University of Technology Sydney

87933 Critical Practice: Experimentation

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 12 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Description

In this subject students challenge the conventional positioning of visual communication design and re-imagine it, not simply as a strategy for conveying messages, but as a distinct way of investigating contemporary issues. Students employ a range of research methods to both interrogate and creatively respond to a research theme.

Students have the opportunity to challenge the material boundaries associated with professional visual communication practice by working with emerging digital technologies and new material processes alongside more established methods of production.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. Present critical arguments about how research informs, and is informed by, design practice
2. Challenge design conventions through scholarly research and critical practice
3. Independently employ a range of research methods which are relevant to professional design practice and/or postgraduate study
4. Develop advanced knowledge and skills through self-directed reflective practice
5. Document and articulate the research process, to demonstrate rigour and critical thinking

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Present critical arguments about how research informs and drives design practice (C.1)
  • Challenge design conventions through scholarly research and investigative practice (I.1)
  • Develop advanced knowledge and skills through self-directed reflective practice (P.2)
  • Independently employ a range of qualitative and practice-led research approaches that are relevant to professional design practice and/or postgraduate study (R.1)
  • Document and articulate the research process to demonstrate rigour and critical thinking (R.2)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture and Building faculty graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs) are linked to these categories using codes (e.g. C-1, A-3, P-4, etc.).

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject is delivered in a collaborative studio format. Studios will include theoretical framing, collaborative research tasks, weekly task briefing, discussions on readings, and guest speakers. Throughout the session students will engage in weekly research tasks and discuss their progress in studio with peers and studio leaders. Progress will also be documented and shared online and in studio.

Feedback is given in studio sessions by the studio leader, but also in group discussion format. Students will be asked to lead some studio feedback sessions by arriving prepared with work in progress (prototypes or experiments) to 'test' with the group. Some written feedback will be given in ReView, but feedback is primarily delivered face-to-face.

This subject aligns with 87931 Critical Practice: Theorisation. These two subjects have been developed to complement each other, and prepare you for 87900: Critcal Practice: Project in Spring semester.

Content (topics)

Research-led approaches to design practice; reflective journaling; design research methods; critical, speculative and poetic approaches to visual communication design practice.

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Research topic and plan

Intent:

In studio, you will pitch a focused research topic for this subject, including initial research questions and proposed methods/experiments for investigating your topic/questions. You each have 4 minutes to present, with 6 minutes for feedback. Carefully considered slides should support your pitch presentation. You must also submit an PDF document of no more than five A4 pages (landscape or portrait), 20MB max.Your pitch presentation and pitch document should communicate:

  • Focused research topic and preliminary questions
    Based on studio seminars, readings and exercises, develop a focused research topic and a set of questions to drive your studio exploration this semester. Present your research topic and questions visually. Consider, how could you use mapping, diagramming or other visualisation techniques to communicate the complexity of the topic/territory you are exploring? Draw on your skills as a visual communicator to present your work in clear and engaging ways.
  • Proposed methods
    Based on studio workshops and discussions, propose an initial set of methods/experiments through which to explore your research topic. Consider: how will you gather, evaluate, analyse and interpret information relevant to your research topic/questions? If these methods/experiments are based on existing work/texts, you must properly cite those sources.

Remember, this is a starting point only – once you begin experimenting, the insights drawn from each method/experiment may drive your research practice in unexpected directions, so you will refine and rethink your reserch topic, methods and experiments along the way.

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, I.1, R.1 and R.2

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%

Assessment task 2: Annotated Portfolio

Intent:

You will each submit an Annotated Portfolio of your Research Through Design practice. Examples will be shown in studio. This is not a comprehensive collection of everything you have done, but rather an edited and logically ordered collection of the significant experiments which, when seen together, tell a 'story' of your exploration. It should include all four categories from your Critical Documentation Guidelines:

  1. A project overview map
  2. Seminar / crit session summaries (only include those that led to significant insights or experiments).
  3. Critical analysis of 'anchors' (texts and projects that had significant impact on your research)
  4. Experiment Logs.

The 'experiment logs' will make up the bulk of your Portfolio. You may include studio exercises that led to significant insights, or inspired your own exercises, but we also expect to see original experiments that you came up with as part of your independent research practice, in response to your particular topic and questions. Discuss with your studio leader how many experiments to include in your folio – depending on the topic and approaches, some folios may include many small experiments where others will have fewer, larger experiments.

You must include a 500-word written statement that summarises your key insights from the suite of experiments, and indicates which experiment you will continue, or begin, for the rest of the semester.

SUBMISSION DETAILS

A) Annotated Portfolio

You may submit either a print or a digital submission, depending how you documented your experiments, and considering the best way to communicate your topic and research process in graphic, formal and material ways. Apply your design skills to make your folio readable and easy to navigate. Use images/visualisations to show/demonstrate your process and make arguments where relevant.

Digital submissions must be an interactive PDF (i.e. have a contents page with hyperlinks to sections).
Print submissions must have a contents page.

B) Studio Presentation

You will each have 6 minutes to present a selection of your experiments to the studio group. This is an opportunity to share your research process with each other, and to receive feedback on your work so far.

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

P.2, R.1 and R.2

Type: Portfolio
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 60%
Criteria:

Assessment task 3: Project Pitch

Intent:

Draw on insights from your research process in all three honours subjects undertaken this semester to pitch a project for Critical Practice: Project in Spring semester. A series of workshops will help you draw out ideas, and work through ways to present them.

You may structure your pitch any way you think most appropriate, but you must include (see Critical Documentation Guidelines):

  1. A 'Project Overview Map'
  2. Contextual Survey of 2 - 5 (at least 2, no more than 5) key texts/projects that inspired or provoked your proposed project.
  3. Experiments or prototypes you created this semester, to demonstrate methods or design approaches for your proposed project, or to show how you reached your proposal.

Submission

A) Pitch presentation
You will have 4 minutes to pitch your project to the studio group and invited guests. Design a slide presentation that supports your oral presentation. There will be a 'soft pitch' to the studio group two weeks before the final presentation.

B) Pitch document
The written document should be submitted as an A4 PDF, no more than 12 single-sided pages. Please use UTS style referencing.

Consider: how you could support or make arguments with graphic, formal and material elements; what types of argument might be best presented as a visual essay, a short film or animation, an interactive experience; refer to the readings around paratext and diagrammatic writing – how could images or other graphic devices form part of your argument?

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.1, I.1 and R.2

Type: Portfolio
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 25%

Minimum requirements

The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Achievement of the subject's aims is difficult if classes are not attended. Records of attendance will be kept. Students are expected to come to all sessions adequately prepared. This means completing pre-work activities listed in the weekly program section in this outline and being ready to discuss them in studio sessions.