A regular newsletter created to support Textiles staff, students and supporters. To access past issues of textiles [connect] please use the links below:
Website is UP and running! For examples of embodied media experiments, please refer to the website the-walter-collective.com. Some additional images below detail BIOdress being exhibited at TEI'16 and gaining the attention of Hiroshi IshIi (MIT)!!
The first half of this year has been full of workshops, collaborations, creative expression and shared understandings. It has been hectic, fast paced and super productive. I'm looking forward to the next few months as we translate discussion into action! Many thanks to Peter Thiedeke for some images that captured key moments earlier in the year.
Some part-thoughts regarding private sector programs.
Questions surrounding the quality of private sector programs were raised in 2015 when multiple private colleges collapsed across the Nation. Campuses in Victoria, Adelaide, Sydney and Queensland were implicated affecting thousands of students and in some cases this resulted in a recall of qualifications (see also Victoria State Government Statement on Entitlement Restoration). In March 2015 the federal government sought to crackdown on the industry and the ACCC announced it was preparing to prosecute training providers after serious allegations of bad behaviour and "rampant abuse".
Instability in the market and the focus on the pursuit of profit over education and welfare is not new, with closures of colleges in Melbourne and Sydney implicating nearly 3,000 students in 2009, hundreds in Perth and Brisbane in 2011 and 12,000 students in 2015 as a consequence of the focus on the "export education industry".
Current events, such as the collapse of Global Intellectual Holdings which includes Asprie College of Education, The Design Works College of Design, RTO Services Group and the Australian Indigenous College, further illustrate the challenges and pressures facing this troubled sector. Reforms to the VET FEE-HELP government financial assistance scheme have been blamed for much of the problems with many colleges offering what appear to be 'free' or 'no fee' paying courses and using a variety of tactics to entice and enrol students. In light of this recent disruption, Federal Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Nationals MP, Luke Hartsukyer has outlined that the government is committed to reform of the system and a new VET Fee-Help system is planned for 2017.
Ultimately, though, what is needed is a greater awareness in the broader community of the differing pathways into high quality adult, vocational, TAFE and higher education. This information is needed to ensure students (international and domestic) are not misguided by private training colleges and are correctly informed of the options available to them as well as the quality of the educational qualification they are seeking.
Higher Education providers such as Griffith University spend a significant amount of time investing in quality and regulatory measures, such as strict entry requirements, student support and student welfare issues. The higher education sector is acutely aware of the challenges facing future graduates and this is reflected in the focus on graduate capabilities first and foremost with an education-centric model driving the agenda.
ABC NewsRadio (2016, Feb 11). Government committed to reform of the vocational education systems, says Minister for Vocational Education and Skills following collapse of college. http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4404391.htm
ABC News. (2015, Nov 27). Students to be protected if Vocation private training colleges close, minster says. ABC News (online). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-27/students-to-be-protected-if-vocation-private-colleges-close/6979636
Aird, C. & Branley, A. (2014, Oct 10). Unregistered training colleges target disadvantaged, sign them up to expensive government loans. ABC News (online). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-06/unregistered-training-colleges-target-low-income-earners/5793246
Bita, N. (2015, Mar 12). Audits, fines for dodgy colleges. The Australian Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/docview/1662056193?accountid=14543
Bita, N. (2015, Oct 16). Blitz on colleges after 'rampant abuse'. The Australian Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/docview/1722203050?accountid=14543
Clayfield, M. (2009, Jul 29). College collapse puts visas at risk. The Australian Retrieved from
Cook, S. & Danckert, S. (2016, Feb 11). Thousands of students caught up in a major college collapse. Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/business/thousands-of-students-caught-up-in-major-college-collapse-20160210-gmqt8x.html
Danckert, S. & Preiss, B. (2015, Nov 26). Up to 12,000 students in limbo after Vocation collapse. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/up-to-12000-students-in-limbo-after-vocation-collapse-20151126-gl8xfw.html
Das, S. (2009, Nov 24). Private College system a fiasco in need of a fix. The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/private-college-system-a-fiasco-in-need-of-a-fix-20091123-ixi3.html
Goswell, G. (2009, Nov 6). College collapses tarnish Australia's reputation. ABC news (online). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-11-06/college-collapses-tarnish-australias-reputation/1132434
Lane, B. (2011, Jun 24). More private colleges go to the wall. The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/more-private-colleges-go-to-the-wall/story-e6frgcjx-1226081555395
Lord, K. (2015, Feb 18). Students 'being deceived' by private training colleges, education brokers: legal centre. ABC News (online). http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-18/students-being-deceived-about-training-cost-and-outcomes/6141726
Malone, P. (2015, Mar 19). Abuse of VET fee-help scheme shows regulation has its place in education sector. The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/abuse-of-vet-feehelp-scheme-shows-regulation-has-its-place-in-education-sector-20150319-1m2qzv.html
Taylor, J. (2015, Nov 24). ACCC launches proceedings against private training college, cites 'problems' with VET FEE-HELP system. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-24/accc-launches-proceedings-against-private-training-college/6969334
Taylor, J. (2015, Apr 22). Hundreds of Vocation private training college graduates forced to hand back qualifications.
Victoria State Government, Further Education and Training. http://www.education.vic.gov.au/training/learners/vet/Pages/restore.aspx
If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the ‘Wear Next’ exhibition at Artisan, I recommend you do.
Wearables is a broad concept that respective media this week wanted us to make it simple to understand. While I'm thankful for the exposure, upon reflection I believe the variety as well as complexity of the works on display was overlooked…
For example, I'd like to clarify that Without Fear: The Umbrella Movement (umbrella dress) by emerging artists from Hong Kong (Chan, Kwok & Li) was inspired by the extended sit-in protest in Hong Kong in late 2014. The movement at the time involved mass civil disobedience by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. In this context, the dress was designed with civil safety in mind, and to protect the protestors, to enable them to wear shelter on their bodies and to blend-in with non-protestors during the day, and to transform to a protective shelter at night - a tent.
Other works within the exhibition are more technological, for example the mini-documentary Hacking the Body 2.0: Practical Investigations by Camille Baker (UK-based performance artist) and Kate Sicchio (New York choreographer & media artist) attempt to address ethical issues surrounding identity and data ownership when using wearable technology in performance. To do this, Baker & Sicchio develop methods to hack commercial wearable devices, as well as making handmade e-textile sensing-devices. They do this as a critical act of making, confronting issues of surveillance and control.
The exhibition as a whole is intended to provide a snapshot into the broad spectrum of wearables, from health management & self monitoring (health trackers and future implantable applications), to the expression of non-verbal modes of communication (proximity detectors, light, vibration) to environmental monitoring and interactions (sensing plants and measuring air quality) to the broader questions around ethics, data ownership and privacy. In all, the exhibition is about starting a discussion and generating debate, to trigger thoughts and opinions regarding the future role of wearable technology.
The exhibition is presented by Artisan and I co-curated it with my colleague Dr Rafael Gomez, Industrial Design Lecturer at QUT. The exhibition is open to the public until the 7th of November.
Wear Next_ 25 July - 7 November, 2015
Artisan Gallery 381 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
If you get a chance to drop-by - let me know what you think :)
Further reading regarding Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement (aka 'Revolution')
The day is coming when the clothes in your wardrobe will be able to read emotions play music or even help your health. Mylee Hogan reports.
The image sequence below illustrates a slice of my PhD investigation into the analysis of design activity - how design teams collaborate and respond to sustainability. The following gestural sequences formed part of my raw data analysis, to better understand the role of gesture during creative collaboration. In the frames below, designers use a variety of deictic and metaphoric gesticulations. I find this area of investigation fascinating and am currently embarking on future research that seeks to better 'capture' this creative process [watch this space].
*New course at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University - provides a direct link between students and industry.
Semester project 2015: Woodford Folk Festival
In a bid to challenge students to think 'beyond' self, beyond the Anthropocene and to encourage/foster an awareness of the interconnected nature of all things - projects this semester continue in much the same vein that I developed two years ago. In that sense, each program provides a scaffold for exploration, cultivation and development of a personal ethic in relation to research to better position and frame an understanding of current conditions. At its foundation, I adopt a contextual systems thinking approach to my work. Contextual in the sense that I value designers (well, emerging designers, in the classroom sense) working on projects that they are able to physically access. I find many design courses tend to promote false contexts and as such, develop nice awe inducing outcomes. They do this by encouraging student designers to 'solve problems' that are assumed to be inherently 'problematic'. A short 2010 piece by Bruce Nussbaum 'Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism' encapsulates my confusion over humanitarian projects and further reinforces why I find it important to offer student projects that are local & contextually tangible.
A summary of courses that I have designed and am convening this semester, include:
First year, digital technologies - in this course students learn about the role of technology in design, in doing so they are taught methods and ways of understanding technology as a 'tool' to better express their creative capacities. At no point do we deem the technology an icon, at all points it is regarded as a medium of expression - no different to pen and paper. We seek to breakdown these barriers by teaching students how to code basic web CSS/HTML, some 2D SVG and 3D explorations -- all while learning about the social constructs that lead to homelessness. Through this lens, students research, design and develop ways of understanding their role in society and propose methods/ways of engaging in broader discussion and debate. Technological tools are then used to express their thinking and design ideas.
Second year, rethinking methods and materials - this course seeks to teach students about materiality and the ways in which most product/design-making is structured around linear (aka broken) systems. In doing so, students learn the importance of material value, this is achieved by exploring waste streams as a place for rethinking (waste becomes raw material, it is a matter of perspective). Students embark on a journey of material discovery, this year - the project is interlinked with a social NFP community partner - this further enriches the program as the design brief is situated within a frame of designing within broader social considerations such as designing for a client with disability.
Second year, farm to fork food security project - the objective of this course is to expose students to their position, role and relationship to food systems. Unpacking the system - farm to fork - enables students to better understand how complex food systems are. Specifically, the factors that impact and influence the ways in which food waste is managed such as political, regulatory and cultural influences i.e, understanding regulatory and policy measures that prohibit effective use/re/use of food scraps in other ways.
Third year, rethinking design. This course is situated at an advanced program level and offers students an element of self-directed project opportunity. Through this program, students are exposed to the challenge of re-framing a theme by selecting a particular design approach. They can do this one of three ways (i) traditional design centric approach (seek to identify 'need' and design explicitly for this); (ii) reverse engineer a current designed artifact or service (incremental innovation); or, (iii) take a critical, speculative approach to the theme by challenging traditional assumptions by taking an anti-design approach.