Last week I attended the RMIT Creative Industries Panel. I got a generic e-mail, and decided to RSVP. I don't study design, nor have I ever considered myself a designer. So I popped over to that Building 100 to see what I may glean.
A number of interesting people broadly associated with the design industry gave short talks on their practice, and pathways after graduation - many were post-RMIT. The lady running the show made some interesting comments in her introduction that somewhat echo what my teachers have been banging on about:
Design will drive Australia into the 22nd century...design is a driver - we have a different view.
This is certainly a reference to the 'designer toolkit' that employers are so keen to harness. Yes, design is definitely forward-thinking; I can see that this shift in approach to practice, problems and work will be essential for media industry practitioners. It is so easy at university to submit the assignment and get your HD, which is a worryingly entrenched approach to study (of media and otherwise). I've definitely been one of those students who loves to marinate in research, and then basque in the satisfaction of placing one cogent sentence after another. Networked Media however, is a 180 for me, and I like the challenge.
Interestingly almost all of the speakers, who ranged from Creative Recruitment Agency chick, Design/Advertising 'Facilitator' to Designer of King Kong (the giant beast in that spectacular musical), agreed that being honest about your skills but being keen to learn is valued highly. Googling a 'how to' for five minutes is totally acceptable, nobody has to know. This also goes back to one of our early lessons. Anyone can learn what (write a screenplay, Final Cut effect, do x on my computer), our job is to know how to be something, a media practitioner; and that is to be ignited by ideas. Preferably in a ludic fashion; playful, experimental, throwing ideas forward. T-shaped.
One guy, Greg More from the RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory, appeared to premise his whole practice on a Design Fiction method. His work in data visualisation uses cameras to capture time and motion, and organise data in virtual environments or 'digital space'. The result are these wacky, interactive, virtual representations of what would be very dry data. For example, an evolving visualisation of ten years' worth of Melbourne's water data as a real-time installation. The point is, when Greg spoke of his practice, he said he couldn't possibly know what form these visualisations may take until the process begins - data visualisations are a kind of design future that he's making up as he goes. I loved it when he showed us how he designs video game environments as a way to think about architecture. He also provided my take away idea for the evening, from John Maeda:
Making something simpler isn't as important as making something clearer.