Kingston University Communication Design MA

A School is a building with a school in it
Paul Elliman, 2006
In ‘A school is a building with a school in it’ by Paul Elliman, the author attempts to explain why the definition of school and the school as a constitution is outdated and needs to change, or stop existing as it is, altogether.

Elliman questions the ‘sealed’ nature of the school, why it seems that its walls are dividing the students from the outside world, as if it is not a part of it too. He then introduces Cedric Price’s proposal of a mobile school, housed in train carriages and uses this idea of mobility and connects it to the idea of the internet and the telecommunications sources we have now. He states that this can be used to ‘localise many of the features of education and to tailor programmes to individual needs’.He goes on to explain more similar projects of imaginary/speculative schools and projects such as Cendirc Price's The Potteries Thinkbelt School that comes with inflatable halls or Fun Palace- a plan for spaces that could be reconfigured for different uses. Inspired by Blackmountain College and the Baauhaus he concludes that a teacher doesn’t need to have answers and that the questioning in itself is just as an important part of the process of exploration.

(Lina Toumpeli, 2021)

Decolonising Design Education: Ontologies, Strategies, Urgencies
Decolonisign Education, 2018
The text ‘Decolonising Design Education: Ontologies, Strategies, Urgencies’ asks the reader to think critically about and question our current educational institutions. It provides suggestions to help transform design thinking, education and practice, including opening a dialogue to learn together and seek common ground by considering differing situations and localities.

The text emphasises that design education needs to go beyond inclusivity, not just representation and diversity, but challenge what design is. Universities can break and remake design to move beyond epistemology towards ontology and Pluriversality. ‘Decolonising Design’ strives for design that is without hierarchy and a sense of ‘other’, embracing that there are differing viewpoints and not one universal model of problem-solving.

The collective ‘Decolonising Design’ encourages designers to understand how design can perpetuate dominant cultures or systems and to reflect on the position from which they design. The text also recognises the need to work actively against the biases of modernism and homogenisation, as they are currently geared towards the Global North. ‘Decolonising Design’ suggests that to address the wider problem of Western modernity other disciplines in educational institutions must also be included.

(Ell Flynn, 2021)

Glitch Feminism
Legacy Russell, 2020
Glitch Feminism’, written by Legacy Russell and published in 2020, is a manifesto about cyberfeminism that explores the relationship between gender, technology and identity. Through the different chapters of the book, Russell explores how the glitch refuses, ghosts, encrypts, survives and so on. For this exhibition, we are focusing on the first two chapters of the book; the introduction and ‘Glitch Refuses’.

In the introduction, Russell discusses her childhood and how she found herself living in two worlds, AFK (away from keyboard) and online. She refers to herself as “Black, female-identifying femme and queer” and talks about how in the AFK world, she felt alienated. It wasn’t until she started experimenting online that she found her true self, a space where she felt at home. That is where the glitch is.

In the next chapter, ‘Glitch Refuses’, the author starts with a ‘NOPE’ declaration and fights back. A glitch is an error, a mistake, an act of refusal; a glitch is also a liberatory space where she could be anyone. Russell comments about the idea of a ‘self with multiple selves’ and how through the glitch, one person can be many. Glitch Feminism shows how an error can be a revolution.

(Zeina Boukhaled, 2021)

Harvesting misunderstanding
Tino Mantarro, 2020
Misunderstanding can’t be eliminated. Even two people can’t truly understand each other, regardless two cultures. An agreement is usually achieved under the circumstances of misunderstanding because they will never agree with each other if two fully understand each other.

The text focus on how we are living with the inevitable misunderstandings and how inner-culture and inter-culture evolution happen due to a certain extent of agreement, which is reached, in author’s point of view, based on misunderstandings. There will be a ‘blurry area’ that such misunderstanding occurs.

Mantarro offers some examples such as Jewish ghettos in Italy and Chinese in San Francisco to further explain the structure of segregations, a structure with internal and external that a community uses to defend themselves.‘Cities like Sarajevo, Thessaloniki, Trieste, and Alexandria prospered precisely because they were based on a balance of cultures which perhaps didn’t truly understand each other.’ (Mantarro, 2020) Local-adapted foreign cuisine is one aspect used to further explain how people create new things out of misunderstanding.

‘Thanks to misunderstanding, not only does the old change, but above all, the new is born (Mantarro, 2020).’ It is a territory of misunderstanding created as a zone for the encounter that enables everyone to be whatever they initially are while still accepted by the others.

(Jean Zeng, 2021)

In defense of the Poor Image
Hito Steyerl, 2009
“In Defense of the Poor Image,” by Hito Steyerl, discusses the nature of the ‘poor image.’ The ‘poor image’ occurs as a result of mass-reproduction and distribution of images. These ‘poor images’ are often distributed with more emphasise on quantity.The artists get little to no credit once the piece is distributed. As an example video, ‘rich pieces’ like movies, broadcasts, video essays, etc lose their value as they are distributed to the public, sometimes via illegal methods of resurrection.

Steyerl discusses ‘imperfect cinema’ and ‘visual bonds’ and their relationships to poor images. She draws similarities between ‘imperfect cinema’ and the breakdown of class divisions in society. In this way ‘poor images’ are shown to have positive qualities as means for the mass transfer. Mass distribution inevitably leads to a lack of value associated with the images. Steyerl also introduces ‘visual bonds.’ which are image attributes that are relatable between a large population. These bonds help proliferate ‘poor images’ and is a reason why people still manage to appreciate ‘poor images’ despite their lack of quality.

(Gayathri Anthey, 2021)

Kingston School of Art, Kingston University
MA Communication Design: Graphic Design 2020/2021


In collaboration with
London Design Festival

Exhibition team
Anna Kehrer / Ells Flynn / Zeina Boukhaled

Jiani Liao

Abhimanyu Bhatia / Alberto Ajelli / Liz Huang

Special thanks to
Claudia Chiavazza / Chang Liu / Yangyang Wu / Yifan Wu / Lucy-May Turner / Yongxin Bai

Andrew Haslam / Cathy Gale / Max Ryan / Naho Matsuda / Tao Lin