Hard questions, Hardwork, Hardhats, Highchairs and Hi-viz
Professor Ralph Ball
Stuff, this years exhibition title acknowledges the reality that whilst the immaterial, bit and pixel virtual world expands on multiple horizons it is always linked umbilically to the physical and the tactile. Everything is physics and physics is physical right down to molecular level. The digital expands the potential and operation of micro - space but it is tangible, touchable ‘stuff’, which personifies interface, portal, anchor, icon, concept and ritual. Software still needs hardware handles. Stuff persists and sustains. The problem is in engaging intelligent restraint, anticipatory recycling, informed custodianship and enlightened self-interest. The design work in this year’s cohort contemplates all these issues. It intelligently explores and interrogates this sometimes liberating, sometimes troublesome space between stuff and non-stuff, product and service, society and enterprise, rhetoric and reality. Our exhibition design and presentation responds to that same impulse to engage with the necessary reality of stuff and its responsible
For the past few years we have developed and annually reconfigured a display system called Positive No. Positive No requires no tools, no fixings, no assembly skill, next to no assembly time and when dis-assembled needs little storage space. This year we are presenting an alternative, sustainable experiment in saving material for exhibition. In parallel with Positive No we introduce Provisional Yes. This, as the name implies, involves an improvisational, ad hoc, accommodating approach; making use, where possible, of material already available within the college amenity and infrastructure. Available stuff not recycled but temporarily ‘reassigned’ to alternative functions.
This year our orange coloured studio chairs, normally cleared and stored to make space for the exhibition, are redeployed. Co-opted within the exhibition display they are effectively stored in plain sight. The pragmatic stuff of the everyday studio becomes the theatrical stuff and visual signature of this year’s exhibition. Functionally re-employed, visually reframed, economically reduced. As these ‘chair plinths’ are a stand out orange colour the rest of our ‘support’ material taps into high-viz orange too. The detritus, the offcuts, the residue of the process of ‘design and make’ is also not removed or thrown away but packaged like forensic evidence. Evidence of process is our memory stick. Residual stuff is this year-group’s hard copy and the portal to their online, nonstuff catalogue. If you are reading this you already have the hard evidence of their hard work in your hands.
A copy of the catalogue can be downloaded here..