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MRes RCA Show: Critical Investigations into the Future of Art and Design Research

A public exhibition and symposium at the RCA’s Kensington campus presents the art and design research projects from the first cohort of graduating Masters of Research (MRes) RCA students. From 10 to 13 September, the practice-based and practice-led research of 26 students across the Programme’s four pathways, will be on display for the public to engage with through installations, performances, lectures and discussions.

The MRes RCA programme provides early and mid-career art and design researchers with the intellectual, technical and professional tools with which to complete high-quality research projects. The programme is a uniquely interdisciplinary degree, and the first to be taught across all four Schools of the RCA. Over a full-time year it offers training in practice and theory-led research methods for critical studies in art and design.

As demonstrated by the graduating students’ work, MRes RCA supports students from diverse backgrounds. Students come from previous study both in art and design and in related disciplines such as history, political sciences and psychology, and with experience working in the creative industries, as practising architects, designers and artists.

Dr Esther Teichmann, Head of Programme for MRes RCA commented: ‘The exhibition and symposium offers a great opportunity for the MRes students to present their work in public, sharing their research ideas and process, highlighting the cross disciplinary and research focus of this new unique programme.’

Across the pathways in the College’s four Schools – Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication, and Design – each student has addressed a specific question, problem or impetus, applying diverse research methods both from within and beyond art and design disciplines.

On the Communication Pathway students have considered a broad range of contexts and applications for new modes and means of communication from the history of the emoji and the tensions of its presentation as a universal visual language, to the use of virtual reality to create immersive data visualisations. Emily Hoong’s thesis ‘Filthy Blood: Selling Menstrual Etiquette’ engages with the conversation to liberate women's periods from shame and cost. Her project investigates how packaging design can be used to challenge attitudes towards menstruation, tackling the accepted view that periods should not be talked about and that sanitary products and menstrual blood should not be seen.

Students take an experimental and expanded approach to architectural research on the Architecture Pathway, considering topics at all levels of practice from the RIBA Plan for Work and its impact on the quality of architectural practice to data practices and how technology extends human vision, touch and temporality. Anas Shrefahe has considered the role played by heritage, archive and memory in healing and rebuilding the city of Aleppo. His research reflects on how collective memory can be used to reveal and recover cultural heritage and considers both the tangible and intangible assets needed to reconstruct the ancient city, recapture its original spirit and encourage the community to interact positively with the space.

Research projects on the Design Pathway present ways in which design can tackle pressing real world problems, from improving cycle safety in London to furniture design that enhances social interactions in the home. Vali Lalioti has created a toolkit in the form of a game that can be used by designers to explore how human and AI strengths can be developed together. This participatory, social and interactive approach has been tested and validated through workshops with business professionals and aims to encourage human AI interaction to take on a co-evolutionary relationship.

Within the Arts & Humanities Pathway the projects range from an exploration of women-only spaces through water and skin to Chinese calligraphy in relationship to personal memories and family traditions. Focusing on the Spanish mystic St Teresa of Avila, Harri Hudspith’s research considers the role of Christianity in forming notions of sex, sexuality and the body. Through deconstructing Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa and figurative emulation of Teresa’s ascetic mystical practice, Hudspith questions notions of ineffability, embodied expression of psychological experience and soul–body dualism.

Alongside the exhibition a symposium is taking place on 13 September from 12–5pm, which will further disseminate the cross-disciplinary dialogues behind the students’ research projects. Two panel discussions ‘Knowledge Production Through Practice – Deconstruction as Method’ and ‘Imagining Alternative Futures – Speculative Design to rethink existing Structures’ will feature student presentations and guest speakers: RCA Senior Tutor for Research in the School of Arts & Humanities Professor Rebecca Fortnum; fashion researcher Dr Lara Torres; and Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, an interdisciplinary art and design studio.

Master of Research (MRes) RCA Exhibition & Symposium 2018
Exhibition: 10–13 September, Hockney and Courtyard Galleries, Kensington
Private view: 13 September, 6–8pm
Symposium: September 13, 12–5pm, Lecture Theatre 1, Darwin Building, Kensington

Find out more about MRes RCA and the Pathways in Architecture, Fine Art & Humanities, Communication Design and Design and how to apply.