to just want to reveal new things about the structures in the Flatlands story, but also to use those structures to tell a story about the work. Taking inspiration from the marginalia of medaeval illuminated manuscripts was also interesting.

 

There were several other works in which paper was physically manipulated. Haein Song made “Books of the Absurd” where he attempted to “attain a sense of futility, whilst being immersed in a love of creation”.

Haein Song - Books of the Absurd - DoF on Tim's flickr

In form, though not in motivation, Haein’s work reminded me of Lucy Norma‘s recycled book lightshades that Richard and I saw during last year’s New Designers.

Lucy Norman - book lightshade on Tim's flickr

Cutting at paper also figured in some designers projects. Daniela Silva used cut-outs to physically map the interior of the homes she’s lived in.

Daniela Silva - Home Project - Cut-out Book Sculpture on Tim's flickr

And Aysegul Turan’s All That Is Solid Melts Into Air was a more abstract look at change through cutting or rubbing through paper (which was also covered in patterns of ink or ash?)

Aysegul Turan - All That Is Solid Melts Into Air - Books and Magnifying Glass on Tim's flickr

 

Recycling and the environment received less attention than last year. I’m pleased about that, it’s an important subject but was receiving so much attention from young designers last year that it began to get repetitive. There were still some nice pieces, like Angela Morelli’s maps of global water usage.

Angela Morelli - The Global Water Footprint of Humanity on Tim's flickr

 

Another theme from last year’s shows that had dwindled this year was CCTV. I did see one piece, by Joan Ayguadé Jarque on the BA in Product Design. He’d made a CCTV housing that subtly told people where it was looking, and provided a domed mirror so that people stood underneath it could use it for their own surveillance work.

Joan Ayguadé Jarque - Personal Surveillance on Tim's flickr

 

There were two projects that might be of interest to those studying family collections of media. In one designer Sarah Roesink asked her parents to write down personal memories associated with particular photos and then she made them into elegant bound book. Sarah was on the photography side of the course but I thought her response to the need to individually honour old family memories and photographs was something for us to chew on.

Sarah Roesink - Family Album on Tim's flickr

From the opposite perspective Mayuko Sakisaka on the product design BA made a piece called Please keep my secrets, a secure (and beautiful) printer for printing and storing text messages from one’s boyfriend.

Mayuko Sakisaka - Please keep my secrets on Tim's flickr

Storytelling was picked up again Aris Tsoutsas in his project On The Riverside. But this was almost the opposite of a digital project – the cover sheet was rendered onto a large sheet of rusty iron!

Aris Tsoutsas - On The Riverside - Ironwork on Tim's flickr

 

At the MA in Communications Design I was hoping to see more ‘physical computing’ than I did. That said the two projects that I did see with a strong ‘craft’ bent were two of my favourites of the whole day. In “Printed Matter” Evelin Kasikov had embroidered fonts and other design experiments onto card with cross-stitch. She had letters, colour charts, and pixelated phrases. The result was a wonderful evocation of the contrast between the digital and the slower crafts.

Evelin Kasikov - Printed Matter - Embroidered pixelated font on Tim's flickr

Robert Corish‘s “Audio & Visual Evolution” reminded me of several of our projects and was a real explosion of creativity. He had straightforward explorations of randomness that Tuck would have enjoyed

Robert Corish - Audio & Visual Evolution - Random repetition study 999 points 19 colours on Tim's flickr

But at the heart of the project were two machines for generating abstract sound feedback loops. He’d used MaxMSP, Arduinos and a host of other stuff to great effect.

Robert Corish - Audio & Visual Evolution - whole set-up on Tim's flickr

Robert was one of the few designers to include his commonplace book (or lab notebook, or day book, or whatever you call the notebooks we carry around) as part of his display and you can see why. His notes reminded me of Stuart’s or Richard’s, in fact he’s included his on his website, hinting towards the work Richard has done with his.

Robert Corish - Audio & Visual Evolution - Notebooks on Tim's flickr

 

There was so much more I could write about. Definitely worth a visit next year. One project it would be awful to sign off without mentioning was Kacper Hamilton’s Deadly Glasses. Kacper made a wine glass to represent each of the deadly sins, for example the one on sloth had a tap on the bottom and a hanging chain so one could hang it up and lie under it to drink the huge glass, drop by drop. Lust had a frosted glass ball at the end of the hollow stem so that one could drink by licking the base of the glass. Very clever and beautifully executed.

Kacper Hamilton - Deadly Glasses on Tim's flickr


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