Amelia Huw Morgan

Illustrator : Drawing. Performance.

‘in hope of the participant viewer’ is a PhD research project by publication exploring experimental and phenomenological relationships between the illustrated image and the participant viewer, in reaction and relation to socio-political problems and the unfathomable effort of the human being to become redundant in society beyond passivity of ‘like’ in the everyday life. Modes of thinking including `Brechtian and `Stansinslavskian’ theatre, puppetry and ‘The Soul of the Marionette’ (Gray, 2015), are experimentally deployed in a critical, practice research in which embodied streams of consciousness wonder why we seem forever intent on making ourselves more graceless and senseless than the marionette; both mocked and revered in Heinrich Von Kleist’s essay (1810).

(Supervisors : Thompson. Woodward.)

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Henry Hill

Product Designer : Design. Postanthropcentricism. Artefact Becoming.

Co-supervised with Keble College, Oxford University.

Form Follows Formgiving: Attuning to the Entanglement of Everyday Things 

How might the implementation of ‘meshwork’ analyses into the reading of design artefacts provide a footing for new ways of designing attuned to the relational dimensions of life?  

This research project’s contribution to knowledge is the implementation of ‘meshwork’ analyses into the reading of designed artefacts as a way of attuning designers to the ecological entanglement of everyday things. Within this context, the PhD thesis demonstrates how the implementation of such relational understandings into design posits a way to read designed artefacts not in terms of their material and semiotic functions but as traces or referential structures of a broader mesh of relations that comprise the interdependencies of humans, nonhumans, and things. More precisely, the thesis tests the implementation of ‘meshwork’ analyses through the specific reading of some traditional Welsh craft-based artefacts to reveal pre-existing ways of knowing and making (i.e. designing) which, it is argued, do not simply suggest a ‘romantic’ or ‘primitive’ sensibility towards nature but, rather, a deep ecological awareness of the interdependencies of localised living-systems and environments. It is hypothesised that implementing ‘meshwork’ analyses into the reading of designed artefacts more broadly could provide a footing for new ways of designing that do not adhere to its entrenched rationalist industrial tradition but are instead, crucially, attuned to the relational dimensions of life. Framed in this way, such a shift in posture and mindset is proffered as a contribution to the emerging field of Transition Design and its endeavour to transition society towards more sustainable, equitable, and desirable long-term futures.

(Supervisors : Thompson. Woodward. Malafouris.)

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Theo Humphries

Interaction Designer : Design. Humour. Entanglement

Co-supervised with Plymouth University.

How might ideas from humour theory and entanglement theory address how humour is (mis)understood in design?This research project’s contribution to knowledge is a drawing together of ideas from humour theory and entanglement theory in order to demonstrate how derogatory humour, as a response to design, has been historically misperceived. Within this context, the PhD thesis demonstrates how drawing together ideas from such fields provides a designerly understanding of humour that is not framed in terms of derision, but as an indicator of a fracture in the relationship between audience and designed artefact. It is hypothesised that such an understanding will provide a theoretical footing toward a new way of designing for which derisory humour has been reconceptualised as a welcome indicator of innovation. Framed in this way, such a shift in posture and mindset is proffered as a foundational contribution to the nascent field of humour-centred design.

(Supervisors : Thompson. Pepperell. Punt.)

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Laura Barritt

Artist & Teacher : Art. Abstraction. Extended Spaces. Mind.

Co-supervised with the University of Buckingham and supported by the University of Cardiff.

Implications for pedagogy: understanding how student life-space impacts learning in a complex hyperconnected world

How might contemporary learning theory be re-informed to better account for the continuous transformation of adolescent ‘Life space’ in facilitating learning? 

This research project’s contribution to knowledge is the recovery and recontextualisation of a lost model of perception and cognition, namely Muchow’s ‘The Life Space of the Urban Child’, into contemporary educational theory. Within this context, the PhD thesis demonstrates how Muchow’s phenomenological model of perception and cognition proffers a better understanding of how students learn, by taking into consideration the implications of person-environment relations on cognitive development. It is hypothesised that such a recontextualisation of Muchow’s model could provide a foundation for the development of pedagogy better equipped to support and facilitate learning experiences in the 21st century. Framed in this way, such a recovery and re-contextualisation of Muchow’s ‘Life-Space of the Urban Child’ is proffered as a contribution to the emerging field of posthumanist theory in education. 

(Supervisors : Thompson. Woodward. Popovac)

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Emma Smith

Textiles Designer : Design. Owning. Metatphysics.

In my PhD I want to explore deeper questions of what goes into the condition of contemporary and future in Tum Genus Longa relationships. I want to inquire if when we focus attention onto questions of both sides of the ownership-relationship, what new ideas might emerge that designers can draw upon? The overarching aim of my research will be to draw discourse emerging from new materialism together and to shine fresh light upon the ideas and problems of ownership or possession-endurance for design. How we can we better understand and focus these emerging metaphysical and philosophical ideas forward in a way that is useful for textiles designers?

(Supervisors : Thompson. Woodward. Canavan.)

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Yalda Borzorg

Artists Ceramicist : Cognition., Material Engagement Theory. Ceramics.

This research project’s contribution to knowledge is an empirically-based characterisation of what I call ‘Temperament’. Within this context, the PhD thesis maps how the character of materials such as clay appear to fluctuate in correspondence with the environment that they are situated in, and reveals how this correspondence appears to follow a relationally consistent pattern over time. It is hypothesised that the empirically-based characterisation of Temperament (i.e. the relational nature/changeable character of materials) may proffer a deeper understanding of the agency of the forces and processes at play when making, especially when considered over longer temporalities than have been examined previously (e.g. Ingold, 2013; Malafouris, 2013). Framed in this way, such an empirically-based characterisation of ‘temperament’ is presented as contribution to the archaeological framework of Material Engagement Theory and related anthropological concepts.

(Supervisor : Woodward. Thompson)

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Nigel Ash

Artist, sculptor & maker

‘Happy Accidents: Towards post-anthropocentric understandings of serendipity.

This research project’s contribution to knowledge is the injection of relational theories of creativity into the analysis of making processes as a new way to account for the material forces and flows that give rise to instances of unexpected but welcome events in the production of material artefacts. In this context, the PhD thesis demonstrates how the injection of relational theories of creativity into the analysis of making processes offers a way to read such chance happenings not in terms of serendipity or a ‘happy accident’ after the fact/ act, but as an emergent ‘dance of animacy’ between maker, material, and environment (Ingold, 2013, p. 101). It is hypothesised that such a revised understanding of serendipity in relation to making will provide makers with a better way to consider the often-ineffable qualities of materials. Framed in this way, this project is proffered as a contribution of diffractive practice and research into the field of making theory.

(Supervisors : Thompson. Woodward)

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Sanjay Sahota

Product designer and technology theorist

My research explores whether ancient and indigenous technologies might bring new insight to the way in which we design artifacts. It attempts to do this in a way that is more in keeping and in tune with the world around us and less modelled on 19th Century ideas of dominance, ordering, and control. In an investigation of ways in which a number of ancient and indigenous models of technology might be reinterpreted in an extended and decolonized design conversation, the research draws upon contemporary post-anthropocentric ideas around human/non-human relationships; a centering of Arturo Escobar’s idea of the Pluriverse and a drawing from histories of indigenous technologies such as that of Julia Watson.

(Supervisors : Thompson. Woodward)

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Dr Andrea Gogova

Doctoral Researcher Erasmus Exchange in partnership with Tomas Bata University in Zlin.

From Grid to Rhizome – A Rethinking of a Digital Text Layout.

A completed doctoral research project based on two scopes of research. The first area is based on cybertext theory implementation. The (post)digital text layout as an open and complex system that depends on two types of materiality based on the processing mode. The first is the text of programming code, invisible for users, and the second the text structure of visible interfaces as a Transitoire Observable (Bootz, 1999). The second area of research is based on comparing the research of the grid-based structure in architecture and urbanism with graphic design. Both scopes of the arguments lead to the idea of Rhizome (Deleuze and Guattari, 1980) as a model of (post)digital text layout structure. Available at artech2021

(Supervisors : Zervan, Mitášov & Husarova.)

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Dr Rachel Eardley 


The unexplored design opportunities of the biomechanical human hand and the role it plays in handheld technology

A completed PhD research project – co-supervised with Bristol University – that sought to understand hand movement as a facet of cognition and how it can be accounted for in HCI research terms, specifically in respect to the design of mobile phones. The research tests ways in which micro-movements of the hand afford a higher level of complexity in sensorimotor action in human – non-human cognitive processes. The research has an impact in terms of understandings for the design and additional potential of small device interaction.

(Supervisors : Thompson. Gill. Roudaut. )

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