By Renée Reizman
MDP faculty exhibited their research at the Wind Tunnel Gallery. The works included design fictions, algorithmic compositions, geodatabases, speculative ethnology, and more.
A Piece of Something Bigger showcased current research-in-progress from MDP faculty. The work represent pieces of bigger questions and making methods in a world where ideas are not always defined. Featured faculty include Anne Burdick and collaborator Janet Sarbanes, Phil van Allen, Tim Durfee, Elizabeth Chin, Sean Donahue, Casey Anderson, Geoff Kaplan, Mike Manalo, Jenny Rodenhouse, and Richard Wheeler.
Faculty Research Projects:
Trina, produced by MDP Chair Anne Burdick in collaboration with writer Janet Sarbanes. The a three-part design fiction about a literary scholar who works in solitude, but is connected to the digital world through solar and satellite devices. The work can also be viewed as a graphic novel or performed live.
Lab Faculty Tim Durfee’s new approaches to graphic design for political action organizations The Revolutionary Love Project, The Love-Driven Politics Collective, and All In 2020 look for ways to reinvent political activism as a mode of resistance to the prevailing corporate and municipal visual vocabulary. He hopes to inspire activists to communicate with more urgent and universal messages, which he feels are crucial in our current political climate.
MDP Making Lab Supervisor and thesis advisor Casey Anderson presented the experimental composition, ghostses, a duo in which each performer uses a battery of unconventional instruments—a kitchen timer, an AM/FM radio, rocks—to deconstruct W.G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn. The work requires a complex computational layering technique to play a vertically split composition.
In a kaleidoscopic VR experience, adjunct professor Jenny Rodenhouse’s The Enchanted Forest: Satellite Canopies and DIgital Understories imagines a seasonal softscape that follows the orbit of the International Space Station. The ISS orbits every 96 minutes and is visible from Sottochiesa, Italy for 4 minutes, thus VR-visitors have mere moments to get lost within the interface before a new season begins.
Are your methods dry and flaky? Come pamper your practice at Elizabeth Chin’s EthnoSpa, brought to you by the Laboratory of Speculative Ethnology. The spa includes AeGyPT therapy, a device designed to decenter and decolonize the ethnographic gaze.
Using his experimental approach in animistic design, Phil van Allen’s Colleague project explores how devices can explore a topic together. The user speaks to the iPod Touch “Wrangler” which alerts the “Colleague” iPads. Each responds with different search results, based on it’s personality, interests and expertise. And sometimes they contribute their own topics to the group. He presented this work at the UX of Machine Learning symposium at Stanford University in March.
Sean Donahue follows up the investigations from his 2016 MDP Summer Research project, PowerPublics: Fulfillment with PowerPublics: Autonomous Authorities. In an effort to demystify logistics, Sean tracks the routes of consumer goods through RFID chips and web-cams. His research uncovers the potential to insert design into where power is concentrated, exercised and distributed.
Geoff Kaplan reexamines history and theory of graphic design in A history of graphic design pedagogy after the Bauhaus to the internet. His project questions if design is a discipline in an increasingly interdisciplinary landscape.
Mike Manalo shared a prototype for Culture Mapping 90404, a live and editable geodatabase of curated cultural assets. People will be able to use the data on an interactive map to find a list of local artworks, events, advocacy centers, artists, landmark infrastructure, and ghost sites in the Pico neighborhood Santa Monica.
Richard Wheeler shared MM1-1.1 Photograph, the first in a series of “meta-manual” that examine practices of sensing presented in United States military publications. The manual assembles passages from keywords found in military documents, revealing information about military practices that relate to and/or overlap with art and design practices.