Paddy McEntaggart

Senior lecturer, interactive design

Paddy splits his time at the institute teaching on the BA Graphic Design and working in the Art and Design Research Centre. He told us how each aspect of his work influences the other.

Paddy McEntaggart

How did you get into design?

My original background was in programming. I always had an interest in computers - in the '80s I started out programming my Commodore 64. After studying programming I felt that often it lacked the visual design element, so I moved into new media and graphic design.

Those programming skills gave me an advantage. I've found that is not usual to be comfortable with both programming and graphic design. Usually you are one or the other, but my approach has always been to straddle the two.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm involved in the MeSch project in the Art and Design Research Centre. We're working with museums to develop interactive experiences.

Part of the project involves logging and recording how long visitors spend at different parts of the exhibition. We can use this information to provide a physical data souvenir, and a personalised webpage which is a record of your specific experience and represents what you did in a meaningful visual way.

Are your students involved in the project?

Yes. My students came up with books full of ideas of how to enhance visitors' experiences. It was part of their work studying how to present information in an interesting way, and their ideas are being taken forward and used in the project.

I'm using the MeSch project in my teaching all the time. It creates an affinity with the students to talk about the work I'm doing - they know we are all dealing with the same experiences of working to a deadline, and it mirrors their study.

"Creative activism is the intention to use design or creativity to give people a voice, people who aren't usually part of the wider conversation."

You describe yourself as a creative activist. What does this mean?

Creative activism is the intention to use design or creativity to give people a voice, people who aren't usually part of the wider conversation. It's not commercial, but social - art with a humanitarian aim to influence or evoke change.

For example, my partner and I have worked at a summer school in northern Albania, doing creative workshops with children in a very rural and isolated area, and allowing them to present their home town in their own way.

The project has run many times. In the latest version in Janjevo in Kosovo we gave children cameras and asked them to document their life. You get a totally different perspective on a place - you wouldn't think to take photographs from a child's vantage point of 3 feet high, and they also have access to places and people that we wouldn't. They take pictures only they could take.

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