Ravensbourne currently hosts a wide range of Research Projects, from the multi-partner European Horizon 2020 project WEKIT to internally funded small grants for staff.
All of them arise from our collaborative ethos and the many interests of our colleagues, who are working in varied areas across design, communication and digital creativity.
On these pages we are showcasing both current and historic projects that demonstrate our work.
David Hunter, Senior Lecturer Graphic Design BA(Hons)
The current phase of the Data Walking research project is to collect environmental data while walking around North Greenwich, to build a rich picture of that area over time. There will be one walk per month for the twelve months of 2016 and open to anyone who wants to join and explore the area, develop ideas on data gathering techniques and the field of data visualization.
Driverless cars (GATEway 2030)
Dr. Brigitta Zics
The winning project of GATEway 2030, Transmission Fluid by Jay Jordan
As part of an exciting collaboration between Ravensbourne, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and Royal Borough of Greenwich, young designers showcase their visions of a re-imagined Greenwich Peninsula with the introduction of driverless cars. Ravensbourne continue in a longstanding reputation of nurturing design talent by inviting students to take inspiration from the TRL-led GATEway project to propose their own model of driverless vehicle. GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8 million funded research project based in Greenwich with the aim of helping industry and policymakers to understand the implications of automated vehicles in the urban environment.
Download full project description here: PDF
Liz Ciokajlo, Lecturer Product Design BA (HONS)
OurOwnsKIN is a project which explores referencing human foot skin to rethink how we design for future manufactured 3D printed and grown shoes.
Historically, footwear design construction has evolved from the manipulation of the material leather, which is the skin of another animal. Manufacturing machines have evolved to automise how we hand manipulated leather materials to make shoes. As new materials such as polymers were introduced the residue of leather constructions influenced footwear design constructions.
However we are into new territories, where 3D print can construct features so fine the line between materials structure and design construction starts to blur. The project investigates if it is now useful to rethink what we reference when designing footwear. Asking the question, if we designed footwear for the first time today using all materials and technologies available whose skin would we reference as a starting point, as a system from which develop aesthetic design. We see this approach may be useful as we move to futures where we could grown materials such as leather.
Research was undertaken into the tension structures of foot skin to inspire a computation framework. Springy cells call auxetics were placed into the computation framework to address how the material and design construction can provide finer variations in fit needed in mass production. Our research only scratches the surface of the potential to customise the structure for bespoke performance application.
The dynamic research community at Ravensbourne bravely funded the initial medical desk research and the translation of this research into computation. MV works program (funded by Knowledge Transfer Network, Innovate UK and the Arts Council) funded prototyping and early computation development. Innovate UK has funded further technical and research into how best to model a sustainable design consultancy offering services of design research and services translating materials for body apparel.
Our consultancy is called the same name as the project, OurOwnsKIN. The co directors of the consultancy are artist Rhian Solomon whose practice explores skin as a meeting point for collaborative practices between medical specialist and designers, and footwear/ 3D concept development designer Liz Ciokajlo whose focus is on materials, emerging processes and design construction. Designer Manolis Papastavrou was a leading consultant on computation and design on the project. Tom Mallinson of Digits2Wigits and designer Jason Taylor contributed to design development while working on computation files during Innovate Uk funding.
We are currently working on a research projects with Kings College London and a commision from the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). We are publicly launching OurOwnsKIN during London Design Festival 2017.
Dr James Morris, Course Leader Web Media BA(HONS)
John Gulliver, Digital Photography BA(HONS)
Marty St James, Professor of Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire.
Frankenstein is a a multimedia project blending user-generated content with portraiture around the theme of contemporary identity, reflected through the lens of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and timed to coincide with the latter’s bicentenary. Everyone has some part of a monster inside them, and everyone’s personality is made up of elements stitched together from disparate life experiences. That’s one of the key messages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. So when creating our Frankenstein for the 21st Century, this was an important consideration. In an era that is rife with social media, we now build up the personality we want the world to see from a series of self-portraits or “selfies” blended with images taken by others into which we are tagged. To this end, we are building an app that has the primary function of collecting selfies, but also integrates features allowing the user’s own selfies to be blended with those of others, either a collection of friends or complete strangers. The tool allows the user to select selfies from their own collection and construct a composite monster using a different person as the origin for each body part – an ear from one person, a nose from another, eyes from another, and so on. Alternatively, these can be selected automatically from the global image database we are building, either completely at random or according to certain regional criteria. In collaboration with Streaming Museum, these portraits will be projected on giant public screens all over the world.
Ubiquitous Wearing: Camouflage for a Virtual Landscape
Alexa Pollman, Course Leader MA Wearable Futures, Senior Lecturer BA FAD
Sabine Roth, Sessional Lecturer
Kat Thiel, Sessional Lecturer
Ubiquitous Wearing is one of our long term ongoing projects. Triggered by the MARPAT, a pixelated camouflage pattern used by many armed forces, we grew curious to understand the impact that virtual environments will have on our garments and the way that we will make them perform for machines rather then for humans.
We researched and analysed the look, materials and functions of camouflage patterns before we designed four alternative patterns that would not only incorporate a disguising function for enhanced vision systems such as thermo- and nightvision but would reflect on the surroundings and the landscape that influences their pattern: while the well-known woodland pattern takes its inspiration from the bark of a tree, we referenced the surveilling view of a drone using arial images as a starting point.
Each of our developed patterns reacts to a different vision system, and lastly brought us to question wether our aesthetic understanding of the world around us will soon be including factors such as temperature and motion as ingredients for design – enhancing not only our vision but the commonly used properties of colour, material and shape.
In a first iteration, we collated research and pattern-developments in form of a broadsheet publication, while the prints we developed have formed into distinct but still historically referencing materials, but will only come to full expression when viewed with a distinct imaging system:
As we are working on this project, we discover more and more intriguing factors and develop not only the reactive materials further but understand more about the overall impact of the virtual on the everyday and the human perception of others, the self and the machine as a system that will change basic human experiences and evalutaions of our surroundings.
Hence we have decided to stage the project as a participatory performance that will turn its audience in ‘Surveillor’ or ‘Surveilled’ and will engage with a rather playful though meaningful inquiry: how will human-machine interaction change our perception of the self and the body? Will we start to disguise or will we dress up for machines?
Link to website
Towards a Black Film Pedagogy
This paper explores the politics of race in the teaching and learning of Film Studies in British universities. It interrogates the notion of black film pedagogy and argues that it is essential to develop models of teaching and learning that address the disadvantages that black students encounter, compared to their peers, both during their studies and after, in terms of their graduate employment prospects.
Universities are under increasing external pressure to remove the disadvantages and raise the achievement levels of BME students. This pressure results from a rapidly changing political and financial environment and from new policy developments, such as the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Given that one of the TEF’s stated aims is to ‘improve teaching quality to reduce variability’, there is a risk that such measures are devised to bring about positive change, but they may detract from or even undermine the necessity to focus on how individual subjects are taught and the variety of ways in which students thrive and learn. A definition of black film pedagogy, like that of black film itself, will remain contested. Nevertheless, black film pedagogy must develop beyond traditional models, in which black films are peripheral to the core curriculum. Using evidence from policy documents, comparative analysis of Film Studies courses, case studies of innovative practice and interviews with students, the paper outlines a possible framework for a more inclusive and effective black film pedagogy: one that places an emphasis on the variability of the learner, on identity and reception, as much as on the film text itself.
1. The outcomes of this research project are:
Stage one outcome: presentation of project and first stage outcomes at ‘Black Film. British Cinema’ conference, ICA/Goldsmiths, 18/19 May 2017.
Stage two outcome: framework for good practice in improving achievement for BAME students in Film disciplines for good practice and workshop, disseminated nationally.
2. Many factors may impact on BAME achievement.
Our focus is on classroom based teaching and learning practice and pedagogy in undergraduate Film courses at a variety of universities (London-based for stage one; national for stage two).
interviews with CLs + questionnaires to students
Maaike van Neck, Ravensbourne, Course Leader BA(Hons) Graphic Design
Maria da Gandra, LCC, Senior Lecturer final year coordinator BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design.
InformForm celebrates and explores both practical and theoretical experimentation within the field of design. It prides itself on showcasing relevant examples of work by students, for students.
Measuring Learning Gain from Practice and Work-based Learning Programmes
Ravensbourne Staff Involved
- Janthia Taylor – Deputy Director
- Nick Johnstone – Head of Planning and Policy
- Lucy McLeod – Head of Student Services
- Jo Barrett – Assistant Academic Registrar
- Allison Cully – Data Analyst
Since 2015 Ravenbourne has participated in a programme of work run by HEFCE to pilot and evaluate a range of approaches for measuring learning gain (LG). The programme focuses on developing and testing new ways of capturing educational outcomes and analysing how students benefit from higher education. Over 70 universities and colleges have been involved, and Ravensbourne was the lead on one of 13 pilot projects in this programme.
“Learning gain can be defined and understood in a number of ways… broadly it is an attempt to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education.”
1.2 Our Pilot
Our project was a collaborative project between 7 institutions, the majority of which are small institutions with specialisms in the creative industries. Our partners in the project were: -
- Arts University Bournemouth
- Falmouth University
- Norwich University of the Arts
- Ravensbourne (Lead)
- Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance
- Southampton Solent University
- Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
The main aim of the project was to understand the potential to measure the LG from work-based learning and work preparation activities learning as part of a course of study and the effects of these activities on employability, primarily using existing data held by partner institutions (such as DLHE, employability and work-based learning data).
The most significant outcomes arising from this project are: -
- The development, testing and evaluation of three methodologies for assessing LG (DLHE Triangulation, DLHE plus 3 years’ and Solent Capital Compass Model).
- The generation of a range of suggestions for future projects.
- Findings of relevance to future assessments of LG (see conclusions below).
- Development of lessons learned for future partnership working, particularly beneficial to small institutions.
The most significant conclusions to which the Team would draw HEFCE’s attention are that: -
- The work of the project indicates that DLHE outcomes can valuably be cross-referenced to work-preparation activities, and indicates that there may be a causal link between participation in work preparation activities and employability outcomes;
- The methodology developed for the DLHE Triangulation can identify widening participation students, their LG, and the contribution that work preparation makes to that;
- The DLHE plus 3 years’ work indicates that career satisfaction and sustainability of career, longevity and professional resilience are more meaningful measures than level of job or financial reward, particularly for those subject disciplines where a career trajectory is not always clearly defined, however complex measures are required for an assessment of this;
- The outcomes from the DLHE plus 3 years’ survey and the Solent Capital Compass Model work packages both illustrate that ‘longitudinal’ should mean multiple survey points and, indeed, suggest that LG is best measured incrementally rather than in big leaps (qualifications on entry matched to salary, for example);
- Surveying our students at multiple points in their career is valuable and beneficial in many ways: it informs an understanding of career trajectory for disciplines, maintains alumni contact, informs Learning and Teaching, as well as work preparation, diversity, lifelong learning and social mobility policies, and gives insight into the most appropriate timing in a student’s course of study for participation in work preparation activities;
- Clear and consistent definitions of work-based learning and work preparation activities need to be defined and held at sector level;
- The optimal way of facilitating this analysis would be through the capture of data held on the student record;
- The more qualitative nature of DLHE plus 3 years means that it is intensive in terms of staff time and has particular implications for small institutions with a low staff base, but the Team considers the investment worthwhile due to the richness of the data captured and various uses to which it can be put;
- The methodologies developed from this project are considered very much in their ‘pilot’ stage but it has been established that there is significant value in capturing information on learning throughout the student’s career in HE, and beyond; there is potential to do more work improving on and linking the outcomes from the three methodologies into a ‘toolkit’ for evaluating student’s work-based learning gain over time;
- All three work packages rely to some extent on building effective relationships with alumni, and this is done most effectively by staff working from within the relevant institution: they have an understanding of the environment in which the alumnus was working, can address institution-specific issues in their questioning and develop rapport more quickly when surveying them;
- This project, and the learning derived from it, has been as much about working in partnership as about evaluating methodologies to assess LG.
Download full report: PDF