Learning More Through Less

Outside of the Royal College of Art. Photo courtesy of author.
Outside of the Royal College of Art. Photo courtesy of author.

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is an art and design institution situated in west London, across from Hyde Park and next to the majestic Royal Albert Hall. The school’s courses include everything from Architecture to Fashion to Service Design to Animation, but the program that I’m most closely affiliated with is called Information Experience Design (IED). IED is about using art and design to communicate information through experiences (which makes it a perfect home for my Fulbright project of mapping and visually representing the relationships of various Londoners).

One of the many perks I get from being a Visiting Researcher in the program is a studio space I share with eleven other IED students. Because we all work in the same space, I get regular exposure to all types of interesting ideas from the other students.

One concept in particular that’s been on my mind lately is the idea that humans construct visual meaning through exclusion. The idea was introduced to me by John Fass, a PhD student who I’ve collaborated with over the past few months. John’s research spans a number of topics, but one focus of his is on the role that narrative plays in meaning-creation for humans. The idea, as he explained to me a few months ago, is that humans make sense of the world by constructing and designing narratives, or ways of viewing and understanding things and situations. But these constructions work primarily by removing, not adding, information. In other words, we understand situations and designs better when we remove the aspects that aren’t useful to us.

The IED studio space (somewhere under all these eccentric items are desks that people work at). Photo courtesy of author.

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