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  • Re/staging: critical design and the curatorial. An analysis of emerging product design and the museum as context

Russell, Gillian, 2017, Thesis, Re/staging: critical design and the curatorial. An analysis of emerging product design and the museum as context PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The principle objective of this study is to examine the conditions and contexts of critical design practice, specifically as it pertains to methods of identifying, presenting and producing critical design within the space of the museum exhibition. The analysis in this study seeks to reveal a better understanding of the working practices that underpin museums’ creative engagements with critical design practice while recognising the significance of critical design’s behaviours of questioning, possibilising, probabilising and activating that inform such engagements.
A case is presented for combining several theoretical perspectives into a multi-layered conceptual framework for examining the ideas, approaches and conditions of both critical design and its circulation through the museum exhibition. In calling upon concepts from the art world as a means of developing a philosophical understanding of design, the concept of a ‘work of design’ is proposed to understand the shift in practice that has occurred over the past fifteen years. Furthermore, the emphasis on a ‘work of design’ is explicated through a conceptualisation of critical practice as both a design of reflexive modernity and a para-model of practice – a notable device for social and cultural research. Design’s circulation in the museum is problematised drawing upon theories of the curatorial to develop a model of the exhibition as a speculative activity that privileges critical thought, discourse, speculation and production. In this sense ‘the curatorial’ offers a space for multiple viewpoints and experiences which together create a collective endeavour that remains forever open to contestation and adjustment.
Empirically, the study contributes insights into the diverse and contingent curatorial practices involved in communicating and disseminating critical design practice. The findings suggest that the new relationships that are being formed between critical design and the museum are reframing the exhibition as a tool for research – a transdisciplinary studio space whereby
ideas are tested and projects take form through the performativity of multiple agents. Thus the museum is being approached as a context for experimentation; a space that exposes rather than displays, presents rather than represents, a performative space that points to a recoding of practice as production. In this way we can begin to consider the museum and its exhibitions as a model of emergence as they enter a discourse of performativity that actively engages with their subject rather than merely offering it for consumption. The result is a collective space for knowing and experiencing via the performativity of both critical design and the curatorial.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W240 Industrial/Product Design
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Funders: AHRC, Victoria and Albert Museum
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2017 14:38
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2017 14:38
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2825

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