Digital (Dis)connections – Interactive Installation at the Royal Academy London

Students from the BA (Hons) Spatial design year 2 – Calvin Lok, Chin Chin Lam and Aitor Fernandez Hidalgo – took part in the Digital (Dis)connections event at the Royal Academy on Saturday 24th October. This event linked to the Ai Wei Wei exhibition showing at the RA and ‘inspired by Ai Weiwei’s infamous blog and prolific use of social media, [the Royal Academy hosted] an evening of talks, performances, installations and more that challenge our contemporary use of the internet, and imagines future applications of digital technologies.’ (source: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/event/digital-dis-connections). The project was run in collaboration with the Students Union at UAL and the RCA.

From the designers, Calvin, Chin Chin and Aitor:

BA-Spatial-Design_digital-disconnection01_RA_24Oct2015

I(WE) AM(ARE) ANONYMOUS , is an interactive video installation that seeks to reveal the duality and complexity of being anonymous. On one hand, there is a freedom and power that cannot be culled, on the other, credibility and responsibility become trivial. The installation will invite users to create content which will be visually broadcast in the exhibition space while in an anonymous state. The installation comes in two parts, creation and propagation.

The creation component is an “anonymous zone” where users can create content under the guise of anonymity. Within the “anonymous zone”, the participant can see outside, but the onlookers will not be able to know who the participant is. This represents the power of anonymity. In this “anonymous zone”, the user will be filmed, but his face will not be shown. This emphasizes the idea of hiding in plain sight through anonymity and the freedom it affords.

In the propagation component, the scene in which the participants will be filmed is as such; an unknown person walks towards a lone keyboard. Their face concealed by a “mirror mask” as they type some words on the keyboard. Subsequently, the person leaves the booth. This scene will be broadcast on the wall opposite the creation component. The “mirrored mask” would have the images of the onlookers reflected upon it, and represents the idea that an individual becomes the collective and the collective is the individual through anonymity, thus both trivializing and empowering their existence. Additionally, as the content will not be filtered, it will reflect the presence or absence of social responsibility and morality once I(WE) AM(ARE) ANONYMOUS.

Process-wise, the following is a recount of the process we had from start to finish:

We started by establishing an idea based on the exhibition brief. After bouncing it back and forth the three of us, we finally decided on one which we really liked(that one above), and then proceeded to elaborate on it. I came up with the initial idea of representing an anonymous state more tangibly. I wanted it to be extremely digital and software based, and the initial idea I had in mind would have had a very plain outcome, but with more interaction. Aitor felt that it was not visually impressive enough, and proposed that we translated it into a physical space. We came up with many ideas after that, from hanging boxes with screens just big enough for your head to fit in to raised platforms with our body visible, but your face hidden. Chin chin proposed much of the visual outcome and communication which culminated in the space shown on the photographs.

When it came to construction, we worked every Monday and Wednesday, from about 10am-6pm over the whole of October. Despite the 4 month long lead we had before the project, our space was only confirmed a month before, as well as some other details which prevented us from moving forward. But with Aitor’s experience in the 3D workshop, construction moved quickly and the resultant booth was constructed in slightly over 1 week. I then refined the software and made it fit our installation while Chin Chin worked on the visual communication of the booth. The last hurdle we had was storage and transport. As it was a large structure, we had to store it in school and then transport it to the RA. Making the structure flat-packable was a really smart decision on our part as we managed to save quite a fair bit of cash on transport.

Lastly, we had to set up for the actual event at the RA. this was more of a challenge than an actual problem as the RA staff were very helpful. We set up the installation in about 3 hours and then proceeded to test it for another 1 hour. Once we were satisfied with the outcome, we packed up, took a break and waited for the event to start.

BA-Spatial-Design_digital-disconnection02_RA_24Oct2015

The process of making an exhibition

2nd year BA Spatial Design students worked with the 2nd year BA Design Culture Management students to curate, design and build an exhibition showcasing a collection of artefacts from the Cuming Museum. The project was initiated and managed by Dr Nicky Ryan at London College of Communication. The BA Spatial design joined the BA Deign Culture Management in March 2015 although discussions with the Cuming Museum started in January when we wrote a post called After the Fire: Re-imagining the Cuming Museum. The exhibition successfully launched in May 2015 in one of the galleries at LCC and was opened to the public for a week.

Zahra Toolabi, 2nd year student on the BA Spatial Design made a fantastic film that shows the process of making and constructing of the exhibition. The film highlights how well the students worked together as well as the fantastic technical facilities available at LCC. The film shows students working in the 3D workshop, laser cutting area and print studios, and is a great example of how useful these facilities are for spatial design students.

After the Fire: Re-imagining the Cuming Museum

 image-of-the-cuming-museum

After the Fire: Re-imagining the Cuming Museum is a live project to be co-designed by LCC and Cuming Museum staff and year 2 students from BA (Hons) Design Cultures and BA (Hons) Spatial Design. The aim is to support our industry partner the Cuming Museum, following a fire which seriously damaged its buildings and resulted in the closure of the museum to the public for the foreseeable future. Reduced government spending, radical regeneration plans and complex local politics have contributed to uncertainty regarding the museum’s prospects, the future of its collections and its role within the local area.

cuming_museum

Working together in the creation of a project brief that aims to offer tangible benefits and support to the Cuming Museum, staff and students will design and curate an exhibition and related events in order to stimulate public debate about the future of the institution. By working with a range of museum staff, stakeholders and community groups students will develop useful transferable skills for employment and lifelong learning. The experience of collaboration, knowledge sharing and dissemination will help students to understand the challenges and benefits of real-world socially engaged projects.

1364230209_80.177.117.97

Experiencing Spaces Lecture Series – October/November 2014

This term’s Spatial and CTS Lecture Series explores the theme Experiencing Spaces, looking at designers and thinkers who address people’s experiences of spaces. These events are organised by the Spatial Communication and Contextual and Theoretical Studies Programme as a platform for key thinkers and practitioners working across boundaries and at the cutting edge of their disciplines to present their work at LCC.

Monday 27 October: Charles Holland, Ordinary Architecture and FAT architecture
4.30 to 6.00 PM Main Lecture Theatre
London College of Communication

Thursday 30 October: Joana Seguro, Artists and Engineers
1.00 to 2.00 PM Podium Lecture Theatre
London College of Communication

Thursday 6 November: Sam Hill, PAN
1.00 to 2.00 PM Podium Lecture Theatre
London College of Communication

Thursday 13 November: Harriet Harris, Oxford Brookes University
1.00 to 2.00 PM Podium Lecture Theatre
London College of Communication

Thursday 20 November: Linda Florence, Designer
1.00 to 2.00 PM Podium Lecture Theatre
London College of Communication

More information on each speaker in the PDF Lecture Series – Experiencing Spaces

Contemporary design in Medieval France

IMG_7571

I recently visited the medieval castle of La Roche Jagu in Brittany, France, and came across a beautifully maintained site with grounds overlooking the valley of the Trieux river. The grounds on their own are worth a visit. They include different types of plants and trees, a beautiful medieval garden and fantastic views over the valley and river.

The interior of the castle has been renovated with care, with the new clearly defined from original elements yet also complementary. The ground floor is home to a permanent exhibition on medieval life, including smells and sounds that would have been common at the time. Herbs and other plants are encased inside furniture and visitors can lift a lid to smell them while information is displayed underneath. Single headphones held inside a medieval looking leather pouch provide phonic sensations. It’s all understated and tasteful and the guided visit is excellent, focussing on everyday knowledge and facts that enable visitors to immerse themselves in medieval life.

The upper floors are home to temporary exhibitions and this year’s was on design with spatial design contributions from Matali Crasset and M Studio, and intricate paper architecture and designs from Ingrid Siliakus, Beatrice Coron, Maud Vantours and Mathilde Nivet. The curator made great use of the spaces with paper designs hung to catch the light or delicately stand out against the rough stone wall. Matali Crasset created a timber air balloon for a school to use as part of a playground and colourful floor cushions for kids to lie on while watching an animated film. My personal favourite though was M Studio’s sensory space. It was full of surprises. Floors that looked hard were soft underfoot while objects that looked like lamps were actually aromatic plant holders of the head.

Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican

IMG_3780

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

This theatrically-staged exhibition brings together more than 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear garments including iconic costumes for film and performance from the early 1970s to the present day…. More on the Barbican website

Aside from the amazing outfits of course, one of the most outstanding features are the animated mannequins whose expressions are at times a little surreal but nonetheless contribute to the exhibition the theatrical setting. This short film shows some of them but it’s best to see them first hand.

Gaultier animated mannequins

The curation and design of the exhibition successfully create an immersive atmospheric journey into the world of Gaultier, not always an easy thing to achieve in the galleries of the Barbican. The visual and acoustic senses are well represented though I was surprised that scents weren’t art of the experience since Gaultier has quite a few perfumes under his name. The experience continues in other parts of the Barbican, notably with the Gaultier bar on level 1, open for cocktails in the evening.

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

By Valerie Mace

On Thursday 27th of february 2014, we took LCC BA Spatial Design students to the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy. The RA invited 6 architectural practices from all over the world to create a full size pavilion/installation each in the gallery spaces: Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Suto de Moura (Porto, Portugal), Grafton Architects (Dublin, Ireland), Kengo Kuma (Tokyo, Japan), Li Xiaodong (Beijing, China), Pezo Von Ellrichshausen (Concepcion, Chile), Diebedo Francis Kere (Burkina Faso and based in Berlin, Germany).

We spent the afternoon exploring each installation and also investigating their effect on people including ourselves. Each pavilion offered a different gamut of sensory experiences and each provided a fully immersive experience. We were able to move through them, interact, play, touch, smell (and the corresponding taste), listen, etc. Sometimes it was moving, other times it was fun and at times intriguing even surprising.

We completed the visit with a lively discussion where everyone was able to express their personal impressions and perceptions. It would be very difficult to choose a favourite pavilion, each has wonderful qualities that can only be fully understood by first hand experience and active participation. We all agreed however that it was a unique and memorable experience and also that we learned a lot about the rewards of multi-sensory experiences in spaces. This is something we are very keen to explore further in the interior and surfaces of future spatial design projects on the course, looking this time at how we can enrich our sensory perceptions of everyday spaces and places.

A one of the Course Leader of the BA (Hons) Spatial Design and someone whose research interests focus on Spatial Experiences and more specifically senses and atmosphere, I’m attending a few other events linked to the exhibition. So far I have been to a talk on the making of the exhibition by the Curator Kate Goodwin and another talk on Staging Sensory Experiences with Chandler Burr, Bombas and Parr and Jo Malone. All fascinating and really insightful.

I have still to look forward to a full day’s symposia and sensing spaces on the 29th of March and I hope to be able to revisit the exhibition before it closes. The symposia is sold out but it is possible to download the full schedule at the bottom of the site’s page.

London Southbank study trip

For this activity, students were asked to carry out a study of the Southbank as a curated cultural environment with the more recent elements superimposed on the original architecture by mapping its characteristics onto drawings. The purpose of the visit was therefore to consider the original site as a gallery space and investigate how the new additions were curated for it.

It was a highly enjoyable trip with plenty to discover and experience and despite the overnight storm, the day was mostly sunny, which enabled us to spend time outside before going in the Royal Festival Hall. Incidentally, this is also where our graduation ceremony takes place each year.

Visit to the London Design Festival

We met with BA Spatial Design and BA Design Culture students today for a visit to the London Design Festival. It was a fun day out and we gave out a list and map of suggested sites for further exploration of the festival: London Design Festival suggested events. Maps of the festival are available from the mains reception desk at London College of Communication.

Students also had to enrol today so our time was limited but we enjoyed Endless Stairs in front of Tate Modern, a great example of timber construction, and of course Design Junction, very popular. The festival is fantastic with so many events everywhere I just wish I had more time to see a lot of them. Go and see as many sites as you can if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to meet designers and see inspiring work.