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Disrupted by…

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On the 19 November I attended a day of lectures at Sheffield Hallam University. They are held every year and guest speakers talk about their art practice and every year the lectures address different problems. This year they were called Disrupted by…
Disrupted by… is all about finding ways to disrupt the viewers’ perception of a design and make them think twice about what they are seeing. The designers of Disrupted by… have taken an ordinary material and created something new.
The three speakers had very different design practices. The first Kelli Anderson seemed quite a traditional designer working on client briefs, but she explained how she took the brief and explored the use of material to create disruption within the design.
Kelli uses paper a lot in her designs and considers how she can take a traditional material and turn it into something new. She asks ‘what can paper do, I have this assignment but what else can I do with it, how can I take an expected experience and turn it into something unexpected?’ With these questions in mind she then moved onto show us some examples of her work where she created disruptive wonder. The first thing she showed us was a post card she had created that tells a story of someone receiving a postcard and folds and unfolds so you can see different pictures of the story along the way.  The second design was a stop motion animation model made entirely out of paper that was developed into an app for Tinybop. Tinybop make thinking apps for children. The third design, which was my personal favourite, was a wedding invite she designed for her close friends. Again she pushed paper to its limits and made a paper record player, which played a song of the story of the couple getting married.
Dominic Wilcox was up next; he said he liked the idea of exploring variations on normal, which is also the name of his blog.
He experiments with materials to try and bring surprises to the viewer that you wouldn’t find on a design done on a computer. He has thought up cost saving ‘logical’ object ideas, such as a two-way toothpaste, a nose stylus so you can still use your smart phone in the bath and a bird cage in the shape of a bird.
He uses objects as a vehicle to tell a story, because he said people don’t experiment with materials enough, there is too much safety for people hiding behind a screen instead of really getting stuck in and working with the materials.
And finally Daniel Eatoch took a slightly different approach to design, instead of exploring the materials to ‘disrupt the viewer; he used disruption as a force to drive his creations. Kelli and Dominic did a standard powerpoint presentation but Daniel used a draft email to present all his work as he said email, communication and social medial are one of the main distractions in modern life.
He needed to find a way of harnessing all the distractions in his work practice and take all the negative energy and use it to create something positive. The main example of this was when he was working abroad and the local residents had fitted after marked car alarms that were faulty and kept going off at all ours of the day. Daniel said he stood this for a few days but was so annoyed and it was a major disruption to his work so he though of a way to make something creative out of something everyone finds annoying. So he made a film of himself dancing to the sound of the alarm, I think this a brilliant example of harvesting negative ideas.  It certainly had the lecture theatre in uproar.
I will hopefully go again next year and I strongly recommend anyone studying on our Visual Communications degree to attend and would find it useful, but I also think some of the ideas behind the work would benefits students on other degree pathways as well.
Has anyone ever tried make a piece of work out of a negative idea, or pushed the boundaries with the use of materials to try and disrupt their viewers way of looking at a piece of work?

Posted by author: Leanne Putt
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4 thoughts on “Disrupted by…

  • I love the idea of creating disruptive wonder!!! What a fantastic concept!!! Im doing the painting degree but would really like to know how to get more info on these lectures as Im not far from Sheffield and would really like to go!

  • The lectures are hosted by the Graphic Design department at Sheffield Hallam University, so they may be able to give you more information if you contact them. Unfortunately they don’t have a separate website.

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