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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Undergraduate Course: Monsters and Misfits: Hybrid Objects and Interdisciplinary Fabrication (DESI10082)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe boundaries between traditionally distinct practices (design, craft, architecture, art etc.) are becoming ever more fluid. This course sets out to examine, explore, and navigate these blurred conceptions of practice. To do this students will engage with a wide range of theoretical concepts, such as "monsters", "boundary objects", and "mediators", and then apply such ideas to the digital fabrication of misfit objects. The course itself takes a 'hybrid' approach, fostering a clear understanding of the intertwined relationship between theory and practice.
Course description We live in a period in which the borders defining 'practice' (designer, maker, crafter, artist etc.) are continually blurred. This is happening, arguably, because of emerging technologies and hybrid production processes. Alongside this, interdisciplinary collaborations are still at the root of innovation, and designers are more frequently being challenged to find a way of collaborating beyond their traditional disciplinary approaches. This course examines the relationship between blurred disciplinary boundaries, the role fabrication techniques play in promoting this, and forms of interdisciplinary collaboration. It sets out to explore the physical objects these circumstances produce by asking the question: If the distinctions between practices are blurred, are also the objects themselves?

Throughout this single-semester course, you will be challenged to explore the boundaries between practices by playfully challenging differences and similarities within different disciplinary environments and techniques of making. The exploration of this territory will be drawn from a range of theoretical contexts, including the sociological concepts of "borderlands and monsters" (Donna Haraway; John Law); "boundary objects" (Susan Leigh Starr & James Griesemer); intermediaries and mediators (Bruno Latour). Through a blended teaching approach combining theoretically informed lectures and seminars with practice-based workshop assignments, the course places emphasis on digital fabrication tools that will foster a highly experimental, risk-taking environment, hosting experiments and explorations between the digital and the tangible, and between the uncanny and the familiar.

You will be expected to tinker with and explore a range of new technologies, thereby developing an articulate understanding of the potential for their use in interdisciplinary creative practice through a collaboration with a partner from a distinct disciplinary background. The course nourishes the exploration and development of an understanding of interdisciplinary "artistic research" (Borgdorff, 2010). Key questions permeate all activities for the duration of course, and are intended to frame a critical, reflective analysis through all assignments and tasks. These permeating questions include:
1) How do new things evolve?
2) What is the process of adopting innovative design-led artefacts?
3) Which digital methods best enhance interdisciplinary collaboration?
4) Does technology enable meddling and tinkering?
5) What importance do the "others", the "outsiders", the "monsters", and the "borderlands" have in developing innovation-led practices?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs It is estimated that the average cost to produce the hybrid objects as part of the portfolio will approximately 40. However, this may be increased depending on the nature of the object produced.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate clear evidence of integration of theoretical perspectives with practical studio activities.
  2. Show a developed appreciation of the theoretical underpinnings of hybridity and related theories.
  3. Evidence an ability to design and construct sophisticated objects and artefacts which combine approaches from various creative disciplines established through 3d modelling techniques.
  4. Demonstrate your ability to work in partnership with people from other disciplines, using intermediary drawings, diagrams, models, and artefacts.
  5. Communicate your awareness of the wider theoretical and contextual implications of the course content on hybridity and attendant ideas in relation to a range of case study through reflective academic writing.
Reading List
Borgdorff, H. (2010). 'The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research'. In: Biggs, M. and Karlsson, H. (Eds.). The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. pp.24-43. Abingdon: Routledge
Haraway, D. (1991). 'A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the late Twentieth Century'. In: Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. pp.149-182. New York: Routledge
Jencks, C. and Silver, N. (2013). 'Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation' [updated edition]. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press
Latour, B. (2007). 'Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor Network Theory'. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Law, J. (1990). 'Introduction: Monsters, Machines and Sociotechnical Relations'. In: The Sociological Review. Vol.38(S1). pp.1-23
Michael, M. (2000). 'Reconnecting Culture, Technology and Nature'. Abingdon: Routledge
Starr, S.L. and Griesemer, J.R. (1989). 'Institutional Ecology, 'Translations' and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkey's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-1939'. In: Social Studies of Science. Vol.19(3). pp.387-420
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills To exercise autonomy and initiative in the development of projects.
To be able to employ appropriate research strategies to self-initiated projects.
To be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues
To be able to identify, define and analyse problems and identify or create processes to solve them
To be able to flexibly transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another
To communicate ideas effectively and in ways that respond to specific briefs and audiences
KeywordsHybridity,interdisciplinarity,monsters,digital fabrication
Course organiserDr Craig Martin
Course secretaryMs Jane Thomson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5713
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