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.

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Fashion Narratives: MA DEP exhibition

An exhibition of work emerging from the Fashions and Embodiment studio of the MA in Design: Expanded Practice was on display by appointment in the Constance Howard Gallery between 31 May-21 June. Responding to objects from the Goldsmiths Textile Collection, the work presented open conversations between making and unmaking, global and local, ethics and aesthetics, objects and system, bodies and clothes.

More photos can be found on our Facebook page.

MA DEP students exhibit work in Transfocality Open Studios evening

On 28 March, MA Design: Expanded Practice students held an Open Studios evening to exhibit their work this term on four Transfocality projects. The briefs were as follows:

Things We Don’t Need to Know

This brief asked students to engage with the potential value of not knowing things. They were required to make things with, around or for hidden elements within society and culture, without exposing the secrets themselves. The aim was not to deny the negative or harmful effects of secrecy, but to look for areas where secret or hidden knowledge can generate positive or playful engagements.

DIY Digital Devices

This project was about imagining technological futures that are open, transparent and empowering. It built on ideas about ‘open source’ design, in which allowing people to make and modify their own technologies is touted as a means to revive democracy with citizens who are informed and actively engaged in creating their technological futures. The brief was run by the Interaction Research Studio and asked students to work in teams of four to design DIY digital devices or services that people can make and modify themselves.

Interludes

This brief asked students to define their own concept of interlude and developing this into a making process. It explored poetic ways of making through an attention to duration (as a temporal dimension) and position (as a spatial dimension) of the interlude. This is where gaps, diversions, rhythms, imperfections, atmospheres come into focus to investigate our understandings of interlude and how this may be designed into making processes.

Caretakers

Care has recently become a focus of increased public concern, political debate and research in the UK, Europe and the US, and there seems to to be a crisis of care in areas such as healthcare, in social care, migration and the environment. This brief asked students to work through what care might mean in relation to design. Can we unpick, rethink, rebuild, redefine what is meant by understandings and practices of care through our work as designers? Can we imagine new ways of practicing design by examining the role of repair, maintenance, tinkering, growing and mending? Can we craft affective engagement, and attend to the ethics that arise?