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Natasha Trotman

MA Information Experience Design, 2014–16

At the end of my first year on Information Experience Design, it’s been a steep learning curve, but an enjoyable one. I’ve got a whole new set of skills. My background is graphic design and computer science, so information experience design is a good marriage of the two. That’s what attracted me to the programme. An old tutor from University of the Arts London recommended the course to me.

You don’t need to have computer science skills to be on the programme, but it helps. For me, I’m a creative, so computer science wasn’t a good fit. In graphic design, I wanted to push the boundaries but it didn’t fit within that world. Now I can use both in a way that’s exciting for me.

One that I worked on was about shifting the commuters’ lens as they’re navigating through the city – it was a type of space syntax. We looked at the tactile or haptic elements of commuting and tried to show the route in a new way. It was based on a route everyone had made to get to the space, but then they then got to experience that route in a new way. The project involved data based on travel – qualitative and quantitative data – and image-making. We created footage of cycling, driving and walking routes.

Sounds played a part in creating the experience. There were boxes and speakers; and a projection showing the routes in a colour code but all of this would be classed as fairly low tech.

I also worked on a collaborative project with the Royal College of Music – that was interesting and something I’d not done before. The brief was loose – I created my own and then had to pitch. There were some people from Textiles who wanted to show the way the music flowed in a tangible way through fabric and colour, but for me, I was interested in the conductor. When we met the orchestra, we also met the conductor who ran through what he does. I wanted to make classical music and the conductor’s role more accessible and easy to understand.

The project had an element of augmented reality. I tracked the conductor’s movements to create illustrations. These were projected in real-time as the orchestra were playing. It showed the audience exactly what the conductor was doing but it a more illuminated way.

I’ve just submitted my dissertation draft. I want to look at ‘tethered existences’, that is, exploring the reliance of the average person on technology and how much we outsource. It’s an exploration of the outsourcing of the self. Five years ago, people would have had a few phone numbers that they knew off by heart, but now there’s maybe none or one. We’re outsourcing that information to devices. I’m interested in exploring our reliance; what it means for us and how we think.

"IED is not just tech for tech’s sake. You’re trying to create a dialogue with the user. I’m learning a lot about how to involve them and the methodologies involved with that. Some of the projects have been really low-tech."
Natasha Trotman
Natasha Trotman