Possible worlds: the yield of visual communication design in trans-disciplinary research

GWILT, Ian and WILLIAMS, Jennifer (2012). Possible worlds: the yield of visual communication design in trans-disciplinary research. In: KORZEŃSKA, Agata and SATALECKA, Ewa, (eds.) Graph research ın graphic design - graphic design in research. Katowice, Poland, ASP Katowice, 73-91.

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Official URL: http://conference.aspkat.edu.pl/2012/
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Contemporary design’s value no longer lies solely in the manufacture of want, but in an allegiance to a broader society. These shifting dimensions lead us to imagine design’s value afresh, asking how its role in negotiating an increasingly complex and multi-dimensional society can be underpinned and sharpened through research to both anticipate and plan change. This lecture explores the potential roles for visual communication design in trans-disciplinary research teams. While acknowledging the tangible manifestations emanating from visual communication in research – such as information design and the design of documentary materials – we posit that it can also play a fundamental role in both the framing of research enquiry as well as the forming of research agendas. These design methodologies initially employed to discover sites of enquiry can be deepened through critical and ethical dimensions that are emerging as core capacities of design education and research. This approach to the use of visual communication in trans disciplinary research teams also flags facilitation as a legitimate design activity rather than being a mere preamble to operational tasks. We will outline several emerging (macro level) constituent parts as a way of thinking about visual communication design in research and also discuss the benefits to inclusion of visual communication design yields to trans-disciplinary work exemplified through a 2-year transdisciplinary action research project led by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) over 2010-2011. In terms of a holistic research agenda the trial also teases out a fledgling model for visual communication design as both a critical and social discipline. Its placement at the ‘fuzzy front end’ (FFE) of the project promises to disclose fuller disciplinary capacities, demanding an exploratory, speculative, and provocative stance. In this case study, bringing practice-based research design to the project contributed to facilitating the socio-cultural process of transitioning to unfamiliar systems of sanitation as well as yielding glimpses of future research scenarios to be tested further.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Page Range: 73-91
Depositing User: Ian Gwilt
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2013 16:43
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 02:17
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4483

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