Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Degree Show 2019
- David Pollock
- 24 May 2019
Art and future design technology meet at this feast of cutting edge work
Attending the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art Degree Show is, as ever, a feast of work which sits at the cutting edge of where art and future design technology meet. Even though other universities are – by necessity of the way technology has altered the creative environment – rapidly catching up with the broad multimedia approach which DJCAD has long been famous for, the quality and breadth of work on display here remains eye-openingly rich in potential.
Across eleven disciplines, work is laid out across multiple floors in an in-depth and accessible fashion, and several hours are required if you want to soak up each detail of every exhibitor's work. In the Interior & Environmental Design corridor, scale models and pages of handsomely-printed designs imagine new functional spaces for the future. These include Aleksandra Daszynska's redesigned concourse for Ninewells Hospital, created following interviews with hospital staff, which focuses on light and art to create a welcoming environment; Claudia Steele's design for a spiral, earthquake-resistant living space; Anna MacPherson's concept for a virtual game environment which splits the future into 'Utopia' and 'Dystopia'; and Kieran McCann's idea for a new Dundee airport terminal.
In this space, Rachel Qiu and Hongni Zhu also offer creative solutions to student housing and low income residential housing in China, respectively, and it's a theme which is continued upstairs in Architecture & Urban Planning. Here, under the heading 'Rooms + Cities', a group of students has taken on the task of redesigning the urban environment in Shanghai, with one group focusing on the south of the city with a hugely ambitious joint proposal for huge, cube-like city blocks which replicate the function of a small city within, and the north group undertaking distinct proposals which reflect the breadth of terrain from the business district to the recently rural.
Elsewhere in this department, designs and proposals look at the regeneration of urban spaces, often with a focus on the fertile districts of Dundee itself, just waiting to be advanced onwards from its current space of mid-development; and in the 'Architecture + Society' section, through theses which compare Dundee to the similar Mainz in Germany, and maintain a more philosophical context.
Social Digital '19, meanwhile, is a large room filled with concepts which combine the work of Product Design and Digital Interaction Design students, creating a wealth of proposed products for use in offline and online spaces. A Dragon's Den filled with prototypes and ideas, the space overflows with a sense of practicality combined with the sort of winning eccentricity needed to create something different. Among the many items featured are Tuomas Heinoman's 'The Good Guide', a user-friendly reimagining of a tablet device manual for the beginner; Calum Orr's 'LOAM', a rustic-looking jute bag which unfolds into a mountain bike trail-builder's course; Beth Shannon's reminiscence therapy kit for those with dementia, 'Retro.Spect'; and Gregor Cowie's 'Assembly', a platform for crowd-sourced democracy. Popular design which more than one student has chosen include tools for tattoo design and monitoring sports performance and recovery.
The Design rooms are visually stunning, with plenty to explore and lots of concepts which snare the attention. Highlights include Graeme Robertson's odd but certainly exciting designs for an exhibition exploring the history of the reputed 'MK Ultra' mind-control project and an anti-fake news campaign; Heather Cullen's safe sex campaign aimed at those who have just turned 16; Ryan McKnight's striking posters celebrating the centenary of the Bauhaus; and Iona Sorbie's simple but effective designs for a campaign of empowerment and solidarity amid sexual assault survivors. There are many other beautiful promotional ideas for drinks and airline companies, but the left-field sense of purpose to a number of pieces here causes them to stand out.
Having recently witnessed the Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt exhibition along the road at V&A Dundee, it brings home the state of development of those just leaving creative education. In the Animation department there is nothing like the breadth of expertise on show in the professional industry, but what we see here is a good start; a series of designs and showreels which show often professional-level character and landscape designs on a smaller but still exciting scale – including, for example, Cameron Harper's fearsomely futuristic figures and faces, Grisel Miranda's idiosyncratic, cartoonish spaces and Nicole Munogee's realist, monochrome strips-cum-storyboards.
Each of those named above gives only a flavour of the stunning breadth of work on display here, and is in no way intended to place these creators above their peers. Like – in the Illustration department – Robbie Kieran's 'Stupid River', a series of eclectic, eccentric comic illustrations; Lauren Swan's designs for self-watering cartoon plant pots; and Molly McCammon's charming children's books, the invention at work in many of the pieces at this year's DJCAD degree show can only really be appreciated with an in-person visit.
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Degree Show 2019 is at DJCAD, Dundee, until Sun 26 May.