Statement of Intent for Module 5 – Masters Degree

STATEMENT OF INTENT, Masters Degree – Module 5 

MA in DESIGN – Gareth Sleightholme

Following reflection upon an earlier transitional point in my research; (see “a fork in the road” – Symposium text – Nov 2012) in which I needed to establish a final direction, choosing between two possible, but related areas.

The first of the two strands involves my interest in the act and purpose of drawing, and the attention given to the teaching of this (to me) fundamental design discipline.

The second looked at a combination of the relationships between Deep Reading, Empathy and Creativity (of which the former strand is a natural subset) and how to visualise these relationships holistically in order to engender a will to expand the students “personal Micro-Culture”, and in particular their engagement with Critical Theory, both in the lecture hall and the studio – In particular my study will look at the development of Visual and Tactile Mnemonics and Immersive Engagement.

Clearly with one being a subset of the other, the second choice seemed the only valid option, albeit involving a broader remit.

So, this second option (I.e. the relationships between Deep Reading, Empathy and Creativity) and its espousal via the development of Visual and Tactile Mnemonics and Immersive Engagement will be the focal point for this final stage module.

With research into this relationship between “Deep Reading” (including the reading of fiction), experience of wider social and cultural concerns and areas of evolutionary interest such as empathy, cognitive and abstract application, and more diverse interpersonal relationships, and synthesis (the combinatorial processing of the above and perhaps their subsequent expression of those combinations through one or more mechanical acts related to creativity such as drawing) and how an understanding of this relationship might effect the learner, particularly those who shy away from the written and non-visual research elements of their coursework.

This will be divided into several phases:

001- First of all developing a series of questions/questionnaires to gather relevant qualitative data on our current student body (here at HSAD) that questions the students issues with “theory” and “written investigations” and in its simplest form the practice of “deep reading” both for study and pleasure, and using the resulting information to guide a creative project to try and visualise a (or perhaps several) bridge(s) between this seemingly college wide issue with Written and Read study and the students Studio Practice.

Develop from this research a single or series of projects that aim to:

002 – …expand upon the idea of a holistic map/visual that shows categorically and in one space/extended image the reasons why/how “wider reading” (that “OUR” students would normally associate with the Critical & Theoretical aspects of their course) has a direct impact on their Studio Practice, by showing the scientific, psychological, anthropological and creative connectivity of these ideas.

This will hopefully develop into the content for at least one other “Paper”, the presentation of which I hope will be possible at another campus/university (this is something I am very keen to investigate, and some connections with outside education groups working in related areas are beginning to emerge).

These overview “maps” (hopefully multiple iterations and variants) and the research that accompanies them will develop into “a set”, or group of visualisations of concepts that should look further at areas such as:

B –  one or more focused, but still experimental studio/classroom tools that deal with specific areas related to my core teaching – i.e. drawing, games design, or creativity – perhaps as a game, or an extension of the existing model.

C – a final extrapolation/translation of some of these ideas into a fixed and “practical tool” via a developed version of the current Student Handbook, or the studio environment looking at making a very text based document into a more student facing tool.


My practice as always will follow a typical design process starting with: Drawings, Sketches, Mind Maps, Diagrams, Pen and Ink notes and doodled ideas and the use of 3D Modelling software.

Midpoint iterations would be created in Photoshop, Print (not printmaking). Perhaps including digital interactive for use in the classroom.

While final pieces may include elements of solid 3D design (non-digital), product design and hand drawn schematics as well as Printmaking and Photoshop.

The nature of the investigation will inform and lead the process ultimately. Thoughts on my Design Process (which has become a highly developed element of both my personal, professional and educational practice) can be found on my blog as part of the Masters Submissions.


Though not involved in Fine Art practice at all (making final “exhibition” a redundancy in the process of design, replaced instead by client presentation techniques) the course exhibition will probably include flat printed works, exhibited as perhaps large format posters (A2), plus, potentially, any 3D models on a plinth, and an interactive Board Game on a low table, looking at of aspects of holistic overview of mythbusting and Studio Practice related to drawing. And (potentially, it remains an ongoing work in process) a large format holistic overview of all (or key) theories I have looked at as one large banner style image.

Special Requirements (beyond any physical plinth builds) – possibly a Mac monitor, perhaps with internet access (not necessary).


Map books, Infographics books, the work of practitioners such as Olly Moss, Edward Tufte, David McCandless, Jason Munn, Jay Ryan, my own practice, the relationships between environment and information (several years working as designer in visitor attractions and museums), large scale text as art (Paula Scher, Gordon Young/Why Not Associates – “The Comedy Carpet“ – etc.).

…finally, related to, and perhaps springing from, the above – New/Current issues relating to the combinatorial approach to various educational theories and a more unified, holistic overview of education theory related to “creativity”.

The work and discussion of people like Austin Kleon, Milton Glaser, Maria Popova, Paula Scher, Debbie Millman etc. Also looking at the psychology based ideas such as the Theory of Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bloom et al and related areas touching on the act of creativity, and teaching creativity in schools, and how to inspire personal exploration of those theories in our students.

Selected Bibliography:

Lane, RJ. Jean Baudrillard, 2000, Routledge, London/NewYork.

McCandless, D, Information is Beautiful. (2012) Collins.

Hawkes, T. Structuralism and Semiotics (New Accents), 1977 (2 edition 2003), Routledge, London/NewYork.

Tufte E. R., Visual Explanations (Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative), 1997, Graphic Press LLC, USA.

Ryan J, Animals and Objects in and Out of Water. 2009, Akashic Books, New York.

Arnheim, R. Art and Visual Perception (A Psychology of the Creative Eye) .

Baudrillard, J. 1990, Cool Memories 1980-1985, Verso, London/NewYork.

Baudrillard, J. 2003, Cool Memories IV, Verso, London/NewYork.

Bass, J, Kirkham, P. Saul Bass – A Life in Film & Design, 2011, Laurence King Publishers.

Glaser, M, Art Is Work, 2008, Overlook Duckworth. New York.

The Visual Teaching Alliance – Online resource for and by teachers

Gangwer, T. Visual Impact, Visual Teaching: Using Images to Strengthen Learning, (2009), Corwin Press, USA

Fineburg, J. Art since 1940: Strategies of Being, 3 edition, 2010, Prentice Hall.

~ by hesir on August 8, 2013.

One Response to “Statement of Intent for Module 5 – Masters Degree”

  1. […] completed as part of the opening sessions of this final module of study (see separate post HERE) and as looked at in the […]

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