UAL Graduate Showcase
With the Student Showcase online this year, as decision brought about by Covid 19, we spoke to three of the graduates from the MA Fashion Curation course class of 2020 who told us about the impacts and challenges that they encountered when interpreting what is usually a physical display into a digital format.
Riccardo Pillon, MA Fashion Curation graduate
My Master’s Project is an investigation and exhibition proposal on the interconnections between gender nonconformity and the costumes of two contemporary performance artists, Victoria Sin and Ayesha Tan-Jones. Interpreting this conventional thesis into digital format for the UAL Graduate Showcase presented a series of challenges that pushed my practice as fashion curator into unprecedented directions. Readapting the project for an online platform and social media channels drove me to experiment with the use of images, not words, as my main tool of expression. It was not an easy task as, in the dissertation, the images were so closely linked to extensive text. For the graduate showcase, I based my presentation on my original sketches and visual references, but shifted the focus away from written words towards the realisation of a vibrant and impactful graphic look. I learnt how to create a balance between images and concise explanatory captions and how consistency in terms of background colour and position of text are key to a successful visual presentation. I received invaluable advice in this process from Aleksandra Szymanska, Creative Director, School of Media and Communication, London College of Fashion, who assisted me in unifying the presentation and making it more appealing for an internet audience. Another element that I had to take into consideration and that influenced my approach to the showcase was the level of accessibility of this type of platform. As an MA student, I was used to creating my projects in a safe space where ideas and opinions could be shared and discussed amongst a small group of people consisting of my classmates and professors. Conversely, a project on the internet is available to everyone and displays my work in front of a wide range of audiences and different points of view. I became immediately aware of this exposure and the importance of being able to translate my research and its message, pertaining to the delicate and important topic of gender variance, in an effective way, presenting this project with renewed intentions, empathy and respect.
Pearline Yeo, MA Fashion Curation graduate
As my project was partially digital to begin with (the walkthrough videos that explained and demonstrated how the interventions might work in a space), I had originally planned to have a digital format display alongside the physical model (toolkit). Interpreting the project into a digital format did not cause a major change and actually made it slightly more advantageous.
Given that my physical model is a compact one, having the entire project displayed digitally meant that the display could be more "whole" as it fills up the space of the screen as compared to being displayed in a space amongst many others of different scales and mediums. Also, as an international student due to return home, there was the uncertainty of being able to set up and present my work in the physical exhibition so the digital showcase was representative of my work, and much more possible for everyone else in this precarious times.
I feel if anything, the only challenge perhaps is that it takes away the entire experience of combining the physical and the digital, where the user is meant to access the physical toolkit to access the video demonstrations, rendering the physical model redundant. Also, as my project aims to highlight the importance of the integration of digital experiences within physical spaces, that point is not as impactful with the project display now fully digital.
Jo Wiltcher, MA Fashion Curation graduate
My approach to curating my digital showcase was the same as my approach for a physical exhibition. I thought about the challenges and opportunities offered by a digital space rather than a physical one, and how the work would need to adapt.
My original portfolio was for a hypothetical exhibition at Two Temple Place in London. The themes for the exhibition were designed for the room layout and flow at that venue. The digital showcase offered five pages and so my exhibition had to be condensed down from the original ten themes. As when adapting an exhibition to a different venue, I considered which themes could be shown together and which could stand alone; which themes would be most relevant to the audience and which objects and images were the showstoppers – the images that I most wanted people to see.
The digital platform enabled me to showcase my practical experiments in smock-making, undertaken whilst I was writing my thesis. Although I presented the smocked fabric with my portfolio, it didn’t sit naturally in the hypothetical exhibition, nor in the written thesis. The digital platform allowed me to share the photographs of the smocking as it developed, and show up close the detail of this small piece of needlework, which would have been lost in a physical exhibition.
The showcase tested my digital skills. I had aspirations for layering spoken word or music over images. I enjoyed experimenting with different options but wasn’t able to deliver the quality of work that I had hoped and so took the decision to share good quality static images rather than poor quality moving images.
Seeing my digital showcase on the LCF Graduate Showcase platform has brought my work to life – it has been very exciting to see the work on screen and to be able to share it with family, friends and colleagues.
Aleksandra Szymanska, Creative Director, School of Media and Communication, London College of Fashion said:
The decision to move the Graduate Showcase online this year presented exciting opportunities of widening the reach of our showcasing activities and providing graduate students with a platform for presenting their work that would not only be seen by bigger audiences but also offer a new form of longevity. While physical exhibitions typically last a week, with the virtual version of the showcase we were building the beginning of an archive of work that can be seen months and years ahead and represent the evolving identity of LCF and UAL.
With these new opportunities came new challenges, both practical and conceptual. Graduate projects had to be adapted to this new format of presentation to resonate with the shorter attention spans of online audiences and to work within the consistent design template we were developing. It was a true pleasure to work with graduates and alumni on translating their final outputs for this virtual space and I was truly impressed by their enthusiasm and flexibility in embracing this new medium.
The graduate showcase and series of events featuring all courses is available to view.