Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Categorising visual materials

This experiment follows on from an attempt to visualise sociolegal concepts using found images. Both experiments are part of my research (funded by the Socio-legal Studies Association) into the use of graphic design by civil society actors in relation to econolegal aspects of the current talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots regarding possible reunification of the islandMy intention was to gain a more systematic understanding of my growing collection of visual materials for that project.

I chose to rely on the typology set out by Gillian Rose in her Visual Methodologies, the most comprehensive, sophisticated and yet accessible that I have found. This typology identifies four visual 'sites': of the image, of its production, of its circulation and of its audiencing; and it suggest that each of these sites should be considered in respect of three 'modalities': technological, compositional and social. 

I typed out each of these 9 categorical terms, printed them out and cut them into strips. I then printed out representations of each visual material in my collection. Both of these steps were useful because they added weight to my consideration of each individual term/image and to their collective nature.

I then collected the visual materials together under the relevant categorical term, paying attention to evidence of breadth, depth and gaps in the collection.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exploring the potential of materials to 'fire imagination' and 'advance conceptualisation'

My fellow MA Graphic Media Design student, Andy Dalle Laste, and I have been tasked with conducting an interview exploring key issues that are shaping current and future design practices.


We are both interested in the theme of social transformation (in relation to completely different fields: genome editing / and econosociolegal peace-building respectively).

We decided to approach Zoe Laughlin, co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Making of UCL who combines extensive expertise in both design and materials science together with a palpable enthusiasm for sharing and learning.

Our intention is to use the interview as the basis for a short film exploring the potential of materials as speculative design tools: to 'fire imagination' and 'advance conceptualisation' (two elements of the Institute's strapline).


We prepared for the interview by attending an onsite open day run by Zoe, reading her published work and watching her media appearances.

We then choose a selection of items from the Materials Library that seemed relevant to the theme of social transformation. Finally we storyboarded the shoot.


Totally tempting display of materials

Our favourite four

We first asked Zoe some more general questions about how she thinks and feels about materials (her intellectual and emotional relationship with them), the importance of curiosity and the meaning of transformation in the material sense.

We then asked her to speak about four materials from the collection. Below are some extracts from each discussion.

Muscle wire

Bioactive glass scaffold

Self­-healing concrete


Watch the space for updates as we turn the interview into a short film.

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