IDC Roundup — 2017

Course leader Tobias Revell reflects on just under 50% of the year as Course Leader of MA Interaction Design Communication

A lot of gazing up at the final show for the 16_17 cohort. Image credit: Ana Escobar, via flickr

It’s been a crazy few months. If it hadn’t been you’d know something was wrong. I took over the role of Course Leader for MA IDC in June from Eva Verhoeven when she went on to become our Programme Director. It’s only Christmas now but it feels like a whole year has passed with all that we’ve been up to.

The first large project to tackle was taking the 16_17 cohort to Ars Electronica to exhibit work and engage with the festival. Ars Electronica is one of the world’s most vital and canonical digital design and media art events. For the students, the experience of situating their work alongside a long list of globally renowned practitioners and theorists was transformative. Anyone can tell you how important it is to get out of the studio and into the world but to go from the frying pan to the flames is something else entirely. As well as seeing the work of others, the students got to engage intellectually with a tech-literate audience and get some well-needed practice on presentation and exhibition in before the final show.

Most of the projects shown were based off work done in the second and third term and were largely in a state of work-in-progress so the feedback was all the more valuable. Some of the cohort have written up their thoughts in a previous post here and I’ve embedded the video we made below.

On returning, and with a new, larger cohort joining the IDC ranks for 17_18 we moved into a brand new studio space which we broke in with Joseph Popper’s BorderCTRL workshop. We got some new furniture and put ourselves right next to a newly resourced technical team.

The brand new IDC studio in D206 when it was clean before any students had managed to mess it up.

Before term started many of the course team worked on this summer’s London Design Festival offering from LCC. Titled Uncertainty Playground, staff from across the Design School worked on projects that reflected uncertain and unstable futures. Senior lecturer Nicolas Marechal created a new work — Sounds of The Elephant — a project manifesting the sound scape of Elephant and Castle. For my part I curated the Possible/Probable Worlds strand of the exhibition — an enormous futures cone projected through the space and featuring the work of several of the course team: Georgina Voss created a new work called Wild Spirits which uses found media to tell a deep history of the relationship between the pornography and technology. Eva Verhoeven worked with regular collaborators and IDC associates Ben Branagan and Luke Pendrell on a new version of their Doggerland series of works — this time as an audio-visual installation. Joseph Popper showed his VR design fiction Elsewhere and Oli Smith of the Demystification Committee hosted a performance of a share holder meeting on opening night.

Possible/Probable worlds curated by Tobias Revell as part of Uncertainty Playground at LCC for London Design Festival. The show featured the work of many of the course team. Image credit: Ana Escobar, via flickr

Tangentially, many of those involved have now gone on to form Supra Systems Studio, a brand new research hub from the Design School founded by myself, Georgina Voss and Eva Verhoeven. This is part of a strategic aim in creating a centre of excellence for techno-political design activism and research at LCC. Keep your eyes on 2018 for more.

Timothy Allan’s book of ‘portraits’ made up of facial recognition data. This project and many like it were created as part of a project for the 17_18 cohort exploring ways of interacting with complex systems. Image credit: Timothy Allan

The first/fourth term was hectic. The 16_17 cohort were ramping up to the final show (more on that shortly) and the 17_18 cohort were getting to know each other and tackle some new and complicated ideas. Breaking in to a new social and cultural space is always hard, especially if you’re a long way away form home but I imagine it’s unsettling when you have a course leader constantly demanding to be amazed!

The final show this year ran at the beginning of December and featured all sixteen students from the 16_17 cohort with each of them showing at least one project. Turning around exhibitable projects in only a term with a thesis to write is extremely tough but the cohort stepped up and managed to pull off a great show.

Claire Alexis’ Prophecies of Becoming — a generative text deconstructing Kevin Kelly’s book ‘The Inevitable’ and projecting it onto a cloudscape. Image credit: Ana Escobar, via flickr
Jan Kanuch’s A Two Minutes Hate, a project about the use of design and imagery in extreme right-wing media and Betty Zhang’s Extimacy Dress, an interactive collaborative performance. Image credit: Ana Escobar, via flickr
Audrey Chang’s Hit Song Playbook — a speculative creativity test for a future of AI generated content and Maureen Eibeler’s But What is The Kitchen Anyway? — re-examining the kitchen, the home and the city in an age of home-grown meat. Image credit: Ana Escobar, via flickr
Busy scenes in the darkened Well Gallery for the private view. Image credit: Ana Escobar, via flickr

I’m not going to go in to detail on the show. If you didn’t get to see it, there’s a microsite with all the projects, descriptions and links here. The students all did a fantastic job pulling together an identity for the show, curating and installing. It’s always one of my favourite things to run around climbing ladders and getting dusty to bring a show to life and this year was no exception.

Looking forward to 2018 there’s lots of things coming up. We’re doing some very intensive projects with the students right from the word ‘go’ in January and then developing some more partnerships for exchanges and trips that will be revealed as and when. There’s some structural changes in the works at the Design School which opens up worlds of opportunity for IDC so I’m super excited to see what 2018 will offer. As mentioned earlier, Supra Systems Studio will be stepping up a gear and many of the course team will be producing work through and as part of it.

That’s it from me for this year. If you’re interested I’ve just done my own write up of what went on in 2017 here which features more of the things I was up to that aren’t necessarily directly related to the course. Go and check out the course website, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and stay in touch.

My enormous gratitude goes out to the course team and our visitors this year: Nicolas Marechal, Eva Verhoeven, Georgina Voss, Gareth Foote, Tom Lynch, Adam Corrie, Will Galia, Delia Hamwood, Ben Branagan, Joseph Popper and Wesley Goatley (and probably a load I’ve missed.) Have a wonderful holiday, and see you in 2018.