290°: DJCAD Degree Show 2013
18 May 2013 - 26 May 2013
This year’s Digital Interaction Design students are exhibiting their work withProduct Design under the banner of Social Digital. Visitors unfamiliar with the course would not be blamed for finding its title a little confusing when compared to more established disciplines such as Architecture or Illustration.
Visitors are probably more accustomed to technologies used in the DJCAD projects, including websites, mobile apps, and electronic devices. Most of us encounter these technologies daily, yet they appear here transformed, having been recombined, reconfigured and re-imagined.
Questions regarding the nature of the discipline are factored into the design of the exhibition and a neat explanation of the Social Digital course is offered upon entry: “Common to all is the philosophy that the role of digital technology is more important than the technology itself.” This sets the scene nicely, making clear that digital technology is merely the design medium and that the interests, motivations and every day rituals of people are the real focus of the projects.
People’s engagement with news, for example, is addressed in the projects of both Virginia Vila and Louisa Barrett. Vila’s project altconnects the press with social media by distilling the day’s news into just two photographs – one deriving from an online newspaper and the other from Twitter. The scope of featured stories can also be controlled to show global or local news. The result is a deceptively simple app with a clean visual style that can be accessed from a range of devices including Smartphones.
Similarly, Barret’s project, Topical, presents visual summaries of news items but adopts an entirely different approach. In this case the outcome is a radio-like device with a screen that allows users to “tune into” visual content with the turn of a dial; the user thus is able to sift through large volumes of headline news stories at a leisurely pace, and bookmark any that captivate their interest.
Both projects acknowledge the important role that news plays in society and attempt to make the news more readily digestible and relevant in a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced, media- dense and connected via social networks.
Social networks themselves are the subjects of a number of student projects this year. Make&Get by Fiona Harkins takes the service model of social networking sites and applies it to a niche group – those interested in craft projects. Users of the online community can search for projects and source materials while engaging with other members of the site.
Martian by Paddy Cole is another example of a project with a specialist area of interest: information about Mars and the ongoing exploration missions to the planet. Although the topic of the project is very specific,Cole sees apps as the perfect vehicle for generating interest in space exploration. One method used to attract broader audiences is the comparison of data from Mar’s and Earth’s surface. Information such as weather, temperature and wind speed is updated in real-time and presented via a graphically rich interface.
In contrast to projects focusing on the delivery of information, Caller by Finlay Craig is much more ambiguous in its intentions. It’s essentially a tool for uploading audio messages recorded via mobile to an interactive map, these recordings appear at the location of their upload and can be filtered temporally using a time slider. Compared with the other projects, Caller is noticeably agenda-free and acts more as a platform that allows its users to make their own choices regarding its use.
One of the things that sets the Digital Interaction Design exhibition apart from others in the Degree Show is how well such a diverse range of projects are brought together under a coherent brand identity. A real highlight was seeing the development of these ideas in the research work and early prototypes displayed alongside such accomplished finished products.