RDP (Research Design Participate) is a research-based elective on the Visual Communication course at the Royal College of Art. The elective encourages students to engage with social issues, individuals, groups and public space while expanding their Visual Communication practices through critical understanding of their findings.
Whilst often taking place outside the boundaries of the college, RDP challenged our observational reflexes, our ability to publicly communicate our ideas, involve others in our work through participatory practices and visualise the outcomes of our research within various contexts.
Multiple topics and areas for questioning emerged throughout the year which were informed by factors such as current political issues, different aspects of technological evolution, communities and social identities, human behaviours and traditions. By constantly disputing the position of the researcher as a critical observer, and visual communication practice as a mechanism for dialogue, we produced work that reflected shared or personal concerns about our era — approached through critical thinking and respect for others.
Beyond the outcomes of this work in progress, RDP was an experience formed by discussions, public actions, visits, archives, walks, interactions, social events and self-reflective exploration of our individual interests and practices. An appropriate closing event for this experience would have been a physical celebration — chatting and socialising while having a beer. Since the manifestation of such a gathering is currently impossible, as RDP 2020 students we created the RDP Index — a digital symposium in the form of a research project archive. In the index you will find selected fragments of our research based around keywords, as well as the progress of each individual project framed in a way that reflects this collective journey of mutual development and interweaving fields of interest. The aim of this format is to create the basis for publicly sharing and discussing our research, practices, concerns and ideas that emerged during the past year — until we can all meet again.
The index can be found at rdpindex.net