Contemporary art practice today is both experiential and visceral. Responding to the times, RMIT's School of Art realised that the paradigm of print catalogues had come to an end, and needed a better solution to showcasing the outputs of the art program to the world. I was approached to design and build a platform to respond to the expanded practices of art today.
I was responsible for the end to end product design of the application.
The graduate art program is a unique and experimental space where students are supported to develop an independent art practice. With this framing, the challenge was to create a digital design system that could reflect RMIT's approach but also the diversity and scale of works within each graduate group.
The set up was to reference the so-called 'white cube' aesthetic which emerged from groups like De Stijl and the Bauhaus in the 1920s. With its emphasis on colour and light, the approached enabled artists to exhibit their works against white walls and minimise distraction for audiences. For many exhibitions today, this paradigm still holds true. Given this context, organising the user interface to reflect the 'white cube' gave art enthusiast a good chance of immediately understanding the experience and view the work the way they have come to expect.
Organising the user interface to reflect the 'white cube' gave art enthusiast a good chance of immediately understanding the experience and view the work the way they have come to expect.
One of the challenges of organising large amounts of content emerged on the splash and about pages. The concern from all the stakeholders was how not to privilege one student's work over another. The solution was to program the site to randomly display a different image for each new visitor and upon each revisit.
With over 60 graduates each year, the content of the site would rapidly grow with each release. Usability and search-ability would eventually become an issue for users and for content authoring. The solution was to implement progressive disclosure through an index. This provided a way to archive the work of artists by time and gave users the opportunity to delve deeper without experiencing cognitive load. I also implemented a robust search feature to allow users to search by name, title, year, type of work and keywords.
RMIT Art launched in November 2018 to coincide with Honours and Masters Graduate Exhibitions. Now in its second release, the initiative has helped RMIT's School of Art provide industry exposure to over 140 graduates and reach a broader contemporary art audience.