RCA and CSM degree shows

Friday afternoon I went to the degree show at the Royal College of Art, in London, (open until 2nd July). Here are the few things that caught my limited span of attention:

Bio Mapping by Christian Nold
Combining a Galvanic Skin Response sensor with a GPS unit to create maps that show the state of the user as they move around.
Blow by Michael Cross and Julie Mathias
A white fan in a sphere made of white wire, with a little (2 inch diameter) satellite fan perched outside. Blow on the little fan, setting it moving, and the big fan spins up. Stop the little fan with your finger and the big fan stops. Very simple and a joy to use.
Watch Paper by Hannes Koch
A 2’x3’ sheet of subtly patterned red paper, like a wallpaper sampler. Digital watch-style numbers, show the time, as if they’ve been bleached into the paper. Every minute some digital fragments fade out and others fade in, updating the time. Maybe it works like those Global Hypercolor heat-sensitive t-shirts? Subtle, calming, attention-grabbing and I want one. (He has a website but it doesn’t seem to show Watch Paper, it opens many new windows of varying sizes, and is all Flash, so don’t go.)
Light Measure by Min Cho
A desk lamp whose brightness is controlled by a slider marked with the cost of different wattages. A bit gimmicky, but neat.
Social Camera by Christopher J Glaister
A little globular webcam-like device. Plonk it down in the middle of your picnic, dinner party, or whatever and ignore it. The camera rotates, taking pictures (presumably at random, or is there some kind of sensor?) and swivels towards loud noises to try and capture the moment. Later, upload the photos to your computer. A simple, unobtrusive way to record an event (build in audio recording and better-than-currently-exists voice-to-text parsing and we have the perfect Pub Stenographer).

The product design section (or the Design Products section, as the RCA is intent on calling it) had the display details just right. Each product had an accompanying green card stating clearly the name of the device and a very brief description of its purpose. Each student had a standard green business card. This all makes interpreting the displays and finding contact details far easier, and prevents anyone waffling on at great length about the theories behind their work.

I then went to the degree shows at Central Saint Martins (Flash, pop-ups), but little grabbed me there — maybe I was degree-showed out. However, much of it was BA rather than MA work and although (in my experience) work in a BA degree show feels like the bee’s knees when you’re one of the students, a few years on you realise everyone has a long way to go. BA shows are much more like work in progress. Some of the CSM students could take a tip from the RCA green labels idea too - there was quite a bit of lengthy academic waffling about simple, fun ideas that shouldn’t need spurious and convuluted theories to justify their existence.

But anyway, yes, all in all, a fun afternoon.

Comments

  • Just a note to say that the random international (which includes Hanned Koch) website has been updated, so you can see all the details about the watch paper you saw at the 2004 RCA show.

  • If you’d like to see more and newer work from Michael Cross please visit Michael Cross’ pages. Thanks, M