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Interdisciplinary Collisions Made Public

Making Public, at the Royal College of Art (RCA), is the culmination of the innovative 12-month Master of Research (MRes) RCA programme which operates across four pathways: Architecture, Fine Art & Humanities, Design and Communication. The exhibition is open 9–13 September, 9am–5pm and will showcase individual group projects, including designs for future human-robot collaborations in the workplace exhibited at the Barbican earlier this year. 

A symposium Interdisciplinary Collisions, is also taking place on 12 September 9am–8pm. This day-long event reflects the ethos of research production on MRes RCA, drawing attention to the productive overlaps between the four research pathways. The symposium will be chaired by Adam Kaasa – head of Architecture Pathway, and Annoushka Bailey, with illustrative commentary by Josie Ford and contributions from Nils Norman.

Lucy Sabin
Lucy Sabin

Dr Laura Ferarello, Head of Design Pathway and Acting Head of MRes, commented: ‘In the last decade interdisciplinary research-led art and design practice has increased in importance to tackle social issues and challenges. MRes RCA recognises the demand for a new type of graduate by providing a new type of research training and the skills education needed to support graduates who will inform the future of work. Whether working on their own practice or working collaboratively with others, our students develop research skills that are applicable across industries and academic disciplines.’

MRes RCA introduces students to practice-led interdisciplinary and experimental research processes, helping them position their research within social, historical, cultural and theoretical discourses. For Lucy Sabin, who is on the MRes RCA: Communication Design Pathway, this has resulted in a project that unifies scientific and artistic points of view. 

Lucy Sabin
Lucy Sabin

Lucy’s thesis proposes innovative approaches to cartography that move away from land-based maps to focus instead on human relationships with the air and its variations over space and time. She calls this multidisciplinary field of knowledge ‘atmospheric cartography’, and defines atmosphere as both meteorological and emotional.

Coming to study MRes RCA, changed Lucy’s perspective, as she had previously studied an undergraduate degree in French, Spanish and Philosophy. The increased emphasis on visual communication and creativity at the RCA is something she has benefited from: ‘it’s amazing to be able to present my work, which is very philosophical, in the context of professional-level exhibitions held here at the RCA.’

On the Design pathway, students explore the challenges emerging from the human interaction with technology, politics and economics through design to tackle emerging and pressing global challenges. Kypriani Bartzoka has been looking at how AI designs human agency and value by looking in particular at dating apps. Whereas Rime Cherai, who came to the RCA from a background in finance, developed a framework that looks into circular economy and aims at redesigning the relationships between the urban and rural through people's lifestyles and sustainability.

Yuting Cai
Mr Interpretation and Mrs Translation, Yuting Cai
Yuting Cai studied MA Print at the RCA before starting on the Fine Art & Humanities Pathway, in order to develop a balance between research and practice. His work uses orange peel to explore the misunderstandings of cultural discourse when working in a diverse cultural environment. 

Yuting explained. ‘The orange peel is a symbol that, at first, makes readers curious, then later helps them better understand the experiences of young people operating across both an English and a Chinese logic – their daily struggle with the cross-cultural crash of communication styles and metaphors.’ 

Diego Valente defines his studio work as both a tool and object of research. ‘At this stage, and maybe forever, the work is still in the process of becoming, but that becoming is in constant flux. Intertwining knowing and not-knowing. Decolonising the body in order to revivify body-knowledge, using political tools to subvert politics itself.’ 

After graduating Diego has some exhibitions planned in collaboration with students he met while at the RCA. The best thing about the RCA, he said was ‘meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds with similar interests and being able to swap information and research with them.’

Diego Valente
Diego Valente
Students on the Architecture Pathway have been investigating the norms, limits and possibilities of architecture. Moritz Dittrich’s thesis considers the identities and intentions of the makers of the digital city. His thesis is a critic of urban utopias created by big tech companies, and focuses on two case studies: Barcelona Digital City Plan by the City Council of Barcelona and the Project Vision by Sidewalk Labs for Quayside at Toronto’s Waterfront.

Moritz has found an innovative and engaging solution to the challenge of exhibiting theoretical research, by creating a short film for the exhibition. He interviewed friends about what they consider home, whether this is connected to place and if Utopia is a place for them.

Find out more about MRes RCA and how to apply.