Experimental Communication

Experimental Communication is one of three pathways on the Visual Communication programme, alongside Graphic Design and Illustration. The pathway provides a fluid, exploratory and open-minded working environment for those wishing to locate innovative and unconventional communication practices within the context of both real and speculative situations. This pathway sits at the heart of Visual Communication, and in turn informs and re-informs, developing our core understanding of the practice while extending and evolving its borders, roles and methods.

We imagine work taking place together and being applied, for example, as publishing-as-practice, abstract and non-narrative communication forms, and relational, site-specific and socially engaged practices – but in acute awareness that these positions themselves are already open to challenge and debate.

There are two main subject clusters: Critical Responsive Practice and Design for Emergent Territories. Critical Responsive Practice provides a fluid and open-minded working environment for students wishing to locate innovative and unconventional communication practices within the context of real situations. Design for Emergent Territories differs from traditional design approaches that prioritise the making of things and instead emphasises the speculations and processes that shape the contexts we live in. The pathway is supported by critical making workshops shared with the Graphic Design and Illustration pathways

Critical Responsive Practice

Students working in this area are expected to create their own economies and understand the interconnectivity of their personal work with a broad scope of proposed situations. This area explores the idea that the illustrator is no longer at the centre of their work, but instead operates as a catalyst; and critical and cultural engagement which takes a ‘what if?’ approach to the discipline. Embracing ambiguity, slowness, doubt and inconsistency as productive measures with which to offset the negative effects of saturated communication work in this area concerns itself with promoting wellbeing, presence, ecological and environmental art and design. Key areas of exploration within Critical Responsive Practice include Relational Communication and Critical and Cultural Engagement.

Design in Emergent Territories

Design in Emergent Territories is a dispersed style of thinking about and beyond problems and emphasises appraising and understanding individual behaviour as well as being influenced by other individuals and contexts. This is the application of design skills in non-traditional territories and often results in unexpected design outputs, strategies and solutions. It can result in the creation of new practices, organisations, systems and policies; and be utilised to enhance perception, knowledge and understanding. A key area of exploration is that of’ publishing’ as a holistic mode of operation and as an emerging field in the post-digital era, that explores physical and non-physical publishing forms. 

First Year

At the outset, students are introduced to the scope and depth of the programme and, facilitated by tutors, co-design an individual journey and frame their academic pathway to reflect their individual concerns, aspirations and context for their learning on the programme.

When students enter Year 1, they are introduced to interdisciplinary thinking via a choice of one of the School of Communication electives, which are provided by each subject in the School. Within Visual Communication, these electives form practice frameworks for thinking through creative practices in communication. These ‘frameworks’ are: Collaborate, Dismantle, Engage, Intuit and Narrate.

The electives are designed to focus on particular ways of working within communication practice. Each elective is experienced through a series of integrated projects, events and talks delivered using interdisciplinary ideologies while making use of the programme’s professional contacts. Hands-on workshops provide support with the methods and skills required for translating ideas into practice. Visual Communication electives have a ‘published’ end in the last week of the spring term that takes the form of an exhibition, symposium, book launch or other appropriate output.

Parallel to their choice of elective, students also work on subject-specific (i.e. pathway-led) projects set by visiting or programme tutors, which align to the key clusters in each of the pathways. Students have a choice of which project they sign up for based on their individual interests. Here, students are expected to explore and advance their own individual practice through self-initiated and set projects, lectures and individual tutorials, supported by both subject-specific and interdisciplinary workshops. This is supported by visual research sessions, which are a dynamic series of visualisation projects that explore materials/subject matter/working methods and platforms, while reconsidering the art of looking.

Second Year

In Year 2, on completion of their dissertations, students are facilitated through workshops to outline their final projects. Further to this, they are assigned to subject-specialist tutors who can support their individual studies within their selected pathway. As in Year 1, teaching in Year 2 is balanced between interdisciplinary teaching (through mixed group forums) and subject-specialist teaching (delivered in subject interest groups and personal and group tutorials).

Students build on their expanded notion of practice from Year 1 and critical approaches arising from the dissertation to develop a substantial body of work evidencing their rationale and priorities as a creative practitioner. Expanding on the threads/themes in their work, students consider commercial and non-commercial contexts within which they intend to locate their work and to shape it in relation to their intended audiences and environments. Students are supported by subject-specific and interdisciplinary workshops and tutorial groups, lectures and individual tutorials.

In the second year, students are expected to work independently and/or in collaboration with their peers, while setting their own aims, objectives and deadlines. Many students take the opportunity to work in collaboration with others, often from different areas of the College. A final body of work will evidence a considered process of selecting, testing and making use of appropriate materials and technical processes and must be concluded in an accessible way, in any publishable form, presentation, performance or installation and/or other appropriate output.

Links between the two years are maintained by the programme lecture series, shared workshops and opportunities to work on live (College and external) projects.