MA Design Expanded Practice student projects: “Pataphysical Responses to the Most Urgent and Intractable Problems of Our Age”

On 11 July, MA Design Expanded Practice students displayed in the MA Studios the outcome of their work on the 10 week-long project “Pataphysical Responses to the Most Urgent and Intractable Problems of Our Age”, in a show titled “HA HA! (Hinting At Having Alternatives!)”.

An Ouvroir de Design Potentielle (OuDePO – Laboratory/Workshop of Design Potentiality) was instituted in the Design Department. The OuDePo was formed to initiate a pataphysical curriculum in order to have a playful, yet critical purchase on design and designing- and, in particular, the part design plays in enacting neo-liberal programmes.

The quixotic programme of ‘pataphysical design’ effects deviance, disruption and, ultimately seeks to detour what is deemed the ‘proper’ way to think, imagine and act in design practice; it does so in order to circumvent the blocks (blocs) produced by design orthodoxies, finding ‘alternative’ methods and ‘imaginary solutions’ (of which pataphysics is the science).

The work presented in the show issues from thirteen ouvroirs (laboratories), which were formed to research, explore and propose responses to the most stubborn (intractable) and pressing, urgent (used ironically or seriously) problems and questions of the day.

Here are a few examples of the projects on display:

Ethical Botany and Cultivated Elysiums (Team: Keer Wei, Wei Peng, Yaoyao Tang)

The program of this ouvroir is to explore the increasingly important spiritual-ethical bond between the plant world and the human world. In this instance, the concept of the divine force of nature was used for a pataphysical program tackling the plastic islands of the Atlantic currents. The ouvroir developed an apparatus that afforded the opportunity to mix human breath (chi) and mycellium spores and introduce the mixture into 1) a rubber-duck like float that would take up to a year floating on the ocean currents before reaching the plastic island and/or 2) duck egg-like bombs that could be thrown from a passing ship or dropped from a plane directly on it. In both cases the objects are designed to release the spiritual-botanic mixture so that it may start to grow on and/or attack the plastics that are accumulating in our oceans and which, pose a threat to ocean life forms and, ultimately, humanity.

Read More »

Barbershop Football Tournament

Starting out as a project for a BA Design brief, group of second year students have set up a friendly football tournament for barber shops in the local community. After a successful founding match, the Barbershop Football Tournament will continue this autumn with a focus on young players 15-21. A 7 team event will be hosted by Deptford Green School on 15 September; find out more from the event flyer.

Student Medina Mukhayer explains how the initial event came to be: “We were given a brief by the Wellcome Trust to create alternative narratives around mental health and to reach out to demographics that are least likely to engage with medical institutions in regard to their well being. In discovering that Afro-Caribbean barbers had taken on the role of unofficial counsellors in their communities, due to social political histories, we wanted to accredit and utilise the organic power by these spaces.

We set up the Barbershop football tournament as a means of strengthening support systems within the social networks that are held within each shop, inviting a couple of different shops to create a positive unifying effect in wider communities and open up a dialogue about mental health.”