Experimental Communication is one of three Pathways on the Visual Communication programme, alongside Graphic Design and Illustration. The Pathway sits at the heart of Visual Communication, presenting a context for interdisciplinary working practices that shape and support positive change in the post-digital world. Experimental Communication forges a fresh connection between concept, criticality and making to re-confront the idea that the future will involve an effortless transition into what we already expect – the virtual, artificial intelligence, the robotic and the already known.
Upon graduating from BA courses, or following a period of professional practice, students often seek an MA that acts as a catalyst for transformation – this is neither the abandonment of existing skills nor the blind pursuit of new media, but the desire to make an investment into a more harmonious and equitable future that requires a critical re-examination of the ways in which genre, convention and categories classify our horizons.
This can only take place with a renewed emphasis on experimentation as the focal point for nurturing intuition, imagination and consciousness as an act of defiance and recalibration. ‘Experimentation’ does not simply mean 'let’s mess about and see what happens'… We seek the higher ambition of testing out new working methods to herald how we might reimagine the future.
'There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.'
–Richard Buckminster Fuller
History tells us that no new developments take place through some golden formula, however the connections between intense personal investigation, collaboration and collective group activity on a local before global level, bear fruit. Experimental Communication offers a framework for self-discovery as a conduit towards challenging and creating new initiatives in art and design practice.
To take one example, the 1950s are generally held to be a time of austerity and post-war Conservatism, yet the decade also ushered in the innovations of such seminal figures as William Burroughs, John Cage and Buckminster Fuller, to name a few. In the realm of education, Black Mountain College in North Carolina USA provided a seedbed for such interventions to take place, and it is this one-such model of experiential learning that we seek to update and re-invent, where learning, teaching and responsive actions are given equal measure.
Experimental Communication is not medium-specific. In its gestation period last year (2016-17), we have seen graphic designers work with ideas embedded in psychotherapy, illustrators moving towards Land Art and field recording, digital programming converging with sculpture and performance. In all regards these movements have been unforeseen and not premeditated; it is the process of the pathway to give such situations form and future function. Hence the term ‘experimental’ is given new value and returned to functionality in a climate that struggles to take risks, out of fear of failure. To embrace mistakes is the way one learns. Complexity can be an opportunity and not a barrier. ‘Real World’ engagement has to involve personal passion and a renewed focus on intention, not only for personal development but as a vehicle for the common good.