Communicating the Intangible: School of Communication Research Work in Progress Show

17 September 2016 to 24 September 2016 | Mon–Fri: 10am–5pm, Sat: 11am–4pm, Closed Sundays.


Communicating the Intangible will showcase cutting-edge research from a group of emerging communication design researchers. The show’s title plays on the idea of the often intangible nature of research and ways in which this might be made evident through documentation and the display of ‘works in progress’. At the same time, the featured artists and designers will offer a variety of insights into the ways in which ‘intangible media’ such as time, light, smell, emotion, sensory aesthetics, and digital systems, are explored through the lens of communication design research. Work will include research into technological predictions through designed artefacts, the ethics of intimacy on digital platforms, wearable artefacts animated by soft robotics, the transmission of culture through embodied aesthetic mechanisms, memory and identity in place, and the visualisation of human-perceived smellscapes.

A programme of film screenings, workshops and talks will accompany the exhibition which are open to the public during the duration of the show.
Please see below for for event dates and times.

David Benque
Ben Dalton
Michaela French
Emine Gokcek
Susannah Haslam
Thomas Howey
Yiyun Kang
Trent Kim
Kate McLean
Louis Netter
Emily Richardson
Helga Schmid
Kyuha Shim
Jimmy Tidey
Claire van Rhyn
Natalja Vikulina
Ian Wiblin
Caroline Yan Zheng


PERFORMANCE: Towards an ethics of intimacy: as though we were together
5.00 pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building (duration 15 minutes)
Susannah Haslam
As though we were together is a continuously reworked critical commentary, forming a written component of the working project, Towards an ethics of intimacy. It considers the act of co-authorship, online, as a domain of intimacy and friendship, where the conditions of proximity are recast and produce a weird set of social, personal and intellectual anxieties.

SCREENING: Between Space and Place
5.15 pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building (duration 45 minutes)
Natalja Vikulina: Out of Place (16 min)
What does it mean to belong or to come from a certain place?
Out of Place movie aims to describe a place not as a locality, not as a particular landscape, but through objects and artefacts through which the place manifests itself. Out of Place is a collection of stories about the objects brought by the Baltic Russian immigrants from Latvia into the UK. Stories intersect and overlay each other, and the identity of the place develops through an equivocity of voices. By telling stories of the objects, the characters of the film reveal their own memories and identities. The name of the film  hints, among the evident reference to the ‘out of placeness’, also to a particular place from which the objects were brought from. The film reflects on the sense of belonging and on the experience of being a migrant.

Emily Richardson: 3 Church Walk (23 min ) and Beach House (17 min)
3 Church Walk is a film about the modernist architect H.T. (Jim) Cadbury Brown’s Suffolk house that he and his wife Betty Dale designed and built in 1962 on a site originally ear-marked by the composer Benjamin Britten for the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts’ first opera stage. H. T. (Jim) Cadbury-Brown was a British architect best known for his contribution to the design of the iconic Brutalist development of the Royal College of Art, and earlier work on pavilions for the Festival of Britain in the summer of 1951. The film is a journey through the house in its abandoned state as he left it when he died in 2009. The soundtrack is composed from recordings of the objects, surfaces and materials of the house, playing the house as if it were an instrument, much in the same way as Britten played car springs or tea-cups for his compositions, The Burning Fiery Furnace and Noye’s Fludde.

Beach House, Shingle St, Suffolk
Beach House is a film about a unique example of rural modernism, built on the UK coast of Suffolk by architect John Penn. Penn was an architect, painter, musician and poet whose nine houses in East Suffolk are all built with uncompromising symmetry adhering to the points of the compass in their positioning in the landscape they use a limited language of materials and form that were influenced by his time spent working in California with Richard Neutra. They are Californian modernist pavilions in the Suffolk landscape. Beach House is John Penn’s most uncompromising design in terms of idea as form. The film combines an archive film made by Penn himself on completion of the house with experimental sound recordings made during the same period and material recently filmed in the house to explore a convergence of filmic and architectural language and allow the viewer to piece together Beach House in its past and present forms.

RESEARCH CONVERSATION: The potential of dynamic artefacts to communicate emotions
5.30pm, Orange Room, Stevens Building (duration 30 mins)
Caroline Yan Zheng
A cross-disciplinary conversation on the potential of dynamic artefacts to communicate emotions, with designer, psychologist and affective computing technologist. We welcome everyone to join this session to have hands-on experience of dynamic artefacts and have conversation with Caroline Yan Zheng, Andy Fugard and Phoenix Perry. The session will envision how dynamic and robotic artefacts, with their unique haptic, kinetic and sensorial properties, could play a role in communicating emotions.
Caroline is a design researcher at the RCA in Information Experience Design (IED) and Fashion, looking at soft robotics artefacts and the communication of emotions. Andy is a social scientist and lecturer in the UCL Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology. Phoenix lectures in physical computing and games at Goldsmiths, University of London and researches on affect during embodied play.


RESEARCH-IN-ACTION: Ancient Technology: The role of the body and senses in communicating cultural change
12.30pm, Hockney Gallery, Stevens Building (duration 45 minutes)
Claire van Rhyn
This Research-in-Action session will offer visitors an opportunity to participate in a live research investigation based around the show project Game Changer. Through interactive games, we will explore the use of choreographic principles to understand the role of the body and senses in communicating cultural change. By creating simple social ‘ecologies’ in which participants make decisions on how to situate their actions, processes of shared sense-making will be discussed.

TALK: Uchronia: Time at the intersection of design, chronosociology and chronobiology
1.30pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building (duration 30 minutes)
Helga Schmid
I investigate the potential of new perceptions of time through the application of uchronia - a term derived from the Greek word ou-chronos meaning ‘no time’ or ‘non-time’ and, from utopia, Greek ou-topos. This research is situated within contemporary debates on the nature of temporality, often denoted as a time-crisis or dyschronia. My practice-led research investigates the potential of uchronia, in its definition as temporal utopia. Thereto I take a practice-led and collaborative approach, intertwining design, chronobiological and chronosociological research. By overcoming the conventionality of the present day thinking about temporal patterns, the intention is to establish uchronia as a platform for critical thought and debate on the contemporary time-crisis

TALK: Counting the Future
2pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building (duration 30 minutes)
David Benque
Counting the Future is a visual history of prediction technologies; a collection of attempts to predict the future from numbers. Through a series of specific artefacts, it offers glimpses into the profound ways statistics and probability have re-shaped society over the last 300 years.
Today technologies such as data-mining, machine-learning and artificial intelligence are the latest chapters in this long history of extracting meaning, telling stories and forecasting the future using data. They are currently promising more and better predictions and hyping up hopes and fears. This project aims to re-trace the history of prediction technologies in order to better understand the systems that surround us today.


SCREENING: Between Space and Place
2.00pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building (duration 45 minutes)
Natalja Vikulina: Out of Place (16 min) and Emily Richardson: 3 Church Walk (23 min ) / Beach House (17 min)
(See details above)

TALK: Introducing Music and Lumia to Movement
15.00, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building (duration 30 minutes)
Trent Kim (Research Student at the Royal College of Art)
Dr Oliver Searle (Lecturer in Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
In this talk, Oliver and Trent will talk about their recent collaboration, in which gesture is explored to create a number of musical fragments; these short actions ask a musician to execute a number of movements within quick succession to build a sonic framework in which Luminal [light] fragments can interact and co-exist on equal terms. This talk will start with screening a 3 minute film: Kinaesthesia Étude.