BA (Hons) Media Communications student wins Dare digital agency writing competition

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Elin Schonfelder, BA (Hons) Media Communications.

Elin Schonfelder, a first-year BA (Hons) Media Communications student, has just won a writing competition run by Dare digital agency and has been offered a two-week work experience with the company.

Dare is a digital agency that specialises in creating digitally connected customer experiences. By exploring the potential of the internet and creativity, Dare help to transform businesses by providing a superlative experience suited to today’s demanding customers.

The competition was part of a wider initiative by Dare to explore trends in social media usage among current BA (Hons) Media Communications students at LCC. The agency wanted to gather fresh insight around what social media platforms students are using, what they use them for and why, and the different functions that each platform offers to suit individual lifestyles.

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Elin Schonfelder, BA (Hons) Media Communications.

Students were asked to write a 1,000-1,200 word piece discussing the role and importance of social media in their everyday life.

Articles were written in a blog-like style drawing upon the student’s personal experiences and experiences from their interactions with their peers. Discussions spanned several platforms, and explored ideas of relevance, usability and the future of media communications.

Elin explains, “I was delighted to win the competition. As a BA (Hons) Media Communications student I am really interested in developing social technologies, so having the chance to write for Dare’s blog was really exciting. Social media has had a huge impact on the behaviours of my generation, and I was excited to explore this in a little more depth in my piece of writing.

“I’m really excited to start my placement at Dare because, as a first year student, getting some experience of working in industry will give me a sense of where my studies could lead me.”

All submissions were read by the Dare team and Elin’s entry won! Her winning article will shortly be published on Dare’s blog and Elin will start her two-week work placement with Dare in the summer.

Read more about BA (Hons) Media Communications

LCC students uncover Secrets and Lies at Dalston’s Doomed Gallery

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Students and guests attend the Private View at Doomed Gallery. Image by exhibiting student Lilian von Keller.

Third-year students on LCC’s BA (Hons) Media and Cultural Studies course recently gained invaluable industry experience by organising an off-site exhibition of their work at London’s Doomed Gallery.

‘Secrets and Lies’ explored the idea of individuality from both a creative and theoretical perspective, with the work on show often highly personal and covering subjects as diverse as religion, sexuality and architecture.

Students worked in teams to arrange different aspects of the exhibition, learning about the challenges of events organisation in the process.

Doomed Gallery in Dalston supports both emerging and established artists, with an emphasis on photography. The exhibition space has hosted work by over 300 photographers since opening its doors in 2011.

For the LCC show, Latisha Berker-Boyd exhibited a collection of naked selfies, some found via Facebook, entitled ‘The Theory of Nude’, inspired by the digital era and current trends in self-expression.

Gizem Kaya’s work explored cliches created by the media about Muslim women, with Gizem juxtaposing portraits of her subject, in which she gazes back at those who have placed her under scrutiny, with the woman’s framed wedding vows.

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Students prepare work for their show. Image by exhibiting student Lilian von Keller.

Heidi Agyapong’s ‘Strangers’ featured 28 Londoners photographed using Polaroids, together with a single word the subjects chose to describe their character. Heidi wanted to challenge London’s anonymity by creating a sense of closeness with people we would not otherwise get to know.

‘Vertical Landscapes’ by Lilian von Keller was a surrealist work highlighting the unexplored spaces created by urban architecture, and imagined a vertical walk up the side of a skyscraper.

Video piece ‘Secrets of our Journey’ by Maria-Louisa Harrison used the metaphor of a train journey to address the journey of life and death, with Maria-Louisa’s voiceover playing over continuous footage of train tracks.

Isabel Fernando’s ‘Space’ examined the use of space within the home and its relationship to particular family members, looking at private, domestic areas to ask how space can represent and define personal identity.

You can learn more about ‘Secrets and Lies’ in this feature for Next Up, an online news and culture magazine created by LCC BA (Hons) Journalism students James Childs and Diana Tleuliyeva.

Read more about BA (Hons) Media and Cultural Studies

LCC alumna creates global platform for Congolese fashion

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Congo Fashion Week 2014. Image © Etoile Photo

Marie-France Idikayi, a graduate of LCC’s BA (Hons) Live Events and Television course, has established a global showcase for African fashion in the Democratic Republic of Congo by founding Congo Fashion Week.

The week’s first events took place in Brazzaville and Kinshasa and were inspired by Marie-France’s desire to create a stronger fashion industry in the area by bringing together style and showbusiness.

The LCC alumna is keen to promote upcoming and established Congolese and African designers to the fast-growing international market. Congo Fashion Week features fashion shows, exhibitions and talks, giving buyers, members of the public and the media the opportunity to discover the latest trends in the industry.

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Congo Fashion Week 2014. Image © Etoile Photo

Marie-France hopes that her project will ultimately boost national tourism and contribute to the country’s economic empowerment and growth, building strong brands within the Congolese community both in Congo and the wider diaspora.

Congo Fashion Week attracted attention from Vogue Italia in December 2014 – see the feature here.

As part of her LCC degree, Marie-France also launched a fashion and lifestyle magazine called Molato, meaning fashion, outfit, garment or clothes in Lingala, one of the national languages of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The magazine’s aim is to promote African fashion and people making a difference in it. Marie-France explains: “Our societies are culturally rich but at times we fail to give them the attention required to share our pride with other nations.”

Marie-France is currently busy preparing this year’s events and building Molato’s audience after receiving business advice from the Congolese government.

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Congo Fashion Week 2014. Image © Etoile Photo

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Congo Fashion Week 2014. Image © Etoile Photo

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Congo Fashion Week 2014. Image © Etoile Photo

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Congo Fashion Week 2014. Image © Etoile Photo

Read the latest edition of Molato

Read more about BA (Hons) Live Events and Television

New Course Discourse // MA Advertising

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MA Advertising Course Leader Dr Cui Su.

In our latest New Course Discourse feature, we meet Course Leader Dr Cui Su to find out more about MA Advertising, an exciting new postgraduate option which started in 2014.

Can you give us a basic outline of the course?

MA Advertising mainly deals with how technology has changed – or how it impacts – advertising practice, how people react to advertising, and how people interact with it.

The main focus of the course is very much on digital, interactive, global advertising, so there’s a strong technological slant to it. This is partly to distinguish from BA (Hons) Advertising, which deals with more of the foundational principles of advertising, art direction and copywriting.

Here we’re asking bigger questions about technology. It’s a mixed course, so it’s half practice, half theory. ‘Contemporary advertising practice meets cutting edge theory’.

We engage with all kinds of media theory about social networks, big data – and also with debates that are in the public realm right now. So things to do with privacy, surveillance, all these big issues that will affect consumers.

On the practical side we do work on briefs – we’re currently working on the D&AD New Blood briefs – doing practical advertising work with interdisciplinary practitioners.

We have an art director pop in from a creative agency, for example, and we have a design researcher who’s done interaction design. The MA responds to the industry.

I think the industry’s working out what to do with new technology, how to react to it – and you can see this in the new job roles that are coming up. It’s not just art director, copywriter, account planner – you’ve got technologists, data strategists, digital roles.

It’s really about getting to grips with the changes and impact of technology on advertising practice. I think it’s exciting.

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MA Advertising project by Valentin Guiod and Mimi Choi promoting 3D printing company Tinkerine. Image © Valentin Guiod

Can you explain more about what the step up from undergraduate to postgraduate study in advertising involves?

Students would definitely experience a change in terms of more high-level thinking, applying theory to practice and having practice inform theory. There will be that iterative cycle, and there will be more independent research.

The PG course is more research-intensive and we hope to eventually have PhD students as well, so that’s the reason for having this theoretical and research slant. In terms of practice, I guess the difference is we deal with bigger questions that transcend just responding to a client brief.

We’re not really like, for example, the Miami Ad School or Hyper Island – we do a combination of both theory and practice, and place them on an equal footing. Portfolios are important but they’re not the only thing.

The idea is to get our graduates one rung up above all the other candidates – just to have experimented a little bit more.

What is the particular advantage of studying advertising at LCC?

I think there’s a huge advantage to studying advertising in an art/design-led school, because it’s not seen as a subsidiary component.

Typically in this country you see advertising courses in a business school, as part of their marketing department, and you maybe study a module called advertising as part of your wider degree in marketing, marketing communications, or business.

Here it’s front and centre. We take it very seriously and we take a very creative approach, so although we do take into account a lot of marketing principles, we’re asking slightly different questions that are more focused on media, impact, the relationship with creativity – things like that.

I think LCC’s also a good place to do that because it’s in London – the beating heart of the advertising industry. It’s a nice combination – aware of the bottom line and also interested in innovation and creativity.

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MA Advertising project by Valentin Guiod, George Mylonas, Marco Liu and Mimi Choi promoting healthy non-alcoholic drink Suso. Image © Valentin Guiod

How did your current students arrive on the course, and what will you be looking for in future applicants?

The age ranges between 22 and 40. Currently we have a student who’s already got his own company and has been a graphic designer for many years, and he’s looking to skill up.

We have a student from Malaysia who’s been in the industry for years and just wants to gain skills in a more formal setting, and we also have people who’ve come straight from BAs in art direction, design or marketing. But we also have a medic!

It’s quite eclectic, and I think we want to keep it that way, because it ties in with the whole interdisciplinary approach. I think it’s worked really well, in that the students are able to bring their experiences and interact with each other.

Ideally I would like my applicants to have had some work experience, although that’s not a requirement – only because they could bring their professional experience into the classroom, which would be very useful.

I think this course would suit anything from a BA Literature to a BA Computer Science graduate; somebody who wants to get into advertising and hasn’t been able to, and wants to know about some of the bigger issues; or someone who wants a career change.

Where might the MA course lead for its graduates?

After the MA preferably they would stand out from the marketing graduates. In terms of job destinations, I would think they could become digital strategists, planners, creative directors, copywriters.

The technology side of the course content is not so much to turn them into coders, but if you’re an art director and you’re talking about a campaign that involves an app, you’re able to talk to a developer on an equal footing.

The knowledge and skills you gain from the course allows you to interact confidently with coders and app designers. You’re able to understand the literacy of the technology and its potential applications and, possibly, restrictions.

So I’d say they would run the full gamut of jobs – community manager to art director to setting up their own business.

Visit the MA Advertising course page

New Course Discourse // BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures & MA Design Management and Cultures

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As our New Course Discourse series continues, we speak to Dr Nicky Ryan, Programme Director of Spatial Communication and Contextual & Theoretical Studies about the new undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Design Management and Cultures, for which she is the acting Course Leader.

So Nicky, the BA (Hons) Design Cultures has now been re-validated. Why has this been done and what does it change?

Well the course has been re-validated to become BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures, which is a slight shift, but this means that the course has now got a more appropriate name that reflects its values better.

The BA (Hons) Design Cultures was a combination of design cultures, histories and theories, business and management, plus practice – so there were three core elements. That is all still there within the reimagined course, but there’s a slightly stronger business emphasis. Whilst it’s still that same combination of things, we’ve reconfigured the units in different ways. So now, for example, practice is incorporated into projects, whereas in the past we had a separate design practice strand.

Why have you developed a new MA for this subject and what is its focus?

In MA Design Management and Cultures there’s much more of a focus on leadership. We imagine that people who are already working in industry in some capacity will apply to the MA wanting to fine tune their leadership, organisational and management skills. Crucially though, these skills will be developed from a critical perspective and using practice as well, so that really has added value.

I hate to use an industry term, but the MA is a ‘T’ shaped model. Whilst we encourage applicants to have specific interests and areas of in-depth knowledge, the key to the course is being able to work across disciplines. We want people who can work with others to coordinate activity and manage projects, but also be able to question things.

The critical engagement with culture is also key to the course, because everything in this field is up for questioning. Students will interrogate what Design Management is because often management is technical thing, it’s about rational planning and organisation, but we’re trying to get our students to look at it in a different way.

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Design Cultures student Lena Neilsen explores dark fictive futures at LCC Green Week.

What is it about Design Management and Cultures at LCC that is unique?

The thing about these courses at LCC that is different from similar courses elsewhere, is the unique combination of design management and cultures. We explore Design Management from a critical perspective as well as a typically instrumental business perspective. Plus, we’re in an art and design institution, so we’re actually in the studio and working on projects and really learning by doing.

We’re also looking at the contextualisation, social, historical, cultural and political context of everything that we’re doing, and getting to really interrogate and question that.

What kind of projects will students be working on?

Well in the BA at the moment we’re working with a local museum which was sadly burnt down. We are doing a co-design project, the brief for which we actually co-wrote with the students, so it’s a very participatory project. We’re working with the staff at the museum, and together we’re aiming to raise awareness of The Cuming Museum. It’s part of the wider context of regeneration that is going on in Elephant and Castle at the moment, and we’re thinking about this little museum and what its relevance is. We’re trying to really understand the purpose of the museum and also assess which local audiences it serves.

The students are actually doing an exhibition and a series of events. We’ve been on visits but also brought in guest speakers, curators, artists, exhibition designers to inspire them. These people might not be directly related to local museums, but they tangentially inspire them as to what they might do with an archive.

It’s a real project, and it’s a project that matters to the community. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s full on. They have to go through a series of iterations constantly about what they’re going to do, how to they solve problems, how do they work with other establishments, and even working across courses.

There are so many hurdles to cross to even make it all happen, and they’re still having to communicate outwards and think about events – what can they do themselves, what do they need to outsource. It’s a real project.

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BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures students mid discussion.

In terms of students that you’re looking to take on for the BA (Hons), what qualities would you look for?

Some people come from foundation, some people come straight from school. We have a real range of students on this course. There are some who have studied English or History, but we’re also happy if they’re interested in sciences. I don’t think it matters as long as they’re really interested in design.

I’m not expecting anyone to come in and say “I want to be a design manager”, because that’s highly unlikely, but a passion for design and a sense that somehow you want to be located in an industry in which you’re making things happen is a really key quality. Also an interest in the way that design is changing and a desire to make some impact on that. A sense of working with others is also really important because whatever you do will be collaborative.

How about the MA?

Well again we’re looking for students from a very broad field. The sister course at LCC would be the MDes Service Design Innovation course, but we’d also love to have international applicants, or people applying from the professional world. Again it’s a variety of things that we consider, but also as part of the MA application a project will have to be proposed.

Prospective students would show us a portfolio of work which could be from private interests, from previous educational work they’ve done or from a career they’ve been in. At this stage we’re looking for a sense of where students want to go with their work and their research. Where is their passion?

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BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures students exploring south London researching for a community design project.

Where can Design Management and Cultures lead you?

It is quite broad, because the way the course is structured gives a very introductory look at the creative and cultural industries in year one. Some students come in with an idea of what they want to do, very definitely, but others haven’t a clue. We introduce the students to the design industries in its broader sense, and then gradually as you go into year two we try and encourage students to focus more.

They can customise their projects to a certain extent around the industries they might want to go into. So say for example that you wanted to work in fashion, they kind of assignments that we set are broad enough to tweak and put a certain emphasis on fashion. So you can chose your own path, obviously with support from your tutors, until you get to your final project.

With the MA you would probably already have an area which you’re interested in, but we would support and help you with that and you would be exposed to other areas in the design industry.

The range of careers this course prepares you for is diverse! You could be in house, or working for large organisations, you could be working within an organisation as a consultant – we introduce you to the different modes of work that are available.

Read more about BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures

Read more about MA Design Management and Cultures

 

 

BA (Hons) Magazine Publishing graduate nominated in PPA New Talent Awards

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BA (Hons) Magazine Publishing graduate Ben Lifton

LCC alumnus Ben Lifton, who graduated from BA (Hons) Magazine Publishing last year, has secured a nomination in the prestigious PPA New Talent Awards 2015, which celebrate the next generation in magazine and business media.

Ben is currently a publishing assistant at London-based content marketing agency The River Group, where he works on lifestyle magazines healthy and Healthy For Men, sold in Holland & Barrett and GNC shops around the UK.

Healthy magazine was also launched onto newsstands in December 2014 and is now available in supermarkets, Marks & Spencers, WHSmith and 5,000 independent newsagents. Ben manages healthy’s subscriptions and helps the brand gain market share, researching future opportunities.

He has recently arranged partnerships with innovative companies to help drive the magazine brands in new directions, increasing sales and providing a better user experience for the customer.

Regarding his nomination, Ben said: “With the publishing industry constantly changing, it is an exciting time to be working with magazines. It is great to have been nominated, and for my work with River to have been recognised.”

Ben’s nomination is in the Best Graduate/Intern category. Speaking about Ben and a shortlisted colleague, beauty writer Daisie Smith, CEO of The River Group Nicola Murphy said:

“We are immensely proud that two of our brightest stars have been nominated for what are highly competitive awards. They both display boundless enthusiasm to learn and are a pleasure to work with, and we are now looking forward to the awards ceremony in March.”

The ceremony will take place on Tuesday 10 March 2015 at The Brewery, London.

The best of luck to Ben from LCC!

Read more about BA (Hons) Magazine Publishing

LCC Associate Lecturer for BA (Hons) Sound Arts and Design at Tate Britain

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Iris talks to visitors at Tate Britain

Iris Garrelfs, a PhD student and Associate Lecturer on LCC’s BA (Hons) Sound Arts and Design course, recently held a week-long project at Tate Britain in which she used visitors’ personal objects and stories to create a sound installation.

Part of a Radio City residency at the gallery, ‘Listening Room’ encouraged adults and children to bring along objects and stories around the theme of hearing and listening from 2-6 February 2015.

Iris recorded the stories from Monday to Wednesday, edited the audio recordings on Thursday and created a sound installation for four channels and objects for everyone’s listening pleasure on the Friday.

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Some of the objects contributed by the public

The conversations between Iris and gallery visitors often expanded into very personal areas, focusing on childhood experiences or caring for relatives, while others were responses to exploring the sonic environment of the Tate.

Iris explains: “I was struck by the generosity of everyone, as people contributed so freely even very personal experiences.

“What came out of it for me was a kind of democratisation that happened through the stories – artists next to children, local residents next to Italian tourists. But there was also a blurring between museum visitors and myself: as I had invited people into the Listening Room, I also became a listener.”

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Exploring the objects used in ‘Listening Room’

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Listening to the installation at Tate Britain

A stereo version of the recording used in the installation was broadcast on Resonance FM and is archived here.

Read more about ‘Listening Room’ on Iris’s website

Read more about BA (Hons) Sound Arts and Design

 

Staging Disorder // Beate Geissler, Geissler/Sann

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From ‘Personal Kill’, Geissler/Sann, photographed by Lewis Bush.

LCC’s current showcase exhibition Staging Disorder runs until Thursday 12 March 2015, and features work by high-profile photographers and sound artists responding to ideas of modern conflict and the ‘real’.

We asked Beate Geissler of exhibiting duo Geissler/Sann to tell us more about the pair’s project ‘Personal Kill’.

Tell us a bit about the work you’re showing as part of Staging Disorder.

‘Personal Kill’ depicts interiors of so-called MOUT sites – training installations for Military Operations on Urban Terrain, used to teach close-range combat. The work references a book entitled ‘On Killing’ by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.

He writes, “In Vietnam the term ‘personal kill’ was used to distinguish the act of killing a specific individual with a direct-fire weapon and being absolutely sure of having done it oneself. The vast majority of personal kills and the resultant trauma occur at this range.”

The resulting trauma of a ‘personal kill’ is more severe than, for example, witnessing comrades or even family getting killed, since it is within the self that we find the source of the horror and not in the other. Something nobody can train an individual for.

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‘Personal Kill’ by Geissler/Sann in Staging Disorder at LCC. Photographed by Lewis Bush.

What drew you to tackle the subject of staged conflict?

We were very interested in the simulating qualities of those training sites, their relation to reality and virtuality. The gamification and zombiefication that takes place, which is extending, bending and creating reality, was the focus of our research. It is a feeling like walking in a movie.

When we entered those tunnel systems, it felt like descending into the collective unconscious of western society. These are sites where soldiers are trained to pull the trigger on their opposite.

Friedrich Hegel describes the transition from natural being to social and cultural subject as a violent and traumatic one. He coined the term ‘night of the world’, which he defined as an irreducible dimension of the finitude of subjectivity.

It is the abyss of negativity, the night of the eye, glimpsed in the uncanny gaze of the Other. This is a form of imagination which is the radical negativity of arbitrary freedom.

What are you currently working on outside the College?

We just published a new book ‘Volatile Smile’, which investigates the impact of technology on systems of global commerce. We were interested in the mutual impact of real and cybernetic architecture, with Chicago as its archetype.

What made Chicago a centre of speculative culture — a culture which so rapidly emerged as the ‘non-place’ where cybernetic logic bears its strangest and perhaps most powerful fruits?

What do you think is the effect of holding an exhibition like this at LCC?

Maybe students get inspired, start to raise more questions and become aware that this culture of fear which was created in the last decades is something we need to change.

What advice would you give to current LCC students?

Don’t do shiny art for glossy people.

Beate Geissler is Associate Professor and Area Coordinator Photography, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Visit the Geissler/Sann website

Read more about Staging Disorder

Two Halves // Viv Albertine and William Raban

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Two Halves is a regular feature spotlighting two people connected by London College of Communication.

Our aim is to showcase the conceptual intentions, deeper thinking and personal insights that come with the creative process.

If you would like to nominate someone for Two Halves, please email Natalie Reiss (n.reiss@lcc.arts.ac.uk).

VIV ALBERTINE

“Apparently mature students always try and over-achieve, we know this may be our last chance.”

  • Last year I slept a lot, rehearsed my band and played lots of gigs.  The year before that I finished my book and was the lead in a feature film. Every year is different for me and amongst all that I bring up my daughter, which is very improvisational and creative.
  • I write prose every day, not sure what it’s going to turn into. I make notes for songs, I’ve done some drawings but mostly I travel Britain and Europe promoting my book with readings at literary festivals. I want to communicate to as many people as possible, it took three years to write and I am proud of it.
  • I went to LCC 1984-87 and I did BA (Hons) Film. It took me a few years to get a portfolio together after being the guitarist in the Slits. I was a mature student and working, teaching aerobics at the same time. As I’d been in the music industry for seven years, I found the essay writing part of the course very difficult at first, but by the second year I was ok and became a bit of a swot.  Apparently mature students always try and over-achieve, we know this may be our last chance. I was grateful to be there.
  • I am a great believer in exposing myself to other disciplines, different to the one I’m working in, it’s much more inspiring and your work is less derivative.
  • I found collaboration in film very difficult because it watered down the idea.  It was very difficult to keep it strong and stay close to your vision, each department diffused the initial idea, misinterpreted it or there wasn’t the money.
  • If you make work that is honest and faithful to yourself, it will never date. It is scary and painful to do and it may not be recognised as good work for many years but you have to choose if you want to be an artist or an entertainer.
  • I was embarrassingly honest and I had a nervous breakdown after I handed (my memoir) to the publisher.  I had no hopes for it at all. I thought I would be a pariah once people read it. That’s how you should always feel when you make work in my opinion. Like you’ve gone too far.
  • I’ve only done four things, three albums and a book (I could count the way I used to dress in the seventies as it was groundbreaking, political and creative) and they have all transcended who I am.
  • I’m a great believer in the ‘fallow field’, lying dormant until an idea becomes so compelling that you can’t keep it in anymore.  That’s my way of working.  I’d rather do a couple of good things in my life than churn out a load of mediocre work. I’m not a careerist.
  • We had no TV, no books, no social life and no telephone when I was growing up – all I could do was draw.  I was often bored so both drawing and fantasising were my escape and they stood me in good stead.  I never run out of ideas, but sometimes, I concentrate on other things like love.

Viv Albertine’s memoir is Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys.

https://twitter.com/Viv_Albertine

http://vivalbertine.com/

 

WILLIAM RABAN

“Dream space is crucially important to any creative process.”

  • I am William Raban, Professor of Film at LCC and most of my time is committed to research both in terms of making films, supervising research students and doing all I can to develop an active college-based research community.
  • I have just finished a 60-minute film (72-82) on the first ten years of Acme Studios that includes pioneering installation and performance works shown at the Acme Gallery (1976–1981).
  • Acme Studios commissioned the film and they approached me because I had been a part of their history in the 1970s and I had documented on film some of the installations and performances shown in the Acme Gallery.
  • When I made Thames Film (1986) I began by being inspired by TS Eliot’s Four Quartets and his view of the river as a ‘strong brown god’.  Later, I discovered the Brueghel painting Triumph of Death in the Prado, which became the means for holding the film together.  It came to me in a dream where I saw the painting to the slowed down sound of Bach’s Matthew’s Passion, which is featured on the soundtrack. And of course, 72-82 is largely informed by artists who worked in painting, sculpture, installation and performance art.
  • The way I started making films in the early 70s invariably was a solitary process but I now depend upon help with specialist areas such as editing and sound.  I have collaborated with David Cunningham for the last 18 years on my soundtracks and he is brilliant to work with.  He is often quite critical of my ideas and I like that degree of resistance in the collaborative process.
  • The films about London and the River Thames have all been inspired either by being out on the river in a small boat or by walking the streets of London and just observing what goes on.  I find life on the streets so fascinating that I am not really interested in the artifice of a film studio.
  • LCC constantly surprises me. I have been here since 1996 but today I discovered the Heidelberg press in the printing department.  Whilst I have a pretty good idea about what goes on in the School of Media, I look forward to discovering more treasures in the Design School.
  • [On his first piece of art] I would say it was a large oil painting that I made when I was 17 – a view of the River Test in Southampton looking towards the distant Fawley oil refinery.  I got the paint to do what I wanted at the time but as I became older, I rejected its mimetic representation of a landscape and I am pleased to say it no longer exists – the paint having gradually fallen off through having been placed over the rising heat from my parents’ fireplace.
  • Island Race (1996), which was incredibly hard to finish because of its focus on the rise of the BNP.  I nearly gave up and am glad I didn’t because I think it remains a valuable document of that febrile time in east London.
  • Dream space is crucially important to any creative process. I have several ideas about what to make next but I am in a space where I need to dream the next idea.

William Raban is Professor of Film at London College of Communication.

http://www.arts.ac.uk/research/research-staff/a-z/professor-william-raban

http://www.lux.org.uk/collection/artists/william-raban

http://www.acme.org.uk/commissions/williamrabanfilm

New Course Discourse // MA Television

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Course Leader David Hoyle

As our New Course Discourse series continues, we ask LCC Course Leader David Hoyle to tell us about the brand new MA Television.

Can you tell us a bit about what this course will focus on?

A huge area of television programming is broadly called factual programming. It covers everything from serious journalistic current affairs programming right through to what the BBC calls factual entertainment.

MA Television students will come and learn how those programmes are made. We’re looking for people who have ideas for those sorts of programmes, or who want to work in that vast programming area. It’s strictly television, strictly factual, but there could be drama – for example re-enactments in history programmes. It’s a very broad brush.

How is the course constructed?

Everything in the course revolves around programme-making; students will make four programmes of increasing length and complexity. But wrapped around the programme-making are a series of approaches that look at the business of programme-making from different points of view.

We look at them as business assets, so students will learn how to raise money, how to manage budgets, and how to exploit the assets that they’ve made. So there’s a sort of business/commercial/management aspect to programme-making.

Then we look at the history, the philosophy of factual programme-making, largely in the UK but not only here, and we will invite lots of models from different countries if we have students from other programme-making nations.

So we’ll look at them from the economic point of view, from a philosophical point of view, and also slightly from the political point of view. We do ask students to think about what sort of messages these programmes send, and just go some way into what’s called “cultivation theory” – a way of looking at programmes from their effect on maintaining or presenting the status quo of society.

So students will end up being confident programme-makers, but also with a very advanced understanding of the whole context in which they’re working.

The other thing I’d add is that it will be fun! People will have a year of intensive hands-on programme-making in teams, closely supervised and guided all the time, of course, but it should really be a joyful experience; a whole year of doing nothing but making programmes in the heart of the European programme-making industry.

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LCC film and television students and guests attend their final showcase screening at BFI Southbank

How does this postgraduate programme differ from undergraduate study in television?

It differs from undergraduate programmes in two ways, I suppose. In that people are expected to contextualise the programmes that they make, and certainly think of them as commercial objects, but also in the fact that we will be making programmes of a higher quality. By the end of the second term, we will have people making programmes of full broadcast standard.

All of this leads at the end to a major project in which people make programmes but support them with a business plan, so that they can prove to a broadcaster how they would generate income, or if they made them independently how they would set up and sustain an independent production company – which is one very major objective of the course.

Why should applicants choose to study here at LCC?

The core of the School of Media – from my point of view anyway! – is the television studio. It’s a completely state-of-the-art, professional standard TV studio, and all the programmes that students make on the MA will have a TV studio element.

So there are the facilities that we have here, but there’s also LCC’s unique and very special location. We are 10 or 15 minutes away from the heart of European television programme-making, and I always remind students that more film is shot in London in a day than in the whole of Hollywood in a year.

We’re looking continually for liaisons with commercial production companies, and one option the students on the MA will have is actually to make their programmes to a live brief. So that means that they’ll be encouraged very strongly to seek out commissioning editors or production companies that are looking for work to be made. They’ll be able to make that here, and be assessed for it. Obviously that’s a very potent gateway into the world of work.

What’s also important is the sum total of the School of Media. One of the units in the course is a formally collaborative unit, and we already have arrangements in place to work with the MA Arts and Lifestyle Journalism students. They have to produce a moving image piece, so there’s a very obvious and fruitful symbiosis between those two courses.

But in the College as a whole we also have photographers, animators, illustrators, designers – all sorts of people with skills that fit perfectly with programme-making. And then, of course, we have the University – we have set designers at Wimbledon, costume makers at LCF and so on. People on this course would be strongly encouraged and helped to form collaborative relationships formally and informally with people in the School of Media and across the University as a whole.

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LCC students at work

What is the course is looking for in its students?

Applicants for the course can be people with a good honours degree in film and television production or a related subject – that’s the obvious one. We would also be interested in people with good honours degrees in other subjects, for example economics, journalism, law, business. Almost anything, really, if it’s accompanied by a demonstrable, informed interest in television.

We’d also be very interested in talking to people who may not have a degree but have worked in the film and television or related industries for a little while – maybe four or five years – and, again, in the interview can demonstrate an informed interest in television.

And fourthly, we would still be very interested in talking to people who don’t have that television experience and might not necessarily have a degree in any subject at all, but again can show a burning, passionate, informed interest in television, and who we think will be able to contribute to the life of the course.

The first term and a half of the course are very much about getting people up to speed in programme-making, and it’s quite intensive in that respect. So by halfway through the course, we will have a cohort of highly competent programme-makers. After that point, other skills and experience and knowledge that they can bring to bear will become increasingly valuable, really, so a lawyer or a journalist or a scientist at that stage would be incredibly useful.

What sorts of careers can graduates from MA Television move into?

If you open your TV guide and look at any day of the week – more the week than the weekend but even there – you’ll find programmes on history, science, travel, holidays, home decoration, cookery – a whole range of informative programmes that are also entertaining. They are the staple, really, of most broadcasters’ output in most if not all countries in the world – they fill the schedules.

People graduating from this course can set up their own small production companies to propose and hopefully make this sort of programme, or they can go and work for those companies – there are lots of them – who specialise in this broad area of factual programming.

But it also gives access to web-delivered materials, to non-broadcast materials, to even corporate production. Any sort of programming, really, that has got some informative purpose.

Visit the MA Television course page

Read David Hoyle’s staff profile

Journalism Guest Speaker Review // Simon McGregor-Wood, Al Jazeera

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Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor-Wood recently spoke to LCC Journalism students about the challenges and excitements of reporting from the Middle East. BA (Hons) Journalism student Luke O’Driscoll reports.

Simon McGregor-Wood is a broadcast journalist with over 25 years experience, nine of those working as ABC News’ Middle East Correspondent, as well as the news division’s Middle East Bureau Chief.

He came to LCC to give a talk about his experiences as a foreign correspondent, the difficulty of maintaining balance and objectivity and the changing nature of reporting news from war zones.

His time in the Middle-East, where he was based in Jerusalem, was characterised by the on-going Israeli/Palestine conflict in which he witnessed many of its defining events of the past decade including: “the second intifada, the battle between Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, the emergence of Hamas, the occasional wars with Hezbollah and the spill over effect of the US-led invasion of Iraq, the growth of Jewish settlements and the Israeli right wing and the decline of Gaza.” On top of this he also had “responsibility for covering Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.”

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LCC guest speaker Simon McGregor-Wood

Simon left Israel in 2011, just before the Arab Spring, and today he works as a freelance journalist for Al-Jazeera in Europe and the Middle East with a working schedule that sounds just as hectic: “I travel widely across Europe covering breaking news and features. I spent the New Year for example in Italy covering the Greek ferry which caught fire, and I stayed there to cover the arrival of Syrian migrants. I’m currently working on a story about the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, on Thursday I’m covering a foreign office conference on extremism, and then this weekend I will be in Auschwitz to cover next week’s 70th anniversary of its liberation.”

The importance, Simon advises, of “a proper foreign assignment is a chance to get to grips with the story and to gain real understanding of your subject. It’s a chance to gain expertise, something I think it’s important for journalists to do at some point in their career.”

Whilst the appeal of being a foreign correspondent is obvious, and something he says he is a proponent of, he acknowledges the changing face of foreign affairs reportage: “Good well-paid jobs are increasingly rare in a world dominated by freelancers like me and people on short-term contracts.

“A foreign correspondent has the luxury of time. He or she must know more than his or her editor – more than the editor reads in their morning newspaper or hears on their radio bulletin in the morning. Your role is to immerse yourself in the place you’re covering. To understand the context behind the stories of the day.”

When broaching the subject of objectivity in the field he explains: “you have to be able to provide reporting that nobody else but you can provide, you must do this whilst maintaining your objectivity and balance and this is nowhere more true than in the Middle East and nowhere more true than in reporting the core of Middle East conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Possibly the most scrutinised story there is.”

The value of which, Simon notes, cannot be downplayed: “Managing your personal views on a story like this is hard but crucial!

“Where your Israeli and Palestinian colleagues may carry a natural bias you must steer a course through that and through torrents of opinion and propaganda. Personal sympathies must always be tempered by self-criticism and analysis.”

Maintaining these standards, however, is not always straightforward and there is a struggle faced by foreign correspondents: “One of the biggest challenges in the Middle East is navigating between two very well rehearsed narratives and avoiding the manipulation of both sides. There are two opposing versions of an historical dispute, two sets of people – well educated if not brainwashed into their version of the truth where even the children in Palestinian refugee camps or Jewish settlements are fluent in the discourse of their narrative.

“Furthermore help carries the risk of manipulation. Are you going to be able to get somewhere without the help of the Israeli army? What price do you pay if you accept their facilitation? How far does help corrupt your reporting?”

The showing of radical views in the Middle East is also something Simon is more than aware of: “This is also a story dominated by the extremists and too often they’re the only voices you hear. There are Israelis and Palestinians who like each other and who at least want to sit down together. And they are rarely heard. As journalists, is it our job to seek them out?”

The discourse of political language is another factor the Al Jazeera journalist believes budding foreign correspondents need to be wary of: “This is a story where even language carries the potential for bias. What do you call a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem? Do you call it Jerusalem occupied?

“Some American newspapers I have noticed have started to call East Jerusalem settlements contested neighbourhoods. What does that do? Whose interests does that serve? Whose language are you using? Are you undermining a report by politicising your language? If you refuse to use one side’s terminology does that necessarily mean you support the other side? Is there ever a perfect middle way? Is there ever a perfect word?”

This on-going self-evaluation and self-critique is something Simon refers to throughout his talk, the importance of which is made evidently clear by his experience and strength as a reporter.

“Personal sympathies must always be tempered by self-criticism and analysis. How best to develop trustworthy sources on both sides? How to avoid being tarnished with perceptions of institutional bias because you work for an American network or because you work for Al Jazeera? In the Middle East your greatest solace are the pillars of your professional standards, objectivity and balance.”

When questioned about the future for prospective foreign correspondents wishing to cover conflict in the Middle East his response is ominous: “I think one of the big problems today is that outlets, whatever their media, are in danger of exploiting young freelancers who want to get into the business, who want to go [to the Middle East]. And often you hear horrific stories of photographers who find themselves in somewhere like Syria or Lebanon or Iraq and they’re not necessarily being paid properly, they’re being paid on what they are able to provide, they don’t necessarily have the right experience, they have no backup and they are being exploited.

“While I can understand the instincts of wanting to be there, in this fractured world of young people trying to get into the business, it’s a very dangerous temptation. I think people need to be very careful. There are too many young freelancers getting killed and it’s costing the outlets practically nothing.”

He puts this largely down to the huge economic shift journalism has seen over past decade stating “the financial model of what we [journalists] do has changed beyond recognition. Twenty years ago at the BBC or ABC or ITN, if you went to cover a war, the first thing is there was a lot of experienced people who had done it before and there was the resources to do it properly, to mitigate some of the risk.”

Despite this, the longstanding journalist believes there is a future for foreign correspondents, with “foreign news [being] something I would recommend to anyone.”

You can follow Simon on twitter @simonmcgw and find out more about him through his website http://www.simonmcgregorwood.co.uk

Words by Luke O’Driscoll

Read more about BA (Hons) Journalism

New Course Discourse // MA Animation

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Ben Stopher, Programme Director of Interactive and Visual Communication

In the second of our regular blog series New Course Discourse exploring LCC’s exciting new undergraduate and postgraduate courses, we speak to Programme Director of Interactive and Visual Communication and Course Leader for MA Interaction Design Communication Ben Stopher about MA Animation.

Ben, can you explain a little bit about why this new MA was created and how it is different from the BA (Hons) Animation?

The key difference between the BA and MA Animation is the critical content, that’s really the key difference for all our postgraduate courses. On MA Animation you’ll be making work that’s engaged with critical ideas, but you’ll also be exploring the effect of animations and the place of animation in broad culture and society in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily do on the undergraduate course in the same depth.

So is there less focus on making in this course?

No, absolutely not. This course is still about producing a portfolio of highly experimental animation work, and it’s about animation in the context of design and visual communication. We’re going to be looking at extending the practice of what people call animation. We’re interested in interactive context and coded animation as well as some of the more traditional tropes of animation. It’s a bit more experimental and a bit more critical. The projects are also longer range, so the students get a chance to experiment but also work on a longer term project.

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Still from ‘Bye Bye Dandelion’, Isabel Garrett, BA (Hons) Animation, 2014.

Do students get to work on any live briefs, or are projects all self-directed?

Yes, both! There are self-directed and live briefs and these would all be in negotiation with your tutor. Students would definitely work on a live brief in your first term, and then they would get to direct how they would take the latter part of the course. They might want to do something that is very self-directed, or they might want to do something that is client-led, it’s very open.

So who should apply to this course?

Students from animation courses definitely. But we’re also really interested in people who have moving image work from graphic and communication design, interactive media or filmmaking. If you’ve got any kind of moving image work in your portfolio, particularly from a design-centred course, we’re definitely interested in that. We’re interested in the intersection of design and moving image and animation.

What differentiates this course from other postgraduate animation courses on offer elsewhere?

It’s the relationship that animation has with design and visual communication is this course’s main selling point. This course is not established in the film school like it might be elsewhere, instead it will sit in a programme with Games Design and Interaction Design Communication. It’s this design-led and experimental part of the programme that’s unique, definitely unique in UAL and is unique in terms of other kinds of courses on offer in the UK.

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Swikriti Rai, BA (Hons) Animation, 2014.

In terms of facilities what does this course have to offer?

Because this is a brand new course we’ve created a brand new dedicated studio. It’s fully kitted out, and such a great space. Student’s will have access to a wide variety of advanced equipment as well as a green screen, rostrum camera and more. Another great resources this course will have is a whole new staff team, so it really is an exciting time for animation at LCC.

What qualities are you going to be looking for in applicants?

Intellectually curious for sure, on postgraduate that’s a really big one to flag up, and highly practice-led and experimental.

Where can this course lead its graduates?

They can work in animation and moving image across the design and film and creative industries. You might want to go and work on big-budget animation production, you might want to make motion graphics for TV, you might want to be involved in making marketing campaigns,  you might do site-specific installation stuff. This course is special because it looks at animation in the context of design, so LCC’s animators will be able to go into industry with absolute confidence in their own practice and it’s relationship to the world of design.

Find out more about MA Animation