Design Cultures Live: Mapping Dress & Identity is a first year video interview assignment undertaken by students on BA (Hons) Design Cultures at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. The project is part of their work for the core Design Cultures & Histories unit run by Jess Baines & Monika Parrinder, with Michael Clarke. In this unit we have been investigating entanglements of design, culture and history, particularly through place — in Docklands (by bike), Brick Lane (on foot) and Istanbul (by boat). In this third and final project of the year it was time to start populating those places and turn to design at the micro level of the individual body. Who do we think we are when we are wearing this or that, at work, at home, at play? How do we express and negotiate our personal and social identities through the clothes we choose to wear, are expected to wear, are required to wear? As Joanne Entwistle has remarked ‘fashion and dress have a complex relationship to identity: on the one hand the clothes we choose to wear can be expressive of identity… on the other our clothes cannot always be read, since they do not straightforwardly speak.’ In these 3 minute videos we hear how a wide range of subjects use clothes to embody social, personal, professional, political and spiritual senses of self. Together they offer an accessible, sometimes humorous, sometimes sly, window into issues of individuality and conformity, agency, recognition, social distinction and ambivalence.
Starting from a ‘designscape’ they had previously investigated — ‘home’, housing estate, shopping centre, workplace — students had two weeks to find and and interview someone willing to talk about their dress in relation to one of those spaces. They also had to learn how to interview, film, edit, export and upload. The results are what you see on the site. We think that for a first (and fast) film project the students have done pretty well. The site shows films from two years (2014 & 2015) of the project.
Jess Baines & Monika Parrinder
BA (Hons) Design Cultures 2013-2015
Note: BA (Hons) Design Cultures has been revalidated as BA (Hons) Design Management & Cultures and will run a different more management and business orientated programme from Autumn 2015. See UAL website for details.