Select Outlines 

1. Thinking through Art, Thinking through Design: 
Explorations in Interdisciplinarity, Collaboration and 

Practice-based Research. 

Art/Des 630: Winter Semester, 2016 

Class website: https://sites.google.com/a/ualberta.ca/art-des630/ 

In this seminar series we will generally reflect upon your way of working through considering the role of creative disciplines within contemporary issues. More specifically, we will approach art/design history and theory through your practice and work towards generating research tools that support your ongoing M.Des/MFA studies and help define your thesis project. 

Week 1, 2.9.16: 

Introduction: Lecture by Gavin Renwick: Decolonizing Methodologies. 

Week 2, 9.9.16: 

Individual presentations on your own practice. 

Talk on evolving an appropriate research methodology for art/design practice, practice-based research, the idea of post-colonial aesthetics and related issues. 

Week 3, 16.9.16: Provocation Paper for class discussion: 

Introduction to: ‘Critical and Indigenous Methodologies’ 

https://books.google.ca/books?id=MJ8R41fRT08C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Criti cal+and+Indigenous+Methodologies&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiUi_Pjh_HOAh XB0h4KHc8BAhEQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=Critical%20and%20Indigenous%20 Methodologies&f=false 

Introduction to: ‘Decolonizing Methodologies’ 

https://books.google.ca/books?id=Nad7afStdr8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Criti cal+and+Indigenous+Methodologies&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiUi_Pjh_HOA hXB0h4KHc8BAhEQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=Critical%20and%20Indigenous%20 Methodologies&f=false 

Week 4, 23.9.16: 

5 minute presentation on the potential of the manifesto for artists and designer. Please illustrate through selected historic examples of personal interest (see ‘initial references below). 

Drawing as Research: Workshop (held in graduate Printmaking studio). 

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member.

Week 5, 30.9.16: 

Presentation of ideas for your manifesto of practice (an artists/designers book). 

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member. 

Week 7, 14.10.16: 

Dr Natalie Loveless and Professor Sean Caulfield will lead discussion around ‘Research Creation’. 

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member. 

Week 8, 21.10.16: 

One-to-one meetings. 

Dr Kim Tallbear will lead class discussion on decolonizing methodologies. 

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member. 

Week 9, 28.10.16: 

Group discussion with professional arts curators/directors, artists, designers 

and architects. 

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member. 

Week 10, 4.11.16: 

Interim presentations 

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member. 

Week 11

*Reading Week* 

Week 12, 18.11.16: 

Submission of draft supporting statement with bibliography.

Provocation Paper for discussion selected by class member.

Week 13, 25.11.16: 

Individual work towards final presentation (I’ll be available throughout period of class for consultation) 

Week 14, 2.12.16: 

Final presentation and exhibition of your manifesto.. 

2. Envisioning a Process: 

the Dehcho First Nations Communications Challenge. 

Spring Session Course, Design 338 Community Design in Northern Canada. May, 2011. 

Objective: To develop a means in which to raise awareness and increase communication between the Dehcho and Southern Canadians, pertaining to the land claims and self-governing process Dehcho First Nations are currently negotiating. 

Client: Dehcho First Nations, Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. 

Since 1995 Dehcho First Nations have been negotiating with Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories for a just settlement of their outstanding aboriginal and treaty rights. Through the completion of this process new structures will be created for the governance of each Dehcho community. The challenge set for us by a member of the Dehcho negotiations team was to design a parallel but integrated communications strategy, one to articulate the process regionally to Dehcho communities as well as a broader strategy for those unfamiliar with either Dene culture or the Dehcho Process. 

This project originated with the belief that design has the potential to facilitate communication for understanding an incredible complex issue like the Dehcho Process while helping generate the support to reach resolution. Methods implicit to a socially responsive design practice can, if applied in a considerate manor, bridge and consolidate the technological, cultural and environmental factors that are often in conflict with each other. This Spring Session course asked the students involved to consider how, as emerging designers, a culturally sensitive design practice could be a catalyst for an equitable dialogue.

Design can embed cultural meaning and memory through understanding the specific needs and values of a community and its context – this is particularly relevant when working for a First Nation client. In this Spring Session course the students, working in interdisciplinary groups, considered and discussed how an ethical envisioning process that recognizes local knowledge and contemporary cultural practices can only facilitate better design. The involvement of representatives from Dehcho First Nations and the Dehcho region was a vital part of the process. Indeed this was the most important part of a first week that also included talks, documentary screenings and readings. Overall, a ‘fast track’ way for the students to generate an understanding of, and sensitivity to, something as complex as the Dehcho Process. 

In the recent past our relationship with the place has fundamentally changed. The way in which those who lived on or worked the land has been transformed so rapidly that, within a generation, many areas of traditional skills and knowledge have completely disappeared. For many communities, this has given rise to a schism between generations and a fear that their culture is being lost. This is especially poignant for First Nation’s where cultural history was traditionally passed between generations through song or story. 

Elders are holistic thinkers, they understand that problems are not discipline specific. A way of thinking that can ultimately help evolve more sophisticated, innovative, and environmentally responsive solutions. The process explored in this Spring Session class evolves from such principles, allowing for collaboration and communication between different knowledge traditions and abilities. As with Indigenous knowledge, it is a way of researching and developing transmittable knowledge that is an adaptable and dynamic system based on skills, abilities, and problem-solving techniques. As an elder passes on knowledge and skill through demonstration, the way of researching adopted in this class celebrates experience (while recognising the knowledge enshrined within both creative and cultural practices). 

The definition of participatory design is as complex as its practice is diverse. An inherently interdisciplinary practice, participatory design takes as its starting point the idea that dialogue about and participation in decisions by the ones for whom the design is intended increases success. The basic premise is that if you bring many people into conversation, voices that bring cultural history and experiential knowledge, the result will be more relevant, more sustainable, and more reflective of community needs. It is an inherently democratic approach to problem solving.

In this Spring Session course you will consider how an ethical envisioning process that recognizes local knowledge and contemporary cultural practices can facilitate better design. 

Initial Reference: (See ongoing ‘Bibliography’ file in class website.) 

Artists Book collection, Rutherford Library 

http://proboscis.org.uk 

http://www.artistsbooksonline.org 

http://www.openculture.com 

‘Trickster Makes the World – How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture’ Hyde, Lewis. 1998. Farrar, Straus and Giroux 

http://blog.redbubble.com/2013/10/11-design-manifestos-you-must-read-today 

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/art-manifestos-and-their-applications-in-contemporary-design/ / http://backspace.com/notes/2009/07/design-manifestos. php 

3. Seminar on Design Issues: 

Society, Space & Design Practice 

Des 483, Winter Semester 2012. 

Class webpage: https://sites.google.com/a/ualberta.ca/des483-2013/home 

The theme of this class will be introduced through Gavin presenting his own research and practice that is strongly embedded in the social realm. Through a variety of individual and collaborative exercises we will then investigate our relationship to the built environment through considering; Home (our childhood space), City (our daily engagement), Society (our vision). 

Design has the potential to create and moderate the dialogue needed to create the holistic solutions necessary for resolving many of the complex issues that currently affect contemporary society, be it in urban Edmonton or a northern First Nation hamlet. Methods implicit to a socially responsive design practice can, if applied in a considerate manor,

bridge and consolidate the technological, cultural and environmental factors that are often in conflict with each other. In this advanced seminar you will consider how, as emerging designers, your practice could be a catalyst for creating an innovative and responsible design thinking that can make a difference. 

You will be encouraged in this class to consider how we work as designers and how, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller, design can be considered as much a verb as a noun. In this regard you will be introduced to methodologies for working as a socially responsive designer and collaborator. 

Course components: 

A ‘designers statement’ describing your ideas about design and your ambitions as a designer. For the 17th of January. 5% 

A 5 minute white board presentation on a designer/architect whose work or working methods you find innovative while addressing the issues being discussed in this class. For the 24th of January. 5% 

A 5 minute white board presentation on an artist working in the built environment that you find inspiring and addresses the social and cultural issues discussed in this class. For the 31th of January. 5% 

Presentation on a contemporary social/civic issue that you feel merits a significant investigation from a multi-disciplinary design perspective. You will research and prepare a 15-20 minute presentation on your chosen issue for the 7th of February.15% 

Development of a written design brief with supporting material concerning your chosen issue. To be presented before Reading Week on the 14th of February.10% 

A sketchbook / visual diary to be keep throughout the period of this class. This is to be utilized to document your day-to-day visual investigation and critical reflections of your built environment. To be submitted on the 4th of April 20% 

Final presentation of design, and submission of supporting publication on the 4th of April. 

Installation of work with supporting graphic material in gallery display cases at the Stanley Milner Library, Winston Churchill Square, 11th of April. 30%

General performance based on attendance and general participation in class.10% 

If appropriate, aspects of the curriculum may change or be adapted to evolving needs. This will be done in consultation with all members of the class. 

Select Bibliography

Aiello, John R. Human Spatial Behavior . 1987. Stokolis, Daniel. et al (ed) Handbook of Environmental Psychology. Vol 1. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 

Bechtel, Robert B. Introduction: Social Goals Through Design.1977. Enclosing Behavior. Dewden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. Stroudsburg. 

Brody, Hugh. Maps and Dreams.1981. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver. 

Egenter, Nold. Implosion website (http://home.worldcom.ch/negenter/). Documentation Office for Fundamental Studies in Building Theory, Lausanne. 

Fry, Tony. Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice. 2009. Berg, Oxford. 

Hayduk, Leslie A. Personal Space: Where We Now Stand. Psychology Bulletin. Vol. 94. No. 2. (293-335). 

Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. 2000. Routledge, London. 

Kent, Susan. Partitioning Space – Cross-Cultural Factors Influencing Domestic Spatial Segmentatio.1991. ‘Environment & Behaviour’, Vol.23 No.4. 

Lawrence, Roderick J. What Makes a House a Home.1987. ‘Environment & Behaviour’, Vol.19 No.2. 

Sack, Robert David. Human Territoriality - Its Theory and History.1986. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

Sanders, Elizabeth. ‘Design Serving People. In: Cumulous Working Papers. Eds. Eija Salmi and Lotta Anusionwu. 2006. University of Art and Design, Helsinki. pp28-33. 

Sommer, Robert. Design Awareness. 1972. Holt, Rinehart and Wilson Inc., Austin. 

Stea, David. (et al). From the Outside Looking Inside Looking Out. 1969. Winkel, Gary H. (ed).Environment and Behavior. Sage Publications, Inc. Beverly Hills, California.

Sommer, Robert. Personal Space, The behavioural Basis of Design. 1969. Prentice – Hall, Inc. Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey. 

Stegall, Nathan. Designing for Sustainability: A Philosophy for Ecologically Intentional Design. Design Issues 22 (Spring 2006): 56-63. 

Tuan, Yi-Fu. Cosmos & Hearth: A Cosmopolite’s Viewpoint. 1996. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. 

Vezzoli, Carlo and Ezio Manzini. Design for Environmental Sustainability. 2008. Springer, London. 

Ward, Anthony. The Suppression of the Social in Design: Architecture As War. 1996. Dutton, Thomas & Mann, Lian Hurst. ‘Reconstituting Architecture: 

Critical Discourses & Social Practices’. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 

4. Designing for the Intangible 

Des 681: Theory and Research in Design Studies II. Winter Semester 2013 

Class webpage: https://sites.google.com/a/ualberta.ca/des681-2013/home 

For this class we will be working with the Royal Alberta Museum. As you may know a new downtown museum is due to open in 2018. The building has been designed but the interiors and exhibition design are beginning to be worked on now. This is a unique opportunity to reinvent the museum for the 21st Century, importantly, it is an opportunity to reconsider how we present and interpret material collections – particularly in a more culturally appropriate and post-colonial way. 

In the recent past our relationship with the place has fundamentally changed. The way in which those who lived on or worked the land has been transformed so rapidly that, within a generation, many areas of traditional skills and knowledge have completely disappeared, particularly through urban migration. For many communities, this has given rise to a schism between generations and a fear that their culture is being lost. This is especially poignant in societies where cultural history was traditionally passed between generations through song or story. (UNESCO has recently recognised the importance of traditional knowledge by ratifying the ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage’.

This recognises that the: ‘processes of globalization and social transformation, alongside the conditions they create for renewed dialogue among communities, also give rise, as does the phenomenon of intolerance, to grave threats of deterioration, disappearance and destruction of the intangible cultural heritage, in particular owing to a lack of resources for safeguarding such heritage’.) 

We will explore issues of memory, transmission and creative continuity within and through design. We will explore the relationship between practice (doing/making) and the transmission of knowledge and how, when incorporated into a critical design process, it can contribute to a dynamic cultural continuity and sense of identity within a multi-cultural milieu (rather than simply preserving and recording the past as some stylistic frozen moment in time). 

As globalisation impacts upon traditional practices their sustainability becomes more fragile (as cultural values and embodied knowledge can no longer be assumed to be transmitted from generation to generation). If cultural survival, never mind identity, depends on an uninterrupted chain of transmission, new ways of communicating cultural memory and traditional knowledge are required to enable future generations to continue to evolve while maintaining contemporary relevance. (There is also scope to recognise how traditional environmental knowledge can make a significant contribution to evolving contemporary sustainable design). Within these scenarios there exists a potential role for the designer-researcher, particularly in the context of a new museum located within a contemporary multi-cultural city like Edmonton. 

The artist Joseph Bueys once said that ‘culture relates to freedom because culture implies freedom’, insinuating, for me, the need for designers to be critically conversant about their methods, not merely their products. This seminar will therefore introduce research through the context of practice, understanding it as a practical investigation calculated to devise or test new information, forms or procedures. We will discuss the role and potential of research through exploring how designers construct an understanding of the social world and how that can affect possibilities for their practice. We will consider the potential for design to operate between the individual and social world - within what Wade Davis calls the ‘ethnosphere’. 

This seminar series brings together topics such like practice-led methodologies, design practice, performance, ethnography, cultural history, curation, museology and project management towards developing new mores of cultural communication. The seminar will also undertake a critical review of curatorial practice and design within the context of

cultural ‘contact zones’, such as museums, and investigate how non-tangible heritage has been utilised to date. The final aim will be to design a prototype that addresses the public display of non–tangible material. 

We will explore to what extent can the designer-researcher assume the role of cultural intermediary between intangible / non-textual knowledge traditions and cultural repositories? How can traditions and expressions be integrated into tangible design as a vehicle for understanding non-material culture? Can prototype designs be developed that effectively deliver a holistic interpretative experience of specific traditions within a multicultural museum context? 

Some general points of reference: 

Geographer Edward Soja asserts that communities traditionally had the potential to ‘create their own conceptions on the nature of the space or the cosmos which they inhabit’. Architect Giancarlo de Carlo stresses that creative practice must therefore be a ‘communal organ of research and investigation into the real problems of social life’. Architect/anthropologist Nold Egenter argues that design history has been rationalised in all directions, presented as a formal aesthetic isolated from a social, cultural, and economic context. (William Morris asserts that it should be ‘impossible to exclude socio-political 

questions from the consideration of aesthetics’.). Architectural theorist, Catherine Ingraham, refers to ‘the burden of an ideal geometry that fails to be ideal’, as we can see upon discovered land. (An ‘ideal’ linking Mercator’s projection with Alberti’s perspective.) Edward Said invites connections between culture and 

imperialism, compelling us ‘to make observations about art and design that preserve its unique endowments and at the same time map its affiliations’. The work of Maori academic Linda Tuhiwai Smith deconstructs colonial discourse while addressing general research methodological implications, particularly within an indigenous context. Susan Hiller’s practice, as artist and anthropologist, fundamentally questions the ‘myth of primitivism’ and how ethnographic exhibitions are curated and designed. 

Some additional relevant reading: 

Brody, Hugh. The Peoples Land 

Egenter, Nold. http://home.worldcom.ch:80/~negenter/ / Highmore, Ben (Ed). The

Design Culture Reader. 

Hiller, Susan (Ed.). The Myth of Primitivism - Perspectives on Art (Especially Chapter 1: ‘Some general observations on the problem of cultural colonialism’, by Kenneth Coutts- Smith 

Said, Edward W. Culture & Imperialism / Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies. 

Additional relevant papers will be distributed throughout the semester. 

Timetable & Marking: 

11th Jan: 

Introduction to practice-led research and the general themes of the seminar, including ‘cultural landscapes’, through a presentation about Gavin’s work. 

18th Jan: 

Visit to the Royal Alberta Museum, Q&A with curators. 

25th Jan: 

Class discussion with Brendan Hokowhitu, Dean of Native Studies. Presentation of related ethnographic/museology documentaries. 

8th Feb: 

Individual presentations concerning a critical reflection upon how artifacts are presented. Class discussion on challenging the systematic classification and metaphorical illusion to ‘the other’ as presented through the museum ethnographic displays. 

Consideration of intangible cultural knowledge, its documentation and communication through different media. 5% 

15th Feb: 

Presentation of brief for research-led project that investigates and develops a design response to presenting non-tangible knowledge within the museum.10%

22nd Feb: 

*Reading week*

1st March onwards: 

Development of project. 

29th March: 

*Good Friday, campus closed.* 

5th Apr: 

Final presentations 35% 

12th Apr: 

Presentation of display within museum. 25% 

Weekly readings. 10% 

General performance based on attendance and general participation in class. 15% 

If appropriate, aspects of the curriculum may change or be adapted to evolving needs. This will be done in consultation with all members of the class.