Centre for Design Research

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The Centre of Design Research is hosted in Te Kura Toi a Hoahoa, the School of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology. Our aim is to expand interdisciplinary research, engagement and discourse surrounding the theoretical, practical and commercial frameworks that embody design, art, media, and the creative industries.

We are profoundly engaged with makers and making, connecting academia to industry so that research makes a difference in the wider world through writing and writers, painting and pixels, the hand-made and the automated. Through our projects, public engagement and published research, we seek to challenge and redefine what it means to be a designer.

The projects we showcase have a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity. They are intersections: between design and art; Māori, Pacific and Indigenous knowledge and world views; science and technology. They connect with communities and celebrate the diversity, culture and methodologies of indigenous design practice.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 16
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    Vacancies and Attenuated Presences: A Counter-Memorial Swimming Pool for Waitara
    (Auckland University of Technology, 2021) Bentley, Chris
    This practice-led research thesis inquires into the memorial pool, and posits these strange and disjunctive spaces as counter-memorials, mediums for alternative methods of remembrance. The work unfolds over two stages: fieldwork, and intervention. The fieldwork section details expeditions to three memorial pools found across the North Island. Methods of site-specific inhabitation and witnessing identify, and accrete the phenomenal language of these memorials. This involves particular observation of moments of presence and absence. Transient and mundane images are critically viewed as markers of the aforementioned counter-memorial, and as evidence of the changing roles and temporalities of the designated sites. The intervention leverages this affectual language to propose a speculative reframing of the Waitara Swimming Pool as a memorial pool. The work comprises a series of mnemonic provocations detailing loss, vacancy, and the crossing of ritual thresholds. These present conversational and dialogical encounters. The images of these surfaces and spaces are derived from inhabitation, and activity, contrary to archetypal western monument. They are lived memorials. Conscious and subconscious movements position the viewer as an active participant rather than a distanced observer. The work imagines to localize these memorial narratives to the individual through this immersion into a memorial landscape, presenting opportunities to attenuate and inhabit memory.
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    The Handbook Project
    (Auckland University of Technology, 2021) de Roos, Lindsey
    The Handbook Project is an exploration of an “unhelpful guide” for navigating arts academia and art spaces as a person of colour through a tactile and social “art practice”. This project is an intuitive and reflective journey of deinstitutionalising my mind and my making (even though I still operate within the institution), through the lens of race. My research explores how retrospective (which developed into reparative) forms of making can work towards a decolonised sense of imagination. To aid this exploration, I utilise materials that I am very familiar with when it comes to academia, such as annotations, workshops, essay writing, paper and photographs. These sit alongside conventional methods of artmaking such as photography, sculpture, and print. I introduce notions of slowness and repetition to these materials in order to disrupt my habitual behaviours with them (in the context of academia). The project is situated in the following three main concepts of freedom: the freedom-of-knowledge, the freedom-of-space, and the freedom-of-language. These “freedoms” simultaneously function as pathways and pillars to navigating the concepts of race, and the potential explorations of racial equity in context to this project. To understand how these freedoms might manifest, I move between my experiences as a student, as a mentor, and as staff (of the University) to observe and critically engage with how my BIpeersOC and I can exist here safely.
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    A Sense of Play
    (Auckland University of Technology, 2021) Hutchinson, Levon
    A child needs to feel happy for them to thrive in a school environment. Children have personal and complex needs that should be well understood to help them feel happy, comfortable and ready for learning. This study aimed to investigate the challenges for children affected by sensory processing difficulties (SPD) in a mainstream primary school and explore how teachers may be better equipped with knowledge and resources to support these children. The benefits of tactile/sensory objects for children with sensory processing issues should be widely recognised within the context of school. Teachers should acknowledge that sensory objects can be used as tools to regulate behavioural and emotional disruption. This design-led research set out to explore how teachers may utilize sensory objects to help children with sensory processing difficulties reconnect socially and academically within a school setting. An action research approach was used to analyse current solutions within this space, engage with experts (occupational therapists), collaborate with teachers, and act upon findings through iterative making methods. The designed outcomes include a ‘toolkit’ of sensory objects intended to help support teachers in mainstream school who manage children with SPD. However, its usage may prove to help children with other diagnosed conditions and learning difficulties. The research highlighted the challenges of SPD within the context of school for both children and teachers and set a precedent for future design-led research in this area. Furthermore, it makes a compelling case for utilising sensory objects as a teaching resource.
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    Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries: Toward an Emerging Theory of Moana Art
    (Auckland University of Technology, 2021) Lopesi, Lana
    This thesis uses a theoretical approach to examine the way a digital native generation of Moana artists with connections to Aotearoa, and part of global worlds today, imagine their subjectivities, their cultures and their places in the world through contemporary art. Using the methodology of su'ifefiloi, which allows for the combination of many parts, this research works toward the emerging theory of Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries to consider today’s global condition of overwhelming interconnectivity as experienced by Moana people. Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries offers an analytical framework to understand how these lived realities have impacted art made between 2012 and 2020 by a generation of Moana artists, between the last significant exhibition of contemporary Moana art in Aotearoa— Home AKL (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2012)—and the Covid-19 Pandemic, which has shifted today’s global condition in ways we are yet to fully understand. In this thesis, I argue that a digital native generation of Moana artists have positioned themselves away from the narratives of displacement and nonbelonging featured in the Moana art of previous generations, imagining their subjectivity in globally routed, yet locally rooted, ways. Diasporic subjectivities are those which require constant reproduction and rearticulation. Most recently diasporic subjectivities can be understood through the acceptance of the cosmopolitan character of Moana life today, or Moana Cosmopolitanism, which empowers a complex sense of place. Thus, these artists engage in another kind of work, which employs radical imagination to imagine other ways of being and making concerned with the decolonial, deep time, Vā Moana, mau and su'ifefiloi as part of Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries. By closely analysing this period of art making, common concerns and artistic strategies are revealed. Pairing these commonalities with a cosmopolitan character of Moana life allows this research to work toward an emerging theory of Moana art, which centres the work and experiences of Moana artists.
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    Acting and Its Double: A Practice-led Investigation of the Nature of Acting Within Performance Capture
    (Auckland University of Technology, 2021) Kennedy, Jason Allen
    This research deepens our understanding, as animators, actors, audiences, and academics, of how we see the practice of acting in performance capture (PeCap). While exploring the intersections between acting and animation, a central question emerges: what does acting become when the product of acting starts as data and finishes as computer-generated images that preserve the source-actor’s “original” performance to varying degrees? This primary question is interrogated through a practice-led inquiry in the form of 3D animation experiments that seek to clarify the following sub-questions: • What is the nature of acting within the contexts of animation and performance capture? • What is the potential for a knowledge of acting to have on the practice of animating, and for a knowledge of animation to have on the practice of acting? • What is the role of the animator in interpreting an actor’s performance data and how does this affect our understanding of the authorship of a given performance? This thesis is interdisciplinary and sits at the intersection between theories of acting, animation, film, and psychology. Additionally, this thesis engages with phenomenology and auto-ethnography to explore acting in performance capture from the perspective of a single individual as the actor, PeCap artist, and animator. This type of first-person experience-based insight is often missing from purely theoretical discussions about acting in performance capture and animation, and helps to provide a clearer understanding of the contributions of each creative role to the final PeCap result. This research provides a strong basis for the necessity of a paradigm revision for how acting is produced within a PeCap context.
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