Sound and Autism: MRes at the RCA
Patricia Puertas graduated from GMD last June. Her work was ‘spotted’ at the end of year Degree Show exhibitions and she was invited to apply for the MRes in Communication Design at the Royal College of Art. So what happened next and what reflections does she have on her time at LCC?
“I was contacted by a tutor for the RCA course, Dr. Emily Candela, as she was interested in one of my pieces in the show, an interactive installation involving sound that I did as part of the Thesis InForm exhibition. The description of the course resonated with me (a lot): ‘We focus on experimental and interdisciplinary methods of making innovative Communication Design work, and have a strong strand related to sonic practice in our School.’ I went to meet the tutor, checked out the RCA’s show and a few days later I was filling in the application form. Following a productive last year in GMD, I was feeling inspired and motivated to keep on learning in order to develop my practice, so it felt like the right path to take. Also the course is 1 year and the Postgraduate Loan covered most of the fee.
As the course is a Master of Research I had to come up with a research topic, and decided I wanted to do something involving sound and autism. My interest in autism comes from watching documentaries and understanding that some children and adults with autism don’t use speech to communicate. In those cases, other methods of communication need to be established, so I thought of involving my passion for sound and music. My research now focuses on the well-being of children with autism and how I can, as a designer, help support their therapy process, using rhythm as a tool.
GMD was one of the things in life that made me realise that if I wanted something I had to make it happen. That every idea can be materialised and it is through experimentation that it can evolve to a great final outcome. It was amazing to be able to experiment using LCC’s facilities, where I mainly explored printmaking, the dark room, 3D workshop and digital space, and where, with the help of the technicians, I was able to understand further about the process of making and gain skills.
The last year of GMD, I found it very productive to be in the studio (6th floor), where I established good relationships with my peers and I was able to use a large space to work. There was a strong sense of community, as we were constantly giving feedback to each other, exchanging ideas and skills, doing group crits and celebrating when we were submitting our work. We were also able to have more interaction with the tutors, which was appreciated. I went through a roller coaster of emotions and experiences throughout GMD, but at the end focus, interest and confidence in what I was doing allowed me to be satisfied with my work.
I spent most of my time at LCC exploring analogue processes. Now, looking into the present and the future, I am considering new technologies and I like speculative design. Through live performances, I have been experimenting with sound and I am currently working on an immersive installation about perception and social inclusion that involves interaction with sound and visuals.
Doing the MRes has motivated me to explore different disciplines and I am learning about experimental research processes that I have been applying to my current practice.”
Patricia says she aims to succeed in whatever she does. But has some good tips for current GMD students:
- Be passionate.
- Be critical.
- Be positive.
- Get involved.
- Ask questions.
- Go to the tutorials.
- Do as much as you can, the best as you can.
- Make use of the facilities and don’t be scared to ask for help, technicians are great!
- Be part of the degree show.
- Keep an eye on the Student Union emails (I got to do sound performances at The British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts thanks to their open-calls).
See and hear more of Patricia’s work:
MRes Communication Design at RCA: