School of Communication Work in Progress Questions Modes of Communication

This year the act of making public, and making in public, is the driving force behind the School of Communication Work-in-progress (WIP) show.

Discussing the show, Dean of School Professor Neville Brody described it as ‘where installation meets engagement’. He continued, ‘effectively they are “students in residence”, having moved their working practices from the studios to the gallery. The show is a fluid, living event. It is an opportunity for students to provoke and push their work, to make progress.’

This idea of fluidity and progression is reflected in the identity for this year’s show, created by James Sanderson and Max Ryan. The design uses brash colour combinations to obscure and distort images from the College’s archive, creating a clash of analogue with digital, tradition with innovation. Online the identity for the show comes to life, with the transformation of images happening in progress, capturing the sense of energy and constant flux integral in this year’s show. The viewer is invited to participate through an open source tool, which enables you to transform your own images.

This playful, self-reflexive approach manifests itself within the Visual Communication show as a live workshop space, conceived and designed by Guillaume Chuard and Blaise Chatelain. The space is currently a blank canvas, with only the agenda for the coming events on the wall; participants will take an active part in its transformation. Each of the workshops is based on individual student projects, covering a range of topics including editorial censorship in print media, the commodification of knowledge through publishing and copyright law, and the creation of an audio guide for the exhibition.

Guillaume and Blaise have created a simple furniture system for the space, using OSB and cable ties, which can be easily and quickly assembled. The aesthetic, based on the premise of self-organisation, extends throughout the Visual Communication show to include the display system for individual student projects.

Discussing this participatory approach, tutor Jeff Willis said: ‘The students are broadening their sense of audience and actively seeking feedback in the development of their final projects. Over all, the show represents the diversification of communication, visitors will find work that is well beyond the traditional remit of graphic design or illustration.’

Work shown by students from Animation also reveals a great diversity of approaches to the discipline. Tutor, Joe King explains: ‘The show offers an opportunity to gain an insight into the hidden workings of the programme, as well as the processes behind individuals’ films. The exhibition shows the breadth of work, not just in technique and content, but also in the challenges being made to narrative form.’

A show reel includes final films from second-year students, as well as excerpts from work created during workshops and electives, exploring themes such as embodying the voice and character development. Original artworks are also on display, revealing the craft and labour behind each film.

A huge range of approaches to both documentary and experimental animation can been seen in the show. Oscar Lewis’ short film 1916, addresses the impact of the expansion of conscription during World War I, to include men with families. Made in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum, the animation uses charcoal and ink sketches to eloquently evoke the patchy nature of memory and evocatively tell a story of loss. Rather than focusing on narrative, Alice de Barrau’s film takes a more experimental approach. Alice created sculptural surfaces using wax, resulting in a visceral animation that plays with viewers’ perceptions and expectations.

The work of IED students will also be shifting perceptions and provoking reactions from viewers through sound, moving image and installation. The show is comprised of second-year independent projects, which have been self-curated by the students. Head of Programme Kevin Walker explained ‘throughout the year students have been asked to think about investigative design. Taking a page from investigative journalism, they have learnt interview techniques and research methods to go further in depth, to be provocative and political.’

The resulting work has the potential to spark change and transformation. Meret Vollenweider has tackled the issue of energy consumption with a flow chart that playfully illustrates the huge disparity between the amount of electricity a human being can produce, and the amount of electricity we use daily. Other speculative designs, consider our relationship with machines and artificial intelligence. Joanne Harik has created a telephone, through which an automated voice asks you a series of questions. Through a subjective algorithm, a judgement is made on your character based on your answers and data captured through sensors in the device.

Alongside MA projects, work from IED research students is also on display. A loop of work, which has emerged from the RCA Fulldome Research Group founded by PhD student Michaela French, is being projected on a 360-degree dome similar to ones used in planetariums or virtual reality headsets.

For more information about the School of Communication, including how to apply, visit School of Communication, Animation, Information Experience Design, Visual Communication as well as @RCAIED, @RCAAnimation and @RCAvisualcomm

For more information about live events and workshops within the show, see School of Communication WIP website and click here